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  • Welcome to GOBLIN CHILD

    Hi, I'm Amber. I'm a blogger, photographer and one of two mums to the Goblin Twins. This space is where I document the growth of my babies, share what they've been wearing and write about the joys and frustrations of being a LGBT parent. Watch out for cameo appearances from my firstborn, Josephine-dog, my photographic muse.

    I'm based in London, England.

    Find us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Twins on a Picnic

Oh the sun has got its hat on, hip hip hip hooray!

The sun has got its hat on and it’s coming here to – well, I wouldn’t like to bet money on the April sun sticking around for long but we have certainly enjoyed a real heatwave over the last couple of days.

For me that’s meant going in to the office a little earlier every day in order to leave the very minute that my working day officially ends, catch the fast train home and head out and about with Kirsty, the boys and our dog.  Our favourite thing to do of an evening in weather like this is to pop into the supermarket and pick up some reduced treats, then choose somewhere out of the way to spread our blanket and picnic.  We’re extremely lucky in that the part of South-East London in which we live has many pockets of woodland and parkland, as well as the Commons and a whole nature reserve all within twenty minutes’ walking distance.

The twins are of an age now where they are beginning to enjoy interacting with their environments and whilst we’re not officially ‘weaning’ we do give them little tastes of whatever we’re eating so long as it’s reasonably healthy.  Outdoor picnics are great because exploring the grass is a sensory experience for them and once they get tired of that, we can usually keep them reasonably amused by spooning tiny quantities of hummus into their mouths!

Managing our beautiful Josephine-dog’s needs in addition to that of the boys has been an additional stressor at times but I must say that forcing us out of the house multiple times per day has been so beneficial to our relationship.  If we time it right then the boys tend to sleep for much of the walk, particularly if we wear rather than pram them, and away from other distractions (hello twitter!) Kirsty and I are able to have lots of lovely, focused conversations with each other.

The boys have spent several hours outside each day since the day that they were born in October and admittedly it was a little gruelling to trudge around the park in the rain and the dark in the Winter but I really credit those walks with keeping us so sane as twin parents and maintaining the glue in our relationship.  With the brighter weather here we’re looking forward to spending even more time out of doors – we should probably start buying shares in baby sunscreen companies now!

Lysander looks so big in these pictures, eating from a spoon.

“Oh PLEASE may I share?!” says Josephine!

Balthazar was happy to roll about on the grass and play.

Lysander was… not.  He’s a funny child – he’s either over-the-moon happy or he’s devastated and there’s no middle ground and no build-up to either.

So his mama picked him back up swiftly.  She was attempting to console him when this happened:

Juggling two babies certainly keeps us on our toes!

I’m usually quite good – one might say TOO good – at insinuating myself into photographs.  I’ve even written a blog post in the past about the importance of being photographed with our children.  Yesterday though I was too enthalled with that beautiful backlight and orange sun to put the camera down for a minute!  No matter – I’m sure that you’ll see more of my face soon!

We had such a lovely evening, laughing and playing as the sun went down.  I want to be back there now.

+ - 2 comments

April 16, 2015 - 8:38 pm

Rebecca - What a beautiful post, as always! It’s so good to be outdoors, especially when you have a baby. I’ve always made a point of going out a few times a day with my daughter and now our walks each day with the dog are our most special time together. She always insists on holding the lead and they are just best buddies…. it melts my heart! It looks like you had a gorgeous time and hooray for lovely weather at last! x

April 16, 2015 - 10:53 pm

Donna - Gorgeous photos as always, I love the dwindling light and I have a thing for picnics! x

Siblings in April


This time a year ago I was almost out of the first trimester, and we knew that there were tiny siblings nestled within my uterus.  Now they are almost six months old – laughing, babbling little chaps who delight in the world.  It is fun to watch them ‘fighting’ over toys, to sit them opposite each other for the rare moments that one will amuse the other.

They are becoming little people so quickly.  I look at these photographs and see traces of who they will become in five years, ten years, twenty.  I can imagine them wearing their house ties at school, taking notes in a meeting at work.  Time seems to speed up faster every day.  I don’t want them to grow up too fast but at the same time I can’t wait for them to begin to interact properly, to share a joke and a laugh together, to play.

This month I have the tremendous pleasure of sending you over to our lovely Lucy at Dear Beautiful.  Lucy always takes the most beautiful and ‘real’ pictures of the time that her young son and daughter spend together and yet again this month, she’s made me awfully broody to give my boys a little girl sister!



+ - 9 comments

April 15, 2015 - 8:21 am

Mammasaurus - *heart melts*
Such sweet photos – and that last one brings a big smile to my face. Dribbly chins feel like a lifetime ago here now!

April 15, 2015 - 11:53 am

Emma Kershaw - Look at those big, beautiful smiles! They look so happy, gorgeous photos :) #Siblings

April 15, 2015 - 1:08 pm

LauraCYMFT - Awww look at those gorgeous boys! Lovely!

April 15, 2015 - 1:54 pm

Carie - Aww they’re just so gorgeous, and they have the most fantastic expressions, I’m not surprised they’re making your broody! Even in the last few months they seems to have grown and grown and revealed more and more of their personalities and it’s so lovely to see!

April 15, 2015 - 8:45 pm

Keri-Anne - My heart skips every time i look at pictures of your two little Prince’s. These are just completely gorgeous!! x

April 15, 2015 - 9:18 pm

Colette B - They look so wriggly and cheeky! That last picture is adorable x

April 16, 2015 - 11:30 pm

Mummy Piggles - The colours in your photos are as beautiful as your children. Loved reading this post x

April 18, 2015 - 8:26 am

Lauren - Aww these are lovely they look so happy and cheeky, I love the second photo x

April 18, 2015 - 11:19 am

Natalie {Little Jam Pot Life - blog} - Oh they’re so cute, getting so big too! I love you write about them x

Living Arrows – 15/52

You are still so small.  People are always asking me how the little ones are and my standard response is ‘Enormous!’ but really, you are still so small.  I read stories about all of the harm that can befall children and my breath catches.  Injuries, illness.  Friends’ babies who went to sleep and just didn’t wake up.  Friends who are desperate to see their babies reach adulthood, who worry about the impact that the death of a parent will have on their developing minds.

Children who step outside of their homes and are never heard of again.

Trusted friends with nefarious motives.

One rogue cell that multiplies.

An accident.  Just an accident.  It could have happened to anyone.

A million and one ‘if onlies’ waiting to happen.

Blink and everything is different, forever.

You are still so small.  And the world is so big.  And every time I pick up a newspaper some other mother is grieving.  It could happen to anyone.  Today.  Tomorrow.  Next year. 

You are playing in the water and you are still so small.  Three times your birth weights but no bigger than a well-fed cat.  Small enough to share a bucket of water with your brother.  Small enough that we need to hold on to you lest you slip under.  Small enough to swing up in our arms and hold close to us to dry.

I want to watch you grow up, but not too fast. 

And I don’t want to know how your stories end.

+ - 9 comments

April 13, 2015 - 9:18 pm

Lauren - Oh my goodness. This is so perfect xx

April 13, 2015 - 9:20 pm

Natalie @ Little Jam Pot Life Blog - You write so beautifully, powerful and honest. Lovely photo. I completely understand this xx

April 13, 2015 - 9:51 pm

Emma T - Gorgeous photo. Still so small as you say – they don’t seem so looking at other photos.

#livingarrows

April 13, 2015 - 10:22 pm

Donna - That photo is so beautiful and one they will look on as adults and wonder themselves how they were ever so small. I don’t think any parent ever wants to know how their children’s stories end and it is always so so sad when a parent outlives a child x

April 14, 2015 - 12:58 pm

Merlinda Little ( @pixiedusk) - They look so small in that bath tub and so cute!

I have this same worry esp when I was pregnant with my son. So many bad and sad stories in the news gave me sleepless nights.

#LivingArrows

April 14, 2015 - 8:59 pm

Baby Isabella - Such beautiful words and photos! Thank you for sharing #livingarrows

April 14, 2015 - 10:12 pm

Vickie - What a truly beautiful photograph. And your words brought tears to my eyes. There are days when I am overcome with worrying about what the future holds for my daughter. I want to wrap her up and keep her safe from all of the things that might possibly hurt her.

April 15, 2015 - 10:29 am

san - What a gorgeous photo!!! it is a scary world out there and It is hard to not worry. But it is our job I guess. darn mother nature! haha

April 17, 2015 - 8:35 pm

Hayley @hayleyfromhome - Gorgeous photo, they do look tiny it there but they are growing quickly! It’s so hard to shut out the fear as a parent, I worry about things now I never thought I would and cry over other people’s tragedies as it is too easy to imagine the devastation xx

The Nikon D700: A Review

You may or may not have noticed but I’ve recently upgraded my camera.

There’s a funny story behind it: I was walking down Tottenham Court Road and thinking about the blog and that I really, REALLY wanted to upgrade my Nikon D7000 to a full-frame sensor (the D7000) is a crop.  And I glanced into the shop on my left and what did I see in the window?!  A second-hand D700 (the full-frame upgrade) sat on the display shelf STARING AT ME.

So I walked in and bought it.

And then I texted Kirsty to confess and THANKFULLY she didn’t kill me.  But she did make me sell some other stuff in order to make up the cost.

So I no longer have my GoPro or my shiny zoom lens – sob! – but I do have the Nikon D700 and I love it almost as much as I love the children.

It’s a much better camera for indoor photography.  The full-frame sensor allows me to photograph in smaller spaces and the camera deals with low-light situations extremely capably, which is ideal when photographing indoors.  I only wish that I’d had this camera when the boys were new.

I’m still pairing it with the Nikon 50mm f1.4 lens for now.  I do have my eye on a few wide-angle lenses for the future – but I’m not sure how Kirsty will feel about that…

She does agree that it’s a super camera.  She’s a reluctant photographer who finds herself operating the camera far more frequently than she would ideally like – because you know, I like to feature in pics with my children too – but she’s finding that the D700 is more forgiving of a novice photographer than its predecessor.  The full-frame sensor gives her more freedom to move without the worry that she’ll accidentally chop off somebody’s head (it has been known to happen) and as we photograph in RAW mode, she can snap away without worrying too much about settings.  In short, so long as the picture is in focus, she’s gold as everything else can be corrected.

I had the opportunity to test the D700 in a low-light situation yesterday afternoon.  The below pictures were taken by me in our bathroom, which is lit by just one window that faces away from the sun.  It was a spontaneous ‘shoot – we were playing with the boys – and so I didn’t have time to move the operation somewhere brighter (such as our living room) before the pictures were shot.

Had I tried to take these pictures on the D7000 not only would parts of the images be chopped off (the crop sensor means that less of the background is included in the picture) but the images themselves would have been grainy due to lack of light.  As it was, I shot these pictures in RAW, adjusted the exposure in Photoshop and they are barely the worse for wear for it.

I only wish that I had bought the D700 sooner – preferably before the boys were born!

What do you use to photograph your children?

 

+ - 2 comments

April 12, 2015 - 11:07 am

Jodie - i have the D7000 and love it. I’ve got a lot to learn though. I still use auto!

April 13, 2015 - 11:15 pm

Bex @ The Mummy Adventure - Gorgeous photos and the lighting looks amazing for indoor. I have the D5100 I think and I am still learning to use that, with it beig my first step into proper cameras – so much better than my phone buy I still try and stick to outdoors when I can.

Legal Parenthood and Donor Sperm

My previous post about donor sperm, Donor Sperm: The Questions You’ve Always Wanted to Ask, generated quite a lot of interest.  Today I’m posting about the various methods of acquiring said sperm and how we chose to go down the route that we did.

The Human Fertilisation Embryology Authority defines legal parenthood in a same-sex female relationship as the below:

‘The following rules apply only if the woman having treatment:

a) is neither married nor in a civil partnership, or

b) is married or in a civil partnership but her husband/civil partner is not a legal parent because they do not consent to the treatment (see as described above at 6.8 and 6.11).

Where a woman is being treated together with a female partner (not her civil partner) using donor sperm, or embryos created with donor sperm, the female partner will be the other legal parent of any resulting child if, at the time the eggs and sperm, or embryos, are placed in the woman or she is inseminated, all the following conditions apply:

a) both the woman and her female partner have given a written, signed notice (subject to the exemption for illness, injury or physical disability) to the centre consenting to the female partner being treated as the parent of any resulting child

b) neither consent was withdrawn (or superseded with a subsequent written note) before insemination/transfer, and

c) the patient and female partner are not close relatives (within prohibited degrees of relationship to each other as defined in section 58(2), part 2, HFE Act 2008)’

Alternatively ‘where a woman in a civil partnership is seeking treatment using donor sperm, or embryos created using donor sperm, the woman’s civil partner will be treated as the legal parent of any resulting child unless, at the time of placing the embryo or sperm and eggs in the woman, or of her insemination:

a) a separation order was in force, or

b) it is shown that the civil partner did not consent to the placing in her of the sperm and eggs, or embryos, or to the insemination.
6.9

If a woman in a civil partnership is seeking treatment using donor sperm, or embryos created using donor sperm, the centre should take all practical steps to:

a) ascertain whether the civil partner consents to the treatment ‘as a question of fact’ (see box 6G), taking into account the duty of confidentiality to the woman seeking treatment, where applicable, and

 b) obtain a written record of the civil partner’s consent. If the civil partner consents, she should complete the relevant consent form. If the civil partner does not consent ‘as a question of fact’ (see box 6G), the centre should take all practical steps to obtain evidence of this. It may not be appropriate to contact her if she is unaware her civil partner is having treatment.’

Kirsty and I were neither married nor in a civil partnership at the time of the twins’ conception.  We considered various options for creating our family, from the cheapest – find a kindly stranger who was open to helping us to conceive – to the most expensive – IVF through a reputable clinic that would offer us legal protection.

Option One: The Altruistic Stranger

Most people are probably not aware that there are websites out there that aim to match altruistic strangers with families seeking sperm.

Upside: Relatively little cost.  It seems to be expected that the sperm-seekers will cover the donor’s expenses but those are usually minimal compared to the cost of buying sperm from a clinic.

Downside:  No protection – legal or otherwise.  Risk of sexually transmitted diseases.  And having investigated, it would seem that there are plenty of so-called ‘altruistic’ donors who expect to inseminate the ‘natural way’, ie through sexual intercourse.

Option Two: Purchasing Vials of Donor Sperm from a Catalogue and Creating a Baby via a Clinic

Upside: Legal protection.  Zero risk of sexually transmitted diseases.  Zero weirdos.

Downside: THE COST DEAR GOD.  At a total cost of £1770 for the donor sperm (including £100 for the catalogue access and £1000 for the one-off HFEA registration fee) donor sperm does not come cheaply.  Add to that cost the many thousands of pounds that we paid for IVF (success rate in the >35s per try: 49%) or the  thousand pounds per go for intrauterine insemination (success rate in the >35s per go: 11%).

Initially we strongly considered using an altruistic stranger.  Funding IVF was a huge stretch for us that wiped out any hope we had of getting on the property ladder in the next ten years.  Conceiving with the help of a known donor would have meant that we would have been able to invest that money towards a deposit for a house.  I’ve lusted after properties on Right Move since Right Move was INVENTED – it was painful to give up on that dream.

So why did we ultimately decide to source donor sperm from a clinic and to seek fertility treatment?

We were protecting this.

We were protecting the concept of us as a family.  Kirsty’s status as legal parent to the twins means that if we ever divorce – no plans to, don’t worry! – I legally cannot refuse her access to her children.  It means that if I die, the boy’s ‘blood family’ will be unable to challenge Kirsty for custody of her children.  It means that she can make medical decisions for them, enroll them in school.  It means that when we walk in to an official appointment for the boys and are asked ‘Who’s mum?’ we can say with confidence that ‘We both are’.

Legal parenthood put her name on their birth certificates.

Legal parenthood tells the world quite firmly that she is as important to the twins’ lives as I am.

Not only were we protecting Kirsty as a parent, but by choosing to use an anonymous donor from a reputable clinic, we were protecting ourselves from the ‘kindly’ stranger deciding to challenge us for parental rights later down the line.  We were setting limits on the role that their genetic father could play in their life: contact when they’re adults if they decide that they would like that (the donor has indicated that he is open to that) but no more.

Nobody will ever be a legal parent to the boys but us.

And when Kirsty calls herself ‘mum’, everybody has to listen.

That is worth all the money in the world.

It goes without saying that we were fortunate in that we COULD afford – just – to buy donor sperm the safe way.  With same-sex fertility treatment unavailable on the NHS in many parts of the UK (such as ours) and the restrictive costs of private treatment, many families desperate for children do find themselves forced to take these risks in order to extend their families.

Was your family created in an ‘alternative’ way?  Please comment and share your stories!

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