In the years since my preschool aged twins were born, I’ve had the opportunity to watch other woman become mothers to twins or have met parents of twins. Before my children were born, I had no expectations about how my experience as a mother of twins would compare to those of other people. As my children became toddlers I started to get out more and meet more parents – including mothers of twins. This is when I started to realize a few things about my experiences so far.
- Before my children were born, I spent four months on bed rest. You would think this might be a normal experience for women pregnant with twins. This is when I point out that there are actors dashing about the world, heavily pregnant with twins while attending film openings. Or less famous mums who work right up to a full-term delivery. Meanwhile I had to carry a stool with me so that I could make it from the car park to my OB doctor’s office due to symptoms that I was having. Every person’s experience is different. It’s just surprising to me, sometimes, how very different they are.
- During the first months of my children’s lives we had a lot of help from family members but none of them were in a position to be with me during the day for weeks on end. We felt that it would be helpful to have extra help as I was recovering from a c-section, we were in the midst of an unusual heatwave and both of our children had more than the usual amount of doctors visits as we had concerns that needed our attention. Both children had special visits to the hospital and one of our children had surgery when he was the equivalent of 40 weeks gestational – three weeks after he was born. (They were born three weeks early.) While some parents of twins I’ve met have spoken about family members helping out early on, not all of the mothers of twins I met had extra help. This leaves me wondering how they managed to get by.
- When my children were 2 1/2, I started to note that some families with twins had had a third child. I’ve also met families where there already were two or three children and then along came twins. Meanwhile a friend of mine had a baby when my children were born and then had her sixth child within two years. She is older than me by a year. All this information made me feel a bit guilty when people say “oh you have twins, you must be busy!”.
- As my children entered their toddler years and I started to be able to go to Strong Start programmes, I met more families with twins. They aren’t very common but they aren’t rare either. Some part of me expected that there might be some comradery. There was the potential for the exchange of information and experiences. Of course when my children were younger they were more active and in some cases the other twins were active too. So it could be said that there wasn’t really any time to talk.
- I know women who have had twins since mine were born. I thought that I might hear questions about how we handled a situation. It’s not that they couldn’t come up with a plan or use their judgment but sometimes it is helpful to compare notes. I realize that people are busy when twins are born and in some cases the parent might already have professional training that offers insight into how young children develop. Still, I was surprised and perhaps a bit disappointed that this sharing of experiences didn’t happen.
- When my children were babies I gauged my ability to take part in a baby group, class or coffee group by how I could move around with my children. I didn’t want to be far from home if one baby started to need my undivided attention (crying perhaps). I didn’t have a car to drive to a Mother Goose programme, friends rarely visited and I didn’t have any other friends with young children living near by. Other than attending local library reading sessions downtown, we didn’t have the budget to attend local gymnastics classes and mummy-baby yoga or swimming, for example. Not to mention the fact that a two-to-one ratio wouldn’t have worked.
- In the years since those early experiences, I’ve seen mothers with twins where they are attending to one crawling baby while another one is in a completely different part of the room. Later on one twin is under each arm of the mother as they’re hauled out the door. This approach is quite different from the one that I took.
- As my children are growing older, they’re starting to show the degree to which they are sensitive about their twin’s emotional and physical well being. Conversations between the two of them can become quite elaborate as one tries to calm down or comfort the other. I can’t help thinking it’s part of the unique relationship that twins have from growing up so closely with each other.
I know that there are many ways to raise children. As time has passed I’ve also seen the many ways that multiples are raised together. On the plus side, if you are a mother of young twins and you’re struggling to find your groove, don’t worry about how your approach is different. You will find your own path that works for you and your children.
Are you a mom of twins? Do you have any friends/family with twins?
Pamela Chan lives in the Tri Cities area near Vancouver with her husband and four year old twins. They enjoy exploring cultural events and scenic local parks. On BCfamily.ca she writes about ideas that strengthen our communities and celebrate multiculturalism in British Columbia.