Rollercoaster

I am a breastfeeding, formula-feeding, soother-using, non-soother-using, sling-wearing, buggy-pushing, spoon-feeding, baby-led weaning, television-babysitter-using, screen-time limiting, child-entertaining, independence-fostering, baby-juggling mum.

 

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In fact, I would go so far as to say that being a twin mum is quite relaxing, not because you are not constantly doing things, but because it makes you realise in a big way the impossibility of living up to any ideal of motherhood you might have. You cannot be perfect, so your children will have to put up with whatever you can give at any given moment and that means using any parenting approach that works to get the job done! 

 

You also stop wondering when you might get some sleep, or time to yourself, because chances are you won’t, so that’s one less thing to be wondering and worrying about. You become more grateful for any five second window in which you can shut your eyes. Life is less boring and you simply have no time to think. This is wonderful!

 

I used to work at a job that meant I had entire days to idle away musing about things. How dispiriting! I laugh at the idea now.

 

These days, I live in a different time zone. Where once I had good days and bad days, now I have a good five minutes and a bad five minutes. I finally understand why that website is called rollercoaster.ie. Take one day last week, for example. After weeks of effort, I got the twins tandem breastfeeding for the first time (extreme high!), then within the same hour, my eldest opened the front gate, the dog charged out and ran into the side of a car (unscathed, thankfully!). Got the dog back in and then walked round to the preschool as if nothing had happened for 9am.

 

Despite all this, I have a feeling that is only those without twins who think of them as double trouble, they are actually double joy. That is the closely guarded secret.

 

I had a single baby before my twins and now I always feel happy knowing that my baby (whichever baby) has a fellow small companion. There is something oddly lonely looking about a non-verbal infant. They are not yet able to communicate and seem so other-worldly, and so dependent. I love seeing the two babies and thinking, well, at least they are on each other’s level, have each other for company, someone who understands exactly what it is like to be a baby. And they do seem happier for it!

 

Of course, right now, my twins stay where I put them, and only want for nappy changes, milk, cuddles and a bit of play-time. Ask me again about double trouble when I have two small children wandering off simultaneously in different directions – one to paint the couch with poster paint and the other to eat a tiny piece of lego their brother has left lying around, while the brother in question is attempting to climb over the front garden wall… No blog posts being written that day!

 

 

Mothering Twins

 

Things I have learnt as a twin mum that I wish I had known as a mother of one:

You can pick up a baby with one hand by tucking a hand under their armpit and rolling them onto your arm; or more controversially, lifting them mother-bear style by the babygro!

Babies carry on smiling.
 

When there is no crook of an arm to prop them in, the crook of a leg will do.

Babies carry on smiling.
 

You can save literally HOURS by allowing a baby to self-settle with a soother, instead of pushing them in a buggy, rocking or singing. You can even settle two babies at once while putting an older child to bed. The soother helps with reflux.

Babies carry on smiling.


Never underestimate these small people! This time around I have used baby sign from birth, always signing change when I lie them on the nappy changing mat and always signing milk when I breast or bottle-feed them (yes, combination feeding is sometimes necessary and can actually work!). Now the babies smile at my signs and one has even attempted to sign back. Yesterday morning I had a conversation with my four-month-old. It went like this:

 

Baby: Wah wah wah
Me: Do you want milk [signing "milk"]?
Baby: Wah wah wah
Me: Do you want a nappy change [signing "change"]?
Baby: [Stops crying, big grin, brings hands together and brushes one over the other]


I bring her to the changing table and remove a heavily wet nappy - my little four-month-old remains happy. My other baby also seems to be attempting to sign "milk".


I believed in the power of baby sign before, but now!! My eldest first signed at 8 months (after starting classes at 5 months). Seeing it in a four-month-old takes it to a whole new level and confirms for me that babies really are ready to engage and interact with us in meaningful ways from birth if we just take the time to stop and listen to their rudimentary attempts at communication and don't dismiss them out of disrespect and disbelief.

 


This is mind-blowing stuff. It has forced me to set aside all assumptions about my babies as unaware and incompetent, dependent little beings. In fact, babies offer the ultimate lesson in mindfulness. We just need to slow down, tune in, offer a listening ear and their voice will follow.

 

Babies truly are amazing!