Me…start a blog?

Over the last two years my world has revolved around taking care of Leila and Rahul, my almost year-and-a-half twins. So to start a blog now, seems a bit strange. What could I possibly have to say? I don’t know which regimes are being toppled over, I haven’t seen photos of the effects of the recent earthquake in Japan, I don’t know what yoga workshops are on in the region, don’t know if Federer is still kicking ass, or who presented at the Chengdu Bookworm literary festival; or anything for that matter. Outrageous, I know.
Only a few years earlier I didn’t even know what a blog was until friends in Chengdu complained that they couldn’t access blogspot. Facebook, YouTube, and a number of blogging sites can’t be accessed in China.
After some complications in my pregnancy while in China, I ended up spending 4 months in bed including 7 weeks in hospital, split into 4 different hospital stays.
A number of foreign doctors here, in Shanghai, and Beijing recommended that we leave for the birth, due to the high risk of going into preterm labour and possible lack of high level care for premature babies.
So went to Hong Kong at 26 weeks gestation. L and R came at 31 weeks, and were cared for at the Queen Mary NICU.
The bed-rest, high-speed internet and open access to all sites meant lots of time on the internet, and my initiation to blogs. But it was only when L and R were five-months-old, after my mum who had spent 9 months with me left, and both of those things coincided with our return to Chengdu that I really got into it.
I came upon some blogs that MoT’s wrote. For the first time in a long time I felt like I could relate. They wrote how exhausted they were, how they only bathed their babies a couple of times a week, rarely dressed them in anything other than pyjamas. I didn’t feel as guilty anymore that L and R didn’t go out everyday. They weren’t the only ones. To have them both ready to go out meant nappies changed, both well fed, not too tired, and a big diaper bag full of provisions.
I remember a post by a father of twins about how his two-year-old girls were finally sleeping through the night, most of the time, anyways. So my two waking up a few times each and every night means I can still be considered in the norm.
One mum wrote about her birth story; similar to mine – it included flights, hospital stays for both mum and babies, pumping pumping pumping, stress, fear, pain, relief.
Then there was one couple that blogged about their micro preemie twins birth, NICU stay including all the medical details, the obsession with weight gain, the monitors, breathing, digestion, good days, bad days. It wasn’t the most fun blog I ever read. They were born much earlier than L and R, but I could relate to much of it and realised that I would have to deal with this part of R and L, and in fact all of four of our lives one day, and to be at peace with it somehow.
Reading these stories was like holding a mirror out in front of me. a way to see what we had been through, a way to realize we were not alone – and importantly to let go of it.
There were honest, touching posts as well like the one HDYDI MoT, rebecca, who wrote One Baby Envy ( ). Others complained about the silly questions ( they got when they took their twins out. If I get started on the questions and comments I got in Chengdu it would never end.
Sometimes the comments were funny – MoM’s bitching about how J Lo (on the cover of People Magazine March 2008) could possibly look as perfect so soon after she had her twins.
I related to these parents and it helped with the isolation I sometimes felt being in China without my family and with no experience with babies whatsoever. Neither of my brothers or brothers-in-law have children. One of my childhood friends has a son in Zambia who I haven’t yet met. I had held one of my friend’s tiny babies in Lebanon a couple of times last year feeling clumsy and incapable all the time. So yes, I had that experience.
I had a few parenting books. They only briefly covered twins if at all.
But, we were together again, the four of us in Chengdu. That was our main source of strength. I had help from people here. L and R ‘s nanny or “ayi” meaning aunty as she is called endearingly is a superwoman, a great source of real support and help.
A friend as close as I imagine a sister to be was strong and present when I needed her most.
Another friend lent me lifesaving books at every stage along the way. And there were many others who made up my “village”, both in real life and in my blog life. The crazy thing now is that sometimes my kids both sleep for a few hours at the same time, but silly me stays up to blog.
In addition to relating to other mums and dads on blogs, I found tips, such as this post ( that gives advice about choosing a double stroller that works for you depending on it’s use, tips like store big quantities of diapers, wet -wipes, food etc. so you don’t need to go out to the stores until really necessary. Obvious, but hey at least I don’t feel crazy when I walk into my pantry and see the hoarding.
There were videos of calm mums simultaneously feeding their babies. R and L were rarely on the same schedule, so it didn’t apply, but still nice to see how others do it.
So even though I live in this tiny world of eating, playing, bathing, trying to schedule, exploring and sleepless nights, I feel like I am above water, some of time at least.
So now I have the occasion to share my own stories and maybe get some interaction going. Perhaps a new mum, even a MoT will come across it and feel she can relate, find some useful information, or just have a laugh. I would be glad to contribute to that somehow.
These are stories for R and L to read one day if they want to. And if nothing else a way for friends and family to keep up with our lives in China, or wherever.
The other day I read a blog about the therapeutic effects of blogging. That did it for me, a few minutes later I signed up! Not really, but it made me realise that every time I put down my thoughts they rarely came out negative or depressive, but rather I manage to find the “funny” in things, now that I am not sinking all the time, of course.
It reminded me of a phrase from a song my dad often used to say to his not so smiley teenage daughter, “When you smile the whole world smiles with you. When you cry, you cry alone.”

We had to laugh (in retrospect!) when…

…on our way back from a trip to Hong Kong in October 2010, we missed our flight and had to spend ten hours at the airport scavenging for diapers and formula! Leila had a bad case of diarrhea and so we left the hotel a little late, but I can’t put the blame on that!  Neither one of us wears a watch, and we took our time to get to our departure gate, changed diapers along the way, bought a few things at the pharmacy, and when we got to the gate the plane was taking off. Hey, anyone who travels with a baby, or two, would understand!

…on our way to Koh Samui in February this year we had a delay of four hours after having boarded the plane. This was after terribly long check in and security ques because it was Chinese New Year holiday time and everyone was traveling. We had two cranky babies who were confined in a small space and hadn’t napped all day. Every half hour that passed we went from thinking “we can still make our connection”, to “if we hurry we can make it”, to “there is no way we are going to make it”.  We missed our Bangkok – Samui flight.  Somehow we got on a flight later that night. Leila had managed to fall asleep, but Rahul had a crying fit as we were taking off. We got to Samui around midnight, but our luggage hadn’t.  Thankfully there are hundreds of seven elevens and they sell diapers, formula, and bottle cleaning products!

…Rahul climbed out of the bath onto a ledge and poo’d, stepped in it and then got back in the bath.  I was alone with the two of them. Leila climbed out onto the ledge too. I started to drain the bath while cleaning up behind him, nervously watching that they don’t slip and fall. Leila poo’d!

…after battling to get R and L into warm clothes on a cold, wet day and then into their jogging stroller, the front wheel broke when we were at the top of an overpass on our way to the Sichuan University.  I was on my bike. We walked back home, me pushing my bicycle with the front wheel dangling on my handle bar, and Maher pushing the stroller on the back wheels alone. We had many wheels, not many functional. Leila and Rahul had fallen asleep a few minutes prior to the event.

…Rahul escaped from putting on a diaper and a few minutes later was stepping on his clean potty to climb onto a tabletop. I suddenly heard Maher screaming for me to do something about him. Rahul was peeing. I keep my computer, Ipad, camera, and phone on this table!

…we heard a boom in one room.  Rahul had fallen off a ledge in his bedroom. Naturally the attention quickly turned to him as he was crying. Two minutes later there was a thud. Leila had fallen off the couch in the living room.