From August 1991 reality set in and I was on my own. Mum had gone back to Oz and this was the first time that I was to be on my own for any length of time. Amazingly Mum had only had one week off the whole time she had been staying with us. In that week, which was in July, we had had lovely hot weather and a very hot wind, I managed to burn Sarah-Jane's head! I know, I know, but I am not a bad mother, just unlucky. Sarah-Jane refused to keep a hat on so I used to use parasols as well, she had a hat on when we set out but had pulled it off. The sun and wind had got in between the parasols and managed to burn her on the scalp, it was the size of a fifty pence piece, Mum was not amused, as you can imagine. So that being my first week, she left with a heavy heart, for more reasons than one. Now I will be the first person to hold my hand up and say that when it comes to being on time, I was at the end of the line when punctuality was being handed out. Getting the twins ready so that I could take Lisa to school was impossible and I had to enlist the help of the neighbour across the road to take Lisa to school. This was not ideal but, needs must. However, by three pm we were there to collect her in the afternoon. Lisa was happy to come home to the twins. Helping to feed them, wheel them up and down, up and down in the pushchair inside or outside in the garden, play with them and their toys, help with the bathing and dressing, undressing etc. Keeping Toby our dog out of the way of the smelly nappies. Oh yes! Lots to do.
Life from September onwards took a bit of a turn, into what can only be described as ethereal, I can relate some things, which I have included below but to be honest it is bit of blur. It is the same sort of feeling, for those of you that know, when you have just hit past the halfway stage with a bottle of wine, nice and fluffly round the edges. Some things I had to do. I know that I had to collect Lisa from school and I hope that I engaged in some sort of conversation, but there are massive blanks in my memory, and I have no idea, as I sit here and write this as to what Phil or Nathan was doing. Nor if any of my friends were in a crisis period. My whole existence seemed to be focused on getting up, feeding, bathing, exercising, dressing, feeding, changing nappies, taking out for walks, collecting Lisa at three. The one constant that my day focused on was making sure I collected Lisa at three o' clock. I have no idea if I got the tea out on the table at the right time, or even if I cooked at all. Tragically I cannot even clearly remember that first Christmas with the twins.
It was at this time, when the twins were about six months old that Pip started to sit up, so if Pip was sitting up then SJ should be doing it too. So I sat her in the corner of the settee between two cushions to encourage her to do the same. At the time the portage worker bought with her bag of tricks a special piece of equipment that you can get, to encourage children with poor muscle tone, to sit up. This was not something that we could keep, you understand, but we have come a long way since and they are now used more regularly, ask if you have never been offered one. Cushions and the corner of the settee did the job for me. Word of warning, after telling a group of parents to do this at one conference, one of the parents attending tried it out, when they attended the next conference they told me their daughter had fallen off the settee......!!.....as I am always the one with the positive approach, after apologising and checking that their daughter was okay and had not suffered any broken bones, I suggested that in a way it was a good thing, as it meant that she was active and mobile.....learning from my mistakes if you would like to try this with your baby I suggest trying this from about six months and on the floor!! We also used to have one of those old fashioned wooden playpens, more to keep the twins away from Toby, our dog, they were lethal in the baby walker, but that was a great place to practice sitting up and later standing up.
Not much later, a few weeks at most, Pip started to rock forwards and try to get objects on the floor that were out of reach. Both babies were rolling back and forward by about six months, SJ could hold her head by about 3-6 months, had been lifting her head for a few seconds and then longer and longer by the time she was about 5 months, I have picture evidence of this! In fact she looks like a little baby turtle from the push chair. I did used to make her lie on her tummy a lot to encourage her to lift her head and strengthen her neck and shoulder muscles. Both Pip and SJ used the baby walker Pip got the hang of it very quickly and as I said earlier, had great fun chasing Toby round the house. We also had one of those baby bouncers that we suspended from a doorway. We have a video of Pip, aged about seven or eight months bouncing and happily, she had a habit of grabbing the side of the door frame, which then gave her a slightly swinging motion, this one time, the impetus of this rocking motion took her a bit too far and she bashed her head on the side of the door frame. You can actually count about ten seconds before this almighty scream. We often say that we will send it into Harry Hill! Sarah-Jane also used to use the bouncer, it took some time but eventually she was able to bounce on her own, rather than being suspended like a doll and chew the material instead! All of these things helped in their own way to strengthen muscles and encourage movement and change the surroundings of where they were. Especially as Toby used to come in and out of the room, passing a suspended baby on the way. He was constantly being pulled, amazing he had any hair left.
The next game was to get them both crawling. So when Pippa started to crawl, I watched what she did, and put SJ into the same positions, using my hand as a launching pad for her. We used to have races to see who could get he object first. Lisa used to help with these, putting toys just out of reach and getting the twins to get them, in true Wacky Races still, encouraging them to do it. Makes me smile even now!! Then after Christmas and the New Year, the next goal was walking, well standing up at least. Bruises galore for both.