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Wednesday, 5 August 2015

#39: Tandem Feed Fiasco

It’s quicker to read the entire terms and conditions for iTunes than feed both twins separately. But that’s what we did for ages, one after the other.

My wife kept talking about this mystical 'tandem feed' that we should employ but I kept brushing it off like she was suggesting we start a new box set that required total concentration.

"Yeah, luv. Defo up for having another go at The Wire tomorrow. Let’s just finish season 3 of Mad Men first, eh."

I'm a creature of habit and don't like change, even if that change is clearly an improvement. If I had owned a mill in 1746 I'd have told you to shove your Spinning Jenny and instead ordered more smallpox-riddled peasants for my workforce.

The thought of trying to feed and burp the boys at the same time filled me with dread as the only multi tasking I can handle involves sitting on the toilet with the Sunday papers. I'm not proud of this.

I put Ben on my lap and reached for Zac. By the time I'd put Zac in position (about 1.3 seconds) Ben had wriggled off like The Fugitive. Being still so young they can't quite wriggle properly, instead they lead with their faces which means they struggle to have much choice over where their destination is. He ended up face down on the sofa for a split second which didn’t help anyone.

So I grabbed Ben and while I did this Zac had opted for the same pointless escape route. It felt like an impromptu game of Whack-A-Moley without a mallet.

I knew I needed to pin them down to maintain some form of order but I was still very aware that they are little babies and the last thing I’d want to do is accidentally hurt them.  When I first picked Zac up at the hospital I did the classic I’m-a-new-dad-so-I'm-holding-my-baby-like-it’s-live-explosives routine and the midwife said 'don't worry. You can't break him.' I remember thinking that she hadn’t seen just how clumsy I could be. (I once trod dog muck into my mum’s new carpet, kicked over a pint of juice and blew the fuse for the living room in the space of eight seconds.)

So I put my hand on Zac's chest and tried to manoeuvre Ben back into position. I was starting to feel like a pathetic supply teacher at this point so I thought I'd best try and get the bottles in.

I grabbed one in each hand and aimed for their mouths, getting Ben in the ear and somehow Zac in the stomach. I had another go, feeling like a nervous skier. This time I hit the jackpot and both teets landed in their mouths. I wanted to wave to the crowd like a golfer who’d just putted a birdie but I didn’t have a free hand and there was no crowd. So I didn’t.

At first Ben had decided he'd forgotten how to feed and was biting at the teet like it was corn on the cob at his end-of-diet celebratory barbecue. But once I readjusted there was a blissful moment as both boys instantly stopped wriggling and started gurgling with sheer pleasure. For a short time they perfectly took it in turns to coo and if I closed my eyes I felt like the umpire at the cutest tennis match of all time. (I realise that tennis umpires should probably keep their eyes open during rallies.)

After five minutes of total calm it was time to burp them so I took their bottles out. The beautiful silence vanished - quicker than my credibility when I mistakenly dressed as John McEnroe at a party that definitely wasn’t fancy dress - and was replaced by a noisy kind of chaos I hadn’t experienced to this point – both boys thrashing their limbs about and screaming like it was an Iron Maiden audition.

My customary panic kicked into overdrive and all decision making skills left the room.

I grabbed Ben and lifted him over my shoulder but as I did so he puked right down my front. Zac had started to do that baby cry that morphs into an angry cough so I quickly grabbed him and tried to coax a burp out but he was having none of it. I felt like I was suddenly afflicted by an aggressive form of tinnitus in my right ear so I put him down and reached for his dummy but it was just out of reach. Like Frodo desperately scrambling for his ring on Mount Doom I managed to just about grab it, despite the fact that this situation was far more perilous than a millennia of dark rule over The Shire.

Putting their dummies in had an amazing effect, like plugging a hole in the bath of madness. I hadn’t burped them properly but it was proving impossible so after getting my breath back I put their bottles back in. Risky business.

They took the next part of their bottles like it was night one of their first lads holiday to Magaluf but they wouldn’t stop squirming out of position. Ben was moving his head from side to side like a bad Stevie Wonder impersonator and Zac kept trying to break into a rendition of the Cossack by kicking his legs all over the shop.

The burping was more tricky than plate spinning so I decided to go right through to the end without any more attempts. This was to prove my ultimate undoing.

As they finished the last of their formula I continued the lads holiday theme by putting both bottles on my head and shouting, ‘Waaaaaaay!’ like a proper tit. They also continued this theme by simultaneously ejecting a week’s supply of vomit all over me.

It was an awful scene. I hadn’t had this much puke on me since the night I discovered Cheeky Vimto – both lads just let rip and covered me like I was in the gunk tank on Funhouse.

I didn’t know what to do next – should I move them away from the river of filth? Should I move one and try to clean the other with the sleeve of my t-shirt? Should I be a man about this or should I just panic and shout my wife?


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fee horne said...

Been there. 1st time I tried to breastfeed twingles on my own at night. The theory being that OH had to work so I could do night feeds. Didn't work. What worked for us in the end was both of us doing the night feeds - 1 twin each. Got it down to fine art eventually - bottles done, fed, burped & back to sleep in 40mins. Also, grabbing any available adult at feed time if I was on my own with them! Also, once they are a bit bigger try those bouncy chairs. I used to feed them at same time with a bottle in each hand. Plus side = well developed biceps at same time!

Adrianne Sidwell said...

I'm not sure if you've considered, but I found a hands-free bottle system from Podee was a life saver. They are like pacifiers that have a straw to the bottle. Saved my sanity. Good luck

Brenda Partain said...

When my twins were born we found iteasier to place both boys with their heads resting on my left arm, and hold the bottles with my right hand (this really only works with smaller bottles). When it was time to burp, lean forward to position them against your chest and alternate pats to their backs until both have burped.
When they were too big for this (around 5 months), we got bouncy seats that held them at the perfect position and sat on the floor in between them.
Good luck!

Louise said...

You crack me up, keep up the great work. I look forward to having a good laugh from your antics. If only my husband was a hands on with our twins as you are! If you think tandem bottle feeding is an art, try tandem breast feeding!

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