20 October 2020

Too peas in a podcast   

The podcasting pair, both parents of twins with additional support needs, talk to Twins Trust. 

Mandy has three children. 15-year-old fraternal twin girls, both with Cerebral Palsy and another 9-year-old girl

Kate has 15-year-old identical twin boys, both with ADHD and three older children.

Too peas in a podcast logo

How did you meet?

We met via AMBA (Australian Multiple Birth Association). AMBA had a forum that we both joined. The forum formed small local groups that then met face to face.  We met at a dinner one evening. Kate ‘it was like speed dating and I found my person in Mandy’

Did you have preconceived ideas about what it’s like to have twins?

Kate ‘At my first scan I was told that the twins had TTTS and they didn’t think they would be viable. I didn’t think much more about the fact I was having twins, more about how I desperate I was to meet my boys’.

Mandy ‘My grandma told me that I would have twin girls and she was spot on! She had twins herself – my Dad and my Uncle, so twins were always part of my life’.

Tell us about the birth of your twins

Mandy ‘My twins were born at 31 weeks and 6 days. The doctors kept telling me throughout my pregnancy that I needed to get to 34 weeks so when my waters broke earlier than 34 weeks, it was a complete shock.

Kate ‘My boys were born at 33 weeks on the dot! I was expecting them to be earlier due to the complications of TTTS’.

When did you find out that your twins had additional needs?

Mandy ‘I found out at about 8 months corrected (10 months) with one of my twin girls’

Mandy explains that she kind of knew.

‘The other twin was doing things that the other twin wasn’t. I knew something wasn’t quite right’ Mandy’s twin cerebral palsy has affected the left side of her brain which affects her movement on her right side’

At 2 and half years old Mandy’s other twin was diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy too.

During out chat with Mandy and Kate we spend some time commenting on how the term mild means very different things to families and the outside world. It may be termed as mild, but it isn’t mild to the child or the family that have to manage their condition every single day.

Kate comments how she was told that the donor twin may have some additional support needs, so it was on her mind. The paediatrician was keeping a close eye on the boys ‘the boys were doing ok, about 4-5 months behind in meeting their milestones but generally were doing well’ At 4 years old Kate began to think that her boys may need some additional support ‘I’ve never had twin boys before, is this normal?’ The boys received a formal diagnosis of ADHD when they were 6.

Do you treat your children differently?

Kate ‘I feel guilty because the twins take up all of my time, but my other children are older and are understanding’

Mandy explains how her younger daughter expresses how people don’t understand her family. ‘I help her by ensuring I have a listening ear whenever she needs it’

Tell us more about your podcast?

‘There are groups for parents of children with special needs as well as groups for multiple parents but nothing that supported parents of both. Who’s telling the story of the twin with severe cerebral palsy?’

The pair set up their podcast ‘too peas in a pod’ – originally they thought it would just appeal to parents of multiples that had children with special needs. But the ladies’ whit, humour and honesty has won the hearts and minds of many with the podcast just tipping one million downloads.

Kate explained how healthcare professionals were one of their biggest supporters. Doctors working in NICU have been encouraged to listen as well as universities recommending students listen to the podcast.

One piece of advice you have for multiple birth parents of children with additional support needs?

Mandy ‘find their friends, people that really understand and ‘get it’.

Kate ‘Remember that you experience the very best and the very worst of life – people just don’t get to experience that. Remember when you are going through the very worst parts, you will laugh again.

The ladies finish by saying that you are all very welcome in their pea tribe.

Access too-peas-in-a-podcast.