I am a father of twins. My wife is wonderful and she is my joy and delight, What an amazing mom she is. But this post is a bit about being a Dad to twins. In case you were wondering.
Anyhow, this apparently puts me in a group of about 15-20 fathers per 1000 who can understand what that means. My wife frequently has to deal with comments like “oooh, double trouble” or “Gosh you must be exhausted” from strangers trying to make conversation. Guys tend to go with the “Oh… wow” and you can see them silently thinking about their experience with a single kid and mentally doubling it. Then their eyes widen and if they can’t see a nervous tic or a wild 1000 yard stare, they are impressed!
I have 4 kids in total, and my first two were a breeze. They slept through, laughed a lot, weren’t ill (much), ate well, teethed quietly, crawled late (this is a big plus) and generally did not cause too much of a fuss.
So after the initial “Hooaaaahh!” of that first scan, I was pretty confident I could handle twins. I just doubled the experience of the first two, added a bit for good measure, and thought “Yeah, that’s doable!”
Then they actually arrived.
I had no idea, what 24 nappies (diapers) a day looked like. Felt like. SMELT like. I spend awesome amounts of time on my butt on the carpet, with a baby wedged between my knees, and YET another nappy with a tiny squirt of “whatzit” on it, and a new one waiting to take its place. Of course, a baby has a finely tuned sense of this all happening, and never be fooled … the little monkeys know all too well when the breeze is blowing on their plumbing. I think there is an involuntary (the other option is a deliberate) response involving a little fountain of widdle, always in the specific direction of YOU.
It’s not that a single baby doesn’t do that; they do. It’s just that twins do it more. About twice as much. And I think they compete, and compare results in the cots after dark. I swear I could hear them comparing notes and declaring one of them a winner, based on number of direct hits and my reactions.
The other thing is when they work together, you have two nappies to change. Fast. Inevitably, there is a despairing groan, a few choice words, and a NEED to wash hands. Often. It starts out being repulsive, but then, well, it’s just how the day goes …
Yeah, that thing. The thing we used to treat disdainfully if there was a half-watchable program on TV, or whatever. Suddenly it was SACRED. I mean, I’m a good sleeper. I can sleep through anything, anytime. I can also sleep anywhere. Floor, bed, you name it, I can sleep there. Then these two little angels arrive. Now I can’t sleep. I can hear them from 2 floors away, and I am awake in a flash. So sleep? Not so much. The twins started sleeping through at 20 months. Lets think about that a bit…
20 x 30 = 600 nights. Average sleep 4 hours. Shortfall, 4 hours. That means I have slept about 600 x 4 -= 2400 hours less than I would have liked.
No problem, he says. Engage zombie mode. In zombie mode, it is possible to faultlessly and in the pitch dark:
– Change nappies (twice)
– Carry baby to mommy for feeding
– Carry baby back to cot (usually the wrong cot, but hey close enough)
– Climb back into bed and switch off the alarm clock at 3am, resulting in oversleeping and being late for work.
Being a proud dad:
Our twins are fraternal. That means, they are brothers with the same birth date. But they are not identical. In fact, to be honest, they are not even similar. Do you think I could tell them apart? Not me. I swear I tried. I truly swear. We even had a trick. Lachlan on the left, Riordan on the right. (L-L, R-R) Get it? Easy. Not me. I couldn’t even remember if it was left and right facing me, or left and right facing away from me.
My usual opening line: “Hi, folks, this is Rior… no, its Lach… no, its… oh, heck. Whatever. It’s my son. That’s the other one.”
Same with car seats and clothes. Wife looks at Riordan “Those are Lachlan’s clothes, and he’s in Lachlan’s carseat.” Oops.
I blame the sleep thing. But eventually I got there.
Have I mentioned the joy? Probably not. Let me just say that there is an exquisite and precious thing that happens with twins. Singleton babies grow up, not lonely, but … unaccompanied. They are alone in size, and in age in a big house with stacks of big people around. Twins, have each other. That is a magical thing, I used to lie there and just watch, two little babies grab each other’s hand and hold on. Seeing two little ones, touch each other, and become aware of each other was and remains an amazing thing.
Listening to the sound of two babies breathing in the dark. Two snores, two different cries for mommy. Two laughs, two first words, two first crawls, and two first steps.
OK. The bit where they work together to pull a chair to the door or window and open it is a bit scary, but hey, chairs can be chained down.
They have laughed at each other and played together like we never saw with just one baby. Yes they fight and pathologically steal food and toys from each other. But oh, my, the camaraderie and team work! It has been such a blessing, and worth every second to watch them rush for the tea table together at the shout of the words “Tea time.” Fighting over each other to get there and sit down. Two little smiles, two little faces overjoyed at the sight of a “Nana” being peeled.
Two shouts of “Huhyo” when I arrive home. Two babies shouting “Dada”. Two little voices singing “I yuvv you”… Sitting on a couch with two snuggly bubs, one asleep on each shoulder.
These things are like a drug to me. I am so, so, grateful for my twins.
This post originally appeared at Notes From the Road