“I think you need to look at the screen”, said the sonographer. So I finally looked up.
“There’s baby number 1”, she said. “….And there’s baby number 2.”
I hadn’t wanted to look up until then. Because the last time I’d been on that bed, there was an awful silence. One of those silences which is heavy with meaning. One of those silences which means there’s a problem.
And so when I was back on that bed, my head was very deliberately turned the other way.
Baby number 2? …….. Baby number 2?
It took a moment.
There were definitely tears…..tears of panic, really. I was thinking of giant buggies and new cars and the fact that since having baby #1 I had always looked at anyone with twins and thought ‘how on earth is that possible?’
“But we’ve already got one”, I said to the sonographer – as if that piece of information might change things. “What are we going to do?”
“First time is the hardest”, she said. “You’ll find it easier this time.”
That was about five years ago now. It almost feels like a different life.
Since then, I have thought I can’t do this more times than I can count; but also known that I don’t actually have a choice, because I have to do it.
I have felt bewildered, overwhelmed and at times totally inadequate.
I have watched crawling twins, climbing twins and walking twins gain in confidence as they worked out how to get to all the things which had been deliberately put out of their reach…….And I have felt like things were rapidly slipping out of my control.
I have eaten too many sweets, a lot of cake, and tripled my coffee intake.
I have accepted kind words from strangers and tried to stay strong when people have felt the need to be unkind.
I haven’t completed any of the baby journals or scrapbooks that I completed for my eldest boy. Instead there are hospital bands and locks of hair and scan photos strewn casually around the house. Sorry about that, little ones.
I have struggled my way through hundreds of painful, over-tired bedtimes.
I have cried. A lot. Tears of exhaustion, frustration, joy and everything in between.
I have despaired over squabbles about who gets to open the bedroom door first, who gets to go to the toilet first, who gets to wear the Spiderman pyjamas, who gets to choose their cereal first, who gets to wear the stripy hat, who gets to choose the music in the car, who gets to be the one to open the front door on the way out (this is the most coveted job of them all, and is always worth fighting over).
I have felt like the world’s worst referee.
I have spent nights being budged out of my own bed, nights lying on the floor next to small boys’ beds; and too many Sunday mornings trying to convince little ones that 5.30am is just not an acceptable time to start the day.
But there is also this – the fact that you, Baby number 1 and Baby number 2, are now a proper team….. a unit. The fact that, as you get older, you are increasingly able to take comfort and confidence from each other. When I think about your play, your chatter, your day-to-day fun….well, I’m just not particularly important anymore. Apart from for logistics……and snacks, obviously. At four years old, you are now able to cooperate, share and take it in turns – of course you still have your moments, but who doesn’t? The skills are there, and you display them more frequently than you used to. You consult each other on which television programme you should watch next; you arrange to swap hats and trainers. You have got used to always taking someone else into account – sometimes this doesn’t suit you…… of course it doesn’t. But this is your life and you understand that. You are proud of yourselves when you manage to reach a compromise…… I am proud of you too. You organise your play meticulously: it always involves each other and only occasionally involves me – let’s play Fireman Sam and Elvis, let’s play doggy and his owner, let’s play daddy and baby, let’s play cow and farmer.
Frequently I feel like I am talking to myself – you are too busy in your own world to take much notice of me and…..well yes, that can be infuriating. But then when we’re not in a rush, I remind myself to take a moment to watch and listen to the way you talk to each other. The way you manage to work out a compromise. The way you adjust each other’s school uniform. Even just the way you use each other’s names. Because these are the things I know I’ll be desperate to hold onto as you get bigger and my window into your world gets smaller.
‘Impossible’ is what I used to say about having twins.
It isn’t impossible, as long as you adjust what you expect of yourself.
But the struggle to hear myself think, the feeling that nothing is being done quite as well as it should be, and the physical exertion required to get two small children of the same age through the most basic tasks…..well, somehow it all seems worth it when you see your twins manage to come to an agreement over who gets the top and who gets the bottom half of a hot cross bun.
Well done, boys – mummy is so proud x
I wrote this because February is TAMBA’s #lovemultiples month. Yes, I know I am sneaking in at the last minute on the very last day of February, but I feel like I’ve been chasing my tail all month so the fact that I’m a bit late to the party with this one too seemed fitting.