My seventh Twinterview in the series is with my lovely friend Hayley, who writes a fabulous parenting and lifestyle blog called Hayley From Home.
I remember so clearly when her twins were born and it’s been so lovely to see her three boys growing up together. Her answers to the Twinterview questions are really fantastic. Any expectant mama (or daddy) of twins would be hard pressed to find more honest and helpful advice. And with that, it’s over to Hayley!
How did you feel when you first found out you were having twins?
Totally shocked; I hadn’t ever thought that it might be twins so we went to the twelve week scan as normal.
Just as the lady started the scan the thought popped into my head then flew out again. The first thing she said was ‘Well, I have some news’ as soon as she said that I knew and I looked over at my bewildered husband, we both laughed. I remember her asking if we had any other children and I said ‘yes, a boy who is nearly two’, we just kept looking at each other, shaking our heads and laughing.
For the first hour I was on cloud nine, then I had three days of complete panic before the news properly settled in. In the end I think it was meant to be as I always wanted three children and I was so excited to be having twins.
Did you have a straightforward pregnancy?
In the end, yes it all went smoothly. At first they thought my twins were MCMA (one placenta, one amniotic sac) which is extremely rare and can be complicated.
Despite this I still didn’t see a consultant until 20 weeks and I didn’t see the lead consultant until 22 weeks who panicked — told me to prepare for the worst — and sent me to a specialist hospital for a scan.
I was an absolute wreck leading up to that scan but as soon as they started the ultrasound they spotted the separate sacs. I burst into tears, my boys were MCDA meaning a much lower risk pregnancy and later delivery date. It is worth saying that the doctor at this hospital was extremely positive on MCMA twins and put my mind at rest straight away; my original consultant just wasn’t experienced in multiples.
After this at each appointment I requested to see the same doctor who had experience with twins and was just fantastic, he even performed the c-section and welcomed our boys into the world.
How was your birth experience?
Right up until the end I was still trying to decide whether or not to have a c-section; one of the twins was head down and one was crushed right up at the top lying transverse. They didn’t put any pressure on me but I could see the relief when I asked for a c-section, my biggest fear was giving birth to one naturally and then needing a cesarean for the second.
They booked me in for Christmas Eve but after getting to the hospital and getting ready for theatre I was told that their SCBU was full and so were the local units. If they needed any care they would be sent away and I would have to stay there. They didn’t think they’d need it but no one wanted to take the risk. Also my doctor wasn’t on surgery that day but he would be when I was booked back in, so I feel like maybe it was meant to be.
I was booked back in three days later; bang on 37 weeks. My first child was a natural birth but it was such a difficult labour so going into hospital knowing you are going to have your babies that day seems surreal. It was fantastic, so calm and I remember it all so vividly.
Brandon was born first and was 5lbs 10oz, Arthur came out one minute later and was 5lbs 9.5oz. The first thing I heard was our doctor saying ‘hello’ and then a cry. Then they were both placed on my chest and quietly took it all in. It was amazing; I was just in awe that I had carried these two tiny people!
How did you cope with having twins in the early days?
It is all such a blur but you just do it! You know it is going to be hard work but you’ve just got to crack on.
The only way I could possibly cope was having a routine; once my husband was back in work I had a nice little routine set up and that helped me get through the days. My husband had about three weeks off and family would cook us meals and take washing.
My mum used to come on her way home from work and my Nana would visit once a week. Every little thing helps so accept help if it is offered.
At the time I honestly remember thinking it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. The tiredness is hard and it puts such a strain on you and your relationship. I had prepared for the worst I think and actually the joy of having two babies keeps you going through the tough patches. Also you feel like Supermum when you can look after two babies at once!
Did/do you have an essential ‘must-have’ item and what is it?
Bouncers; I couldn’t have coped without them.
We only had cheap ones kept from when Lucas was a baby but they were a life-saver. I could feed them both in them, one on either side which helped keep the routine the same. It was somewhere safe to leave them and they would have little cat-naps in them. I kept using them for as long as I could but when they finally started to escape I knew it was time to give them up.
What is the best thing about being a parent of multiples?
All those cheesy things people say about double the joy, double the love; it is completely true! I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Seeing them grow up together, the bond they have and knowing that they will be friends for life is truly heart-warming. The way they interact makes me smile every single day.
Being part of the twin mums club is pretty special too. Only a twin mum will know how truly hard your bad days can be and how amazing the good ones are. Having twins has given me a bond with other twin parents which I will always be thankful for.
And the worst?
Trying to split yourself in two and the guilt. This has become easier as they have grown older but I remember the early stages not knowing what to do when they both needed my comfort. I felt like I was torn in all directions, especially with an older one too.
Also, when people walk past and say ‘You’ve got your hands full’ or ‘Double trouble’. At first this really didn’t bother me but after 13 months of it hearing it every time we go out I must admit it does annoy me now. If you ever see a twin mum please think to say something nice, I promise you it will make her day!
And finally, what would your top tip be for any new — or soon to be —parent of twins?
I wrote down all my top tips when I felt like we were coming through the other side and I still stand by them now. The biggest thing for me was keeping them in the same routine. The routine doesn’t have to be set in stone but it does help get you through the days. We fed them at the same time and they slept at the same time — and still do now — it made everything so much easier for us.
Also, have everything to hand; nappies, wipes, sleepsuits, muslins. We had them stockpiled in three rooms in the house. You can never have enough!
Meet other twin parents – this is an important one! However you do it; in real life, online, at groups or twin classes it always helps to have a twin mum (or Dad) on hand. I don’t know what I would have done without the support of other Multiple Mamas!
If you’re a mummy or daddy to twins, triplets or more — and would like to share your experiences as a parent of multiples, in a ‘Twinterview’, please get in touch, I’d love to hear from you!