In the nesting period prior to the boys arriving Anna had created a well-oiled infant care factory, everything was within arms reach from the change table, creams, wipes, and nappies muelled back from the States by Anna’s father, we had in-exhaustible stock piles of everything imaginable. Anna would park up like a breeding sow while I passed her our sons, burped, changed, swaddled and settled them on a two hourly schedule. Feed, burp, sleep, shit, change, repeat. We were getting maybe 30-40 mins sleep in-between the grueling schedule. Anna’s mother moved in full time during the day with us, cooking, cleaning, forward momentum. Linear never lateral remember. This wasn’t exactly what I had planned for parenthood, I had anticipated spending time at cafes with my wife in active wear, myself in loafers, khakis and polo shirts, fuck I don’t know, whatever I thought it wasn’t this! A relentless punishing schedule of screaming infants and sleepless nights was the hand we were dealt and it started to take its toll. The boys had both colic and reflux, this meant all the time Anna would spend feeding them would be instantly wasted as the only meal option to them would turn and burn its way back up and out of their mouths. We were forever covered in the sweet sickly smell of breast milk vomit. We tried everything, and by everything, I mean, EVERY FUCKEN THING. Gripe water, losec, kumara mash and breast milk, dietary changes for Anna who at this stage was still suffering from hyperemesis, you can imagine how much fun it would be spewing while breast feeding twins at the same time and tearing your c section stitches. There was nothing in her tank other than love and it was beginning to look like that wasn’t enough.
Anna is, has always been and will forever be an incredible mother to Oscar and Hunter, but the dream and reality were at complete ends of the spectrum. Again, I can not begin to imagine the external pressures and maternal torment mothers go through. Having children is great, it is the greatest, something taken for granted by a large portion of the population. The ‘we thought to ourselves “lets start a family”, went out that night got drunk, threw each other around like empty tracksuits and 9 months later and a 30min delivery with no drugs or complications here is little Timmy who has slept from 7 pm – 7 am since we came home from the hospital’ wasn’t our story. I’m not shitting on people that have that journey, I’m stoked for them, I really am. No parent wants to say they are struggling and no mother ever wants to admit that she is struggling to build a bond with her new born children. This is one of the limitless things I love and adore about my wife in equal parts. She did eventually.
It had now been two years of IVF failure, success, sickness, birth complications, NICU, colic and reflux. Anna is a powerful woman, stronger and more resolute than most I have ever met, that’s once again part of why I love her so much, she controls that which is controllable around her, she has a map to navigate us through the even the trickiest of circumstances. For the first time in our relationship, I could see she was lost.
I got to escape the monotony, screaming, the routine by heading to the radio station, Anna didn’t. At this stage of life, the boys needed their mother 100% of the time, they rarely stopped screaming throughout the day. They weren’t doing it for fun, we knew this, they were in pain, it was the only way to communicate the agony their little bodies were experiencing, still, it didn’t make it any easier to hear. Anna had been physically tired and sick for a long time the difference now was she had become mentally exhausted and sick. I am sure there were times where she wanted to pack a bag, leave and never come back. It was all too much. We talked, a lot, about options on what we could do, who we could see and how we could get through this intact. Twins are incredibly special in a number of ways, one thing, in particular, is the spread of workload that comes with them. The number of times I’ve heard couples talk of the resentment they held for each other as new parents. ‘I would come home from working a 10 hour day, walk through the door and be thrown a screaming child by a bitch resembling my wife then told she’s had enough for the day, dinner needs to be cooked, the kid needs a bath and to be put to bed and she’d park up with a bottle of wine and watch some shit unwatchable reality tv’. As a guy we feel like we are doing our part, we understand our partners need support but work is work! It is not where we would choose to spend our spare time, it’s not fun, it’s a necessary evil so you can buy all this baby shit we don’t need. Conversely, the female perspective as I understand it is called ‘Super Hero hours’ the men get first thing in the morning, the child is rested, fed and for the most part chilled. After a punishing day of not feeding, feeding to much, spewing, shitting, screaming, we return from work, blow raspberries on their tummies make them laugh and smile, the only tradable infant currency, then put them to bed, far richer for two hours effort as opposed to the bankrupt mother who has put in 10 solid hours. Whenever an inconsolable singleton (wanky twin parent term) is being comforted by a parent, the other is redundant, can’t do anything but watch, yet still gets the ‘Well don’t just fucking sit there! do something!’ eyes. With twins that joy is shared, instead of getting mad at the other for not sharing the weight, you stand there comforting a screaming child each, staring at each other, past the point of anger, at the ‘if we don’t laugh we will cry’ stage.
I have always strongly advocated the ‘Takes a Village’ parenting model, we are lucky to have the most supportive, loving, devoted family and friends, without them, in particular, Anna’s mother, we would’ve been swept out to sea. I had one foot on Anna’s canoe and one on the boys, it was the love and support from our friends, family and the team at NICU that lashed us together and enabled us to keep sailing as a family, a list far too long to mention names, you know who you are and we are forever in your debt, you are our village.