We decided that we would look for an aupair - childcare costs had gone out the window and we needed to save as much as possible to pay for private therapy for the boys.
Our nanny who had known the boys since they came home from hospital was incredible and it was a brave move finding someone new as they would have to be strong enough to look after our boys, be kind enough to show them love despite their challenging behaviour and also fit in to our house of controlled chaos!
I interviewed a lot of girls from abroad wanting to be aupairs - an interesting experience to say the least! There was Maria from Romania - her choice of outfit for the Skype interview was a bra and mini skirt. Although Matthew said she deserved a second chance when I told him about her, I was a little skeptical and moved on. Susie from Germany declared that she wouldn't tolerate bad behaviour and that she often locked the kids she nannied for in their rooms for hours until they stopped crying. Auf Wedersehen Susie. Maggie from Sweden told me that she thought children were a bit annoying and that she wanted to come over to see the sights and Estella from Spain told me a lot of things - none of which I could understand as she didn't speak a word of English. Just as we were about to give up we found Hope - Hope Ammen to be exact.
Hope popped up on my screen and I instantly thought 'Oh God, Matthew is going to fall in love with her straight away I can't possibly have her in my house!". She was stunning, not in a fake beauty pageant way but in a totally enchanting, natural beauty, I can't believe you're real kind of a way.
We started chatting and as it turns out we didn't even speak about the boys until well in to conversation - we had so much in common and her confident, kind, loving nature won me over straight away.
I picked her up from the airport a few weeks later and we clicked straight away. We had told her about the boys issues but nothing phased her. She dove straight in when she met the boys and they fell in love too. Hopie Poppins as she became known in our house spent 6 months with us and in that time she treated the boys like any other kids she had nannied for. She played with them in the same way, showed them respect and asked for it back. She took the boys on a trip in a fire engine (an amazingly normal thing to do with our guys!), took them on walks and gave us the best 6 months we've ever had with our boys.
Hope with Molly my niece
Hope worked tirelessly to get the boys to try different foods - she would send us videos of her encouraging them to first touch then lick then bite and then chew tiny pieces of banana - after two long months they did it!! When all your child wants to eat is yoghurt/puree or very specific textured foods you can imagine the emotion felt when you see your child eating a piece of banana..or anything! We would hear Hope screeching in delight as they learned to bite and then chew a bit of food. They would cheer with her as one of them managed it and when she sent us the video of the boys eating that tiny bit of banana for the first time we would both make sharp exits out of the office, run to the loo and sob! Such small milestone and such huge steps!
Hope had a certain way with children and wherever she went, little one's would flock to her. She was a baby magnet! I've never seen or known anyone to interact with children with such natural love the way she did. She was totally forgiving of anything and totally and utterly devoted to helping our family in any way he could. She allowed us a precious night away so we could go to a friends birthday party - we came home expecting to see a very tired Hopie but what we got was a freshly baked chocolate cake, a clean house and very happy boys! Whoever snaps this girl up is a very very lucky guy!
Matthew and I on our night away for our friends birthday!
Boys fun times with Hopie Hope :)
Bowling night with Hope! (She won!)
It was in Hope's time with us that we got the official diagnosis for the boys. Although we were aware by now that they had a lot of issues in nearly all areas of development it was still a huge blow to have the official diagnosis. Like all mums when they receive news like this, I felt utter devastation. Not because I want my boys to be 'normal' but because I want them to be happy and to reach their full potential - they deserve that. I want them to be able to have friends, to feel fulfilled in a job, to enjoy everything they can in life. With their diagnosis it leaves a heavy load on my shoulders, a life of uncertainty and fear that my boys won't be able to have any of the things i dreamt they would have.
As the 6 months came to an end, Hope's time with us was drawing to a close and despite us all trying to get her a Visa to come back to us - it wasn't meant to be. I dropped her at the airport and cried all the way home. Half happy tears that we had had the best 6 months and that I was so grateful to have met this little bundle of sunshine and half terrified of how we would cope without her! We learnt a lot from her and will always remember our American beauty :)
An amazing Christmas video that Hope made us. Total heaven - we love you xxx