The Big Three: maternity leave adventures
On the 30th May, our twin boys Brodie and Alexander arrived. Five days earlier than planned, my waters broke en route to the nursery pick up for the big one, Alfie, aged 2 ¾. Are you staying for the nursery fundraiser?’, the teacher asked not realising what was going on. ‘Eh, not today sorry’, I say, ‘I’m off to the hospital, but here’s a fiver for the donation box’.
Alfie was safely deposited with grandma at home, and my midwife friend Lesley drove me to the hospital, nostalgically repaying me the favour, 15 years after I’d taken her to hospital with her first born (her husband was at the Celtic Champions League Final in Seville. He made is back in time for the birth. Just.) I called my husband David and tried my best to be calm. He met us at the hospital.
When David and I met on a business course in Boston in 2013, we had no idea that fast forward five years, we would be parents to three boys, aged three and under. To be honest, I’m not sure that my lovely, only-child husband ever envisaged having more than one child, never mind three, and think he is still reeling from his new reality. But he’s getting there slowly and in his own time.
I’ve turned a bit of a corner, but the past three months have been full on, relentless and exhausting. As one of my twin mum friends commented: ‘Ultra marathon runners have nothing on twin parents’. Thankfully though, unlike marathon running, twin life is a team sport. Words cannot express how grateful I am in particular to the grandparents for helping, supporting and encouraging us. But also our siblings, friends, family, neighbours, colleagues and even kind strangers in the street, have all rallied to help us through these first few crazy months.
There has been babysitting to allow for a date night, supportive messages through the night, advice on slings, hot dinners, homemade scones, warm embraces, lovely cards, staying over and helping with feeding, photographs, walks in the park… thank you, one and all. We could not do this without you.
David and I are taking Shared Parental Leave.This means that we share a period of fifty-two weeks leave. David took six weeks off with me when the boys were born. When it was time for him to return to work, I’m pretty sure I saw him skipping down the street to his car. Several times, with delight, he mentioned a new coffee machine they had at the office… David will be back at home with us for a month early next year, in addition to his usual holiday leave. I can’t promise him the shiny coffee machine, but he will have the chance to experience in a more concentrated way the day-to-day routine of our children and to bond with them over a more intense period of time. I hope more and more dads start to make use of the SPL opportunity for this reason. It’s good for dads, mums, children and honestly society at large.
Having a baby, and even more so two babies, is a 24/7 job. It’s wonderful, but physically and emotionally draining. I’ve realised that caring for people (children, family members, strangers) is the most important job in the world, one that is sadly undervalued. It’s much easier to put a value on paid work. Less so on the daily grind of feeding, doctor appointments, offering emotional support, organizing, cleaning, cooking, shopping and washing (Oh my, the endless washing that goes on with sickly twins!). I remember thinking in some ways I’d also find it easier going back to work and leave the Big Three at home. But I would never trade this time with my babies. I realize too that I am so fortunate to have this option.
Have I thought much about work since I’ve been off? Honestly, no. And that is ok and absolutely normal. We’re only three months in. However, I have kept in touch regularly by text and phone with my wonderful job share partner Nikki. She has offered me exactly the right amount of support and communication to keep me in the loop but to not make me feel under pressure. I have read email updates and communicated with the wider team when I felt I could. Nikki has been to see me twice at home where we’ve talked both work and babies. I’ve visited the team at the office and now have a few half KIT days in the diary to work on specific projects. Work has to wait right now. As much as I love my job, this time is for my boys – its relatively such a short period of time. But I want to stay connected to my (paid) working life too, which will also make the transition back next year much easier.
I’m off to finish expressing more milk and try to get a shower. David’s just called to say once he’s had one last delicious coffee, he’ll be home to help me with the next feed and put Alfie to bed.
Twin life. Toddler Life. Well, it’s already an adventure and we’re just on the beginning of the next stage of ours. Life, work, nothing will ever be the same again. Just when I thought I’d got it sorted and we were close to that famous ‘work life balance’, we went and had twins. Ha!