How did you react when you found out you were having twins?
We found out at the 12 week scan and obviously were just hoping that the 'baby' was healthy. When we were told there were two babies in there, our initial reaction was shock! For me it was very exciting news to receive, I felt really special straight away, knowing that God doesn't make mistakes and must know we could handle it. Then I remember asking James how we'd get a double buggy through our front door?! We left the hospital muttering "Wow" every few yards. We definitely felt that it was a huge blessing.
How did your son Frank deal with the double addition?
After the excitement my thoughts turned to Frank. He was just over a year at the time and I knew the babies would make quite an impact. Newborns obviously take up a lot of attention but 2 of them would mean making extra effort to spend time with Frank and make him feel special.
How was your pregnancy?
I felt really sick for the first 20 weeks. That was so hard. We had just moved house and I was a nightmare. James would come home from work in London and do most of the cooking, cleaning, unpacking boxes that I'd left- I had no motivation which is really unlike me. James had A LOT of grace for me at that time!
The twins are identical and shared 1 placenta (blood supply/oxygen) which meant we had to go to hospital every 2 weeks so the specialist could scan and check for something called 'twin to twin transfusion', (a rare condition that occurs in identical twins which causes one baby to take more blood/oxygen than the other). If one started to grow disproportionately larger then the doctors would need to intervene and operate as the weaker baby could die if not. So every couple of weeks we would be praying that all was well with the babies. Always such a relief to leave the hospital after hearing everything was fine with them both.
I was concerned about the delivery. I wasn't allowed to have them naturally because of the twin to twin transfusion issue which is a big risk with a natural birth, so the specialist booked me in for a c-section. Not only was I scared about the operation but also the fact that I wouldn't be able to lift Frank once the babies were born and I wanted to be there for him. I was also concerned about feeding them.
I had breast fed Frank and wanted the same for the twins but unless I fed them at the same time (tandem feeding) I would be sat there for hours.
Did you think you'd cope with two?
James was and is such a great man. It was never a case of "would I cope?" as he was so supportive and had committed to being there for me and Frank. We went to a twin consultant we knew from church who was a midwife and is a mum of twins, and she prepared us for what to expect. Our parents live roughly 3 hours away from Brighton so neither set of grandparents would be around day to day. It was clear that this would be a team effort for us both. I knew we would cope. I knew that God had given us these babies and we needed to trust Him if we were to enjoy the experience.
When they were born, what were your fears and feelings?
As soon as they were born, Jude was taken up to Special Care as his blood sugar was very low. I was high on morphine so not really aware of the seriousness of the situation. Once I came round it was quite upsetting to just have one of my babies with me. Jude's blood sugar had returned to normal (nurses blamed a faulty machine for the original reading but we knew better). He was stable but being fed through a tube while I was breast feeding Seb, so it was disheartening and sad that I couldn't be with him too. The next day we asked the nurse looking after Jude if he could come down to be with us while family visited and she agreed. We prayed that Jude would start breast feeding so he could stay with me and he did. So from then on I started tandem feeding which went really well.
What was tough & What was a delight?
My mum stayed with us for the first 5 weeks which was a great help-especially with Frank. He was 22 months so quite a tricky age. During those first few weeks I found it really tough at times. Tracy, the twin consultant we'd seen during pregnancy, was available if I needed to call for advice which was such a help. When I doubted myself or didn't know what to do, she reminded me that I'd done it all before with Frank and that I was a great mum. I got engorged quite a few times which was so painful and I found it really upsetting and stressful because I needed both breasts for feeding. If ever it happened, usually in the middle of the night, James would wake up and pray with me. It never turned into Mastitis. I remember one time my boob felt like a brick and after James prayed for it, it completely softened and I could feed normally again.
Walking around town with a double buggy was fun. We felt like celebrities. We'd get stopped all the time by people who wanted to see the babies or tell us about their own twins or someone they knew who had twins. Some people made you want to give up there and then with the "Oooh, rather you than me" or "Double trouble" comments. Even though we'd found a buggy that fitted through our front door, getting into some shops or cafes was a mission. I learned quickly which places to go for coffee that accommodated us!
In the early weeks I didn't leave the house much. Lots of feeding, changing and spending time with Frank. Once I'd got into a routine I would go out between feeds. We live in the centre of Brighton in the North Laine so it was easy to leave the house and in minutes be in touch with civilisation! I don't think I'd have coped so well getting in and out of a car with a toddler and 2 babies every time I needed to go out.
What practically worked for you?
We found that having them share a cot for the first few months was great. They'd been in such close contact pre-birth, it was a good idea to keep them close once they were out. One interesting thing was that you can leave one baby crying next to the other and the other one won't stir. Apparently twins are comforted by hearing each other making a noise. So we learnt not to tip toe around them or rush in if they were crying while settling themselves. They were so cute lying side by side; once we found Seb sucking Jude's thumb!
I would usually make decisions based on what made my life easier. I figured that if I was happy and peaceful then the children would be. So things like dummies were good. Not stressing about what to feed Frank, if he didn't want to eat vegetables or had pasta and cheese 3 days in a row it was no big deal. We got a cleaner for a while. I really love having a clean home but didn't have the time or energy to clean the house properly so that was definitely a good decision. We learned to say 'no' a lot. We had to be quite selfish with our time in order to survive. Routine was good for us all. I had bought the Gina Ford book for twins but 2 chapters in I was crying and felt like I was getting it all wrong. So I got rid of the book. I went with the much more achievable 'EASY' routine - Eat, Activity, Sleep, You (which basically means the bit when you do all the washing).
Did you dress them the same?
We have never dressed Seb and Jude the same. In fact we never call them the twins. They are 2 people with 2 different personalities and identities and I think that dressing them differently has helped them to be confident and independent. Having an older brother has meant that they're less 'twinny' which we're happy about, although we know that having twins is very special. Now that they're 5, they dress themselves and sometimes choose similar clothes, but that's fine as it's their choice. At school they are in the same class so Seb wears a grey jumper and Jude wears a yellow one. We also get their hair cut differently.
Did you get any time with God during the first year?
During the first year I rarely sat down and spent time with God but knew that He was with me in everything and I would ask Him stuff all the time. Lots of SOS prayers in the early weeks! James was so good, always praying for me and supporting me when I needed it. I think I spent a lot of the first year feeling so grateful for what God had given me; an amazing husband and 3 wonderful sons, the convenience of us living so close to town, supportive friends and family. I often just gave God glory for all these things.
What did having twins do to your marriage?
Having twins has been a real blessing on our marriage. It definitely brought us even closer together. I needed James so much with the kids and we became a real team. We still are. God spoke to us about wanting us to do things together. So now even though we're not in a crazy feeding, nappy phase, we still love being together and doing things together whenever we can.
Any worship songs or verses which strengthened you?
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
What excites you/worries you about their future?
I don't really worry about their future. I'm excited for them. I do hope that the 3 of them remain as close with each other as they are now. I hope they're a blessing and a joy to those around them like they are now. I hope and pray that they continue to love God with all their hearts and that they have lives full of fun!
What has having twins taught you about kids? About yourself? About God?
I suppose having twins taught me that you just don't know what God has in store for you. Ha! The last thing I thought I was going to hear was that there were 2 little babies growing inside me. God has a unique plan for my life and it's not like anyone else's, and when I don't know what to do next I can ask Him who crafted that plan. I've learned that when I feel like I can't do it or I'm in doubt, to lean on Him as He is their Father before I am their mum and that they've been given to me to look after but ultimately they're His. He's trusted me with them and it's amazing to have Him with me all the time to tell me what to do. I love thinking about how much the boys love me and trust me and ask me for things and how God wants me to be like that with Him. They are always a reminder of the relationship that God wants with me.