Family Life

life with twins: a real story


I put a call out about a month ago for guest posters. Misha from The Bling Buoy was quick to jump on board. Since then, I have been literally all over the place and only realised the other day that this post was still waiting in my Drafts. So thank you again to Misha for being so understanding.

When Misha first sent me this post I was totally inspired by her honesty, her integrity and genuine heart felt warmth to all the mothers out there who have twins. The Bling Buoy is a blog all about inspiring and helping you navigate the waters of life.

Be sure to check out Misha’s blog, comment here, comment there and share the love xxx


It’s amazing how many books you can read in one week when you are in shock and unable to move for fear of puking while simultaneously, and somewhat incongruously, chain munching weetbix straight from the box.  And that was just with the pregnancy of my first baby.  A “singleton”.
Back then, I was held hostage by the idea that if I did everything “right”, ate the perfect proportion of protein to carbs during my pregnancy, took my little girl to baby Mozart classes and held her just like this… not like that…. then she would follow the little developmental/sleep/behavioural schedule that was neatly laid out in chapter one of every highly respected baby book I owned.  I could paint a life for my little girl that perfectly fit the image I had in my head if I only I followed the instruction manual.  To the letter.
Fast forward to pregnancy #2.  The “twin pregnancy”.  And for those who have been through the same, it is a pregnancy fraught with potential complications and problems.   The books told me that too.
Despite doing everything “right”, “twin 1” had problems from the outset.  I was once told I would probably lose her.  But then she survived.  The Doctors told me they would take her off for testing soon after she was born.  Everything was monitored closely.  Early on in the pregnancy I gave her a name that literally translates to mean “life”, because on that issue I was not open to compromise.   I kept my hand on the bump that I knew belonged to her on my belly… and compelled her to hang on.
After the twins were born though, it was her twin brother who had the problems.  First with breathing, later with feeding, then with sleeping…. I remember being in the recovery room soon after their birth with both babies on my chest as the midwife tried to coax my son to breastfeed.  We were so engrossed that without either of us realizing, his twin sister had latched herself onto my breast and started feeding.
I thought she was just living up to the moniker I had bestowed upon her.  It turns out she would have embraced life regardless of the name I gave her… she lives by her own set of rules.
At 4 years old her twin brother is intense, extremely cautious and yet overflowing with energy.  He is also funny, fiercely loyal to his family and his light shines brightly.  Sometimes so brightly that we all need polarized sunshades…. but then we wouldn’t have him any other way.
Having twins has turned my life and the way I view it upside down.  Not just the “busyness” and extreme parenting aspects of it, but the way it has altered my perspective on parenting.
My twins come from the same gene pool; had the same conditions in utero; had the same birthing experience; were provided with the same nutrition and equal counts of cuddles.  Yet they could not be more different.
My curly, blond haired, green-eyed, lean-limbed girl is smart enough to know how to combine her gorgeous gift of the gab with her disarming smile to incite her weary watchers to indulge her every whim.  My blond haired, blue-eyed, strong little boy is deeply thoughtful, a born worrier and prone to obsession.  He is also very affectionate, kind and gives in to his headstrong sisters way too much.   One twin (now!) falls asleep the moment his head hits the pillow and stays that way till dawn.  The other needs to fully process the day’s happenings before she falls into a feathery light sleep.
One of the best things I have learned through being a mother of multiples is that the books are not always right about how we need to do “x” if we want to achieve “y”.   If I can have two children who are exposed to almost identical conditions since conception turn out so differently, then it simply cannot be true that everything about the way our children turn out is caused by the way they were parented.  This is both liberating … and scary.
Our children are not a blank canvas upon whom we can adorn with the colours of our own hopes and dreams.  We can only provide them with the finest paints and canvas…. good nutrition, love, boundaries, opportunites and education…. and watch them craft their own masterpiece.
Before I had twins I believed that the way my eldest daughter behaved, developed and grew was almost entirely caused by what I did… or didn’t do.  The pressure was incredible.  The guilt when things didn’t go by the book… overwhelming.   And it’s this belief in the “blank canvas” concept that sometimes drives mothers to judge other mothers so harshly.  They must have done something wrong if their child has turned out to be “like that”.  Even worse than that though, it has caused mothers to turn on themselves.   And now I can see how unnecessary a lot of that angst is.
So if you ask me what the best thing about being a mother of multiples is, I can tell you that besides the obvious, it has given me the gift of patience, empathy, understanding and compassion.  Not only towards my children.  But towards other mothers.  All mothers.  But mostly…. towards myself.  Because as Henry Ward Beecher once said,
“Every artist dips his brush into his own soul and paints his own nature into his pictures.”
We can only provide them with the materials they need to paint their own masterpiece.  I realise now that to go beyond this, to paint their magnum opus for them, is potentially just glorified graffiti.
What are your thoughts? Do you have twins? How much do you follow or not follow what the books say?
If you are interested in guest posting for the parenting files, drop me a line and let me know.

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  • Jen R

    My boy/girl twins are 15 now and a constant source of love, amusement, laughter, tears and frustration…no books can ever prepare you for life as a multiple Mumma, great post :)

    • Tahlia

      i can only imagine Jen, but i guess nothing can really prepare you for motherhood anyway :) x

  • katepickle

    I have ID twin girls who are now 8…. they are my oldest (they have two younger brothers) and they turned my world upside down from the moment I heard those words ‘definitely 2, possibly three babies’….

    I had never dreamed of having twins, and despite having a degree in early childhood it was HARD…. there was no book, no degree, no mother’s group that could have prepared me for my pregnancy, early arrival, complications and joys of raising twins. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy and I wouldn’t change it for the world!

    • Tahlia

      the more stories I hear the more I learn the incredible stories of those with twins. Sometimes our most challenging experiences can be the very best experiences of our life! x

  • Née Say

    Bravo Misha! So eloquently said. I don’t have twins but two little boys who are chalk and cheese. Perfect living examples of how nature is pre-determined. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post Tahlia x

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  • TalesofaTwinMum

    This is such a beautifully written post. You’ve nailed it exactly. I’m sick of the books that make parents feel guilty, each baby is completely different. Looking like brothers is all my boys have in common. X

  • Daisy

    Wholeheartedly agree!! It’s amazing how you view parenting and child behaviour before you know anything about how different two children can be! And the guilt and the pressure of feeling you are solely responsible for a child’s reaction and behaviour in certain situations is crippling! Thank goodness for my twins teaching me many of the same lessons, Misha!

    • Tahlia

      Guilt is a such a deadly feeling.. creeps in anywhere… damn guilty feeling….I think we can have our view points and thoughts but then they get so changed so quickly where flexibility becomes important. But as Anna said, so much has to do with their personalities x

  • The_last_slayer

    I don’t have twins but I thoroughly enjoyed your post and will take the key message – about only providing the best materials so our children can paint their masterpiece themselves – away with me xx

    • Tahlia

      So true! Their own masterpiece! I love it!

  • Anna @ Confessions

    After I had my first one and he was such a “good” baby, people would say to me “you’ve done such a good job with him”. I used to say, “I’d love to take the credit for how he turned out because that would mean that I could do the same with my second one, but I don’t think it’s that simple”.
    Luckily, my second one has turned out pretty good too (so perhaps I should take the credit! Lol!). I do think good parenting goes a long way, but so much of it has got to do with their personalities!

    • Tahlia

      So true anna. So many different factors come into play with how our children are, who they are, and what they do and don’t do. Personality is certainly one. Coming from the same gene pool, but yet so different… truly extraordinary…

      just made me realise, I wrote a post titled “same same but different” not so long ago… I think it has a lot of relevance here :)

  • Mum Monologue

    Ah lovely, how calm and beautiful you make it sound. My greatest fear was to find out I was having twins, yet those I know who have them, wouldn’t have it any other way!
    100% agree with your thoughts on the ‘blank canvas’ and with Anna@confessions, at times when I’ve been at the end of my tether, teetering over the edge, others around me compliment me on what a good job I’m doing “he’s so good, such a lovely boy” it’s not my doing, it cant be!
    Lovely post, thank you

    • Tahlia

      Ohh I have no doubt there is your doing in there too!

  • Bee

    I don’t have twins, my two boys are 15mo’s apart, but may as well be twins for how they are now. However like your two, mine are very different. From pregnancy it was obvious that they were not going to be very much alike. My first pregnancy was full of complications. Illness, bed rest, medications, constant monitoring and OB appointments, feeling like crap, you name it. But inside, he was a massive wriggle worm. Never stopped, always had his butt in my ribs, always going. Second pregnancy, while I was still monitored constantly, was much easier. No illnesses or sickness, no medications, no real complications. And Bear himself was much different in utero as well. Much calmer, less active. When they were born they were also very different. Monkey entered the world in a state of drama, was very small but perfectly healthy. Bear entered the world much more calmly and was a lot bigger, but scored very poorly on his APGARs and was in special care for a day. As they grew, they were also a lot different. Monkey had silent reflux, never slept, always screamed. He was a very high maintenance baby and made us work our butts of to keep him happy. Bear had RSV and bronciolitis but was still an amazing sleeper, much happier, didn’t cry a ton. Now that they are almost 5 and 3.5 and the best of friends with an amazing bond, they are still very different. They don’t look alike at all and they also don’t act alike. Monkey is the energizer kid, takes forever to fall asleep, always going, going, going. Bear sleeps long and well and is always much more subdued. He is more affectionate, but also much louder. Monkey hates to follow instructions and do chores, but loves to help with other things. Always wants to get his fingers in and dirty, whereas Bear is always the first to be ready to go and follows instructions very well. I’ve started to ramble, but I too marvel at how extremely similar conditions don’t make children similar, they march to the beat of their own drums regardless.

    • Tahlia

      Bee, what an incredible story. It truly is amazing how different some siblings can be, while others are so similar. I have no doubt that they both keep you on your toes constantly and even when you think you know one, there is something new pulled out of the hat. To be able to have their own drum beat and march at their own pace is a real credit to you.

      Thanks for sharing your story :) x