I had two great kids, and I wanted another one. My husband, on the other hand, did not. I had to twist his arm, but apparently twisted it too hard because 8 weeks and 5 days after my LMP I learnt we were having twins. It was that moment, you know the one if you’ve ever been in a similar situation. The doctor goes quiet, time stalls, hearts thud, all eyes fix on the grainy image (or lack of image, or images, as the case may be) on the screen. And you wait for the news to be spoken aloud, the kind of news that changes things irremediably.
The first day we found out we laughed and laughed, my sister declaring that, OMG, you are pregnant with Romulus and Remus – I am, after all, a classicist. And then it was Castor and Pollux or, maybe (my family secretly hoped as I had two boys already), Apollo and Artemis. We laughed some more. The next day I cried, hard, rehearsing in my mind on continuous loop the standard litany of fears anyone expecting multiples will attest to: how will we manage, how will I love two at the same time, how – and this is the issue that preoccupied me and preoccupies me still – will I feed them both? 29 weeks and 2 days later (that’s 38 weeks altogether, but who’s counting?), after a marathon of a pregnancy, we welcomed into our family a baby girl and a baby boy.
If I over-analysed my first two babies, the twins present me with the ultimate try-this-at-home science experiment. I may not have 19 children, I may not have octuplets, but after these latest additions I have covered a large enough swathe on the spectrum of birth and babycare experience to write with something resembling confidence. Not only that, but ever an academic – and a neurotic Jewish one to boot – I have researched it all to the hilt: “Read, learn, work it up, go to to the literature. Information is control.” Thus Joan Didion perfectly describes how some of us choose to, need to confront circumstances that scare us, those the outcome of which we cannot predict.
When friends ask me for either/or advice on topics of maternity and beyond, I feel not unlike Tiresias who, having lived as both man and woman, was asked by Zeus and Hera to disclose which gender took more pleasure from sex. While I can’t comment on that particular query, having remained steadfastly female, there are others on which I can do. I have been induced, but also gone into labour spontaneously. I have had an emergency C-section and a scheduled C-section, but also a vaginal birth which was a VBAC. I have breastfed exclusively, on demand and on a schedule. I have combination fed breastmilk and formula, as well as bottlefed pumped milk. I have let the baby fuss, I have picked the baby up at first whimper. I have sleeptrained both gently and vigorously, from a very young age and also when the baby was older. I have had a singleton and now twins, a boy baby and a girl. For completeness’ sake, what I have not done: drug-free childbirth, full formula feeding, higher order multiples – all of which I am curious about but none of which I am disappointed to have foregone.
After 6+ years, I now embrace the rather hackneyed reality that there is no right or wrong on these subjects, only suitable, best-case-scenario arrangements for individual families and individual babies. That being said, I do think there are better or worse ways to achieve certain results. And so this blog, which will house my observations, my insights and, yes, my opinions as well. Tiresias was consulted by the gods because he had an unusual breadth of perspective. But, I will also try to remember, he was struck blind for his response!