Twin life

Life (with twins) is complicated

After a year as a mother of twins I like to think that I’ve got my act together to some degree. I mean, I think nothing of scooping up two babies at once, feeding two hungry little mouths (even breast feeding the two of them in tandem occasionally), and keeping an eye on two little people as they do their best to touch/eat/climb on everything they find. I’ve managed to organise them to the extent that they sleep at the same time 99% of the time, and I’ve even developed an excellent line in twin-related small talk, in order to deal with the never-ending “TWINS! How lovely! Is it very hard? Are they identical? Do twins run in your family? Do you get any help?” questions. I can even change a pooey nappy in less than a minute, while simultaneously stopping one baby from getting his/her hands in said pooey nappy, and preventing the other baby from poking the reclined baby in the eye. It’s all good. It’s bloody hard at times, but this is normal.

HOWEVER: there’s no denying that having twins makes life a big hassle on many occasions. The challenging bits aren’t the big “am I able to love two children equally” or “will my stomach ever stop looking like uncooked dough” questions (the answers are “yes” and “no” respectively). No; the challenging bits are the really dull things that you have to cope with in day-to-day life.

My main complaint about having baby twins is the drama involved in running a simple errand. If a singleton mother is driving home from somewhere and realises that she needs to buy milk, she can just stop at the supermarket, scoop the baby out of the car seat, carry it on her hip, put it in any trolley she finds (if she realises that she needs several other things), and away she goes. If I realise that I need stuff from the supermarket, I have to debate whether to unload the kids into the pram (in which case I’ll only be able to buy as much as can fit in the pram), having first heaved the 15kg pram from the car, or to put the kids in a twin trolley. Wait – what’s that you say? There’s only one twin trolley at the supermarket, and it’s inside, buried at the back of all the other trolleys? And I have to figure out a way of getting two babies safely into the supermarket with no pram, because I can’t leave them in the car? Awesome. (My solution is now to go to the supermarket after Tristan gets home and the babies go to bed for the night, or – if we just need a few things – to do the big pram unload at the supermarket. Or maybe get home and then walk to the supermarket to pick up a few things.)

Anyway, today we had a real “if only I had one baby this would be so much easier!” moment. Hattie, Joe and I went to the other side of Auckland to visit my lovely friend Helen and her equally lovely twin girls, and after a bit of a play and some lunch we chucked the four babies into our two prams and headed off for a big walk (and, for the babies, an afternoon nap).

We walked down the hill from Helen’s house and, after 45 minutes, stopped for a drink. And then we set off back towards the house, and discovered that my high spec, all terrain pram had a flat tyre. Given that the pram + two one year olds weighs around 32kgs, pushing it on a pancake-flat tyre wasn’t an option: it would barely move. We managed to get it to a nearby bike rental booth, and the guy here pumped up the tyre for me, but it was flat again within ten minutes – it was obviously punctured. And we were a good long walk away from home.

Now, if I’d had one baby I would have extracted it from the pram, folded up said pram, asked a nearby shop or cafe to stow it for me, and then walked home with my singleton balanced on my hip. I might have ended up with a sore baby-carrying arm, but it would have been possible.

With two babies, I was well and truly stuck. After a few minutes of fevered strategising, we decided that Helen would have to walk home with her girls, load them and her pram into her car, drive back down to where Hattie, Joe and I were stranded, swap my buggered pram for her working pram, and then drive home again and leave me to walk back. She set off, and I hauled the pram to a cafe.

After 15 minutes or so I realised that there was a significant flaw in the plan: my car was parked in front of Helen’s garage, and my car key was in my pram. So I called Helen, and she came back to collect it. What fun!

It was a very warm afternoon, and I had two seriously bored babies on my hands. We crossed the road and hung out under a tree. I couldn’t give either of them their liberty from the pram, since there was a busy road very close by (and that’s another complication of having twins: having to run around after two mobile children moving in opposite directions), and because they didn’t have sunscreen on. They were grumpy, and I was forced to try to do a bit of a ‘feeding the 5,000’ trick by giving them tiny morsels of the few baby biscuits I had with me.

When Helen returned in my car I was delighted to see her, and even more so when I discovered that her husband had been at home when she’d got there, which meant that she could leave her girls at home and we could all drive: no walk home for me!

So, yeah. Two babies = complications at times. Here’s a photo of said ‘complications’, just to remind us of why they’re undoubtedly worth it (and to remind myself that, one day, they’ll be able to travel independently of me!)

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