23rd February 2020
By twin mum, Anna.
I went back to work in January, after taking 9 months of maternity leave. It’s been wonderful, but honestly, it’s been some of the hardest moments I’ve ever experienced. To the point that I wished, a number of times, I’d only had one child. And the thought of taking the full 12 months of leave filled me with dread. I didn’t feel prepared at all for what maternity leave with twins would be like.
Firstly, it’s been physically hard. For one, our identical boys, Charlie and Archie, were born 6 weeks premature. People say the first 3 months are the hardest. No one tells you that if your children are born 6 weeks early that effectively means you’ll be 50% more shattered before you’ve really started your maternity leave. (Of course, all you care about at first is the fact the babies healthy, but once you’re lucky enough to take that for granted, you start to think about all these other side effects!).
The days have been emotionally tough too. I really struggled between 3-6 months. My adrenaline ran out. The boys didn’t nap nearly as much, they wanted to be in my arms all the time, and they’d developed jealousy of one another. After hours spent baby-juggling (an official sport, I assure you), I’d eventually resort to leaving them both to cry. But it turns out that’s emotionally draining!
Then there’s simply the logistical challenges. While my singleton mum friends would all head into town with just a sling, I’d have to take a route two to three times longer, as step free access isn’t all that well developed. Or, while they’d enjoy lunch with babies in their laps, I’d have to baby-juggle and go for a quick walks, leaving my coffee and food to go cold while barely hearing or joining the conversation.
But it’s not been all bad. Once I accepted reality would not be as I imagined it, I admitted that at times I wished I only had one baby, and I let myself complain a little, I was able to create some happy times too.
Firstly, I invested in equipment and toys for the home, and I got into a routine that suited me, in my current reality. Often not dressed until midday, consuming way too much chocolate and coffee, and taking a break from any exercise. My treats for the day. It wasn’t at all what I had in mind, it’s not at all who “I am” (or was?), but it’s what I needed to be happier.
I also learned to accept people’s compliments and even build on their positive energy. Now, whenever people look in amazement at the boys, or tell me I’m a hero for being their mother, I thank them, tell them just how hard it is, let them compliment me some more, and then I make my way, a little stronger.
And once I realised people are very forgiving to twin parents, I decided to do whatever I wanted. I enjoyed many baby cinema trips, even if my boys definitely cried for longer than everyone else’s.
So, I hope you make the most of your maternity leave. And know that if you find it really hard and occasionally wish you’d only had one baby, it’s ok, you’re not alone. What you’re doing, bringing up two or more babies in one go, is nothing short of exceptional.
A twin mum once told me that I’d be jealous of my singleton mum friends for the first year, and that I’d then be smug once they’d all start to think about number two, while my boys would be sleeping and playing together. I’ve held onto that sage wisdom. It’s really what’s helped me to make the most of my maternity leave, as best I could.
*Please follow latest government guidance during maternity/paternity leave.
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