“We’re twins, and so we love each other more than other people.” - Louisa May Alcott
Our eldest son will be 11 next month and our boy/girl twins are now 7 and fully fledged junior school attendees. It is honestly crazy how quickly the time goes by, it only seems like yesterday that we were trying to get our heads around the news that two babies were heading our way. Dealing with newborn twins was no mean feat and pretty much eradicated any broodiness I may have felt beforehand. It was certainly a journey but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I have decided to share with you over the next few posts my twin experiences.
When our eldest son turned 2 we decided that it would be nice to add another sibling to our family unit. It took a while to happen and as often is the case, once we ‘stopped trying’ I fell pregnant. Trouble is, after giving up on baby Number 2 in the November, we had booked our wedding for the following December. When I found out that a baby was on the way it was too late to cancel the wedding and stupidly thought ‘how hard can a 3 month old baby at a wedding be?’ Perhaps hindsight is a useful tool, but at this point we didn’t realise that two stowaways were growing within!
At my first scan the nurse gave me an excited grin telling me she “had a surprise for me” and promptly turned the screen to show me two alien looking beings sitting back to back. Shock was an understated feeling that I experienced in that moment. With my now tear-streaked Mum sat holding my 3-year-old son, I tried to reason there must be some mistake, could she scan again as twins are not in my family, must be a computer error? With a ‘You Mums’ knowing smile she ignored this request, congratulated me and sent me on my way clutching a photograph of the phenomenon that was now occurring inside of me. My little lad was seriously confused after only just getting his head around the fact he was going to have a baby brother or sister and now it seems he was being given a bonus one! I then proceeded to tell random strangers in the hospital that “I have two babies in my belly…TWO!” as if I was some miracle mum having to bear twins for the first time in history. As hubby was unable to make the appointment due to work commitments (he is a police officer in London) I phoned him with the news saying “They are OK, the babies, we have two of them!” He decided it must be a wind up as my Mystic Mum had a dream that we were expecting twins and here I was making the dream a reality. He started babbling about space in the car and about buying a new one. Car? Car! I was going to be growing two human beings in my body and providing them with their airport lounge for departure! I couldn’t think of practicalities at this point!
Being pregnant with twins is a bit like waking up one day and deciding to emulate Demis Roussos’s fashion sense. Goodbye to the funky elasticated panelled maternity jeans I wore with my firstborn and hello to kaftans and non-restrictive garments. At 6 months pregnant, when I had to give up driving as was unable to fit my ever-expanding belly behind the drivers wheel, I was often asked “how many days/weeks I had left” to which I would answer “Still have 3 months to go! There are two in there!” This answer was met with a look of horror and a glare at my stomach. Yes it really will get bigger!
Movement becomes very laboured in the final trimester, the trimester they call the ‘nesting period’ where you fix up the nursery or go shopping for baby clothes. However, with a twin trimester I needed a cat nap after just managing to get to the top of the stairs to use the loo. To add insult to my swollen ankles, I had my beloved and oh so energetic 3-year-old son to care for. Not wanting to make him feel less loved I had to slap on the air hostess smile, strap on my hipflask of Gaviscon and play whatever game he wanted for hours on end. He took to asking me to lay with him at bedtime to help ‘look after the babies’. Not one to pass up the opportunity of a nap I happily agreed. One evening, whilst I squashed myself into his tiny bed, my phone rang downstairs, then my mobile in the next room, then the house phone again. I knew it was my Dad checking up on me whilst hubby was on nights. Trouble being I was now like a beetle stuck on my back, unable to roll over the top of my child for fear of crushing him and with no other way to pull my massive stomach into a seated position, I just had to lie there helplessly. Eventually, I heard my Dad’s car screech to a halt outside, his spare key in my lock and me shouting “I’m OK, just stuck!” to his relief. He hauled me out of the bed in a similar fashion to those diet shows where the overeater gets stuck on the sofa and they have to remove the side of the house.
The twins grew daily and I had to switch to eating little and often as my stomach (and bladder) were now squashed flat with all the room they were taking up. One day, as I neared the light at the end of the tunnel, my daughter was on the move, my son’s head had engaged so he was in the cockpit ready for launch, but my daughter had decided to head the other way, perhaps to use my tonsils as a chew toy as she had exhausted my other organs. This, however, meant that she had pushed herself under my ribcage and I couldn’t actually take deep breaths without excruciating pain. I had to spend a whole day in the pre-maternity ward begging passing midwives to “get these babies out please” in an ever-increasing panicked voice. My Obstetrician, who obviously had to fill her monthly quota, asked me (from a distance) to “hang in there as you are only 35 weeks and we are going to get you to at least 37 weeks”. We? WE!! I don’t see anyone else enduring this pity party of never-ending months of pregnancy. Thankfully, she ignored my hormone induced rants and my daughter eventually wiggled herself away from my ribcage and allowed me to breathe again.
The next two weeks went very slowly but I managed to make it to 37 weeks. I developed an amazing knack for doing things with my feet. It was impossible to try to bend down to pick things up, or get off the floor again if I did, so my toes became very dexterous. My eldest son had become used to the hippo that was formally his Mum who now cried at most things on the television and resembled a narcoleptic most afternoons. My bag was packed with my birth plan which pretty much read ‘Who the hell knows what will go down?’ and we were off.
I will spare you the gory details of my D-Day, apart from the fact that I pushed those creatures out naturally, pat on the back for me! I had taken a lot of drugs, along with my hubby who was experimenting with the gas and air between my early contractions. As natural births with twins are quite rare I was asked if I would mind some student midwives observing. Obviously, asking me after drugging me meant I agreed and when it all kicked off I felt a bit like a stand-up comedian with a room full of people willing me on. My son came first and he was so tiny that the hat I brought for him was too big and he looked like a little elf. He was shown to me like a prize and then taken away as I set about getting my daughter out. However, my daughter now sensing the extra room decided to do some back flips and the nurses starting prepping me theatre and I don’t mean the kind that puts on shows. “No way Jose! You made me wait for this natural birth now let’s get her out!” So whilst hubby looked on desperately as I almost bit off my on tongue, our little lady finally arrived naturally. I was finally allowed to hold them both. It really hit me then, I have two babies, oh Jeez, how wonderful, but oh god this is going to be a challenge!
Stay tuned for my next twin instalment!