The snapshot moment…

Yesterday I ran past a mother of very tiny twins, who were all wrapped up in their double buggy, having their morning nap. She was slowly pushing them, and looked so so tired.

She caught my eye, and I gave her an empathetic smile and carried on, as she enjoyed the break from double wailing, but I inevitably thought about her a few times during the day. She looked so incredibly worn out – broken.

I know how likely it is that she will have thought one of the following in the moment we locked eyes:

  • Look at that woman running – that’s what you can have the freedom to do when you don’t have twins;
  • I bet that woman got loads of sleep last night;
  • I bet she doesn’t have twins;
  • I bet she has no idea of how hard I’m finding this;
  • I bet she has no idea of how alone I feel;
  • I bet she doesn’t realize how soooooooo very tired I am;
  • I’m never going to be free enough to do anything like that, without two humans needing me every second. The way things are now… that is all I can see forever.

I know this because, when you’re in the trenches with two newborns, all you can see is your reality, and how it is in that moment, and you can’t even fathom a time when it will ever be less stressful and fraught.

We had so much going on in terms on the additional needs of one twin, that, for the first year, we just felt like we were barely staying afloat, between juggling both kids and everything else in the mix on little to no sleep. But here I am, three years on, training for a marathon (!) – something I couldn’t have imagined when I was where this woman is at right now, only a couple of months into this crazy journey. To be honest, I couldn’t have imagined it even a year ago!

In that snapshot moment, when she saw me run past, she won’t know the journey I’ve had… just like I – when I’m having/have had bad moments, and see that parent who looks like they have it much more together – don’t know their story.

That snapshot moment, when you’re at your worst, can serve to make you feel even more isolated as your mind imagines everything you haven’t got.

It can be helpful for us to reflexively try to step back and think: no matter how many people have it easier, so many people will always have it worse, and the healthiest thing, I find, is to just worry about your own bubble and try to deal with everything in that, and don’t compare. And that, especially for anyone reading this with a tiny one (or ones!), no matter the phase it does get easier!


The unpredictable predictability of having a fragile child…

Earlier today, someone online mentioned this phrase – the unpredictable predictability of having a fragile child – and it really struck a chord, as it sums up life with a chronically ill child so well.

Life with kids will always be unpredictable – the chaos that goes with them is seldom tame! But when you have a sick child, there is a whole extra layer of worry and stress, and, in truth, resignation, that (at what is ALWAYS the worst time – e.g. us about to leave for a plane from London to Singapore!) they’ll get sick.

In truth I think that’s partly how we cope: if you’re always prepared it’s never a real shock. It’s a self-protective strategy that’s really necessary, as when things do kick off, they tend to be very urgent, and you need your entire focus to be able to juggle all the necessary balls, with no room for an emotional reaction.

Sometimes I wonder if that unpredictable predictability swings the other day too. Having been through the mill, I’ve lost count of the times I’ve basked in happiness at just doing something utterly predictable and ‘normal’ – we’ve all gone to a cafe, and every child ate, and wasn’t sick; we went on a weekend away, and there was no infection/high temperature/A&E visit needed.

While having a fragile child has more additional challenges than I can summarize here, I do think it doesn’t only bring stresses, but also an ability to really appreciate the everyday and the mundane (e.g. mundane at home = at least we’re not in hospital!), and every time that child laughs in happiness – totally lost in a positive moment – the sound, and the relief you feel that they can still laugh like that despite everything they’re dealing with, is enough to crush your heart.
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