My whole life I dreamt of becoming a mother and having children without really imagining what it would really be like. My fantasy was very vague, scented with the aroma of home baking and the faint laughter of children playing together in a large garden, perhaps a cat purring away somewhere in the mix and the sun shining with cotton candy clouds streaking the sky. Someone take me back to the dream!
I didn’t get round to really putting my mind to the task of imagining the reality – stressful sleepless nights, concerns about school places (literally from day 1!), the strain having kids puts on your finances, relationship and body and the sheer endlessness of it all. And I definitely never imagined having twins.
That’s the problem with daydreams and fantasies – they set you up for some serious shocks.
Don’t get me wrong, becoming a mother has been THE most incredible experience and I love my twins but having an instant brood of two has thrown me into the deep end of the parenting pool and if I’m honest I’m still adjusting.
Having children really does change everything. The things you thought were important (manicured nails and eyelash extensions) don’t seem quite so significant any more, the friends you grew up with are replaced by the friends who grew someone inside them at the same time as you (hello NCT), the future you imagined for yourself fades away into the future you now imagine for your children.
Becoming a mum is an emotional rollercoaster but here’s how it breaks down for new twin mums.
You’re tired beyond all imagination and yet you constantly surprise yourself how much you can do on so little sleep. If only you’d known how much you could achieve before the twins – you’d probably be a self-made millionaire by now. Shame you have to put all your productivity into washing tiny sick stained baby grows and expressing your milk.
Special is code for smug. And you do feel smug goddamit. You just created two lives simultaneously and now you’re looking after two babies. TWO. You are invincible. You are TWIN MA! (There should definitely be a superhero called that right?)
This goes without saying and yet, I have to say it. Becoming a new mum to twins is the most overwhelming experience, except that you have no time to luxuriate in any of your difficult-to-put-into-words feelings about being overstretched (literally – oh hey there tiger stripes) because, hello, you have two infants to keep alive.
Sometimes it’s literally too much. TOO MUCH LOVE. It’s amazing how two tiny people with ridiculous facial expressions and terrible wind can make you feel like this. They communicate by screaming and turning beetroot red, they expect you to see to their every need and yet you’re more than happy to because… CUTENESS. Case in point:
Babies require so much love and attention. Their tiny faces and little fingers and silly noises demand it. As a new mum to twins you’re just not able to give each baby the one on one time they deserve – you’re just too busy doing a hundred and one other things to make sure all three of you stay fed/changed/clean/burped. The fantasy where I just cuddle my baby twins on the sofa while finally getting round to watching House of Cards or Breaking Bad remains as elusive as the idea of 8 hours sleep.
Any new mum of twins will feel torn at some point or another. And it happens in a thousand different ways every single day. Whether you’re torn between having a nap when they sleep (yeah right) or sending emails/watching tv/doing normal stuff you didn’t appreciate before, or you’re torn between picking up screaming twin one or two, or torn between how to spend your time when there’s a babysitter available; rekindling your relationship? Or simply sleeping/taking a bubble bath? No decision is without a load of weighing up the pros and cons and eventually just zombie-ing into a decision in a non committal way.
Note: any decision that doesn’t result in sleep is the wrong decision.
In fact – why am I writing this when I could be sleeping? Damn, now I feel guilty again.
You’ve survived this far on broken sleep, it’s normal to feel wired. Life feels kind of dangerous when you’re so sleep deprived you never quite know how you’re going to react to the next situation. Exciting no?
OK, maybe not furious, because that would involve using a whole lot of energy that a new mum to twins simply doesn’t have to spare. But there’s a part of any new twin mum that feels completely contemptuous to anyone who complains about having one baby. Looking after one newborn baby must be SO easy. It can only be easier than two, go complain to someone else.
In a weird way, being a new mum to twins makes you hella chilled compared to all those first time mums to singleton babies. There’s no time to wonder whether you’re doing the right thing with your babies or get too hung up on what you should or shouldn’t be doing. Leaving them alone while you shower is no biggy – they’ve got each other for company right? Freaking out about letting other people cuddle them? Twin mums don’t ever have that problem. As a new mum to twins there’s no time to send endless texts to people about your decision making process or write on forums about what you’re up to. You’ve got to make decisions quickly and live by them.
I think having twins will catch out any new mum about how naive you were before they arrived. Whether you naively thought you’d find it easy or naively thought it would be way harder than it is, twins will teach you more about yourself, your relationship and other people than you ever anticipated. Life’s a journey.