That Brilliant Bond


The day I discovered I was pregnant second time round, I felt immediate doubt. It’s not that we didn’t want you, the timing just didn’t seem to fit.

Your Brother was only 15 weeks old…and extremely needy. He wasn’t an easy baby, he was demanding and highly strung. He slept poorly, ate poorly and digested poorly. I think it’s fair to say that me and your Father had more than our hands full. 

But, there’s still no denying how truly blessed we felt (on both accounts).

Our dream was always to have two children – a boy then a girl – but we hadn’t anticipated our dream coming true quite so soon.

What worried me the most about having another baby was how your Brother would cope with it. He was meant to be close to one by the time you were due – still so young, still such a baby hisself. I worried that my attention would be taken up by our new arrival, that I’d miss all the important milestones in his life. I felt as though bringing another baby into the equation would detract from the quality of time I’d be able to give him. It almost felt as though I’d be replacing him for a younger model. 

I convinced myself that he’d hate me – after we’d worked so hard to build a bond. I told myself relentlessly that he’d feel rejected, abandoned, neglected. 

I overcompensated throughout your pregnancy, pushing myself to the limit so he’d never feel as though I was treating him any differently. I made a promise to him that he’d never feel the way I’d told myself he would. Yet, still I worried that the change would be too much for him to handle. 


It was harder for Tristan than most babies, your arrival into the world 9 weeks early meant undoubtedly, he’d feel abandoned. After all, I did for 11 nights whilst you were in intensive care. 

Coming home was always going to be alien, he was always going to sense that he was no longer the baby and feel forced to grow up that little bit sooner. I just hoped he wouldn’t be jealous of you. 

It was important to me that he felt a sense of importance, something to connect you two together. I wanted him to see that he was pivotal in your life, that his role was valuable and irreplaceable. Without doubt, he took to Brotherhood the best way he possibly could. 

From the moment you joined our family, he became your protector. That brilliant bond you both share is genuinely what makes me proud of you both. I can’t help but feel such a sense of pride when I see the way you both are with each other. 

Because of your disability, I’ve worried that I can’t protect you from the harsh and upsetting reality of being different. Even at Two, I can see how some children seem shy to approach you. This breaks my heart, I pray so much that you’ll be accepted – or have the strength to appreciate how beautiful, lovely and  amazing you are. Having your Brother eases this burden. I hope, when you’re older and the bond begins to change, you recall just how nurturing he was. I’ve seen him fight your ground, stand up for you when you’ve been completely oblivious to what’s gone on. He’s almost drawn blood to return toys that were snatched from your hands, called out loud ‘That’s Siena’s – give that back’. He recently trekked from one end of a play area to the other carrying the biggest, heaviest wooden toy because he remembered it was your favourite. He placed it gently by your feet, kissed your head then toddled off to rejoin his friend. Myself and your Nana are often subject to a telling off when he feels as though you’ve been treated unjustly (honestly, we live in fear of forgetting to make you a drink when we’re making his…or give you one sweet if he has two). He holds your hand, he cuddles you constantly and he makes sure you’re well looked after. 


What’s more than this is, he’s your biggest cheerleader. He’s so anxious for you to develop like he has, he celebrates in every milestone more than he did for his own doing. The day you sat unaided,  he applauded you until his hands were red. The day you pulled yourself up for the first time, it was him who brought it to my attention ‘Mama, Dena’s standing’. He loves it when you take one hand in mine and one hand in his and march along the sitting room. He laughs at you so heartedly and beams each morning when he sees your face.


That brilliant bond you have is definitely reciprocated, you’re amazed by your big Brother. You admire him so much! I can see in the way you look up to him that he means the world to you, and I’m sure he always will. I’m proud of the way you copy him, he’s pushed you to talk better, to learn quicker.

Two years on from the worry I once I had, I can honestly say that the best thing me and your Father ever did is bring you into our lives, making our family complete. We’re all so lucky to have you (and we’ve really learnt to appreciate that too)…especially your Brother but you know what? You’re lucky to have him too.

That brilliant bond…well, it’s just brilliant isn’t it?

I’m Trying

I feel like this is something I just keep saying but sometimes, it’s the only thing I know how to say!

Life is hard! I endlessly feel as though we just make it through one hurdle unscathed before we arrive immediately at another one. I’m battling and battling, conquering and succeeding then battling and battling all over again. It’s constant, never-ending.

I naively thought that the answer was leaving work to be with you both. I thought my undisturbed attention, guidance and support was all you needed – all you wanted.
I was wrong.

As it happens, I’ve no idea what you want…from me, from life, from the day, from exsistance! I mean, I get it – you’re both 2! You haven’t figured that shit out yet and I fully understand that there’s no way you could have. I’m 31 and have to confess, I haven’t figured it out either yet but that doesn’t make it any easier. It’s hard!

Some days, it’s ridiculously hard! Some days, I just don’t know how I can ever be enough. Some days, I don’t know how we make it through to bed time! There are days when the two of you just can’t seem to be in each other’s presence. You fight, you bicker, you even physically attack one another! I’m sick of separating you both, making you say sorry to one another. I’m sick of seeing snatched toys and rolling tears…of listening to you both chant “that’s mine, that’s mine”. 


Tristan, I’ve seen you push your sister off the potty mid poo just because it’s yours! I intervened with disbelief at the venom in your eyes, the contempt you felt at the thought of your sister using something you had undoubtedly claimed. 

Siena, I’ve seen you claw away at your Brother’s face, adamant that he won’t touch your ‘Dolly’. I’ve been rendered speechless by the aggression you’ve shown, the satisfaction you’ve felt after making him cry!  

There are days when you both cry simultaneously for no reason whatsoever. Days where you wake up screaming, days where nothing will suffice or please you. These are the hardest days, the days where I’m left crying alone in the kitchen come 6pm when your Dad makes it home from work. These are the days when I feel utterly useless, painfully rubbish and worthless. 


There are days when all we seem to do is shout at one another. Before I was a Mother, I swore I’d never shout at you. I swore, I’d always stay calm and collected. This isn’t so easy when I’ve waited 15 minutes for you to climb in your car seat; when I’ve retrieved your thrown dummy from the ground a million times regardless of the fact I know you’re going to throw it again; when I’ve pleaded and pleaded with you not to do something but you go and do it anyway – when I feel like there’s nothing left for me to try.

There are days when my sanity is tested and I just feel as though I need to call for help (your Nana), for a break. 

The thing is – I’m trying! 

I’m trying harder than I think you two could ever imagine. I’m trying to be the best possible Mum for you that I could ever be. I’m trying to make you both strong, courageous, independent, confident humans. I’m trying to insil passion into you both and nurture your sense of creativity and individuality. I’m trying to make sure you always make the right choices in life. I’m still trying to make the right choices myself!


I’m trying to be a role model that you’d both be proud of. Siena, I trying to show you how to be a strong woman. Tristan, I’m trying to show you how to be a loving, caring, compassionate man. 

I’m trying to keep it together so that you both can rely on me at all times. I’m trying to show you that you can overcome any hurdles of your own. 

What’s more is, I’m trying to be myself as well. To be a good friend, to maintain some sort of social status. I’m trying to be a business woman so I can provide for your every wants and needs. I’m trying to be a wife, a daughter, a helpful granddaughter. I’m trying to be a carer, a personal assistant.

A Person!


There are days when I just feel as though my trying will never be enough for you, that I’ve failed us all. 

Then, there are days like today. Days where we work harmoniously with one another, we have fun and make memories we all can cherish. Days when you both wrap your arms around me and tell me seven times at bed time that you love me. Days when we laugh and play, sing and dance. Days when we accomplish life with enthusiasm and pzazz. 

Those days make it all worth it, make me know just how important my role is. 

So I’ll take the bad days, the tantrums and the tears. I’ll take the days we all cry (and I mean all). I’ll take the tests, the failures and my faults because…

That’s what Mothers do and I’m trying to be the best for you! 

I’m Becoming My Mother

I remember watching my Mother when I was a child. She worried constantly. She worried so much, I wondered whether she was ever happy.
She worried about everything. She became anxious over any little thing.
Mainly, she worried about us.
It was something I never understood about her. In truth, it used to make me mad.
I’d watch her worry, watch her face drop as she approached uncomfortable situations. I’d see her eyes glaze, her hands shake. I thought she was weak.
Only now, can I appreciate why she felt the way she did. Only now, can I admit that I was wrong.
Now that I’m a Mother, I fully understand the pain she felt. I can see that her worry didn’t make her weak, it was a strength of her love for us. It was because we meant so much.
As a teen, I must have been my Mother’s worst nightmare. There was a cockiness and over-confidence to me that even makes me feel anxious now. Everything was an adventure to me, I never saw danger, never contemplated peril. Threat did not exist. My Mother’s warnings were never absorbed. Actually, I don’t think I ever even listened.
I’d walk the dog along country paths, completely isolated from anyone or any safe zone at night. I’d climb out of Windows, run across roads with my eyes shut. I dared do anything. Whatever was prohibited just made it all the more fun. Now, I shudder. Luckily, I never learnt any lesson the hard way but I could cry through fear that my children will have inherited these same traits and won’t be as fortunate.
My Mother’s warnings were so frequent that I think they lost value. Disgustingly, I admit thinking they were pathetic (something I’m so apologetic for now). I’d look at her through my arrogant little eyes and wonder what had happened to her, wonder why she was such a nervous wreck.
Well now I know…
The same worries my Mother shared seem almost hidden within me. The worries I swore I’d never feel, ooze from my mind every second of the day. Having children has changed me – for all I promised it never would.
I worry so much these days. I just can’t seem to stop myself. Most of the time, I can’t even justify why I’m worrying.
From head bangs to cot death to car crashes and the latest of all…falling trees. I spend some part of each day obsessing that I’ll lose my children. I’ve lived my entire life accepting that I have no control over fate. These fears have never featured in my subconscious and yet now, the fact that I have no control scares me witless. My only saviour is knowing that I’m worrying for nothing. As quickly as these thoughts creep in, I somehow manage to banish them. Although still, I know they’ll return sooner or later.
I look in the mirror and hardly recognise myself. Parenthood has changed me mentally and physically. I’m larger than I once one (vainly weight used to be my only worry. I can’t remember the last time I even worried about it) but my curves are a positive enforcement. They remind me of the cracked pelvis I endured to bear children, the worth of my curves outweighs any pressure to lose them. My face, however, is a different story. I focus on the bags under my eyes, the lack of sleep shows on my face. Even the nights my children sleep through, I can’t turn off that doubt in my mind. I’m always half awake, always listening for the crackle and wheeze of my daughter’s chest.

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That’s my biggest worry these days. Even now she’s one, I fear the night I wake to find her struggling for breath. It’s happened too many times already. If I’m honest, her birth was the catalyst for my current state of mind.
With Tristan, I shared the same fears all new parents do. I could easily subside feelings of anxiety by snuggling into him. I’d take one look at him and just know there was nothing to worry about. Siena is a different story. Siena makes my tummy churn. There was a time I said I wouldn’t rush her to grow but I can’t help feel desperate for her to.
I want her to catch up so miserably. If we can just reach the point where she can sit unaided, can crawl, can walk, can talk, maybe I’ll be able to put my worry on hold.
Maybe I’ll find something else to worry about.
Is this what parenthood is about? Worrying insanely?
I think back to those nights I must have driven my Mother wild. Those nights of no phone calls, no texts to explain where I was. The nights she’d receive calls to pick me up because I was inebriated. The nights I’d find her standing by the bathroom door, worrying that I’d made myself sick.
I suppose it’s only fair, karma is serving me a good old plate of revenge. It’s my time to worry. My time to bury my fears deep within the pit of my stomach and pretend they’re not there.
I better get my game face on – I’m already worrying that my own children will think I’m weak. That’s the only promise I’ll make myself, I won’t let them sense my irrational fears.

How true it is though, I’m becoming my Mother. Now least I know that’s a mighty thing to be. Now least I know it’s a testimony to how much I love my children.

I’m pretty proud to become her.IMG_7310

I’m Just Waiting For You to Need Me

You had a nightmare last night. Woke up screaming at 2am. For a while, you were inconsolable, obviously still affected by the images haunting your dreams.

I thought you’d want your Daddy so I sent him to calm you. You always want your Daddy.

This time was different, it was my name you chanted when you saw him enter your room. Daddy wouldn’t do, you needed your Mother’s touch.

I scooped you up and you instantly wrapped your arms around my neck, allowed your legs to coil around my waist and nuzzled your head into my neck.

I held you as you sobbed loudly and erratically. I rocked you and reassured you that everything would be alright. I took you to my bed and held your body until you were completely soothed. Then, I lay with you until you fell back to sleep.

The feeling was bittersweet.

Partly, I felt saddened by your distress. It broke my heart to see you hurting, to watch you cry with fear in your eyes. Yet, partly I felt happy.

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For so long, I’ve worried about our bond. It’s never me you crave, never me you look for. Since Siena was born, I worry that you’ve learnt to take comfort in others first. I’ve anxiously wondered whether you became accustomed to my negligence, if you learnt to turn to others when Mammy couldn’t be there for you.

I never want you to feel that way. That, in itself, breaks my heart more that anything else ever could. I’ll always be there for you and I’ll always love you unconditionally.

When Siena was born, her prematurity and illness meant her needs were momentarily greater than yours. I tried my very best to make sure you didn’t notice. But I guess you did.

Before she arrived, we were so close. I was your comforter, your entertainer, your best friend. I was yours. You loved me and I knew it, I felt it in those delicate moments we shared. Your cottage pie kisses were gentle and tender. Your cuddles were long and generous.

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Now, I wonder whether you feel differently about me.

It’s no longer me you cry for. It’s no longer me you turn to for comfort or for fun. I sense the disappointment when it’s me you get and not your Dad.

I don’t know how to fix the distance between us. I look at other women with their sons and cry that our bond isn’t the same. I love you insanely and want you to be aware of that.

It breaks my heart when you push me away, when you cry because your Daddy has left and you’re stuck with me. When I ask you for a kiss and you turn your head, when I try to cuddle you but you kick away.

I wonder if you’re angry with me, if you feel as though your love wasn’t enough? It was baby. It would have always been enough. Your love could move mountains. Your love taught me what love actually was.

Once Siena arrived, I made special effort to still do things together. Your Art class was meant to be an opportunity for us to still do fun things together, our Monday’s were also Mother and Son fun days. Then I returned to work and the gulf between us intensified.

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So, tonight, as you cried, I selfishly took comfort in your neediness. You cried for me and that meant the world.

As you grow, I hope our bond does too. I want you to know that I’ll always be the person there for you first. I’ll listen to your problems, wipe away your tears and always care about your hopes and dreams. I’ll hold your hand through hardships and celebrations. I’ll kiss your scraped knees and mend your hurts. I’ll always be ready to comfort you.

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I’m just waiting for you to need me.

The Twinkle Diaries

You Say My Hands are Full

  
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be the 1st one to admit that my life these days is crazy. From 6am until 10pm, it’s a whirlwind. There’s no time to moan about everything that needs doing and how little time I have to do it all in. There’s no time to stop and reminisce about how simple life used to be.

Life with one baby can be testing (especially in the early days) but life with two is a whole other level, completely incomprehensible until experienced. It is, without doubt, manic.

But I love it.

There’s no need for an alarm clock these days, I no longer wake to the sound of my favourite tunes blasting through my phone. I wake to a much sweeter sound, I wake to the sound of my new name. Much like clock work, my son wakes religiously at 6am – long before I desire to wake up, long before my husband’s alarm is set. He stirs, he stands, he chants for ‘Mam’. I’m tired, I’m in need of at least one more hour but I can’t deny his call. Inside, I’m ready. I’m giddy to get up and see his goofy toothy grin as he beams when he sees me. He wakes euphorically, last night’s tantrum hidden by his smile. Then I hear the cry, his sister is stirring and the mania is about to begin.

I’m in at the deep end, abandoned by my husband as he leaves for work. My initial task, tackle the nappies. It’s something I’ve learnt to master. My Daughter is a dream, she can’t yet roll. My son is a different story. He rolls, he walks, his hands know where they shouldn’t be and he can’t resist that level of temptation. I’ve learnt to manoeuvre upside down, wrong way round, standing up and whilst on the move. I sometimes grin to myself, if I were Supermam, my super powers would be the ability to change nappies under duress.

Nappies attended to, now for breakfast. They say you never get two babies the same and in my case, it’s true. My son is fussy, he doesn’t see food as a form of entertainment, he doesn’t need it to feel good about life (I don’t understand him, he doesn’t get his lack of appetite from me). My daughter is greedy for food, needy for a filling. She just needs to sense that there’s food within close proximity for her to want it.

I sit, my son positioned to my left, my daughter positioned to my right. Both hands move mechanically, a spoonful of porridge for my son, a spoonful of porridge for my daughter. I can’t stop, if my left hand stops then I’ve lost my opportunity. Once his mouth is closed, once he’s lost interest, I might as well give up. There’s no coming back. If my right hand stops, my daughter unleashes her temper. She squeals until she’s purple-faced and unable to breathe. Not even the spoon can calm her down, she’s inconsolable until she feels the hunger again. What about me? Well my son loves to share, I get the lumps he takes out of his mouth and pushes to my lips, he’ll be distraught if I dare reject his offer of kindness.

Next comes play time, my favourite part of the morning. Siena is getting stronger each day, at 8 months old, she’s not like other babies. She’s had further to climb and she’s rising to the challenge just fine but she’s still small for her age, still unable to do most things an 8 month old should be able to do. She now enjoys her Jumperoo, although he feet still don’t quite reach the ground. This is where her brother comes in handy. He stands beside her, bouncing her up and down, side to side. He shows her the toys, teaches her how to work them. I watch them and my heart hurts with pride. I’m so proud of how Siena flourishes, I’m proud of how Tristan has taken to her. I’m proud of how gentle he can be, how much love he has for her…then he spots her dummy and the peace is momentarily disturbed. He is such a dummy fiend, his only weakness. He is so incapable of seeing another baby with a dummy without releasing the green eyed monster (or in his case, the blue eyed devil). Even if he has two of his own, nothing will appease him.

If I’m lucky, they nap.

In which case, I clean. That’s right, my only hour off and I spend it doing tasks that I wouldn’t manage to do otherwise. Some of these are a complete and utter waste of time. I tidy away toys, knowing that I’ll repeat the same job maybe three more times in the day. I get myself dressed, ready to hit the ground running as soon as they both wake.

Now for the fun part, let’s leave the house. Bags packed, I tackle both babies at one time. A fully loaded car seat in one hand, my son attached perfectly to my hip. I really do bless them for how slender my arms look these days. My arms have always been my least favourite part of my body and the place I always check first on a photo. These days, I appreciate their natural tone. They may never be as svelte as they once were but human weights have definitely contributed to their current state.

In a perfect world, my day would be seamless. In reality, it can go one of two ways. Either both babies will behave, they’ll be merry and we’ll manage to survive tantrum free. We’ll laugh together, everyone will eat and we’ll come home feeling inflated with love and the memories of a truly delightful day. Or we’ll cry. Recently, I visited the Metro Centre with both babies alone. My task was to pick up my Daughter’s christening gown and head straight home. It was awful!

At one point, I was actually approached and asked whether I needed help. Well wasn’t it obvious?! Of course I needed help! My son was psychotically clawing at his sister, determined to snatch the dummy from her mouth. My daughter was so distraught she was choking on her own saliva. I’d tried reasoning with him, I’d even tried bribery. In the end, I shouted. I shouted out loud for all to hear. I swore, I nearly cried.

Hideously embarrassed, I dashed from the store and headed to the car. As I transferred my son from his pushchair to his car seat, he wrapped his arms around my neck and kissed my nose. I was, once again, putty in his hands.

So, on a typical day, it’s no wonder I hear the chorus ‘you’ve got your hands full’ several times. I do. I have two babies with only 9 months between them, both still in nappies, both incapable of talking. But aren’t I lucky?

I’ve twice the laughter, twice the smiles, twice the love and twice the pride. So you may say my hands are full but you should see my heart. It’s bursting with joy.

  

I Worry that I Worry too Much

  

There appears to be a life long belief that you worry more about girls than you do boys. I suppose this stems from boys apparently being more independent and self sufficient (I don’t buy into it). Once upon a time, men were viewed as the stronger sex. We weren’t meant to worry about them because they were more than capable of taking care of themselves. Yet, between you and your brother, I don’t know who I worry about more.

When I signed up to be a Mother, I expected to worry. I’d heard that it was part of the deal. I just never realised the extent of my worry or how crazy it would be. I thought I’d worry about the basics: will my children turn out to be decent human beings? Will I be good enough for them? Will I be able to teach them qualities to be both successful and grounded? Will I keep them safe from harm? I didn’t expect to worry about the colour of one’s poo or how many ounces you’ve gained in a week. I don’t know if I worry more about you or less about you because you were premature! Your heart murmur and lung make you vulnerable and that makes me uneasy but I know you can cope. Even now, in hospital for the second time since you were discharged from NICU, I witness you fight infection like a hero. You’re brother, on the other hand, will be a different story.

When Tristan was 1st born, he was so vulnerable. Naively, I’d thought that all babies entered the world ‘ready’ but he wasn’t. He looked at his new surroundings in fear, looked at our faces in horror. When the house fell dark and quiet at night, I could see the torture on his face. I’ll never quite forget that look. Like a rabbit caught in the headlight, he was terrified. It took a tight swaddle and the sound of the womb on constant repeat to convince him that he was safe. It was then that I knew I’d worry about his vulnerability for life. You, however, arrived 9 weeks early and couldn’t have been more ‘ready’ to join society.
Much like his Father, Tristan is reluctant to accept change. It takes him time to adjust to new situations and scenery. I see him, even now at 15 months old, analysing every possible threat. He takes his time, moves slowly and assesses everything before he commits emotionally and physically. He’s bulky and sturdy yet delicate and fragile. He’s loud and playful yet timid and shy. I worry how he’ll adapt to going to nursery, then school. He doesn’t take to new people. He’ll be so scared when he has to venture out into the Big Bad World on his own. I don’t worry about you though, you’re completely different. 
You’re only 5 months old and yet I can see your true colours perfectly. You’re like your mother, daring and venturesome. You take things in your stride, a ‘jump first, think later’ kind of girl. You see new situations as an adventure, you’re brave and ready to conquer. When the time comes for you to leave home, I know you’ll flourish because when you’re pushed to your limits is when you’re at your best. 
I worry about you for other reasons.   
Your brother has never had any physical ailments. He’s been slightly poorly once within his 1st year of life. He lasted a full 11 months before his 1st doctors appointment and has never even had a temperature. As I said earlier, he’s strong and sturdy. The day he falls sick, I’ll be beside myself. I don’t know his limits, I don’t know how much he can handle. You, however, can be pushed to limits I’d never believe were possible.
From the day you were born, you’ve struggled to breathe. Your pneumothorax was so severe that it left your right lung weak. In your 23 weeks of living, you’ve been hospitalised twice with breathing difficulties. I worry that you’re in pain although you don’t show it. I worry that you’ll go on to develop Asthma later in life. I worry that your lung will collapse again, in the middle of the night, while we’re sleeping and it will go unnoticed. There’s one thing that I don’t worry about you though, I don’t worry about your survival. I’ve seen you stare death in the face and know that it will never be an option.  Your strength is admirable. You’re the strongest person I know and you’re only so young. Still, I can see it in your eyes, that strength of yours is permanent. This makes me worry for your brother again.
This time, I worry because you are going to be equally the best sibling around and a total nightmare. Your confidence will teach Tristan to take more risks. You’ll encourage him to be braver, to believe in himself. Your determination will drive him wild. He’ll forever give in to you. He’ll let you have your own way and will back down to keep the peace. Although, this will teach him that women should be strong and when the time comes for him to find a wife, he’ll admire strength and won’t be intimidated. I just hope though that you remind him that he too should be strong and that he too deserves to get what he wants out of life. 
A lot of the time I worry about what the future will hold but why? Worrying isn’t going to make your lung stronger or your Brother more confident. So,  I’m setting myself a goal here, I’m cutting it out. Worry takes so much joy out of things. Worry makes me forget to appreciate the little things. You both give me a million reasons to be proud. Until you or your brother give me real reason to worry, I’m putting worry aside…at least for tonight.