So, the results of some new research are in, and what a surprise, having twins is hard, financially and emotionally. Jaw-dropping stuff, eh?
"Families of multiple births face significant financial hardship according to a major new study by researchers from the University of Birmingham. 'The Effects of Twins and Multiple Births on Families and Their Living Standards', which is supported by the Twin and Multiple Births Association, found that families with multiple births were more likely to report a drop in their income level following the birth of their children. They were also twice as likely as families of singletons to report ‘quite difficult’ financial stress. The report also found that twins and triplets experienced higher levels of material deprivation, and their families were more likely to separate or divorce." (TAMBA website)
Don't worry, this isn't going to be a woe-is-me post about how awful it is to have twins. In fact, the stats about divorce got me thinking about my own marriage, and how, if anything, it feels stronger since the arrival of Miss E and Mr A. Because we were expecting twins, Young Daddy took advantage of a scheme offered by his work to take seven weeks (unpaid) leave, on top of his two weeks paternity leave. So we muddled through those early weeks together. Yes, it was a massive struggle financially, but getting to know our new babies together was priceless.
Young Daddy has really stepped up to the plate and has been the best running mate I could have ever asked for. Unlike many other fathers I see, he is totally hands-on and dives straight into the fray the second he walks in from work. We are a team, and rather than drive us apart, having twins has bound us together in a way that I'm not sure a single baby would have done. He has helped to feed them from the start (if he could breastfeed I'm sure he would!), he has always taken his turn getting up in the night, he isn't afraid of a dirty nappy (or two), and more recently, he's been making purees and planning the next meal for the babies. We speak countless times a day, making a myriad of decisions as one. Should I wake the babies now from their nap or leave them a little longer? Is there time for us to go for a walk before the next feed's due? How cold is it outside - do the babies need woolly hats on?
One of my favourite times together is the dream feed at 10.30pm. We used to take turns doing this, with the other person on call for getting up to feed in the night, but since the babies have been sleeping through, we've started doing the dream feed together. We creep into the nursery and take a moment to watch our son and daughter sleeping, Mr A usually with his muslin clasped tightly in his hands and held up to his face, and Miss E with her arms out in sleeping surrender.
We each gently lift a warm and floppy baby to our shoulder and carry them through to the playroom, taking our well-worn places on the sofa. Into their mouths go the bottles, and the dimly lit room is peaceful apart from their sucking and breathing. Every night, Young Daddy and I will look up at each other and can't help but exchange a smile, sharing without words the overwhelming love we feel for these little people. It's true that our life together has changed beyond all recognition in the last six months, but I wouldn't swap these moments for anything.