When I found out that I was pregnant with twins, I knew that I was going to have my work cut out for me.
But there are things about being a mother to multiples that no one ever tells you about…
1. The negativity that surrounds twins…
There has not been a time that I have not heard “double trouble” when I have been out and about with my twins. Other times, it has been “better you than me” or “which one is the good twin and which one is the bad one?”. I was also accused of being an over-achiever by a girlfriend when I told her I was expecting twins. When you constantly have to defend the nature of your children, it can get a little tiresome. When I hear ‘double trouble’, I politely smile and say (sometimes through gritted teeth) “nope – double love”. Because that is exactly what it is. Double the cuddles, double the smiles and double the laughs.
2. It’s not just times two.
When it comes to dealing with twins, it’s not as simple as making two bottles or changing two dirty nappies. Everything has to be carefully considered, after all, there are two of them and only one of me. I have friends who offer advice but often, it cannot be applied to twins. For example, one of my girlfriends suggested to my husband and I that we hire capsules instead of getting car seats. She said that she found it “so easy” to transport her baby from the car to the house, especially if baby was sleeping at the time. Fantastic advice – but how am I going to carry two capsules? Plus a handbag, and a nappy-bag, and the groceries… and then unlock the door?
3. Feeling like part of a freak show in the circus.
There is something about twins that attracts people’s attention. Whenever I am out at the shops, I am followed by a chorus of “Look! Twins!” I do appreciate that people take the time to notice my two cuties, but what I don’t appreciate is being stopped in my tracks by a complete stranger who wants to tell me that they once lived down the road from a lady who had twins, or that their mother’s mother was a twin, or that they had twins – 25 years ago. I have now learnt not to make eye contact with anyone in the aisles at the supermarket, and sometimes pretend not to speak English. And don’t even get me started on the “Are they twins?” question. No – the hospital had ‘buy one, get one free’ deal that day.
4. The feelings that I have towards other mothers.
I am a little ashamed to admit this; though sometimes when I see single child mothers, I experience feelings that range from jealously to superiority. When I see a mum with her baby snuggled into her chest, or being able to sit a baby on her hip whilst pushing a shopping trolly; I often sigh and think ‘I wish I could do that’. Other times, I have walked past a mum with only one baby and thrown my nose up in the air thinking “phfft – try dealing with two tantrums at once!”. As I said, it is hard to acknowledge this: though I am sure that if we are all honest with ourselves, we have all thought something like this at one time or another. That or the lack of sleep just makes me crazy.
5. Having to constantly choose between my babies.
When you have a sick baby, they morph into a piece of Velcro that wont let you put them down. When you have two sick babies, your life becomes a living hell. Thankfully, my twins have only been sick once at the same time, but having to choose which baby you comfort first is a really heartbreaking decision. When they both throw their hands up at you and look at you with pleading eyes, it is really hard to decide which baby you pick up first. On a daily basis, I have to make the decision as to which one I get out of the cot first, which one I feed first, which one I get out of the bath first and which one I kiss last at night. They may not notice, but for me, it is really important that I try to be fair and equal.
6. Often feeling ‘it’s just too hard’.
I am in no way saying that having one baby is not difficult – parenting is the hardest job in the world! However, I do feel that one baby at a time is just that tiny little bit easier then having two. Everything I do is conducted with exact military precision. Something as ‘simple’ as going to the shops for a bottle of milk requires me to plan down to the minutiae detail as to how I am going to get the two babies into the car, out of the car, into the pram, into the shops, get what I need, then get home again. “But I have to do that with one baby too” you say?
Consider this – whilst you are putting your baby in the car – what would you do if you had another one inside? Often to put the first baby into the car, I have to put the second baby back in their cot (or another suitable containment area) just so I know that nothing untoward is going to happen to them. So more often than not, going out to the shops is just too hard because it will take me longer to get ready to go than it would take me to do what I need to do. I often have to consider what I am purchasing at the shops as well. There is no way that I can possibly balance two boxes of nappies, two packets of wipes, and two cans of formula on the top of a double pram. Let alone fit it all in the boot of my car. If we need groceries, I am limited to what I can fit in a hand basket. Here is where I say a huge thank you to my husband. Without him, I don’t know how I would manage.
7. There is no such thing as two for the price of one.
The only thing my twins have shared is my womb. With twins, there are no hand-me-downs! This means having to buy two cots, two car seats, two high chairs, double the amount of clothes, and don’t get me started on toys. I am eternally grateful for our friends who have given us their hand-me-downs. My husband and I would be more than broke without their generosity.
8. Trying not to constantly compare the two.
I have fraternal twins (non-identical) so essentially, they are siblings that share the same birthdate. However, this does not stop me from comparing the two. When one baby does something, say eat all their food or sleep for more than 40 minutes, I often wonder why the other one doesn’t. If one is reaching a milestone before the other, there is almost a push to get the other one to do it too. It is really difficult to judge what is ‘normal’ and what is not when you have a constant opportunity for comparison. The other issue is that more often than not, when there is a concern, you only have singleton information to compare your twins’ development too. There is a heck of a lot of difference between the development of a singleton baby born at 40 weeks and twins born at 36 weeks. This is something that I have to remind myself about on a regular basis.
9. Having to fake it until you make it.
I think that all parents feel this at one point in time. I know that I have called up new parents and asked how they are… You know from the sound of their voice that they are the living dead, but will still say “Yeah – really good”. I know this because I have lied about it too. I have been halfway through what I politely call a ‘mummy meltdown’ and will still say “Yeah – really good”. One of the downsides to being a multi mum is that others look at you with a sense of awe. They say things like “Wow! You are amazing – how do you do it with two?”.
When you feel that people think that you have it together, you are somewhat reluctant to shatter this facade. It makes it all that much harder to ask for help when you are seen as ‘super mum’. I am lucky that I have been able to meet other multi mums, who know all too well about the issues you face when dealing with twins. If there is one piece of advice that I can offer you – it is this: It’s okay not to have it all together. No one does! We are all ducks on a pond – on the surface everything looks fine – but underneath is a different story.
10. Even with all the craziness, there is no way that I would change anything.
The joy that these two little people bring me is absolutely priceless. Listening to the two of them babble and laugh at each other through the bars of their cots is enough to make all the hard work melt away into oblivion. The first time I saw them reach out to one another sealed the deal for me. I know that this all sounds a bit cliche; but honestly, knowing that they will always have each other makes the future seem just that little bit less scary… Plus there are really cool outfits that you can dress them in – Batman and Robin, Batgirl and Wonder Woman, Thelma and Louise, Dr Jeckle and Mr Hyde… Whether it be ‘matchy – matchy’ or ‘same, same but different’, the opportunities are endless.