PARENTS

What Having Twins Is Really Like

14/08/2014 17:03 | Updated 20 May 2015

Twins

Earlier this year I wrote about the twin boys that were preparing to tumble into my life and the multitude of worries that were eating away at my sanity (Help! We're expecting twins).

Luckily they both arrived in good health and have now safely reached the stage at which they are beginning to acknowledge each other and, if only they could control their arms, would probably like to start fighting.

It's been an enlightening four months. And not quite as traumatic as I'd feared, partly because I wasn't the one giving birth to twins – which bore more resemblance to lambing season than the Zen-imagine-you're-in-a-nice-summer-meadow experience featured on our hypnobirthing DVD – and partly because there's no time to be traumatised: there's barely time to eat.

Here are some other things I've noticed:

1. We're not as special as we thought. It turns out half the world has twins we just hadn't noticed them before. Now triplets, they're the real celebrities.

2. People are very interested, which is nice. But when you're trying to make your way around the supermarket it would be better if they expressed their interest with a smile and possibly a brief coo, rather than a list of questions you've already answered 34,289 times that day. If I wasn't such a coward here's how I would respond:

Are they twins?

Let me see. They're in the same buggy, they look the same age, in fact they look the same full stop. But no they're not twins, we just found the other one at the bus stop.

How old are they?

How old are you?

Are they identical?

No. But they are definitely telepathic. I've had them tested.

You must be tired?

I was slightly jaded when I started this shopping trip. Now I'm exhausted and quite possibly dangerous.

What are they called?

Are you conducting some kind of name survey? Have you asked that man with the crazy hair who just grabbed a handful of pick-your-own bagels WITHOUT using the tongs provided?

Do they run in the family?

No. But yes we did conceive naturally – would you like to know our favoured position?

3. We've bought a new car. Now we need a new house, possibly an entire island. It's a shame we spent most of our savings on the car, which isn't quite big enough after all.

4. I haven't caught my daughter trying to put them in the tumble dryer or push their buggy off a cliff once. In fact she's taken it all in her tiny stride and is actually proving very adept at mopping up sick. Obviously her mood might darken if they start messing with her Barbie collection.

5. She is, however, fending for herself a bit more than she used to and our strict screen-time regime has crumbled to such an extent she now counts the iPad as a close relative.

6. Friends have showered us with baby gear – at one point we had six car seats in the house and were contemplating opening an online shop. This proves they're either extremely generous or have identified this as a great opportunity to clear out the attic.

7. Sex has regained the frisson of danger it had when I was a teenager (that's what people who were having sex when they were teenagers tell me anyway). I'm not worried my parents are going to walk in on us but pregnancy is once again a terrifying prospect that must be countered with every method available, including chastity belts and gender reassignment.

8. If twin babies who soothe each other gently back to sleep – their presence a reminder of that cosy time in the womb – exist, we haven't got them. And we've left it too late to exchange.

Judging by the racket they make when they wake at night, they don't roll over, see their brother and find comfort in the fact they are not alone; they roll over, see a small, thin-haired man chewing frantically on his arm and assume an escapee from a high-security prison has broken in.

9. There is nearly always someone crying. Sometimes all three children cry at the same time, when this happens I join in too. Even so an entire family in meltdown doesn't stop some people approaching in the supermarket and asking the aforementioned questions.

On the upside I'm developing an immunity to it all. When our eldest was a baby her cries felt like somebody stabbing at my ears and shouting "YOU'RE A BAD PARENT". We'd do anything to make her stop: performing elaborate dance sequences that might briefly divert her attention or, if that didn't work, offering her money. The twins are lucky if I pass them a dummy.

10. When I die and go to hell (I once cheated at Cluedo) I won't face a fiery pit of damnation, I'll face an infinite line of bottles that must be washed and sterilised.

11. We are late for everything. If you want us for lunch, expect us to arrive in time for dinner armed with an excuse revolving around a simultaneous nappy-filling apocalypse that kicked off just as we were about to leave home.

12. I turn up to all social engagements with sick on me. I haven't given up caring I just can't face adding to the washing pile.

13. Since my hands are generally occupied with baby-related activities, my other limbs have had to take up the slack. I can now operate a remote control with my feet and scroll through a webpage on my smartphone using my nose and, on occasion, my tongue. I try not to do this in public.

14. I no longer drink hot drinks. I drink tea that was hot when I made it two hours ago.

Still this is the hard part. I'll be on easy street once they hit six months, right?

You can follow Chris on Twitter @TheWindler for twin triumphs and traumas.

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