My Twin Life
For parents of multiples there is such truth in the words, ‘Keep calm, soldier on.’ They often have to dig a little deeper than parents that have singletons, both into their pockets and their physical being in hope of finding more energy and more knowledge. It is not an easy path, as I’m sure you can attest to. But it is a rewarding path and I say that with a view from many perspectives.
My journey around twins started from conception. Huddled together with my brother in my mother’s womb, no doubt pushing each other around as we jostled for the first exploration of our new world, we said hi to our parents on the 8th September 1972. We were born 5 minutes and 7 seconds apart with me taking first place - actually the 7 seconds is a little precise detail that I added in childhood when asked for the umpteenth time, 'who's the oldest and by how much?' At the time I thought the 7 seconds made it sound all so much more interesting, not knowing that we were actually interesting enough just by being twins – it wasn’t as common forty years ago as it is today.
My journey as a twin was – well it just was, and by that I mean, I didn’t know any different. Our relationship was probably a little different to most twins though after my brother had a tragic accident at the age of two-and-a-half. He struck a match and dropping it, suffered third degree burns. This required copious amount of time in hospitals throughout his years, and as we grew, hindered by children tormenting him because of his scares, I became his stealth protector as I deeply felt for the ridicule he suffered. I also became quite a cry baby – or so my sister says. I’d bang into t ings and scream, fall over and cry. It wasn’t until years later that I began to wonder if I had physically felt some of his pain, something I now believe is possible for twins. I don’t know how it happens of course but it’s definitely happened for me. Funnily enough my brother doesn’t’ feel my pain. Such a pity, it would have been fantastic to film him as I birthed my two-and-a-half year old son, Elijah.
I'll briefly recount the first time that I realised I felt his pain. We were in two separate schools, a couple of miles apart at the age of fifteen. I was sitting at my desk in class, the next thing I know my head was throbbing painfully and I fainted to the floor. Taken to the sick bay, someone rung my parents to pick me up but they said they couldn’t, they were going to hospital as my brother has just gone head first into a brick wall on his bike. A twin’s connection is phenomenal! To this day, hugging him gives me a feeling I don’t get from anyone else.
I'm now going to jump you ahead to 1996, aged 24, when as a Maternity Nurse in the UK I was asked to provide care for my first set of newborn twins. Wanting to get a feeling of that my mother had gone through (although she also had three others before us) I said yes to the position. Well, what a rude awakening to the continual treadmill that twins create for parents. I walked away admiring my mother! It was also with this family that I was introduced to the symptoms of so called colic and in my book I briefly mention the turmoil and heartache we all went through watching and caring for the wee less in question. It was she that started me on a search for answers - I couldn’t believe that nature could get this so wrong. It couldn’t be down to an immature digestive system, there must be something we don’t know, something that we are doing that causes this. At the same time, observing and immersing myself in the twin's parent's journey had me leaping at the chance to specialise with families of newborn twins. Pure madness, I know – I don’t know what I was thinking!
Six years later I had cared for over 30 sets of newborn twins, two sets of triplets and many singletons – living and breathing their life 24 hours a day, six days a week anywhere from two weeks to three months of age. During the first couple of years, the newborns showed me a universal language that to my knowledge no one else had/has discovered. On working with the baby’s cues, known as their Six-Wind-Cues, I found that we could reduce, if not eliminate the behaviours of colic and reflux. At the age of 33 I intensely studied our early human biology looking for more answers and on marrying my findings with our newborn biology, was urged by parents that had used my methods to write the BabyCues Book.
So as you can see, 'my twin life' has given me so much! The twin babies taught me how to surrender to the now, and helped to show me that they needed someone to be their voice, to teach others what it is that newborns are truly saying. Immersing myself in the world of parents with multiples offered understanding and admiration. Being a twin taught me there is magic in the world – things that we will probably never be able to define, of which I am very grateful. And then there is being an Auntie to two sets of twins, but that’s a whole other story.