What having twins has taught me

Alexander and Dylan at 6 months

Alexander and Dylan at 6 months

Seven months ago we welcomed Alexander and Dylan into our lives. The road since then has been more rewarding than I ever would have expected, but at the same time exhausting and often extremely difficult and lonely. The mix of emotions and pressures have made it difficult to put anything in print, but I hope that this heartfelt post will make up for the seven months of silence on my blog.

In the last seven months, I have learned more about myself than I ever knew before and I have come to believe that that learning is something that all new parents have and will experience.

What I have learned is that parenting twins is hard. I know that parenting any child is an exceptionally challenging accomplishment and I don’t want to take anything away from singleton parents, but having twins makes a minefield out of life. Add to that a full time job and you have a veritable war of feelings on your hands.

One of the first things I learned when the twins were finally released from the neonatal ICU, was to cherish the small victories. When we first brought the boys home I started writing a blog post. I smile now at what I have written, because, while being a parent has created in me a sense of purpose, I still feel like a fish out of water.

This is what I wrote:

“I have a newfound respect for all my friends out there that happen to be parents, and an even higher regard for my friends out there whose kids have turned out to be amazing. I hope to one day posses the patience and calm that you guys have – especially since you all seem to find the time to blog about it too.

Well here is my (most likely mistake ridden) attempt at my first few weeks as a twin parent. Forgive the pace changes and possible thought changes, I have taken three weeks to write this post.

I hung my curtains today. I am starting with this line, because it’s an accomplishment for me to have found the time to hang three curtains. You see – I have recently been thrust into parenting twins, which has consumed my life.

Being a parent dishes up sweet feelings of inadequacy like broccoli on harvest day. And yet, at the same time, it is unbelievably rewarding and I am slowly learning to shrug off some of the mistakes, and rejoice in the small victories.

Since the day I brought my boys home from the hospital, they have had to suffer the loss of the clinical hands of the incredible competent nursing sisters, settling for the clumsy, all-thumbs new mom instead. Whatever happened to maternal instinct? What happened to “you will just know”?

Well maybe some mums are lucky enough to slide into motherhood with the ease and grace of a ballerina, but I am crumping to Beethoven and it isn’t pretty. None of it has come to me in a flash of brilliance. Instead, I find myself muddling along, constantly stressed about whether or not I am doing the right thing.

Lack of sleep isn’t helping either.”

And that is the second thing I have learned about being a parent – you will always just have to muddle along – there are no instruction manuals and no internet article, or book will give you any idea of what to do when your child (or in my case children) is not following the pack. And lets face it, children never follow the pack, they each have their own moments of joys and difficulties.

I have also learned that I am extremely lucky with my twins. I have sat in restaurants with my twins fast asleep in their pram, while other mothers deal with screaming babies with the look of a terrified puppy. I have chatted with other twin parents who are jealous and surprised by our exceptionally well-tailored routine, which Alex and Dylan stick to – more-or-less.

lunch

Lunch (Dylan)

So often, I look at how well my boys are developing and think about how lucky I really am. But that doesn’t make it any easier.

I have also learned that parenting is a guilt-ridden process. I spend most of my life guilty about something or another. I was warned early on that that would be the case, but I honestly thought I was a more practical person than that. Clearly not. I spend most of my life guilty about something or another.

One of the hardest lessons I have learned is that parenting is a lonely process. With the boys’ routine so stringent, it makes it difficult to do anything other than the routine.

It goes like this:

They wake up anywhere between 4am and 5am in the morning. They get a bottle first thing and play for a little while. I try and put them down at 6:30am for a nap, but it doesn’t always happen, it mostly depends on when they wake up. At 7:30 they have fruit puree and play (or nap depending on whether they napped early on). At 9:30 they have a bottle and at 11:30 they have veggie or meat puree.

The sweet sounds of a sleeping baby (Alex)

The sweet sounds of a sleeping baby (Alex)

Anyway you get the picture. My life is split into 2 hourly chunks and it continues throughout the day till just after 6:30 when they finally go to sleep. That leaves very little time for anything else and seeing friends and family has become virtually impossible.

Jon and I manage that routine when we are not at work. When we are working, a nanny manages the day-time routine and we jump in from about 4:30. (Add guilt in here).

I have learned that there is nothing more rewarding than when you walk into a room and your baby smiles and giggles at you. Both my boys are very giving of smiles and gurgles and I couldn’t be more in love if I tried. Every day they grow and learn something new and the surges of pride and love I feel everyday make all the hardships worthwhile.

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