Feeling {Pretty} / {ad / gifted}

You may have seen on our Instagram account that we have been gifted the most beautiful hair bows and band from the talented Perdy’s Made with Love.

Perdy’s offer beautifully handmade , ethical lines and bespoke pieces {perfect for bridesmaids!} including a vintage and up-cycled range and limited edition fabrics in addition to handmade earrings and a beautiful range of soft toys.

Rachel, the owner says:
“Since I launched Perdys back in August last year, I’ve had plans to make bows out of vintage fabric. I wanted to make sustainable bows which would be more unusual, as well as reducing landfill and doing my bit for planet earth! I’ve been busy sourcing good quality, pretty fabrics and will be launching some beautiful bows soon. They will be in a separate section on my website and easy to find, but like some of my limited edition fabrics there will only be a few of each design as the sourced material will be limited.
I’ve also been using off-cuts of new fabrics to make mini bows to further reduce waste and these one offs will be added to the site”

“Everyone wants beautiful accessories and you will now be able to purchase ethical bows without compromising on the quality too! Let’s all work together to create a more sustainable earth” 

Penny wears {clockwise from the left}:

Feeling Mental {Health} and Owning It | {Guest Post by gem.spot}

Today’s post is a guest post from mum of two Gemma from the Midlands, UK. I recently met Gemma on Instagram where we chatted, engaged and connected over motherhood and our journeys with mental health. This is the first post Gemma has written publicly and I’m honored to have her as a guest on a Life twintastic! Gemma is currently working on her own blog which is really exciting so a huge thank you and watch this space!


The mum behind gem.spot

When I met Ellie online, before we even spoke I instantly felt a connection just reading one or two pieces she’s written on her blog and for others. I admired her honesty but most of all she is what I want to be- brave. Here in this wonderful and weird world of social media was a face, a person with a job and kids and responsibilities and she was openly telling us about her struggles with mental health.

I can trace my juggle with mental health right back to childhood, as many who are addressing issues as adults possibly can. Although happy as a child I was often faced with very adult situations and I had to make choices and consider feelings of others long before I really was equipped to do so. I’ve always had an issue with saying no. I’m a very empathetic person which is one of my favourite traits but hand in hand with this comes the need to please and accommodate.

I hit my teens and almost rebelled against that quality and in my late teens became a force of selfish and reckless living. I made rash decisions, lived for the moment and craved fun. I found this often in nights out and pub gardens. No real harm done, I came into my twenties ready to settle and that I did!

What happened? Mental health. I found that in contentment came fear. A fear that it could all slip away. A fear that I might make a bad choice. A fear that something even out of my control could take away my happy. Over the years I’ve tried to soothe depression and stress with a range of therapies, from alcohol to chakra cleansing. It sounds nuts doesn’t it? I’ve eaten clean, I’ve closed my circle, I’ve read positive books and I’ve done all the yoga and more. Truth is, it’s still there.

So, in light of the fear, hand in hand with the anxiety and with the invasive thoughts loud in my ears, I decided that I would no longer battle my mental health, instead I would live with her and see how it goes. I decided that this is never going away and fighting is exhausting. With some CBT online, an NHS referred block of counselling and a lot of strength I have faced it. I am no longer boxing up parts of my life as a rite off. I push those feelings of shame away. I am looking back and I am proud of myself.

These days I really concentrate on my wellbeing. I no longer search for this idea of perfect. I don’t pretend to be happy if I’m not feeling happy. No longer do I hide if I’m tearful, or avoid challenging conversations. No longer do I say yes to things I want to say no to. When I spoke about my mental health I realised something. People around me were not horrified. They were happy. They were relieved. They were in my corner. They were then finding courage to speak out. They were telling me about their struggles, their solutions, their worries, their coping mechanisms. The more conversations I embraced, the more I learned of not only myself but of this whole world around me. Feeling depressed was the best thing to ever happen to me.

So now I wear my mental health disorder with pride. I no longer write anonymously. I no longer look for a ‘theme’ for a blog or a project for an instagram page. I am here completely! I am here and I am being brave, just like Ellie. I look forward to talking more on my own blog in time about various issues I’ve faced and overcome, and the many I still live with daily. I also hope to help other people voice theirs too. For the first time i can remember, I really feel well. Hopefully I can encourage others to find away to live with their mental health too because I’ve been in the fight for so long and it’s tiring. If you made it this far, look out for my blog and instagram page and reach out. Hopefully you can find the strength to be brave too.

Gemma

Instagram: @gem.spot


If you’re interested in guest posting on a Life twintastic get in touch here.

Skin {Deep} – Dermatillomania

Morning campers!

I’ve written a guest post for good friends of mine Mark and Ashleigh over at The Stevenson Life about my experience with Dermatillomania {skin picking} and coping mechanisms during the COVID-19 lockdown.

*This post contains a trigger warning*

Head over to thestevensonlife.co.uk to take a look 🙂

Covid-19 Isolation Help Postcard

Do your bit in your local community by offering help and support to those around you. Just as everyone has a part to play during this time everyone also has something to offer.

Over on my Instagram account I am attempting to do a daily live check-in just to say hi, see how everyone is doing, let you know how I’m feeling and what we have planned for the day. I’m hoping this will help me to stay motivated, help those feeling most isolated and be an opportunity to share ideas/stories. I am also very mindful of those who don’t have such easy access to the virtual world and how we can help them to feel less alone and vulnerable.

Once the boys are home from school today we will be posting an isolation offer of help postcard to our neighbours – including the offer of picking up shopping and urgent supplies but also to receive postcards or pictures from my children – this may not seem much but for those feeling very isolated a small gesture can go a long way. We will also be writing letters and sending pictures to our local care home.

You can download a copy of my Covid-19 Isolation Help Postcard template below:

Please bear in mind – Coronavrus is contagious. Please help by spreading only kindness. Avoid physical contact and wash your hands. Leave packages on the doorstep.

Stay vigilent and stay safe.

All my best

Stepping Back to {Move Forward}

You may {or may not!} have noticed it’s been very quiet on the blog of late. As with all of us life happens and in simple terms other things took priority.

The last time I posted I was not in a great place mentally – I was feeling overwhelmed and “without a tether”, at home, creatively and professionally. I needed to take some time out and step back both mentally and physically.

Looking back

The title of my last post Empty {Cup} pretty much says it all, here’s a reminder:

You can’t pour from an empty cup and today mine feels completely lacking. I’m not the parent I thought I’d be. Work is stressful. Time is short. My children are unmanageable. I’m constantly clearing up after everyone yet the house is still a tip. I don’t get a minute to myself to breathe. I feel guilty.

I’m starting to wonder what the point is. Why do I even bother getting dressed when everything feels uncomfortable? Why do I try to cover the dark circles and unwashed hair? I can’t do it all. I don’t have time to enjoy my children because there are always a million things to do or get to. Too many needs to tend to. I’m drowning in my empty cup. 

Knowing now where I was and where I was about to go when I first published this post makes it hard to read. I was on the brink of a mental breakdown and was quite literally drowning in overwhelm. I now have a better idea of the contributing factors which lead me to this point.

  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Inability to accept help
  • Attempting to be or appear perfect
  • Taking criticism hard
  • All ideas but no productivity = overwhelm and feelings of failure

What have I been up to?

So what have I been up to for the past ~6 months?

Before Christmas I suffered what I would call a mini or pre-breakdown. I took two solid weeks off work over the Christmas break and went back to work feeling {I thought} refreshed and ready to “start again”. Within a week it became obvious those feelings were beginning to surface again and by the weekend I suffered a full mental breakdown. Without going into details at this point it’s kind of a case of if you know you know. I don’t expect everyone to understand but the fact I can articulate what happened says a lot about how far I have come. I may have appeared fine on the outside, but I was breaking on the inside.

These are some of the things that followed:

  • 8 weeks off work
  • Listening to podcasts
  • Counselling and support from my GP including medication
  • Doing a LOT of thinking out loud {hello 6 hour round car trip with my brother} and heart to hearts
  • Rest and recuperation
  • Opening lines of communication
  • Reassessing my why

What changed?

  • I accepted help, support and medication
  • I made a conscious decision to step back and slow down
  • I reflected on and changed the direction of my business which included initially reducing my portfolio so I could ultimately increase overall impact
  • I reassessed what was important to me, gained clarity and didn’t give up on my dream
  • I changed both professional and personal relationships
  • I have a better understanding and acceptance of myself and the chaos which comes with having young children/ a lived in home
  • I’ve been working on building people up rather than feeling threatened or knocked down by others’ success
  • I let my hair down and have fun!
  • I am more aware of my personal and professional boundaries and expectations
  • I am more honest about how I am feeling and better able to communicate about my mental health than ever before – with friends, family, colleagues. my children and our wider virtual community
  • I am more present, accepting and better able to express feelings of sadness, anger, resentment, frustration, anxiety, excitement and happiness. And in turn more able to help others express their feelings
  • I have more honest and open conversations with my husband
  • I understand the value of building a community – both physical and virtual
  • I set boundaries without apologising, giving reasons or excuses
  • I know my core values and take pride in honesty
  • I am getting back in touch with creativity and inspiration
  • I understand the importance of taking small steps back in order to move forward – whether that be taking a break from social media/electronics, an hour or a day out in the fresh air or stepping away from a potentially toxic friendship or working relationship
  • I have a better understanding of my vocation – to support and build others up and give back to the community for FREE or at low cost where possible

Moving Forwards

  • Staying aware
  • Honing into a creative outlet/outlets – blogging, art
  • Creating boundaries and setting {often self imposed} expectations
  • Simplifying – Project {Simplify} post coming soon!
  • Building/being part of a supportive community and exploring chances to collaborate
  • Learning to brush off criticism
  • Acknowledge the need for sacrifice and prioritisation

My Aims and Aspirations

For the first time I feel able to articulate some of my aims and aspirations without feeling anxious about failing, being judged or people stealing my ideas {!} I feel open to collaboration with an outward vision. My mind feels clearer and better able to articulate where I want to be and to enjoy the journey! Here are some of my current aims and aspirations:

  • To {properly} launch my business Pro-Clerking
  • Creating both a personal and public self-care toolkit
  • To maintain blogging inspiration
  • To create learning resources
  • To create a professional and personal annual planner
  • To set up short and long-term collaborations both through a {Life} Twintastic and Pro-Clerking
  • To have a personal action plan for when/if my mental health needs time out or I start to feel overwhelmed
  • To reassess and work on my physical health in a sustainable manner

All of this remains a work in progress and mental health and clarity is something which needs to be nurtured. Moving forwards requires the support and understanding of those closest to you. I’ve drafted more posts at various stages of my mental health journey which I plan to share in time in hope that by sharing my experiences I may help others through theirs.

I hope this post helps anyone who is struggling, who is close to someone who may be feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope or in need of some time and space to step back in order to move forwards. For now, over and out.

  • Would you be interested in learning more about how we can collaborate?
  • Do you have a blog?
  • Would you like to write a guest post?
  • Would you like to feature a {Life} Twintastic on your blog?
  • Do you own a small business and would like to find out more about how to get involved with giveaways and advertising?
  • If you’d like to work with me get in touch via Facebook, Instagram or my contact page 🙂

Empty {Cup}

If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen this post from last weekend. I’m currently struggling to find the time/energy to dedicate to full blog posts and have been reassessing my motivations and aims for the blog as part of the current journey I find myself on.

Therefore, for the time being, I will be mainly using Instagram to share in a way I am currently struggling to on here. I will aim to share the main posts on the blog and to continue to write full posts when I feel able but I hope making this slight change will ease the pressure I put on myself whilst also allowing me to create an honest creative outlet.

Thank you to everyone who has shown support and shared their honest stories – that is what it’s all about 🙂 Here’s the post for those who missed it:

{Photo by Alejandra Parejo on Unsplash}

Empty {cup}

You can’t pour from an empty cup and today mine feels completely lacking. I’m not the parent I thought I’d be. Work is stressful. Time is short. My children are unmanageable. I’m constantly clearing up after everyone yet the house is still a tip. I don’t get a minute to myself to breathe. I feel guilty.

I’m starting to wonder what the point is. Why do I even bother getting dressed when everything feels uncomfortable? Why do I try to cover the dark circles and unwashed hair? I can’t do it all. I don’t have time to enjoy my children because there are always a million things to do or get to. Too many needs to tend to. I’m drowning in my empty cup. 

@alifetwintastic

{Hugs}

What is {sleep}?

Last week I started attempting to get my 4 year old twin boys and 1 year old little girl into better sleep habits and promised on my Instagram stories I would share our story here on the blog 🙂

Background

As you would expect we had many a sleepless night with the twins from the extreme of trying to stay awake all night for fear of squashing them as we quickly realised they would only sleep on us at night to one twin sleeping through whilst the other had us up 2-4 times a night.  Fun times. From around 9 weeks old we started a bedtime routine {mostly to attempt some sanity} and routine quickly my main coping mechanism. We had rules and we stuck to them. For example, once they were in their room for the night they would not come out {until they’d been asleep and may then come into our room at some point in the night}.  By 12 weeks we had a pretty good routine. But babies, and therefore routines, change.  

{Noah and Oliver at 5 weeks old}

Noo first slept through the night (7pm-7am) at 12 weeks old and Ollie wasn’t far behind.  They were very different in that Noah liked to be cuddled and Ollie was best left alone. The more you fussed him the worse he’d be.  By 6 months they had dropped night feeds {which looking back I’m not actually sure they were ready to do….} and would sleep through more often, but hardly ever at the same time.  They didn’t sleep through consistently until their last molars had cut just shy of their third birthday.  

By then I was pregnant with Penny.  By half way through my pregnancy I was suffering from hip pain and leg cramps {put a bar of soap in your bed – it works!} and was really struggling to sleep.  By the time I was heavily pregnant we were in the middle of a heatwave which quite frankly was unbearable. By bedtime my energy was wiped and I felt heavy and uncomfortable.  I started to let the boys watch Paw Patrol in the PJs on the end of my bed whilst I lay down and rested/dozed next to my fan. This was the start of our bedtime troubles. But at the same time it was all I could do to cope at the time.  What I didn’t envisage was this would then continue for the next 12 months.

{catching 40 winks}

A new baby

I would describe Penny as a “good sleeper” from the start in that she’d wake, she’d feed and she’d go back to sleep.  And that’s the routine we got into. Wake, feed, sleep.  

Then from ~2 weeks old she started showing signs of what was later diagnosed as Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy {CMPA}.  Symptoms of which included colic {aka long periods of persistent crying}. Anyone who has had a baby with colic knows the extent this can push both your mental and physical limits {when you know you know}.  With Mr H back at work {as a Head Chef} and P screaming {yes, screaming} from ~5:30pm for sometimes up to 6 or 8 hours straight the boys’ bedtime once again got hugely disrupted as I attempted to sort everyone out, keep my own head and struggle with my mental health.  It was, simply put, about survival. It wasn’t until P was diagnosed with CMPA and I cut dairy out of my diet that the colic started to improve and bedtimes became somewhat manageable again.

{Little Miss Pitstop}

Then came the excuses.  It’s Christmas, it’s the boys’ birthday, daddy’s home, we’re going away for a couple of nights and before we knew it the boys had pretty much no bedtime routine and were staying awake regularly until gone 9:30pm.  P was still feeding around the clock, including anything from 1-4 times a night and I was EXHAUSTED. As you can imagine this was starting to take its toll on everyone. I put on weight, felt tired, stressed and irritable all the time, again started struggling with my mental health and felt like a failure as all the plans and ideas I had {including for this blog} never got any attention or completion.  The boys’ behaviour was becoming more and more challenging and {at times} unacceptable and they were grumpy and irritable but then also hyper and overtired come the evenings. This meant we’d regularly clash. P was going through a nap transition from 2 to 1 naps which meant her sleep was more disrupted that usual, plus cutting teeth, growth spurt and whatever else was going on!  

A new routine 

Enough was enough.  The boys would be starting schools soon, P was now 1 and I was about to embark in a new endeavour.  Sleep was desperately needed. I felt like the time was right to see if P would drop night feeds {go maternal instinct!}  I knew, for us, a consistent bedtime routine was needed. There would of course need to be some flexibility but rules needed to be in place and expectations understood.

This is what I planned to do:

4:45:    Dinner followed by play/tidy up no tv}

5:45:    P Bath {if she was having one}

6:00:    P out of bath, boys into bath {if they were having one}. P pjs, sleeping bag, feed and bed

6:20:     Boys out of bath and into pjs

6:30:    Boys into their room for stories, milk and snack

6:45:    Brush teeth and last wees

6:50:    10 mins quiet play/talking/books/chatting about our day 

7:00:    Cuddles and lights out {emergency wees if needed!}

7:30:    Asleep {in theory!}

I felt they needed to start everything earlier in an attempt not to get to that hyper stage.  I wanted them to know that bedtime meant preparing for sleep and not extended playtime. I also knew that I needed to spend dedicated time with them and not use the fact they’re playing nicely or watching tv be an opportunity for me to get stuff, which could wait until they were in bed, done.  

As for P’s night feeds I planned to not rush to her when she woke at night.  I’d let her whinge but not “cry – cry” {if that makes sense}. I would then attempt to comfort her without a feed.  I turned the volume off on her video monitor but kept our doors open, thinking I then wouldn’t wake to every noise she made.

{Butter wouldn’t melt. when she’s sleeping}

Day 1

I was working from home and all 3 kids were at my mum and dad’s so I had a lunchtime nap {bliss}.  That evening I followed my plan with renewed energy and vigour. P was in bed asleep just after 6pm and the boys just before 8pm 🙂 Of course they didn’t just go to sleep just like that but I think the earlier bedtime and the dedicated “boy” time really helped. When they came out of there room the first time I went in and said quietly “it’s bedtime now boys see you in the morning love you” then every time after that I put them back into bed silently – sometimes no reaction is the best reaction. Same if they were being too loud. It’s worth saying at this point that I removed a lot of toys from their room when I decorated it for their 4th birthday. It sounds easy and like I should have done it ages ago but the reality is it isn’t always that simple. Consistency is everything even on the nights you really can’t be bothered or feel too tired.

P then woke at 12:30 and I cuddled, stroked and comforted her.  I lay next to her cot and let her whinge but didn’t feed her {and interestingly she didn’t ask to be fed}.  I offered her water and after 1.5 hours she fell asleep and didn’t wake again until 7am! Progress! The boys woke up just before 6:45am and everyone was in such a better mood.  

Day 2

Again P was asleep by 6pm and the boys by 8pm.  P slept 8.5 hours straight! The first time she woke she was asleep again by the time I got to her and after that was unsettled so more cuddles and reassurance but no feed.  It took less than an hour for her to settle to sleep and she woke again at 6:15am.  

After that she slept between 9-11 hours straight for the next 2 nights and the boys were asleep by 8:30pm.  

Troubleshooting

Just as I thought we had cracked it we went away for a couple of nights which threw things out again but the first night back at home P slept 7pm-6am.  

We then had the last of her birthday celebrations and we all got sore throats and colds.  We quickly dropped back into bad habits {when it comes to the boys’ bedtime} and P has been asking for night feeds {which when she’s cutting a tooth and not feeling well I’m happy to give her}.

With 2 weeks left before the boys start school I have started their bedtime routine again with an aim to get them asleep by 7:30pm and with P once she’s over this cold {and she’s just had her 12 month jabs!} I’ll start night-weaning her again.

{Tired}

Here’s to starting to reclaim my evenings and rest!  Sleep is so important to well-being and mental and physical health.  With the best part of nearly 5 years of disrupted sleep under our belts I’m really hoping we have better nights ahead of us in the not too distant future.  That is until I start staying up at night worrying about where the kids are as they grow up *blub*.

Do you have any bedtime or sleep tips?

Late Diagnosis of DDH {Emma’s Story}

This week we are really grateful to Emma for sharing a guest post about her daughter’s experience with a late diagnosis of DDH and why a late diagnosis is not acceptable. We were lucky to have a very vigilant doctor for Penny’s newborn infant physical examination but I am all too aware of the added complexities a late diagnosis can bring and the importance of awareness and training around the signs and symptoms of DDH.

It has been 71/2 years since we had the late diagnosis of Erin’s hip dysplasia but the legacy remains.

Next week is sports day and Erin will be doing the sprint race, she is certainly not the fastest runner and will probably ache a little afterwards, but she will give it her all. Erin talks about hip dysplasia quite a bit, she is very aware and understands the operations she has had, she can hardly ignore it happened when she has a scar snaking across her bikini line. In this post, I will outline how we got the late diagnosis and why more needs to be done to stop late diagnosis.

But first let’s go back a step. Erin was 19 months when she was diagnosed after many many trips to the GP. Finally, a locum GP made a referral to physio, to a paediatrician and to orthotics. At this point Erin was limping and had only just started walking. The physio appointment came first but they looked at the wrong things and only at the very end of the assessment spotted her leg length discrepancy, we were sent on our way without hip dysplasia being mentioned.

Next came the orthotics appointment and he was concerned enough to not want to do anything to Erin. He looked at her and said something is not right and giving her built up shoes to balance out the leg length discrepancy is not the right approach, until she has been diagnosed with the cause of the issue. Looking back I think this man knew, he was very insistent that Erin gets seen quickly and he chased up her appointment. Suddenly Erin’s pead appointment was moved to the following day – I have never come across that man again but I am sure he was responsible for the final diagnosis.

I went to the pead appointment on my own with Erin and as we walked to the consultation room the consultant watched Erin tenderly walk holding my hand. As soon as I sat down he said I am pretty sure that Erin has DDH. He said we would go down for an x-ray immediately to confirm the diagnosis and that he would ring me later, personally with the result. He didn’t even examine Erin saying that she is going to be manhandled a lot over the coming weeks and that he didn’t need to add to that.

As expected he rang me within a few hours explaining that Erin had DDH and he had already spoken to the orthopaedic consultant who would be in touch asap.  Within two weeks Erin was in a theatre and at the beginning of 18 weeks in spica.

Erin’s journey did not run smooth because at the end of the 18 weeks it was clear that her treatment had not been enough. Erin still needed a Salters Osteotomy and a further 6 weeks in spica.

Why a Late Diagnosis is Not Good Enough

A late diagnosis means that we didn’t have the opportunity to see if a harness would work for Erin. 98% of children diagnosed at birth or shortly after, are fixed without surgery and go on to make a full recovery. Instead, Erin didn’t get that opportunity, we were always destined to go under the surgeon’s knife.

Many professionals that we came across did not know about DDH. The health visitor was useless and didn’t understand how a spica cast had impacted on her development.

Erin didn’t walk far after spica, it took a long time to build up those muscles and this had a huge developmental impact. She only learnt to ride her bike last month at age 9.

{water fun}

Where We Are Now

Erin is amazing but we still have yearly xrays to monitor her hips which are still not symmetrical. Her prognosis is still unclear and we are told that she may need more surgery at some point. Erin has also been diagnosed with hypermobility syndrome and this affects her joints as they are all rather loose. She frequently feels joints sublaxing and moving and she has some internal issues with it all too.

I have written extensively about ddh especially the signs and symptoms  to look out for as we really need more education to stop such late diagnosis. I have also spoken to midwives and health visitors at Bournemouth University as part of their continuous training. I am really proud that I made many cry when I told them what we have been through and I hope that they went away determined to be more aware of hip dysplasia.

DDH may not be life-limiting but it can be life changing and we need more people to share their stories and raise awareness. My husband, brother and I ran the Cheltenham half marathon to raise money for a charity that supports those with DDH. This was a huge personal challenge but it seemed only right that I pushed myself with a running challenge when walking had proven so difficult for my two year old!

A huge thank you to Emma for sharing her story and best of luck to Erin for the future!

Do you have a DDH story to share? If so contact me here to discuss submitting a guest post 🙂


DDH with Twins {Ruth’s Story}

We are really grateful to Ruth for sharing her DDH story as this week’s guest post. As a fellow twin mum I can only imagine the added emotional and logistical stress of having a baby with DDH on top of being a new mum of twins – a truly inspiring story.

Our daughter, a twin, was diagnosed with ddh at 14 weeks and is currently in the final month of her spica cast at 6 months old.

{Abbie and Hettie}

With a paternal grandmother having had over 10 hip operations, hips were high on the list of new born checks for our twin girls. I can honestly not remember the outcome of the somewhat brutal hip exam by the paediatricians, wanting only to try to console my babies, but with the family history, and both babies being breech, we were booked in for a hip ultrasound at 6 weeks. Hettie was given the all clear but Abbie was recalled, with the semi reassurance that she was still small so her borderline measurements would hopefully be fine next time. However after the next ultrasound we were referred us to paediatric orthopaedics.

As a scientist and new mum I wanted to be as prepared for the consultation as possible, reading up on hip angles and possible treatment pathways, and as a reassurance to family and friends showing concern about hospital appointments. In a busy childrens’ hospital with little room for our twin pram, our appointment ended hurriedly with “her right hip is dislocated and she’ll have to have a procedure under general anaesthetic and she’ll be in a hip cast for 3 months” and away we were sent. I begged for some question time, but was not able to go through all my queries at that time.

And so our countdown to the operation date began and I tried to be as prepared as possible; thinking through the practicalities of pushchairs, car seats, clothing, breastfeeding. I was helped immensely by Natalie Trice’s book Cast Life, and facebook groups, reading how other families adjusted to life with a baby in a spica cast. Just hearing others’ stories made the whole situation a bit less daunting, but there were fewer stories with young babies (who’d usually be in a pavlik harness), and none with twins so I did also worry about tandem feeding, twin pushchairs and sleeping arrangements, as well as exaggerated physical development delays having another baby the same age, and meeting the need of a frustrated/uncomfortable baby as well as her twin sister.

Perhaps unusually I was not upset or frightened by the diagnosis, being very practical about the treatment, and grateful that this had been picked up at a young age. What did upset and worry me was how our routine might be affected. I was very proud of the fact that we were managing with twins. I was successfully breastfeeding, sleep was ok, babies were happy, calm and settled. We could get out and about, and I was getting used to going out more on my own. We are very fortunate to have family nearby so this independence had been greatly helped by their input but my real fear was that I’d lose this, along with our happy baby.

Worries about the procedure were overshadowed by a ‘fight’ to get Hettie to stay with me on the ward overnight, and again on the day, wanting to be around for Hettie removed the emotional side of what was happening. Little Abbie coped fine being nil by mouth on the day and was almost asleep anyway by the time we went to the anaesthetic room. I didn’t feel at all emotional, and actually felt guilty that I had no need for the tissue handed to me by the nurse as I left Abbie in their care for the closed reduction.

By far the worst part of our ‘spica journey’ for me was the first recovery period as our little baby who rarely made a fuss was clearly very distressed. It was hard to tell if her cries were fear, frustration, pain, or hunger and to some extent this ambiguity over cries has remained. However after the first few hours she had started to adjust and it was her sister who was more unsettled overnight in the hospital!

As promised by the other families, we did all adjust: The twins stayed in their shared cotbed, but with a divider for safety. Abbie just fitted in the pram, and later in the pushchair. We found comfortable positions to feed in. We could confidently and comfortably hold her, and let others hold her too. Her (and hence my own!) sleep was not really affected. She did not fit in the adapted car seat with the first cast, but fortunately we are able to walk where needed. I was able to vary her position throughout the day from her beanbag, to play mat, to cot, and she has entertained herself well just studying her hands, banging on her cast and kicking her legs so her socks fall off!

I was a little nervous at first about ‘showing’ our now perhaps ‘not perfect’ little baby in a big cast but my husband is a ‘just get on with it’ sort so there was little time to be precious! We did experience the inevitable hygiene difficulties of a baby in a body cast, and after noticing sore skin, had several trips to the plaster room for them to clean her up as much as possible. Abbie made no complaint about being sore but I’m glad I noticed! For her second cast she was given a fully bathable one which has made keeping clean much easier.

While not wanting to wish away 3 months of her first year, these past weeks have at some times seemed like a count down to cast off day. First with the cast change, then now with only a matter of weeks left. However, life has continued as normal. I’ve just started introducing solids (having been creative in making a seat for her!). Abbie has bottom teeth, ahead of her sister, and can almost ‘high-5’. Hettie loves to stand and can roll over. Abbie is desperately trying to sit up in her cast which is both funny and heartbreaking to observe, but reassuring that once ‘free’ the physical development will continue well. We’ve continued to attend church and toddler groups, visit family nearby, pop into town, and go to coffee shops as we were used to.

{Abbie in her bathable spica cast}

Cast off day is 3 weeks away, and so far all is looking good. We will know on the day if she is to have a brace for an interim period, or what the future outlook for her hip might be. We hope our journey ends here but know for many that the road is long so remain mindful of this.

A huge thank you to Ruth for sharing her story – best of luck to little Abbie {and Hettie too!} for the future and we look forward to hearing an update!

Do you have a DDH story to share? If so contact me here to discuss submitting a guest post 🙂

{Hip-Healthy} Ways to Hold and Carry Young Babies | {by Betsy Miller}

As part of Development Dysplasia of the Hip focus month on a {Life} Twintastic I’m excited share our second guest post, this time by Betsy Miller, author and member of the International Advisory Committee for the International Hip Dysplasia Institute {see bio below for more information}.

Giveaway!

We are also offering you the chance to WIN a copy of Betsy’s book The Parents’ Guide to Hip Dysplasia! For more information on how to enter see our Facebook and Instagram pages. The winner will be announced on Thursday 30 May.

Did you know that how babies are held can affect the way their hips develop?

When babies are carried, their hips should be allowed to spread apart with their thighs supported and their knees bent. These pictures from the International Hip Dysplasia Institute show how to hold babies with their hips in healthy positions.

{Correct positioning in a baby carrier}
{Correct positioning of a sling}

You don’t have to hold a baby exactly as shown. The main things to remember are:

  • Support your baby’s thighs.
  • Allow their legs to spread apart in a comfortable position. If your baby’s legs are wrapped around your body, that’s ideal.
  • Avoid positions where your baby’s legs are kept straight and close together. If your baby likes to straighten their legs, that’s fine, as long as they’re able to easily return to positions such as the ones shown here.
  • And don’t forget to enjoy your baby!

How a Baby’s Hips Develop

After birth, it takes several months for a baby’s hip joints to stretch out naturally. Babies that have been in the breech {bottom first} position may need even more time to stretch out naturally. During the first few months of life, hip joints are more likely to be loose because babies are naturally flexible and because the edges of the hip sockets are made of soft cartilage. If their hips are forced into a stretched-out position too early, this increases the baby’s risk of developing hip dysplasia. By six months of age, a baby’s hips are more developed and the ligaments are stronger, so they’re less susceptible to developing hip dysplasia. For more information about hip dysplasia, visit www.hipdsyplasia.org.

Betsy Miller was treated for hip dysplasia when she was a baby, and went on to have a happy childhood without mobility problems. She is the author of The Parents’ Guide to Hip Dysplasia and other children’s health books, and is a member of the International Advisory Committee for the International Hip Dysplasia Institute. Betsy lives in Santa Rosa, California where she is a freelance writer. You can reach her at https://betsymillerbooks.weebly.com/.

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