Tag Archives: Multiple birth

You are not alone

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Next week, starting on Sunday the 9th to the 16th of March is multiple birth awareness week. It’s one of those things that, even as a mother of twins, I would usually pay no attention to. When I discovered I was pregnant with twins, despite the urging of friends and medical specialists aplenty, the last thing I wanted to do was join AMBA or BMBA or whateverBA or anything related to to twins or mothers’ groups or the like. I didn’t want to talk about it, be advised about it or have anyone cook me a lasagne for the freezer. I was in DE. NI. AL.

I lived in what I thought was normal for quite some years. I just thought I had lost myself and that my children had swallowed me whole. I just had to deal with it and come to accept what was a really difficult experience for me because they were my kids and nothing was going to change that. The sense of entrapment was profound. There was a constant sense of outrage, helplessness and despair that was unescapable. On top of that was the mother guilt, which every mother on this earth knows deeply. It’s about as real a state as the photoshopped cover of Cosmo. It’s not how life is meant to be. I didn’t really ask for and commit to help until I was desperate. There was no way you would get an honest answer to the question ‘how are you?’ from me, ever. I hated hearing ‘you’ve got your hands full’ or ‘it gets easier’ or the nauseating,’ twins! what a blessing!’. I simply couldn’t. I couldn’t ask, answer or listen.

It’s multiple birth awareness week. Can I tell you something? Having multiples is not like having kids close together. It’s not easier because you get it all over and done with in one go. It’s not the same as a house full of singletons. It is different. For some it will be a dream. For some it will not. For me it was complicated by the fact that at the very same moment I was scanned and found two little babies, someone very close to me was realising she’d never bear her own children. It was made harder because I wanted to bitch about my lot but I was surrounded by women in the painful throes of miscarriage, IVF and infertility. Fate deals a bitch of a hand.

It’s multiple birth awareness week. With a combination of good therapy, time, medication and prayer, I am getting my life back. I joined BMBA. I’m writing for AMBA. I am looking forward to BMBA Market Day (*details below). I even went to my day care centre’s ‘Mum’s Night’ tonight. SO not something I would have done a year ago. I am falling so deeply in love with my children; something I imagine most Mums do when their babies are born, but something that took me a little longer. It is no less exquisite. I am happy. The inner rage is gone. I am excited on Friday afternoons instead of apprehensive.

Even if you are not ready to ask, answer or listen, you are still not alone, we are here. There are lots of us who struggled hard with this journey, even hated it at times. We are here. If you need us we are here at the drop of a hat, but we will not force you because we understand that sometimes you need to hide in a cave for a few years. If you need a listening ear without advice, we are here. If you need to get drunk and feel numb, we are here. If you need someone to sit there right next to you and not widen their eyes at the amount of baby noise, then yep, we are here. Advice, you can get it anywhere. I am unlikely to give it. What I can give is empathy and complete lack of judgement. You are not alone.

Please consider supporting the Brisbane Multiple Birth Association Market Day on Sunday the 16th of March. 

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Are we there yet?

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Sometimes I feel like it’s one step forward and three steps back in the up and down life of parenting three under 5. I have had a great run where I have felt more on top of things than I have since the twins were born. Then I have today, where I feel like the crankiest of cranky pants are mine all mine.

It’s my husband’s uni day. So I am alone with three kids from 7am until about 7:30pm. Oh the joy. If it were just one toddler, I’d be out and about, but I’ve house-bounded myself out of fear of attempting to take all three out somewhere. If one twins runs off, what will I do? We took a walk to the shops, which was OK, but I am too battle scarred to take them anywhere that allows the twins out of the pram. Poor Mr 4 gets the usual rough end of the pineapple. And the twins are having a particularly cranky day too. Although, I hear you, yes I did get time to blog today. Twice. This is only thanks to children’s TV (Mr 4) and a very child friendly back yard (twins).

I still get caught in that cycle of thinking that creates nothing but a cycle of guilt. Why am I not mother of the year yet? Why do I not love every moment of staying at home with my little ones? Why aren’t I dreaming up fabulous and educational art/music/cooking/building activities to expand their little minds and shudder with motherly accomplishment? Why am I feeding my kids frozen vegetables? The humanity.

In other news, I got my lazy feet up and into my running shoes this morning and STARTED my training. I’m saying it publicly so that I’ll be really embarrassed if I don’t make it. I’m thinking of a certain Mrs Gnu, who can be so strong in the worst of circumstances. If she can, I can. So I’ll be running this year and I’ll be raising some serious money (that means you friends!) for a charity close to her heart.

It’s a passing phase!!

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Something has passed, a change blew through and the sun is a little shinier today. Every time it happens, I am surprised.  It happens again and again and again, yet I still forget, still get despondent, still feel hopeless.

I really can’t believe how things have changed around here in the past few weeks. For a start, I feel a world away from the way I felt when I wrote Listen on February 5th. Putting it out there, both here and to my GP was not only therapeutic, but incredibly empowering. I felt truly in control of my own story, my own world. Strong enough to say well, I’m here and I’m not coping. Far from feeling weak and like a failure, I felt completely lifted, whole and hopeful.

Six weeks ago we thought we’d never see the end of twin 2’s screaming. And his night waking. I thought regularly, why can’t they just be happy for just one whole day? I thought, will I ever feel anything other than total exhaustion by 10 in the morning? Let alone 5 in the afternoon? Will this be fun anytime soon?

I haven’t heard twin 2 do his special scream for….actually I can’t remember when I last heard it. The twins seems to have stopped or greatly reduced their frustration head banging. This morning I sat quietly on the couch drinking my coffee while chatting with Mr 4. Twins downstairs playing happily. Just when we set up the portable cot downstairs because we had decided to separate the twins at night due to one of them screaming through the night and waking his twin, the neighbours and Siberia, he’s stopped. We only split them up for one night. My toxic hour afternoons (on my own until my husband gets home) have been largely peaceful and very enjoyable. I’ve been falling in love again. With each one, individually. Having fun.

We sat down last night and remembered, again, that a phase had passed. Just like all the others. Ready for the next one. It’s not the end, we will tear our hair out again, I’ll be imperfect, yell, cry in a toilet, then up will come the sun, the phase will pass, we’ll laugh and love, and round again.

Shock

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I posted a week or two ago about dark thoughts like wondering if I’d really be sad if I lost one of my twins. It only takes a couple of near misses to shock you right to the core of what is actually real in your heart.

We moved house about three months ago. On moving day, we were waiting in the backyard for the Parents in Law to come over and pick up the kids. We were all just hanging out and playing. We had a fence to a steep driveway that led to a very busy road. The twins had worked out how to open the fence weeks before, but we were in close supervision that morning so (we thought) all’s fine. I was holding S and I saw R heading toward the fence. In the two seconds it took me to alert Andrew, R had opened and closed the fence and was running down the steep driveway. I screamed as Andrew got the gate open and ran for it, grabbing our boy by the arm less than 2 meters from the road. We sighed in relief and locked the gate again. About 10 or 15 minutes later I dissolved into tears. It was a weird delayed reaction. I couldn’t get the image of my boy running toward heavy trucks out of my mind.

This morning I was heading down the stairs to the playroom. I had R in my arms and S was walking down the stairs himself. They have been pretty good on the stairs lately so we’ve been letting them climb down independently. He slipped. Right in front of me. All I could do was watch him fall. He fell forward and then flipped over on his head continued down about 6 steps. I screamed like an idiot. I guess when you physically can’t do anything your body goes to the only other thing you have – make a loud scary noise so people come running. It was awful. And this is one of the things about having twins which is really hard. What do you do if you actually can’t save your child because to do so would be to drop the other one? My husband was too far away to have helped, and I traumatised poor R in my arms with my screams. Poor darling. Thankfully thankfully my little tripper was OK, but I was a shaking, crying mess. My reaction surprised me more than the fall I think. I couldn’t stop shaking or crying for a good while. The twins were over it before I was.

I didn’t need a reminder that I wouldn’t want to lose any of them. Of course not. That love, that utter fear when they run a little too far, too fast toward a danger that you may not be able to protect them from, what a reminder.

Guest bloggers!

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I put out the call to a few multiples mums and here is what came back…

Chloe from Lilyfield, NSW, Mum of Viviane and Dylan 11 Months says:

I’ve got 5 mins at work free to write this up for you.

[The day we found out was the] strangest day of our lives. We were in for our 7 week scan – and all was looking good for bub number one. However, the sonographer wanted to have a “closer look” at something … so a quick trip to the toilet and a few minutes later “Congratulations.. you’re having twins!”.

Both my husband and I were silent for the rest of the appointment – and we both moved very quickly between shades of green and white.

Initially [I thought] Oh My Goodness – I am going to be HUUUUGE! Then – wow – that’s exciting…. then for the rest of the day – a major see saw of emotions from highs ( how exciting – two at once! We’ll have an instant family) to… lows (how on earth are we going to manage and afford two at once!?)

Life since then has been a continuing see saw of expectations. There are the lows and the very lows – feeding two babies at once isn’t nearly as easy as the hospital made out to be….. how can two babies cry so much and … I didn’t think we’d need this many nappies! To the more magical times – never realising how special twins are and how many comments and compliments you get while out walking with them, the joy of seeing them both laugh at each other for the first time, and realising very quickly that mums of twins are super heroes.

Samantha Ingram says:

The day we found out.. for my husband and I it wasn’t too much of a shock. We’d gone through IVF so we knew there was a very large chance that the two embryos we had put in would both still be there. We found out sooner than most, at 5 weeks. It was pretty cute, the ultrasound technician was trying to be all coy and not letting us see the screen. Then when she told us, “Looks like… two!”, my husband and I both nodded and smiled at each other. The technician looked a little disappointed that we weren’t more shocked!

We had done a lot of research before knowing we were pregnant, and although we had definitely factored in possibly having twins, it was still a bit of a readjustment. I think the feeling that overtook us was excitement. Two meant that we wouldn’t have to go through IVF anymore. Two meant I’d only have to go through pregnancy twice. I grew up with five siblings, so we were definitely having two because I wanted my kids to have siblings, same as I did. So it was great that we were getting everything done all at once.

So far, at eight months, almost everything we’ve encountered has been fairly expected. Like I said, before and while I was pregnant I did a lot of research. I read up on other people’s twin experiences so we weren’t going into this totally blind. I have yet to have more than a day or two where I feel like giving up, and every morning when I wake the girls up and see their smiling faces I think.. this is so worth it. Some of the things have been different though. A lot of the warnings we got from other parents “Oh, you just wait! It’s not as easy as you think! Blah, blah, blah..” we dismissed because, like new parents, we thought we could handle anything and that they were just babies. What on earth could babies throw at us that we couldn’t deal with!? A lot. I’ve learned to actually listen a little more intently when I’m getting advice from someone, unsolicited or not.

Mum of twins who shall as yet remain unnamed says (and I paraphrase):

OMG are you kidding me? My husband is going away, we’ve just started at multiple schools and I’m sick as a dog. I’m drowning. Ask me again in a few weeks.

OK so I may have chucked in some artistic license to that last one, who may I add, is a bit of a blogging and multiple mum inspiration to me (www.seanasmith.comhttp://themumsdiet.com). She very graciously demonstrates the skill all of us mothers (multiples or not) need to have – the skill of saying ‘no’ or ‘not right now’. I included all these guest responses because they together make an accurate picture of the crazy,  the perfect, the ugly and the joyful life of mothering twins.

I may in future weeks have guest posts from one or two others, including one who is expecting triplets. I for one can’t wait to hear that one!! In the mean time, I love to hear other multiple stories so please leave a comment and an email address if you’d like to add your story.

Baby steps

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I guess I skipped over a little section of time in my retrospective blog abut the twins form birth. I am now up to 18 months (now) but kind of skipped about a year there. It’s amazing how fast things go in hindsight and how slow when you are in the thick of it.

The twins have gone from this

to this

in a mere 555 days. Yup. The blink of an eye.

We celebrated their first birthday by going out for cocktails with friends. After all I figured, as if they would remember what we did for their first birthday. And to be honest, what had they done other than eat, cry and sleep? OK yes there was growth and development and smiling and walking and all that, but seriously, it was me and my husband who really achieved something. We had made it through double night feeds, double nappy wars, double dribble, and we STILL like each other and want to hang out. I was so proud of us for that. Very proud. And those cocktails tasted so good.

So we’re looking ahead to 2012 as what we have both agreed will probably be our most difficult. We’re not pessimists, but we know what that year 1.5 – 2.5 is like and let’s just say we’ve done the math. This year will be hard, but I am also looking forward to lots of markers in the road. We’ll go to big boy beds sometime, the high chairs will go, I’ll be able to drop off and pick up from day care without the whole in-the-pram-out-of-the-pram routine. It may be ambitious to say we may lose the pram and generate a fledgling interest in the toilet this year, but I live in hope.

Part of me cautiously entertains an easing of the stress in our lives, part of me is quivering in a dark corner. Without fail though, when I look at that first photo, my absolute favourite, I am moved to tears every single time. Those are the two little angels that I held so close in the hospital, the faces I was so desperate to see. The second photo captures the faces that drive me almost out of my mind sometimes. Faces that make me cry for other reasons. But everyday, faces that I can’t stop loving. Two little faces that are a privilege to love.