Thirty years ago today I waddled into the ante natal clinic, my fat ankles invisible to me over my 56 inch belly. Tired did not come near. This pregnancy had been a roller coaster of emotion and worry.
Six months before, having excitedly shared the news that we were expecting two babies not one, the joy on Dad’s face is a memory I will always treasure. Within a month he lost his fight to stay with us, and the happy and sad emotions of those years continued.
We explained to our baby that there were more on the way, he seemed completely uninterested, at least until my tummy began to grow, and grow. Weirdly as the babies grew I was shrinking, my face, legs and arms becoming slimmer than ever. Three months before they were due the midwife was concerned. One baby was dominating the other, I needed complete bed rest and crazy tablets to increase my heart rate. Two weeks in hospital was awful, but eventually they decided the babies were back on track and home I came.
So after weeks of false labour, of no sleep, of trying to mother one baby while growing another two, I attended my final ante natal appointment. The twins had reached 37 weeks and could be safely delivered. I was booked in for the next day and went home to sort my bag and prepare.
Ha!! There was nothing in the world I could have done to prepare for what happened next. An xray determined that one baby was breech, this could be a problem, but the team decided to let nature take its course and see what happened. I won’t go into detail but despite the breech baby coming first, half way through they swapped places. The doctor had never seen anything like it. Baby one arrived a tiny bundle of a boy, his cry loud and strong. It was while we were all admiring him that baby two turned up. Despite a full team waiting for him everyone missed this, even me. Panic ensued as the team delivered him, and there he lay, blue and cold. The worst moment of my life. Looking at one healthy boy and then at his brother, it seemed impossible. The team were amazing, they rubbed and massaged him, until after what seemed at least a year, he cried. A quiet cry but there was life. The collective relief across the room was tangible. They wrapped him up and showed me his face then he was gone. Minutes later they came back for his brother. The nurse explained that as they had been together for so long it helps to put them both in the same incubator. Neither was in special care but they needed warmth, monitoring and each other.
So, there was me, wheeled to a private room, all on my own. No babies. Exhausted and scared it was as if the past year had rushed towards me. After losing Dad, I had focussed so much on these babies. Now I felt I had nothing. The door to my room was open and I could hear other mothers going to the canteen for their tea. They were talking about the gorgeous twins in the side room, how beautiful they were, how cute. I had not even held them. I pushed my bell and asked to go to the toilet. The nurse wanted me to stay in bed, but I was having none of it. I walked down the corridor and into the side room. There, for the first time I saw my boys, together, breathing and pink. I cried. The nurse found me and escorted me back to bed. An hour or so later they were wheeled in to me. Each in their own cot, so alike it scared me. How would I know which was which ? (History tells that I never did master this one)
It was the next day when my consultant popped by to explain that all was well. The initial shock of delivery had been tricky but both babies were fine and healthy. Six days later we brought them home in a limo, festooned with balloons and good wishes, driven my wonderful Uncle Bill. It was a happy day.
Thirty years have passed. My twins have grown from tiny scraps to tall strong men. It has been an adventure. I often worry I haven’t given either of them my best. Two at a time is difficult. There is not one baby to fuss but two, and together with a not yet two year old toddler the early years were a blur. We came through, with love a support from our family, with help from friends and slowly got used to our family.
Lots of things have happened over these years. Some great things, others quite hard to deal with, I wish I could go back and re do it all. Like a favourite film, I could see each frame more clearly and understand it better. There are things I would change and do differently for sure, but at the end of the day, what is, is.
So happy birthday my beautiful boys, as you stand in my kitchen, dirty clothes from working hard, smiling eyes and kindness, I am proud of you both. I am also proud of myself for not giving up, and I never will. I have tried every day in the last 30 years to give you the best of me, I may not have always succeeded but I have always loved you.