Apologies for the three weeks’ hiatus. As is, in hindsight, utterly predictable, I went pop and frankly blogging came about 257th on the list.
Now, looking back on it, I’m not sure whether it’s Post Natal Depression or a heady and could-recite-the-recipe cocktail of hormones, fatigue, things-to-get-my-head-round ie being a Mum AGAIN, not working, or simply the sheer practical difficulties of having twins.
Because it IS difficult. Not doubly difficult, but differently difficult. For example…babies’ cries are designed by Mother Nature to scrape across your eyeballs to the point of feeling physically sick. I haven’t read a single twins’ book that points about, by definition, you get this ALL THE TIME. I can pick both girls up together but it’s a fireman’s hold, not a cosy cuddle. So I basically have to, a la Sophie’s Choice, choose one to comfort when they’re screaming, shield myself from the other, and then switch. By which time the other will have started off again…
I am trying to be very ruthless putting them down in the cot and, provided they haven’t got their head stuck through the bars/a large fox on their stomach, leaving them for 20 minutes. The problem is, it eventually goes silent (at which point you think they’re dead) and then starts up again, so you think, oh no, Twin A has been crying for 30 minutes now, go up and check, which wakes everyone up, and find out it was Twin B who’d picked up the baton.
That’s one example, and I won’t labour the others for fear of putting off other prospective twin parents. The joys DO outweigh the downs, I promise, and that will be a forthcoming blog. But you can’t be rose-tinted. It is a bloomin’ nightmare. Don’t get me started on feeding! Or the fact the buggy doesn’t fit in the Co-op and I have to stand at the end of an aisle and wait for a kind looking person and ask them to get me a can of tuna…
I’ve also found it emotionally difficult. Joe is University-bound. I had him so young, gave up my twenties and clubbing and holidays and making friends, my career to a certain extent, and all that jazz…the payoff was always meant to be that, aged 38, I could take a gap year in considerable style and see the world I hadn’t, and then reignite my career, in whichever direction 12 months’ reflection had deemed appropriate. It turns out Joe has been the most brilliant travelling companion and I have scratched that itch with him very effectively –Mongolia,Cuba,Kenya,Egypt,New England… Team Mum and Joe knew no bounds.
But there is still the sense of, gosh, I’m exhausted, and now I need to do it all again. Twice. And what am I meant to think when confronted with myOxfordcohort – Martha Lane Fox, Kate Beckinsale, George Osbourne (actually, it helps to think of George, there but for the grace!) I was meant to rule the world, and now I’m a Mum of three (and don’t say ‘it’s the greatest job in the world’ because, no, it isn’t, we have spread that myth to make ourselves feel better!)
A sympathetic ear described it as landing on 99 on the Snakes and Ladders board. In the words of the haunting theme tune to The Bridge ‘right back to the beginning…’
HOWEVER…I do rather like the idea of starting again. I think Joe and I have had a ball, but there have been huge mistakes along the line and things I’d love to go back and do differently. I can do that now. Not for him, but. Likewise, exactly how utterly, stomach clenchingly upset am I going to be when we drop him off at University? Having two wee ones to cuddle into won’t half help; the nest ain’t empty.
Selfish? It continues. Given all the practical issues, we decided to get extra hands. I had kicked against this so long with Jon as I felt it was an admission of failure, other people managed, hated having people in the house etc. But then twins ARE unusual. And, with Jon away most of the week at work in the North, effectively I am a single Mum with newborn twins, having gone through major surgery, and with a teenaged son who has his own, very special, needs.
Accepting that, we hired AN UTTER WEIRDO who conspired to make matters worse. Hailing from Kenya, she preceded to denounce me for breastfeeding as formula is ‘much more nutritious’ (nice job Nestle, so proud), broke the £500 buggy and denied it, said I was ‘cruel’ for leaving them to cry for more than 10 seconds (even sneaking into the nursery to pick them up against my wishes), said she wanted to take them to Kenya with her as she thought I was going to be ‘like that Wandsworth lady’…cue stressed Mummy getting even more stressed and booting her out.
Jon, bless him, persevered, and we now have a spectacularly normal Aussie girl, Julia, who is helping with the twins and the house. It’s only been a week but already I have managed to do things unheard of like ‘get up to date with my finances’ and ‘have a 20 minute catnap’! Bliss.
So, ignore the monitors and the muslins and the Minnie Mice cuddly toys…for any twin parents reading this, I think the single most important thing is HELP. When it’s offered, take it; when it’s for sale, buy it. Chardonnay is not a longterm solution. Having enough help that the business of twins stops being mechanical and you actually have the time to sit with one of them for a few minutes and play with them and make the google eyes and fall ever more deeply in love with the way their tongue pops out when you press their nose…priceless.
If any twin parents reading this, or people maybe suffering from PND or – definitions aside – just completely, utterly knackered by it all, want to contact me for a chat, please do. Hang in there folks J