I can still remember the excitement I felt watching the positive result appear on the pound shop home pregnancy test, pregnant! The excitement I felt nobody can describe, not only are you physically pregnant but also metaphorically pregnant with all of the hopes and dreams that you already have in place for your little bubble. Apart from horrific morning sickness, it was a relatively easy pregnancy, and my son completely turned our world upside down in good and unexpected ways.
So, let’s fast forward 11 weeks postnatal. While we are out Christmas shopping, I’m walking across a car park, get a whiff of a certain fried chicken chain and my stomach gives a lurch. In the forefront of my mind I’m thinking, I still can’t stand the smell of that from my pregnancy, but in the back of my mind a giant alarm sounds with a flashing red beacon!!
Test 1; positive, test 2; inconclusive, test 3; positive, tests 4,5,6,7 and 8; all positive, all in all I spent around £80 on pregnancy tests compared to the one pregnancy test from the pound shop that I used to confirm my first pregnancy. I kept the news to myself for ten days as I didn’t have the guts to say to my husband, “you know how one baby turned us into sleep deprived zombies? Well guess what??....” so I waited until a Friday night, got him a few beers and broke the news gently, as gentle as you can inform someone that you will be parents of Irish twins, another term for babies born within 12 months of each other.
So once I got my head around the fact that I was going to have a set of “Irish Twins" I began furiously searching online for articles that included “How to survive Irish twins" and “How hard is it to raise Irish twins" another search was “The pros and cons of having Irish twins" but nothing but the usual sunshine and rainbows pinged up, articles about how you should have children close in age as you can get them into the same routine easier, how they will be great friends and keep each other company, how your first child will be so young they won't be jealous. All of this is just placating you and telling you what you want to hear when the truth is, it is hard. Going through your pregnancy when you have a small baby is by far the most difficult experience of my life, the battle against morning sickness when changing numerous nappy explosions was not nice. Rather than just changing him, he got a bath and showered down while I had to take breaks with my head down the loo!!
Trying to look after my 11-month-old son in the days following my daughter’s birth was such a juggling act because there is no way around the guilt. You need to bond with your new baby but your other baby still needs his routine and if anything, baby number one requires more attention to reassure him that his new sibling isn’t a threat. Another thing those articles don't mention is how your precious bundles will tag team you, spectacularly!! I remember one day in particular my toddler was acting up so I sat down to play with him and then the baby needed her nappy changed, so as I changed her, my toddler pottered about nice and quietly, or so I thought. I went to put the dirty nappy into the bin and found he had emptied an entire bag of porridge oats upside down alongside a box of cereal he had stomped into the ground. He pulled all of this off in under a minute and then as I tidied that up, off he ran into his younger sister and took her toy off her which kicked off another tantrum.
But as I sit here writing this, I do have a massive grin on my face and think about the nights when both kids decide they want cuddles so all four of us snuggle up in the one bed. So, another thing those internet searches didn’t tell me was how compassionate baby number one can be, how when his younger sister cries this little 18-month-old human will run to her and hug her to cheer her up, how he will cover her in kisses and give her his bottle if she moans the slightest. How her face lights up with a huge smile when her brother comes into the room. All of this confirms that I feel that I have somewhat mastered the art of “Irish Twinning".
Images and words by Samantha Murphy