Sitting in a restaurant with some very close friends, one of the couples were talking about their recently announced pregnancy, and there was a general discussion about all things baby related. How the topic turned to multiple births I am not sure, but I will never forget my friend saying categorically that her worst nightmare would be to have twins. At that point I discreetly smiled at my husband, and then I said “Well, actually I am having your worst nightmare!”
Telling people I was pregnant was so wonderful, but also really hilarious. When I said I was expecting everyone was really excited, but when I said it was twins, the smiles would become a little fixed. Perhaps I was naïve, but the thought of coping with two really didn’t fill me with the dread that seemed to come from everyone around me.
Once they were born however, I was too tired to feel dread or any other emotion. My boys were three weeks early but a healthy 6lb 6oz and 6lb 8oz, and from the moment I held them my life changed forever. I learnt quickly to take the help from wherever it came and whoever came to visit invariably ended up holding a bottle and helping with a feed. They were gorgeous but it was hard being on duty 24/7, and it is relentless.
Six weeks after they were born I had my brother and sister in law over for Christmas. By the time they left she swore she would never have children! It was constant feeding with only a gap for air in between and when they weren’t being, fed, changed or winded I was sterilizing, washing or re-stocking the fridge.
Obviously as the boys got older and realized sleep was good for everyone, things got easier, and so it came to a point where I delicately mentioned to my husband about having another one. We were really excited when I was pregnant again but the response from other people was very mixed. People were happy for us but it felt like they thought because we had two, why did we want more? The gap between the twins and my next is three years. I didn’t want a bigger gap as I was worried the older boys wouldn’t accept or need any other sibling and the gap couldn’t be smaller as I knew I wouldn’t be able to cope.
I was very lucky. The twins accepted the baby and being quite young the fact that they could continue with their life and routine meant they were happy. I think my husband would have finished with three but there was a part of me that felt I needed to complete our family unit. With a much bigger gap my final son arrived six years later. The twins were nine when he was born and I was concerned about how they would react. They had no say in this and a baby was being foisted on them, but they were really excited. My middle one was also happy but demanded a brother. The odds were in his favour but there were no promises. Once he arrived at the hospital and saw a little boy he was satisfied.
Having had the twins first I found have a single baby to look after a complete breeze and kept telling my friends that I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about! I also think that the more children you have the more laid back you become. It is important to have a routine but you need flexibility, and if there is a nursery or school run then meal or sleep times have to be changed.
My twins are non identical and have always been dressed differently, put in different classes at school and now that they are older even have separate social lives, but they are close and although they are competitive with each other I do think there is a bond. They have always included their other siblings and the four of them are close. The youngest adores his older brothers and in turn they are patient and loving with him. It has probably been the hardest for my middle son who was our baby for a long time and then had this position usurped, but after a wobble at the beginning he found his footing. He always aspired to doing what the older boys did and this was fine until they went to secondary school and he felt left behind, but now he is there too the equilibrium is more or less restored.
This is not to say that there is not a lot of arguing and physicality, but it is as four siblings and not twins plus two. With two teenagers, one not far off being a teenager and one aspiring to act like a teenager there is a lot of testosterone, noise and football, but behind that there is one big family with a solitary woman trying to keep control.