It has been a desperate love-soaked Herculean battle of blood, sweat, poop and tears.
Cue heart explosion. Two beautiful babies to love at once! Hashtag twinning. For reals.
As a new(ish) first time mum of identical twin girls, this ride has been a wild one! But I feel that we are starting to reach a mutual understanding, my daughters and I.
Our little Peach and Poppet burst onto the scene in March 2016. Logistically, I knew I could handle the workload. I am a competent, well-educated career woman, right? Wrong. Emotionally, I wasn't prepared for the demand, the stretch, the complete lack of control.
Instead of the preconceived radiant and peaceful exchange between perfectly groomed mother and child on a Johnsons and Johnsons advert, it has been a desperate love-soaked Herculean battle of blood, sweat, poop and tears.
You want examples? How about the night before my first Mother's Day when they gifted me eight non-stop hours of screaming? I kid you not. Or the time I flew into the hospital nursery for our paediatric appointment holding my inconsolable hungry babies with a giant twin feeding pillow under my arm. I looked directly at a shocked new mum exclaiming 'this is brutal!' Yep. They were some low points.
Let me take you back to the sleep-deprived early mornings turning all the lights on and frantically pulling all the covers off the bed in search for a crying baby... both of whom have never slept in our room, let alone in our bed.
Or the time my mum stayed over to help and crept by my bed to tell me the girls had woken and were ready for a feed. To this I said 'I have Poppet here, I'm feeding her.' My surprised mum said she hadn't heard me get up and to hand the baby to her so I could feed them together. After feeling around I realised. 'Oh there is no baby here. I don't have a baby.' Once again delusional as I don't feed in bed and I don't feed the babies solo.
What about the time I celebrated my first perfect parenting trifecta; Pee, Poop and Puke. Poppet would not sleep, so as not to wake her twin sister, I scooped her up to discover her mid-poo. Attempting a swift nappy change she peed through three layers of clothing requiring a total re-dress. On completion, she puked all over me. I, therefore, took myself to bed and slept in aforementioned puked on my shirt.
There is also the time I completely forgot my age and was genuinely shocked when my husband reminded me I'll be turning 32. I truly thought I was still 30. Although let's be honest, this probably isn't baby related Ė I'm languages and arts, not maths and science.
How about the triumph of pulling our little family together and getting out of the house? We are instantly a travelling circus and a magnet for attention and all sorts of intrigued members of the public with highly personal, inappropriate questions wanting to touch our children.
When you are pregnant everyone has a labour story. Everyone also seems to have a twin story and feels it their duty to share it with you, which although often interesting, isn't always particularly helpful. Their father's mother's brother's second cousin was a twin, they thought they were having twins or saw someone who looked like a twin once...Or everyone looks at you with raised eyebrows and says 'double trouble', 'you must have your hands full' or 'two for the price of one' blah blah. Thanks, Captain obvious and it's two for the price of two thank you very much.
There have also been many a kind and well-meaning mum who in an attempt to empathise, state that having their children so close together (18 months apart mind you) was just like having twins. And you smile and nod and think of all the reasons why only having twins is just like having twins (and you are still replaying the comeback you should have had at the time all these months later... namely 'Wait. So you had a whole year and a half to learn motherhood with ONE baby before your second one came along? Yeah. That's not at all 'just like having twins.')
I am the first to vocally acknowledge there are unique challenges with having two children close together but perhaps refrain from telling a twin mum you completely 'get it' unless you really do.
I read once that in the first six months of breastfeeding twins you will have racked up 1344 hours of feeding. A very daunting statistic starting out, but well worth a pat on the back in hindsight. Let's remember that I'm a first-time parent learning everything Ė and learning it fast! Every bath is a dejavu, burning through 120 nappy changes a week, settling two screaming babies into a routine and doing my absolute best to give them equal undivided (ha!) attention, love and cuddles and terrifyingly hilarious sessions of 'peekaboo'.
During a heated discussion with my husband where we both passionately agreed that our friends had neglected to inform us of the enormous task of parenthood, I leant over to my wide-eyed baby and said 'Peach, no one has any idea what they are doing. Absolutely no idea. Just remember that.'
But here we are, despite the struggle, months on we have perhaps hit our groove. Smiles and giggles, rolling, grabbing, squealing from my cooing little bundles of incredible love, joy and fun. The heart-melting eye contact seems to tell me we are finally on the same team, my daughters and I. And this mutual understanding has brought with it a great delight in being a twin mum with double trouble and her hands and heart full.