There is always cake.

I am a big birthday person. I LOVE them. Like really love them. They are full of happiness, kindness, excitement and just really damn special. I’ve always tried to have things planned (mostly the food) and the more people you can share it with the better. Which is lucky because my husband is one of those miserable about being a year older kind of birthday people and his is the day before mine. Someone has to make that week fun!!! 
For a birthday enjoyer to be honest I’ve had my fair share of crappy birthdays. There was that one at primary school when I had a raging pneumonia. Then the one at intermediate where I was literally DYING of tonsillitis, in fact I’m pretty sure there have been at least three tonsillitis birthdays (don’t worry, those bad boys have been removed, life is so much better but that’s a story for another day). My dad passed away two days before my 20th birthday, so I was pretty keen for birthdays not to exist that year. And to be honest ever since then they have had this shadow over them that is hard to shake. 

This year although I still made sure my birthday had some excellent food and a little fun it wasn’t the most significant birthday in my mind anymore. It’s amazing (and everyone tells you this but you still don’t quite get it) how everything that was important in your life before children really doesn’t matter once you have them. Now, the only birthday of true significance is Charlie and Oliver’s. 

I know a lot of people struggle with our approach sometimes, we do tend to focus on the hard stuff, the sad stuff, the stuff that tears you apart. And so when we decided to take this first birthday as our day to fall apart I was reminded by so many people to celebrate the year milestone and the good things and how well Oliver is doing. But honestly, that isn’t what I wanted or needed to do. I want to do that for every single birthday he has after this one. I want there to be parties and friends, family, food and fun. I don’t want shadows on Oliver’s day because that’s not fair. But to do that we needed to have one big dark shadowy birthday. So that next year when the 29th of May comes around we know we have mourned the day and we can let the light in.   

So thank you for letting us do yet another thing our way. Thank you for missing us while we are away and for giving us the space to just be. And thank you, massive massive thank you, to everyone who popped a little something into Oliver’s NICU birthday present. We are off to a fantastic start!! 
https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/charlieandoliver


 

Poor boobies.

This is it. I’m sitting down (and for once I’ve remembered to bring water with me and if you’ve been with me when I’ve pumped you’ll know how rarely that happens!!), and I’m pumping. For the absolute very last time. 

I’m three weeks away from having expressed breast milk for an entire year. It seems silly to stop when you’re just three weeks away, but I’m determined to have a proper holiday. No pump, no watching the clock, no finding the time, no hoping he sleeps a little longer so I can finish. I’ve slowly weaned down over the last few weeks and we have been transitioning Oliver to formula over the last two months. 

You start pumping because you tell yourself you want the milk to be there for when you start to breastfeed. And the hardest part about stopping is the realisation that there’s no breastfeeding. There won’t ever be. That ship has sailed. It’s been blown through a storm. And it’s been well and truly sunk. 

I’m sad. Sad for the loss of it, and the knowledge that once it’s gone it can’t come back. But as I sit here and look at that machine I’m sad that I won’t use it again, that I’ll clean this equipment after this and that’ll be something ridiculous like the 2,065th time that I’ll have cleaned it (yup…I calculated) and I won’t clean it again. 

I’m also sad that my breasts are going back to just being breasts. Don’t get me wrong, I’m also extremely bloody happy about this, and trying not to get too depressed about the fact that they are now, and will forevermore be saggy deflated balloons…but I’m sad that they won’t provide anymore. They are just regular old boobies, not life sustaining boobies. Poor boobies. 

I’m also sad because I’m leaving a big part of the NICU behind me now. I spent hours in that pump room, I’ve talked to so many mum’s about pumping, and we have all drawn closer together because of it. And now I’m not in that group anymore. 

Oh and obviously there’s the milk guilt of course. You know, because it’s important as a mother to punish yourself no matter how you do something, or which choice you make. So there’s that. Oliver will end up an axe murderer because I stopped pumping three weeks too early. Oliver will end up an axe murderer because we are giving him regular formula and not goats milk. Oliver will end up an axe murderer because I didn’t keep providing breast milk for him until he went to high school. 

I’ve been practicing a daily mantra, and to every single mum out there who has struggled to pump, struggled to breastfeed, struggled to make milk, I’d recommend it. It’s simple and short, but it’s true. 

“You did well, he had some of your milk, it’s okay to stop”. 

Silly. But I’ve said it to myself every day, multiple times a day for the last two months because other people can yell that at you continuously and it means nothing until you believe it yourself. 

You did well. He had some of your milk. It’s okay to stop. 

So tomorrow I’ll twiddle my thumbs while Oliver sleeps (ha!), I’ll have a huge glass of wine and I’ll wear a normal SUPPORTIVE UNDERWIRE bra during the day and NO BRA at night and it will be sadness and relief and exhilaration all at the same time. 

Mumma’s, you did well. He had some of your milk. It’s okay to stop. 


 

“My baby is a great sleeper”…said no-one, ever.

There’s that one day during the first year of your child’s life that you sit down with your cup of hot tea and your novel and you think something’s very, very wrong, why is he asleep, I should check him, he’s probably not breathing, like the only reason he could possible sleep this long is if he’s dead right, this tea is too hot, this cannot be real. Then there are the other 364 days of that year that you stand by the cot rocking him a little tiny bit too vigorously praying to anyone and everyone that he will just close his eyes. I spend a lot of time talking/crying with other parents about babies and sleep. For a little human being that needs a great deal of rest they sure don’t want it!?!

Here is a little list of things that can reduce a grown adult to tears, hopefully of laughter as you read, but remember that parents cry real-exasperated-I-give-up tears as a reaction to these evil, evil, evil things. 

1. Other people’s children. Do children even go to school at all these days?! It seems like there is always a child outside your window crying/playing/screeching like a banshee. Where are the truancy officers, it cannot be school holidays AGAIN?!! And shouldn’t these kids be inside on the Xbox anyway? MY child will not be like that, he will play quietly and gently in the garden respecting all other parents and their wide awake despite four hours of rocking/jiggling/singing (if you can call it that) babies.

2. Rubbish day. We dread rubbish day. It’s once a week, why is it every single week? And why the heck hasn’t someone invented silent trucks yet? And why wouldn’t the nice recycling man not be open to my fabulous suggestion of please placing each jar and tin and bottle individually and gently into the truck?! And perhaps if you could park the truck at the end of the road and just walk down to get the bins thanks? That would be great, much appreciated. 

3. Grass. More specifically, growing grass. Another machine that would be immediately embraced by the parenting community would be silent lawnmowers. Mrs next door I swear to god you mowed that lawn yesterday!!!!!! As for you Mr diagonally opposite, you were definitely out there mowing this morning and you’re out there mowing again this afternoon. And honestly both of your lawns put together aren’t as long as our lawn which hasn’t seen a mower in the last 6 months (who am I kidding? Twelve months). 

4. Car doors. Seriously we have soft close kitchen cabinets and I’ve definitely used one of those fancy soft close toilet seats, where the hell are the soft close car doors??? And you definitely weren’t hiding a soccer team in that family wagon, so how do four of you possible need to open and close the doors 49 times before you make it inside the house?Don’t come home in your car during the day, or at night actually, just don’t come home. In fact probably best if you move away. Far away. 

5. Cots/bassinets/Moses baskets/Pepi-pods/any baby sleep receptacle: how is it that babies are allergic to the very thing that was specifically designed for them to sleep in? It doesn’t matter how long they have been blissfully asleep in your arms for, doesn’t matter how many times you’ve coughed, or jiggled to test the depth of sleep, the second they feel their head touch their bed it’s like panic stations as those eyes whip open and stare at you, ‘you think I don’t know what you’re doing woman?! Nice try, now pick me up out of this snuggly, warm, perfectly made cot of HELL and get me back in your arms, you’re not DOING anything today, how many times do I have to tell you?”

And finally…

6. The most evil disturber of sleep ever invented that half of us can’t live without, the pacifier. Oh you trickster, you bringer of false sleep, you magical comforter turned sleep destroyer!!! They want it, they blissfully suck it, they fall beautifully asleep, right? Deeply, soundly asleep, like we do the second our heads hit the pillow these days. It lolls out of their mouth and you let it sit there because you’re too scared to move, they roll their head over and it falls out. Still asleep? *sigh*. The relief. It’s done. Magic. 

Then BAM, crisis-mum-it-fell-out-of-my-mouth, where is it where is it WHERE IS IT!?!!!! 

Don’t fight it parents. Sit down with a hand towel (a flannel is not enough, trust me) and cry. He’s not asleep anyway, so you can sob as loud as you like, while you dream of the day he’s a teenager and he won’t STOP sleeping. 

Fall back. 

It’s completely the opposite of what I should be doing right now, it’s after midnight and I can’t sleep. I can’t sleep because I’m a parent and the clocks change tonight. It’s our first one. So naturally we are crapping ourselves at the possibility of an extra, extra early wake up, because no one tells the kids that they can have an extra hours sleep and it’ll be heavenly. So while you’re all lying in your cosy beds and rejoicing over the ‘fall back’ of the clocks, and how much you’re going to absolutely make the most of that glorious extra hour, spare a seconds thought for all of the parents lying tensely in their beds, eyes tightly shut but sleep mysteriously absent, as they wait, anxious and terrified of the wake up they will receive at some truly ridiculous hour. 

And then take another second to think of all the parents of kids with feeding ‘issues’ and how we all sat down before bed tonight and tried to figure out the best way to transition the feeds into the new timing without starving our children, but also without changing everything so much that it would take days to crawl it back to the timing that works. 

I don’t even know if we have really figured it out, and I’m guessing Sunday is going to be a bit of a mess for a lot of mums and dads. It’s okay, don’t worry about a shower, in fact don’t even get dressed, just get through the day. 

Please let the coffee shops be open early, like, early early. 

In fact, maybe I should have one now, just to be prepared? 

  

‘Tis the season.

It’s almost April?!!! Don’t even ask me how that happened. It’s lovely though, the leaves are changing, the nights are cooler, and the sky has that pale blue to it that hints of those sunny winter days. It’s Autumn, which means that winter is coming. To most people winter is the snow season, the soup season, the scarf season. For parents of premature infants winter is the RSV season and a few mums have asked for some help in explaining to others just what this means. So here you go.
Respiratory Syncytial Virus. Or more simply Really Serious Virus.
I’ve talked a lot about germs, hand hygiene and keeping our kids safe from illness. But we have been home from hospital a while right? He’s big and sturdy and looks so happy and healthy right? Absolutely. On the outside. 

The things you can’t see are on the inside, as his lungs continue to work really hard to grow new healthy tissue to replace all the chronic lung diseased tissue that fills his chest. 

Statistically if we can get our little man through his first winter relatively unscathed, and if we can avoid RSV then his long term respiratory outlook is remarkably improved. Like, astoundingly. 

As a paediatric nurse I work with little babies with RSV every single day. I monitor them as they struggle to breathe and I put tubes down their throats because they can’t eat and breathe at the same time. I hold masks over their faces to administer inhalers, nebulisers, and oxygen. I hit the emergency bell for more help when I see that this kid is about to stop breathing. From a cold. A normal, everyday, run of the mill cold. 

RSV gives an adult a congested nose for a few days, a chesty cough if they are unlucky. To diseased lungs RSV can be a death sentence. 

If that description isn’t enough here’s a visual of the lung tissue of a term baby and the lung tissue of a premature baby. Imagine a little mucous getting into huge adult lung? Then imagine it getting into a term baby’s lungs, blocking it 2/3 of the way up and making it pretty hard to breathe. Then imagine that in a preemies lung tissue, there’s no breathing room. 

  
Image: http://www.preemiebabies101.com

Now it’s hard for us, as parents, to say please, don’t come inside. Because we feel rude, antisocial, and over protective. But as we all head into winter I ask you to bear with us, and understand that if we can get through this winter, then we can breathe a little more easily. In every way! 
So if you’ve got a friend or family member with a premature baby that’s heading into its first or second winter, please consider the lungs and the terror of the ICU. Because that’s where they will go. Please stay away if you or anyone in your family is sick, especially young children. And please remember that it’s only a couple of months. Then we will all emerge bright eyed and bushy tailed ready for springtime adventures! 

  

A milestone for mum. 

I use the term ‘normal mums’ a lot, and I’m beginning to hate it because it doesn’t sound good and I feel bad for using it. I’m just not sure of another way to put it though. The mums who go to play groups and hang out with toddlers, the ones who are out and about and just feed their kids. I love my ‘normal mum’ friends as they show me the goodness that’s out there, while also showing me that that’s bloody hard work too. It’s a world I don’t know, and I’m sad about that. But I guess I’m also privileged to be in this other world because I’ve met some pretty amazing people.Today, with one of my Nicu besties we had what we could only call our first, real, long, normal mum morning. I came home with a lightness in my heart that I haven’t felt in a long time. I felt like we could do this. That although we are still well and truly in the tunnel and sometimes it doesn’t feel like there’s a light at the end, I have realised there are some lights along the way. 

We went to a playgroup. A preemie playgroup run by therapists, but a playgroup nonetheless. We sat with a few other mums, and our babies played and babbled, and we talked and listened. Then, when all the kids were on their way to hysterical with tiredness we walked up to a cafe for a coffee while our boys chilled in their prams. 

We went to playgroup and then out for coffee. How normal can you get??? 

It was a mission getting out of the house like it is for any parent. Reshuffling of feed times, sacrificed sleep, and a bag full of tubie equipment. But we did it and it was so unbelievably worth it, because while we were at playgroup our boys became the BIGGEST show offs! 

We work extremely hard encouraging Oliver’s development because we know how high the risk is for him to be delayed. We give him every opportunity, complete every exercise the physio recommends, we push him probably a little too hard at times but today he simply shone. 

I put him down on that mat with his friends and he sat there. He just sat there. All by himself. 

Thank you Oliver for being my superhero buddy on a normal mum day. This is a shout out to every parent who made it out of the house today, I know how hard it is, but damn it feels good once you’ve done it. 

 

Thanks Facebook. 

Friday, February 26, 2016.It’s 1045 and already it’s been a big day. 

Facebook does this thing where it likes to remind of you memories that happened in your Facebook past. Today it reminded me that one year ago exactly we announced to the world that we were having twins.

When it first popped up I immediately felt sad; angry at Facebook for reminding me of something that has so much heartache attached to it. Then I made myself stop and remember that although the pregnancy was pretty awful and the birth was horrifically traumatic, and the 6 months after that were the hardest we have ever had to survive through, it was actually a really happy day. We had amazing dreams of a family of four, two little identical boys running around causing mischief. We were excited about the future, the unknown, wondering who these little people would be and how we would raise them in the world. 

We felt special that we had become part of that small percentage of people who are gifted with identical twins. Unique. 

I was already planning in my head, the nursery, the names, the fun that we would have. William was thinking about taking them tramping, showing them the beauty of the country that we live in. 

So I stopped and pulled myself out of the sadness and tried to focus on those happy feelings that we had. That although the photo brought me reminders of loss it also represents a huge exciting time in our lives. We started on the road to becoming parents. 

Today also happens to be our 6 year wedding anniversary. It is also the day that I leave my two boys for a weekend away to celebrate some of our best friends, as they get married. As so often happens in life it’s a mixture of a day, with happy and sad intertwined. 

But the sun is shining and I’m pretty sure I haven’t forgotten too many things that I need, and I’m going to have an uninterrupted afternoon of reading my book at the airport, so it’s time to focus on the good. 

That 6th year of marriage was the toughest of the tough, and we are still an EPIC team. Neither of us could have made it to today without the other, and I don’t think it’s made us stronger, but it’s made us realise that falling apart is okay, because you have each other to help you put the pieces back together again. As you all know, a puzzle is much easier with a second set of eyes. 

Happy Friday everyone. Here’s to twins, marriages, lists, reading and love. 

  

To pump or not to pump, that is the question.

 
We’re back on the feeding. But in a different way. William came home last week and told me ‘there’s not many bags left in the freezer’ and I lost my mind for an evening as I thought about all the ways that I had failed as a mother. It’s a mum thing and as much as they want to help, dad’s just do not understand.

Whether you are breast, bottle or tube feeding, milk supply is an emotional subject. We all want to know that we are providing our child with everything that they need until they no longer need it. Sadly this is often not the case as our bodies can only make so much milk and if it’s not enough, then sadly it’s just not enough. So mum, after mum, after mum goes through the agony of adding formula, of letting the breast milk go. Not everyone. But a lot. 

I can’t speak about breast feeding, I don’t know what skin to skin at birth is like, what it feels like to put your baby to the breast just minutes after welcoming them to the world. But I can speak about expressing. About the agony of a midwife with bony hands squeezing your nipple to within an inch of its life, as she shows you how to express colostrum. About then trying to do the same while the husband tries to catch all the tiny drops with a syringe. About cherishing every little ml we can collect and taking it to our boys as the one thing we could do for them. About the milk coming in and the husband massaging huge, hard, sore breasts to get the milk out while you hold the cups to yourself and try not to cry from the pain. I can talk about the total sense of achievement when the bottles fill up easily and you know that it’s helping your miracle baby. But I can also talk about the misery of watching the milk fill up the bottles after your baby passes away, and the sight of it all making you want to scream. About the alarm going off in the middle of the night calling you to a breast pump that hurts your nipples and doesn’t look up at you with cute tired eyes while it does so. About the hours and hours we must have spent hooked up to that pump over the months, alone and bored. And the hours we spent hooked up to it alongside the other mums, chatting, supporting, just being there in silence. 

After you work so hard and long at something, anything, it’s incredibly disappointing when it starts to fail. When suddenly one day you realise when you express you’re not getting enough for a full feed, so you supplement it with milk from your freezer store. Until that day that you discover the freezer store is almost out and your ability to feed your child is almost gone. 

We have a love/hate relationship with expressing. Ask us any day, we hate it, it takes up so much time and effort, takes away from time that we can be with our baby. But if you say to us ‘stop doing it then’ we will look at you like you’re insane. And that is because of the milk guilt. 

If we had the opportunity to breastfeed we would have. And we wouldn’t stop until our baby didn’t want it anymore. But we didn’t. And if we choose to stop pumping or our milk runs out then it’s another tick on the list of mummy failures. We are not against using formula. We just don’t want to not use breastmilk. 

This is all made even more complicated when you’re tube feeding. What if we change to formula and try to get off the tube and he hates the taste? What if we add formula and his sensitive stomach revolts against it and we are back to screaming and spewing? What if we add formula and everything is a million times better and it was our milk all along that was bad? 

We all know the rational; the fed is best frame of mind. And we do try hard to keep it in the forefront. But we also need to grieve. To let go of one more thing on our parenting journey. We will let the milk go one day, but for a while we will all embrace the milk guilt and look crazy as we try to get supply back up. To buy us some time to process the sadness, so that when we do stop we are as ready as we can be. 

  

Shall we pop out for lunch?

Babies don’t have a routine. 
Good luck getting your baby to stick to that.

Baby not sleeping/feeding/waking when you planned? It’s a baby!!! 
We’ve all heard it a million times, preemie or not, from every single person offering advice about motherhood. We get told over and over again, don’t bother making plans, babies have their own routine. Yet at the same time So much about a baby is trying to get feeding and sleeping into some sort of pattern so that the little rascal can grow and develop in a nurturing environment based on full bellies and rest. A tired, hungry baby can’t function and a tired mum can’t function either. So we all battle for the routine. And we breathe through as people support us by telling us our efforts are futile. Thanks for that. 

A baby that spends its first 6 months of ‘life’ in hospital has a routine. A baby on medications for the delicious goodies they didn’t get in that mystical third trimester has a tight routine. A tube fed/medicated baby has an even stricter routine. And a tube fed/medicated baby with feed/medication intolerance has a routine so regimented that mum and baby fall off the wagon if the breeze so much as changes direction.
There’s no such thing as demand feeding, and as often as we can we let them wake on their own, but that can’t happen all the time. There’s volumes that need to be reached, if we don’t get the feeds on time then we lose volume. We lose volume, we lose weight. We desperately need weight. If we don’t get weight then we will be dropping our kids at the high school ball with a tube taped to their face. 
Our little Oliver is in such a well planned routine that his awake time is allocated to physio, tummy time, play mat, sitting, solids, reading and cuddles. His sleep time starts the minute his milk feed starts and he’s stuck in that bed for at least two hours, one for the feed and one to get out of the spew zone. Then there’s an hour of grace that technically should be sleep time, but it’s our time to get out and walk, or go for coffee, or anything to be normal. Then? It’s awake time again. 

And around we go. 
Within this schedule there are medications, some can go together, some can’t, some are pre feed, during feed, post feed, some need refrigeration, some don’t. 

If we miss one that’s just extending the time we have to be on them all as we try to help these little bodies catch up. 

As much as babies have their own routine, and sometimes Oliver does fight the layout of his day, he generally does exactly as he is supposed to, because he has been doing it for so long. In fact, some days, when I’ve gone CRAZY flexible and the feed is 30 mins late, or the awake time is used as a lunch date without all the ‘jobs’ he’s an actual mess. 

Mum??? What IS going ON???
This is why sometimes you get kicked out of the house rather swiftly if he’s woken up mid feed, or why we suddenly bail on plans we tried to make, or why we lock ourselves in the house some days. Because we tried to NOT be in routine that day, and it failed. Because we wanted a little bit of normality and so we sacrificed our normality and sometimes it works and sometimes it really doesn’t. 
Nicu mums, mums of medically fragile kids, mums of kids with special needs, we envy flexibility, spontaneity, the ability to feed elsewhere, the nappy bags that just hold a few nappies, toys and wipes. But we also hold so tight to our inflexibility, as it means we are in control. Geez how many times have I written about control?? 
Our routines are a blessing and a curse and whether it’s more one than the other is inconsequential as we have no choice. If babies have to have a routine, then they have one. And on the days that they don’t want it we cuddle them, tell them we love them and then do the routine anyway, because as much as we would like to just listen to our baby and be flexible, it’s almost impossible. 
Do we have a sleep/feed/awake routine? Yes. Does that make us ‘better’ parents because we can do it and others can’t? No. 

But sometimes on the days when I struggle with our normality and how much I wish it was different I count it as one success we have had. But don’t worry, tomorrow I’ll curse it again because I just want to go out for 3 hours in a row so I can try every duck island ice cream flavour in one sitting.  

  

Don’t grow up, it’s a trap!

1. Hairdresser (it had been a fair while)
2. Pharmacy (Mr O’s list of goodies)

3. Leaving dinner for a close friend (Jaipur obviously)

4. Ed Sheeran (!!!!)

5. Icecream (duck island obviously)

6. Shopping (because – had baby, for some reason not at previous clothing size ??)

The six times I have left Oliver since bringing him home. 

This most recent time I went shopping with a friend as I had a voucher to spend for myself, but I also wanted to get Oliver a sunhat. We don’t go out often, and when we do, its short due to our feeding regime and he’s generally hidden away in his pram because, like pregnant belly touching, people have this thing about touching babies. 

Now, I love pregnant belly touching. People would always be cautious and ask me, but seriously, I loved that you loved to touch my belly and chat to our boys. 

I don’t love baby touching. 

You all know how this mumma feels about hand washing and touching our baby. So I tend to hide him away to avoid having to suddenly tug him closer to me as someone I don’t know reaches out their probably-unwashed-after-working-with-an-advanced-strain-of-Ebola-virus-hand. 

But I know this isn’t good for him, or for me, so I’ve decided I need to take him out more, and for this he will need a sunhat. 

I found the perfect one; snug fit, full circle brim, chin strap, grey (we love grey), oh and $7, need I say more??

The brand of this hat? Charlie&me. 

I’ve never heard of this brand and it gave me a fright to see it on a hat that seemed to be the only right one in a bin full of hats. 

So I bought it, came home, showed it to William. 

We shared a quiet look and then I said I think I’ll take the label off, and he said I think that’s a good idea. And we continued with our day.

There’s a constant balancing act we have discovered. Between needing to keep Charlie present in our lives and needing to make sure Oliver knows he’s perfect, that he’s enough. One thing we know we do not want is Oliver growing up with a shadow over him, feeling that his parents ‘never got over my brother’, that we wanted more than Oliver. And the tough thing is that we do want more, we want Charlie so damn much. I want to be even more tired than I am now, with double the feeding and changing and smiling and little nudey bottom. But we know it wouldn’t have been like this, Charlie would have been a different kid to Oliver even if he looked exactly the same. We would have had much more than ‘just’ feeding issues on our hands. And so as much as it feels awful to say it (more than awful, it makes me feel sick because it doesn’t mean we loved him any less) we want Charlie, but we want the Charlie he could have been. So we walk this line with Oliver, of having Charlie alongside him and we hope we can keep it healthy and happy, so that he never feels sad or alone, as the boy that lived (HP reference noted, and consciously left in, because, you know). 

I want the world to know that Oliver isn’t an only child, but I want Oliver to know that he is. That yes, he has a twin brother, and we miss him, and as he grows bigger he will understand it more, but that he is enough, that we don’t wish it to be different, except in the way that we wish life had just dealt us a perfect hand straight off instead of making us lose the first million rounds. 

Even as I write this it’s hard to make it come out right, but I guess we want Charlie present without him being a burden on his brother. I hope that because we are aware of it, intelligent, insightful human beings we will be able to find the balance in everyday life and it won’t seem too hard. 

But I have a firm belief that children should never feel the worry that their parents do. Yes I want to teach Oliver about money and being kind and relationships, but I think it’s important that he never feels the worries that are an adults domain. He shouldn’t feel stressed if our money is tight, because that’s our job as adults, he’s got so much time to stress about it when he’s grown up, so we will work hard to make sure he doesn’t see it. He shouldn’t feel hurt when adults do or say unkind things because he should see us only being kind in front of him. He shouldn’t have to worry about his mum and dad and if they are happy, because he will learn when he meets someone that’s it’s hard work sometimes, so we will show him how much love we have for each other and keep the tough times to ourselves. 

I don’t think this isn’t preparing him for the ‘real world’. I think the damn real world shoves it’s nose in perfectly fine on its own and as a child you deserve that time to just be, be happy, be trusting, be young, believe in magic and the goodness in everything and everyone. There are years of the real world for him once he’s grown up, why does he need to be shown it now? 

So we will have a brother for him that he knows about, that he can ask about, see pictures, and hold his feet if he wants to. And he will feel sad that he doesn’t have Charlie to play with. But he won’t feel like his parents wish things were better, he won’t feel like his mum cries all the time or his parents love Charlie more. Because it’s our job to show him that he is loved. That he is more than we ever thought we would have. That he is perfect just the way he is, all the time. 

So while it felt a little special that he could have walked around with a hat the said ‘Charlie&me’ it’s not okay for him to do that. He’s Charlie’s identical twin, yes. 

But he’s Oliver.