Suffolk: Are twins double trouble or twice as nice? Mums tell us how they coped when their double bundle of joy arrived
- Credit: Lucy taylor
With more and more twins being born in Suffolk, for their parents, groups like the Capel and South Suffolk Twins & Multiples Club are a vital lifeline.
The group, which is this week celebrating its fourth anniversary, invited Kate Dodd to learn more about what life is like when little menaces come in pairs
‘Cleaning or tidying your house with twins in tow is like sweeping up leaves in a storm’
Jacqui Carter, 39, Rushmere. Mum to Dylan and twins Ewan and Florence, three
My twins, Ewan & Florence, have taken me on the biggest ever learning curve during the last three years.
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I already had a toddler, Dylan and was ready to do it all a second time around with more confidence. Then twins were confirmed and I started to realise that I had no idea how this was going to work. Gulp.
One of the things these two tiny babies taught me very early on was to ‘up my game’ if we were ever to leave the house again. Literally every night the bag (ok, bags!) were packed with every eventuality conceivable for three small children. I very quickly learnt that if I failed to prepare I must be prepared to fail.
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Mummy needs to have a plan. Not a concrete plan, a rough plan. But you need to accept that the plan will change or may go horribly wrong. With two babies in the mix, who knows what’s going to happen?
I’ve learnt to stop and smell the roses and drink in those lovely moments. Your two babies cuddled up in the same cot. Your babies playing together and making each other giggle. Watching their amazing bond develop and becoming best friends – they know each other better than anyone else in the world and it’s so precious to watch.
I’ve lowered my standards. My OCD self has had to take a back seat. Cleaning or tidying your house with twins in tow is like sweeping up leaves in a storm. That stuff really isn’t that important anyway, is it?
My twins have also taught me that two is definitely better than one – especially when it comes to making a mess, finding mischief, avoiding naps and causing chaos. They outnumber me 2:1 and boy, do they know it?
The last three years have been challenging and wonderful and I’m sure that will continue. This twin learning curve is far from done. Thank you Ewan and Florence. I love you both to the moon and back (equally, of course!)
Now on to potty training …. Eek.
‘There aren’t enough hours in the day and those who dismiss you with an ‘oh you’re just a stay at home mum’ just don’t have a clue’
Fiona Farrell, 38, Kesgrave. Mum to twin boys Liam and Connor.
“At first I was afraid, slightly petrified ….. Then C-section day was upon us and there was nowhere to hide!
Two became four and life quickly became a hectic whirlwind of sleepless nights, endless nappy changes and many happy hours of twin time with our two precious little boys.
I remember very clearly my first day on my own with Liam and Connor. Almost eight weeks of first their Daddy, and then their Grandparents and other family/ friends to help us. Then just me. Mummy. Time to crack on.
Here was a new job – 24/7, unpaid, exhausting – and also the most amazing, rewarding position I’d ever found myself in. Of course there were (and still are) times when I worried about the how to’s, etc, but everyday tasks that seemed daunting were soon overcome with advice and support especially from other parents of multiples who I’d met along the way.
For example, when we started the weaning process – How to feed two babies at once? Do one as quickly as possible and then the other? Nope! One bowl, one spoon, take it in turns for a mouthful. Perfect. (We still do this occasionally – The boys call it our “lazy breakfast”, usually in the lounge in our pj’s).
There are never enough hours in the day and those who dismiss you with “Oh, you’re just a stay-at-home Mum” really don’t have a clue! Our boys are now two and a half and the time is flying. I try to strike a happy balance; we hook up with our nct gang, go to twins club and the boys go to nursery one morning a week. We go out for walks/on scooters, hook up with friends.
We do painting, drawing, puzzles. And in-between I try to do a bit of housework and anything else that needs doing.
I love organising events and fundraising and I’m a Phoenix Trader in my spare time. I tend to try to fit too much in – but these days family comes first and everything else gets fitted in where possible!
Nothing can prepare you for having twins
Louise Smith, 29, from Ipswich. Mum to Morgan, nine, Alfie, six, and twins Florence and Phoenix, one
We had our baby scan at 8.45am and we went to the hospital with our two eldest children. The first thing I realised was when the lady doing the scan said, ‘Well, that’s the first surprise of the day! You have two babies’. I remember just staring at Daniel, my husband, thinking Oh My Gosh. I was petrified. I had joked that if we had another baby it might be twins, but I didn’t ever imagine that would be the case. We have twins in the family, my uncles, but that’s all it was – a joke, never a serious notion.
I am definitely more organised. I have to be. I now pack the baby bag the night before!
The trickiest stage was when they were crawling – two babies into everything, and both going in different directions. I needed to be two people.
I was very lucky because they both slept through at eight weeks.
I love watching the way their characters are developing – there are completely different. Florence is very girly, loves her cuddly toys, and likes to play Mummy to Phoenix. She also likes to watch before she launches into anything, she takes her time to weigh up the situation. Phoenix is like a bull in a china shop.
It is hard at times and I struggle, but it only takes an instant for me to feel very blessed. Blessed that I have four beautiful healthy children. But nothing can prepare you for having twins, that’s for sure.
The twins jokes can get really annoying
Students Liam and Callum Bolland, 19, of Ipswich
Growing up Liam Bolland, 19, always had his twin brother by his side and even now they have spread their wings and left for university, they remain close – very close.
“I am at Nottingham Trent University studying journalism and Callum is at the University of Nottingham doing sociology,” said Liam.
“We live in the same flat – it makes sense to. We managed to find a place half way between the two universities.”
The boys are identical, and even have similar hair cuts – the only way to tell the difference is by the birth mark on Callum’s face.
“Unless you know us, it is hard to tell us apart and most people get confused,” said Liam.
But that doesn’t bother the boys – what they do find annoying is being asked the same questions.
“The jokes get annoying and people asking us the same questions, like ‘Do you ever pretend to be him?’ or ‘Do you ever go to his lectures?’ Those are probably the most common ones.
“When Callum had a girlfriend, people used to ask if I ever tricked her and pretended to be him, but why would I?”
Even being forewarned, I still couldn’t help but ask if the boys had a special bond because they are twins.
“We are close, but we are also both very close to our older brother. The only reason Callum and I are particularly good friends is because we are the same age and we have gone through school together, not necessarily because we are twins.”
‘Before children, life was all about work, eating out and having a spotless home - where has that gone?’
Hayley Stopher, 38, from Ipswich. Mum to one-year-old twins Amelie and Isabella, and Seb, two.
When we were told that we were having twins at our 12 week scan we were in total shock. We already had Seb, who was going to be 21 months when they were due and I really didn’t know how I was going to cope.
I tried to keep all my fears to myself. How was I going to look after three babies under two without the help of my Mum? I lost Mum to leukaemia when I was five months pregnant with Seb. My goodness, it makes me realise how easy it is to take Mum’s help for granted.
Feeding two babies, the lack of sleep and keeping Seb amused – how would I do it? It all seemed like a totally daunting prospect.
Looking back at the first year of life with twins and a toddler I can safely say that I have learnt how to appreciate the little things in life. The daisy that Seb presents me with in the garden wearing a massive smile on his face or the cheeky grin Isabella gives me when she’s hidden her shoe in the bin, or Amelie when she listens intently to the story I read her. It’s these things that matter and not that the bathroom floor needs mopping or that there’s washing up to be done or that I have a garden wilderness outside the window.
BC (Before children!) life was all about work, eating out and having a spotless home – where has that gone? I also think it’s harder in a way when you’re an older mummy (I’d like to think I was still in my 20’s but sadly not.)
You lose the life you have known for so many years and are thrown into a wilderness, cut off from all realms of so called ‘normal life’.
It took a while to adjust to being a Mummy with Seb, so I was worried I would feel the same when the twins arrived. But I realised I had adjusted to my new life and now had completely different priorities. Work was no longer my priority. Halleluiah.
I love being a twin mummy and yes, it is getting harder by the day as my now, 15 month old angels are walking, running, falling and stumbling into anything in sight.
But I realise how very blessed we are to have the opportunity to watch our three mini me’s grow and how our kids are developing their own little personalities.
Twins and multiples clubs
1. Capel and South Suffolk Twins & Multiples Club
Capel Community Church
Capel St Mary
2. Ipswich Twins & Multiples Club
1st & 3rd Tuesdays of each month
1:30-3pm at Chatterbox Children’s Centre (Copleston Road, IP4 5HB)
3. Felixstowe Twins Club
Felixstowe Opportunity Group (in the grounds of Felixstowe Academy)
Are you a twin or a parent to twins? Share you stories and photos below or email us