My husband and I discussed baby number 3 on so many occasions. When we decided it was the right time, I remember quietly hoping it might be a girl. Of course, I would have been happy no matter what but with two boys already I couldn’t help thinking how a little bit of pink might soften the dynamics in the house. About a year before I got pregnant my sister-in-law (who had two girls already) announced she was pregnant with twins. I remember thinking how lucky she was and that I would love twins. I brushed it aside as I knew how unrealistic it was considering there are no twins on mine or my husbands’ side of the family.
I can remember the morning I went for my 8 weeks scan like it was yesterday. That morning my husband joked, “wouldn’t it be funny if you found out it’s twins?” “Don’t joke about it!” Was my retort. My sister-in-law had a one-year-old and a two-year-old at home when she came home with her new-born twins. And as much as I’m still in awe of how she managed it all, I saw how hard it was too.
We had decided as this was my 4th first scan, and that I’d done this before we figured I’d be fine heading to the appointment on my own. I left my other two with my mother-in-law. As I lay there on the bed chatting with the sonographer whilst she squirted the cold jelly on my already bulging tummy, I commented on how I just knew I was having a girl because I had been so sick, much sicker than with the others. The sonographer casually replied, “I don’t think so, you’re so sick because you’re having twins!” I sat up instantly sending the probe flying from the sonographer’s hand and blurted out, “F*ck off!” We both started to laugh, mine verging on the hysterical. I broke down crying in the bathroom and remember thinking how lucky I was, I felt like I’d won the lotto. My husband was in a total state of shock and thought I was winding him up until he saw the images himself. My mother-in-law’s face was the best, however. I simply showed her the ultrasound images and she said, “It’s twins!!”
My pregnancy was straight forward. We were told the twins were monochorionic-diamniotic twins, so identical twins who share a placenta but not an amniotic sac. I kept up with as much as I could – my then 2.5-year-old and 5-year-old kept me on my toes. I kept up with my yoga practice and teaching my pregnancy yoga classes until I reached small whale size at 7 months. I tried to prepare as best I could for the pandemonium that was about to hit. I planned for friends, family and babysitters to help with lifts to school, and to help with my boys.
Towards the end of my pregnancy, so around 8 months I got pre-eclampsia and about 10 days before the twins were born, I was admitted to hospital. I hated it. I hated being away from my boys and my husband. I had made sure with my other two boys that I was in the hospital for the minimal amount of time, so to have to pee into a tub for 10 days was dreadful.
Eventually, on the 13 June 2011, they induced me. Nothing happened… it was like trying to get a can of beans open without an opener… no matter how much you prod and poke you won’t get those beans out without the correct tools, i.e. me being ready! My previous births I didn’t have any pain relief, however I took the advice of many and thankfully had the epidural with the twins.
On the 14th June my beautiful boys were born, 4 weeks premature but at good weights and in good health. I tried breastfeeding and those first few weeks were just horrendous. Their latch wasn’t great, and everything was so different to when I had my other two. I ended up expressing and trying to breastfeed too. I thought I had prepared myself well. I had put in place all the help for my boys, for my husband, but I had done nothing to prepare for help for me. I had so many people call over to visit and out of all of them there are only two of my friends that when I think about their visits it still brings tears to my eyes. They were the friends who came in and hung out my washing. Made me something to eat. Changed a nappy, winded a baby and sent me off to bed for an hour while they sat with the twins.
My sister timed her visit from the UK just at the right time too. My husband had been trying to convince me that we needed a van for the family, not a people carrier. I refused, I just hated the idea of driving a van. So, we had the 7-seater people carrier. One of the days whilst my sister was visiting, when the twins were about 4 weeks old, I had this notion that we were going to go out. All of us, the four boys, my sister and me. So, we loaded up the car and then tried to get the double buggy in the boot. The double buggies then were not like they are now. The one I had was too wide to go through a standard doorway (probably designed by a man) so we had to take the wheel off… and it was not going into a 7-seater people carrier. My sister and I practically dismantled the entire buggy. By the time I gave up the twins were crying, the boys were fighting, and the beads of sweat were pouring down my back. I sat on the curb, put my head in my hands and started to cry. All I kept saying was, “What was I thinking, I need to feed them, and I have to get practically naked to feed them!” My sister got the twins out the car, sorted all four boys and came and sat with me on the curb and held my hand. That week my husband turned up with a bottle green Volkswagen Caravelle, which we nicknamed the ‘green hornet’. I could get everyone in this contraption, the buggy, the scooters, changing bags and we still had room for granny and grandad! We even used it as our wedding car, and when we sold it two years ago, I cried as I watched it go, the memories that van holds!
When I think back to those first 6 to 8 weeks with my twins and how I barely managed to keep my sanity. My husband was my rock and I feel for him, he must have been reeling trying to guess my moods and what to do or what to say. How much I appreciated all the help from all my wonderful friends and family but how much better it would have been had I hired a professional. I know now that I had a touch of post-natal depression, but I was convinced it was pure exhaustion from trying to do everything myself and not allowing people to help more. At least a professional would know what to do, someone who knew what to say. When you’re having car trouble you ask a professional mechanic to help, I was having trouble with so many postpartum realities and I should’ve looked for professional help. And I’m not the only one. I’m sure there are plenty of moms out there that on the surface it looks like you’re just flying it, but underneath it all there are days where the head goes in the hands and you start wondering about it all. Just imagine how nice it would have been to have someone come into your home who knew what needed doing, who you knew could answer questions and give advice. And who you knew would be there when they said they would be there.
For all the pandemonium and hazy, hazy baby days, I survived it all. Having twins is a pure joy, I feel so lucky to have them. Double the cuddles, the giggles and smiles. Twice the nappies and washing… Yes, it is busy but if you’re prepared to throw out the rule book, and find what feels good for you, to find what works for your families, life with twins in the mix only makes it more fun and colourful.
There are some wonderful resources out there in Cork for expectant mothers of multiples and moms with multiples which I have listed below and you can read about my work as a postpartum doula to get an idea of how I help moms and moms of multiples manage after the birth of their babies in A Day in the Life of a Postpartum Doula
Resources for Moms and Expectant Moms of Multiples in Cork
- Irish Multiple Births Association – imba.ie
- Cork Multiples Club- Coffee Morning, Brú Columbanus, Wilton, Cork the last Friday of every month 10 – 12pm Quarterly Information Evenings for expectant multiple parents https://www.facebook.com/groups/CorkMultiplesClub/
- Dream Team Nannies – dreamteamnannies.com
- West Cork Multiples Club – https://www.facebook.com/groups/WestCorkMultiplesClub/
“There are two things in life for which we are never truly prepared, twins”.
About The Author- Genevieve from Helping Hands Postpartum Doula Cork
My name is Genevieve and I’m a postpartum doula. I’m originally from South Africa. I’ve been living in Cork for 20 years with my husband. We have four beautiful but wild boys and a dog. The boys are 12, 10 and for added fun 7-year-old twins! I am a trained yoga and pregnancy yoga instructor too. I provide support to families welcoming newborns into their lives during the postpartum period. You can read more about what I do in this Cork Kids and Moms Article “A Day in the Lide of a Postpartum Doula