Twins - the baby academy

“We were very lucky to have had Vickie Bowles as our maternity nurse for our twins, Tom and Eva. She came to us two days after they were born and stayed with us for 14 weeks. The last two weeks she came for three days to help us ease into life without her.”“Within 24 hours, she got our babies into a routine and had them feeding and sleeping at the same time. 17 weeks on they still are in their routine which has developed as they need less sleep. She is brilliant with babies – very gentle, loving and thoroughly enjoys them. Without being over protective, she made me feel as if she was as protective of them as I am and wanted the best for them. As these are my first children, she is a great teacher and made having twins so much easier and enjoyable than I could have ever anticipated.”“She is good company, very thoughtful and very discreet and easy to have in the house – she is brilliant with fathers too.”“I could not recommend her for twins more highly or indeed one baby. She is a total star as far as we are concerned. She left us with two very happy babies. We are all doing well without her, but we miss her!” Neil and Victoria

Double Delight….A Twins Story…

Tom and Eva Cameron were born on 17th July 2012 to delighted but nervous Victoria and Neil at The Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. Eva at 11.24 am 5lb4oz Tom at 11.25am 5lbs

How did you both feel when you found out you were expecting twins?

Victoria “I was simply excited and delighted, though expecting the first year or so to be very tough”

Neil “I was rather overwhelmed by the thought of two babies” “I was worried about the health of Victoria and the babies, but a little bit excited too”

Did you have any health concerns during your pregnancy?

Victoria “ We discovered at our first Doctor appointment that my pregnancy would be regarded as high risk due to my age, the fact that It was a twin pregnancy and at first glance there seemed to be some issue with my blood tests – but this issue disappeared as the pregnancy progressed. I took good care of myself – good food, sleep and regular swimming and yoga. Several people advised that I should stop work at the earliest time allowed. The best thing I did was book Vickie as our maternity nurse and to stop work at 28 weeks. I put my feet up in the afternoons and would swim, do pregnancy yoga and some serious nesting – I went through every cupboard in the house and had a good clear out.”

Neil “All of these factors just confirmed my concerns about Victoria’s health and that of the babies” “We remained positive and on the plus side Victoria had lots of scans, which were very reassuring”

Which books did you find helpful during pregnancy and why?

Victoria “I read “what to expect when you are expecting” and Christine Hill’s books.” I also bought Neil some books for new fathers; I think one he liked was “Call me Dad”

Neil “ I read “French children don’t throw food” and liked the idea of having two very well behaved children – all a pipe dream as Tom and Eva love throwing food !

What advice would you give parents expecting twins?

Victoria “If they are your first babies, I would recommend booking a maternity nurse after the 12 week scan. Meeting Vickie around 14 weeks really helped us mentally get ready and made us feel much calmer. I also found it helpful to read a few books, go to ante-natal classes and definitely recommend enjoying some lie-ins and lazy weekends. It is good to think about how you might want to do things such as on the breastfeeding front and if you want a routine, what sort of routine you think you might follow. I discussed this with Vickie when we met and also at ante-natal classes and read lots of stuff too. However, I think it is also key to be prepared to throw your plans away – if they are not working for you or the babes and find one that does. For me, Vickie’s suggestion of alternating the feeds between breast and bottle meant that I could spend quality time with each baby – and that Neil could be involved with the feeding. I loved doing the night feed on my own with one baby but other mothers of twins like to breast feed simultaneously – I am in awe of those mothers but it wasn’t for me.”

Neil “Yes finding a maternity nurse and being prepared to throw your plans away is key – I planned to only do 20 nappy changes ever – Victoria seemed relaxed about this suggestion, but now I know she knew otherwise.”

What would you say was the most challenging aspects of having twins?

Victoria “I feel so privileged and lucky to have two little babies, but if we had not had a maternity nurse who got us into a routine quickly and taught us how to look after them and keep everything very calm – I think we would have had a much tougher time. After Vickie had left at times sleep deprivation was challenging – we have been relatively lucky as Tom and Eva are generally good sleepers. But there are periods when Tom has been up for 2-3 hours in the early hours of the morning and when I am getting up at 6.30 and going to work too that is a challenge!

Neil “Two babies require lots of energy….as does dealing with Victoria! But you always find the energy from somewhere.”

What have been the highlights for you both during Tom and Eva’s first year?

Victoria “Every day is a highlight…they are a delight, a source of joy. Already in one year, they have been through so many phases and each phase just seems to get better and better. I love it when they are laughing at each other – it is infectious and I so want them to be great friends.”

Neil “You can’t believe how much you love them. And to engage with them….They smile at you and your heart melts!”

Did the delivery match your expectations?

Victoria “In the end I was lucky; it was a very straightforward delivery. No complications with the C-section. It was important for me to deliver in a hospital which had everything needed if anything went wrong – largely due to my anxiety of starting my pregnancy as high risk but I think this is worth considering for anyone having twins. Seeing the babies for the first time was overwhelming and such a relief to hear them cry. I didn’t feel ready to hold them until they had finished the surgery and also I was worried I might drop them as I was feeling numb from the epidural.

Neil “As Victoria didn’t feel ready to hold the babies, I got to hold them first. It was the most wonderful moment. Even though they were so tiny, I felt instantly comfortable to hold and care for them. I felt so proud – and felt emotions I had never felt before.”

On both a practical and logistical level what advice would you give when setting up your nursery?

Victoria “I would try and organise as much as you can before the babies arrive. You do not need to buy two of everything – for example, one bottle warmer will do. Keep all receipts and don’t open everything at the beginning as you won’t be able to return it should you need to. I discovered rather late that Amazon has practically everything you need and is generally the best value. Good to go to a shop or two to see things such as getting an appointment in John Lewis baby section, but I would definitely recommend buying from Amazon for most things. Buy a few tiny baby clothes but wait and see how big they are when they arrive. Twins don’t stay tiny for long! Your pram will be your biggest expense so take your time and road test a few before you decide. I am really happy with the mountain buggy duet – it is the smallest side by side buggy and my two have slept so well in it – it is heavy but it is good for most terrains and it is easy to collapse. Also accept all offers of second hand equipment, clothes and toys. Before I had the babies, I wanted them to have everything new and perfect – I gave some stuff back that I regret. You go through so many clothes, they grow so fast and buying for two is expensive. 9. In the first few months how important was it to get out and about in the first few months? Victoria. “I loved going out for walks – I was nervous with the buggy at first but loved taking them and watching them sleep. I was lucky to have summer babies so I met friends for coffee and walks by the river.

Neil “I loved getting out and about with them at the week-ends, working all week I missed spending time with them. Be prepared when you have twins, you get a lot of attention. The world becomes a much more friendly place.

It is very important to bond with your babies in the first few weeks? How easy was that for both of you?

Victoria “I was totally in love with my babies. I had waited so long to become a mummy! It just seemed very natural.

Neil “It was a special moment holding them for the first time minutes after being born. When there are two, there is plenty of opportunity for both mother and father to bond – there is so much to do.”

It can be challenging as parent of twins to divide your time spent with each baby, how do you cope with that?

Victoria “Someone gave me good advice – they told me not to worry about giving each 50/50 with each baby, you give time where it is needed. I take one baby swimming each week and alternate between Tom and Eva. I have help so that makes this arrangement work and I love those Wednesday mornings. But there is nothing like seeing the two of them have fun together.”

Neil “I don’t feel the need at the moment to spend time one on one, equal time spent where ever possible and lots of interaction”

It is very common for friends and family members to favour one twin over the other? Have you found this to be the case with Tom and Eva?

Victoria ” You feel so protective of them both especially in the first few weeks. At the beginning, if someone complimented just one of the twins, I felt protective of the other now but not so much now. They are both such different but engaging little personalities. Usually people just warm to the one who happens to smile at them.”

Neil “Everyone loves them both equally…They are so different. Every day they change. A little more confident and striving for independence.”

“sometimes the simplest piece of advice
can make such a difference”