Multiple matters AUTUMN ISSUE \ SEPTEMBER 2013
T H E
O F F I C I A L
PLUS: NEW DISCOUNTERS
M A G A Z I N E
TA M B A
• TAMBA GIVEAWAYS • NEWS AND MORE
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T L H T F T
what’s inside: autumn 2013
Welcome letter from the chief executive
This edition of Multiple Matters could be the most important that the charity ever produces. Our trustees, who set the direction of the charity, have decided to take a brave step into something that we don’t normally do: life-saving medical research. You are probably sick of hearing that multiple pregnancies are at a higher risk of complications – I know I am. But what makes me mad is to hear this endlessly repeated, with no action taken to get research done that could make this state of affairs a thing of the past. Well, now we have an opportunity to change that. Through our Beanstalk Appeal we are raising money for research into multiples’ growth in the womb. By creating growth charts for different kinds of pregnancies, we will be able to identify those babies who are really at risk, and those that aren’t. If you, your friends, family and colleagues support our Beanstalk Appeal and help us raise what we need to pay for this work, then in under a year there could be new growth charts for twins being distributed worldwide, which will save babies’ lives. You can read more about what this involves on pages 8 and 9 of the magazine. I have spoken to many bereaved parents over the years and heard firsthand about the grief their loss brings. By donating to fund this research you can help ensure that even more families experience the miracle of two or more happy, healthy babies. My sincere thanks for your help.
Multiple matters REGULARS NEWS ROUND-UP
Campaigning on maternity leave, maternity care and childcare...................................................................
Single mum Emma Campbell on triplets plus one ..........................................................................
Pedigree fun with the oldest clubs in Britain.................
Becoming a stay-at-home dad.......................................
Potty training, boy/girl teenagers and the blues..........
Climbing Kilimanjaro in memory of twin babies............
High road or low road? The boys must choose............
Kisses, wizarding twins and first nights out...................
Delight at arrival of positive birth story .......................
MY DAY TODAY
Looking after newborn quadruplets..............................
Discounters, ads and more............................................
Keep the costs down as you prepare for your babies..
Too many mothers suffer PND in silence.......................
Groundbreaking research to save twin babies’ lives....
One mum’s experience of two sets of twins................. Helping older children adapt to baby multiples...........
SPORTING GIFTS FOR ALL
Supporting twins when one has a talent.......................
FRIEND OR FOE? PS: To donate to the Beanstalk Appeal please go to www.tamba.org.uk/beanstalk
Dealing with unhealthy competition and fighting.........
WHEN TWO FLY THE NEST
Twinline and support groups co-ordinator: Carol Clay Courses and support officer: Kate Valentine Advertising and fundraising officer: Lucie Wigley Membership: Debbie Ross Tamba in Northern Ireland: Rachel Wiffen 028 9023 9050 email@example.com Tamba in Scotland: Helen Peck 01786 465744 firstname.lastname@example.org To advertise in the magazine ring 01483 304442 or email LucieWigley@tamba.org.uk Tamba Office: Lower Ground Floor Offices, Hitherbury House, 97 Portsmouth Road, Guildford, Surrey GU2 4DL Telephone: 01483 304442 Fax: 01483 570932 Email: email@example.com Website: www.tamba.org.uk. Office Hours: Monday to Friday 9.30am to 4pm. Twinline: telephone freephone helpline 0800 138 0509 (10am-1pm and 7pm-10pm seven days a week) Design by mdesign firstname.lastname@example.org
MULTIPLE MATTERS - ISSN 2049-5765 Charity number 1076478, Scottish Charity Number SC041055, company number3688825.
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Tamba’s individuality policy encourages the development of multiples’ individual identities, for example by dressing them differently. Whenever possible we use photographs that promote this policy.
A mum’s tale of full fridges, empty laundry baskets.....
Keith Reed (email@example.com)
news: campaigns 35? AGED is seeking
We’re still pushing for better maternity and paternity leave, despite set-backs. Meanwhile, we need to find out more about how maternity care and childcare affect our families so we can lobby on your behalf
LEAVE IT OUT! Government praises Tamba campaign on maternity and paternity leave... but no sign of policy change yet Our concerns about maternity and paternity leave for multiple birth families were debated extensively during discussion of the Children and Families Bill in parliament after more than 1,000 families used our new online campaign centre to contact their MPs. The Labour team, led by Lucy Powell MP, highlighted the fact that according to our survey, maternal stays during birth admission are 60 to 70 percent longer for multiple births than singletons. Some 44 percent of twins and 91 percent of triplets are born prematurely and spend time in neonatal care, and 42 percent of all multiple-birth families have at least one baby requiring neonatal care for more than a week. Lucy told the House: ‘There are compassionate reasons why we should consider extending the leave rights for multiple-birth parents, but there is also an economic benefit. A pure economist would consider parents of multiple births to be more efficient than those of us who have children separately, because the cost to society, business and the state is less. Simply from an economist’s point of view, it is an effective way of having children.’ In reply, Jo Swinson MP, minister for employment relations and consumer affairs, said: ‘I put on
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record my admiration for parents dealing with the challenges of multiple births. The Twins and Multiple Births Association campaign was particularly well run, and I congratulate Tamba on the campaign.’ Unfortunately, she then went on to explain why she wouldn’t be introducing our proposals! Nevertheless, the campaign continues. We are in discussion with officials and continue to engage as the Bill passes through the Lords.
Tamba wants leave doubled or dated from babies’ due date, to accommodate prematurity and hospital stays
JOIN THE CAMPAIGN It’s not too late! Our online tool enables supporters to generate an email to their MP with an update on the latest in our campaign. All supporters need do is input their postcode, review, and send the message. You can access it here: www.tambamessageboard.org.uk/ contactmymp/index.php
Tamba multiples 35-year-old ur celebrate o to help us twin, a e ar u yo birthday! If uadruplet triplet or q ase email le p , aged 35 mba.org.uk. rachelgh@ta
AND THE WINNERS ARE... The Chambers family of Reigate scooped first prize in Tamba’s grand raffle: a holiday at the award-winning Mazzard Farm in Devon. Louise Chambers, mum to Isabelle and William, told us: ‘We are thrilled – it’s the first time we have ever won anything!’ Many thanks to everyone who bought tickets and helped to fund Tamba’s work.
URGENT: WE NEED YOUR VIEWS On maternity care
The strength of Tamba, and our campaigns, comes from hearing about your experiences and then putting forward a strong case for improvements. Our latest survey will help us to know whether new guidance for care in multiple pregnancies is being implemented at your hospital. This is vital because carrying out the correct monitoring and putting mothers on the correct care pathway can be the difference between getting the right treatment at the right time or something going disastrously wrong. Not only will the survey be able to tell us what is happening locally, but for the first time we have partnered with multiple birth organisations in the US, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand so we can get an idea of who is leading the way in care of multiples during pregnancy. We intend to share the results with maternity units across the UK. Please take part at https://www.surveymonkey. com/s/maternitycare2013
We are gathering evidence on the cost, availability and quality of childcare for our families and the consequences where it proves inaccessible. This will enable us to take part in discussions as the government and others consider making changes to the system of support for families. Please take part at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ childcarecosts2013
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Happy 35th Birthday! Join Tamba’s celebrations and AGM at Woburn Safari Park Tamba is celebrating its 35th birthday with a fun day at Woburn Safari Park on 16 November, when we will also be holding our Annual General Meeting. You and your family will have the chance to see Peppa Pig at intervals throughout the day, plus there will be photo opportunities so don’t forget your camera! Plus, 35 lucky families will receive a special invitation by email to our afternoon tea! The Park opens at 10am,
when you can come and register with us and collect your programme for the day and goody bag vouchers. Free tickets for ‘Meet & Greet’ sessions with Peppa Pig are available on a first come, first served basis from the registration desk. The Park closes at 4pm. Woburn Safari Park has acres of beautiful parkland packed with extraordinary residents. We will be based in the Leisure Area and Safari Lodge where there is stacks for parents and children to see and do. We would love you to join us at our AGM during the day to hear about Tamba’s work and our plans
Email answers with your name, address and membership number to firstname.lastname@example.org by 1 October with ‘Giveaway’ and the name of the product you are entering for in the subject line. Prizes to the first correct answers out of the hat after the deadline.
SUMMER WINNERS Congratulations to our summer giveaway winners Amy Williams in Abingdon (Horrid Henry) and Wendy Rule in St Ives (animal books).
BUMPER SUPPORT FittaMamma’s High Support Top has a back panel to distribute weight from the front of the body and pelvis to the back and shoulders. A super-stretchy waist band supports from below. Win a top in a colour of your choice by telling us what colours it is available in (answers at www. fittamamma.com). PS: FittaMamma gives Tamba members a 10 percent discount on any two items from the highly supportive maternity range. Just enter the code ‘tamba10’ at the checkout.
for the future. Tamba has negotiated special prices for our members. Log in to the Tamba website to make your purchase. Adults cost £13.99, children over three are £9.99, children aged three and under go free. Please be aware that some Park attractions require additional payments.
BEDTIME FOR BABIES Win two Pumpkin & Popsicle Bedding Bales from Lollipop Lane (www.lollipoplane. co.uk) including a quilt, bumper and embroidered fleece blanket, featuring chirpy bird Pumpkin and his playmate Popsicle. Lollipop Lane has a range of nursery bundles for mums expecting twins or triplets, giving you a saving of 15 percent. Just answer the following: What animal is Popsicle? a) Giraffe b) Dog c) Rabbit d) Elephant
FLOOR PLAY The cosyplay luxury baby play mat is made from memory foam with a waterproof base and fleece cover (1.5m x 1m). Just answer this question: Which part of the cosyplay mat is machine washable? Find the answer at www.cosyplay.co.uk
pregnancy: getting ready
Tidy sums Do you really need two (or more) of everything for your newborns? With multiples you don’t have the economies of scale that come with a family of singletons. Keep the expense down by doing your research and only buying what you really need. Seek advice from other parents of multiples via your local twins club – expectant parents are always welcome – or Tamba’s members-only messageboard on our website. Twins clubs and other multiples parents can be a great source of cheaper secondhand equipment like high chairs and bouncers. Some items shouldn’t be bought secondhand, car seats among them (unless you know for certain they haven’t been involved in an impact that might have weakened them). If you use secondhand Moses baskets or cots, you will need to purchase new mattresses to keep down the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). You may want to start your babies off sleeping together in just one cot. Research shows that twins and triplets do well when they share a room with their parents as newborns, and a single cot can make it easier to fit them in. The reassuring presence of siblings may even help to settle them. It’s worth trying to get a really good buggy, but which one? Consider your lifestyle and get one that makes it as easy as possible to get out and about from the start. The options are either tandem or sideby-side. Before you buy, think about
whether you need one that will fit in the boot of your car, on the bus or through shop doorways; whether you mind if one baby can’t see much; whether you want them to be able to see each other, or you. Again, twins clubs may be a good place to get advice on your options, see how the various styles work in practice and perhaps even pick up a secondhand model. Baby baths tend to clutter up the house with little long-term use. These days you can buy baby bath chairs that enable your newborns to lie back while being washed in the big bath – though you will still need to watch them at all times. Some parents recommend keeping an eye out for sales in
Some parents recommend keeping an eye out for sales in vital stuff like nappies and clothes and bulk buying vital stuff like nappies and clothes and bulk buying or buying ahead of need when you spot a good deal. Cloth nappies may also be worth considering; after the initial outlay they cost less than disposables. Contact your local Nappy Library (search in Google maps) to find out more. Is there any financial help for parents of multiples? Not much, but there is some. The rules do change so visit www. dwp.gov.uk for up-to-date advice. If you don’t have access to the internet, leaflet NI17A-A Guide to Maternity Benefits will tell you all you need to know, including what happens to your maternity pay if your babies are born early. Most financial allowances are the same in singleton and multiple pregnancies. The exception is the Sure Start Maternity Grant. Unlike in singleton pregnancies, if you already have a baby and then have a subsequent multiple pregnancy you may still be eligible for the grant if you get certain benefits and are on a low income. But don’t delay: failure to get the forms in on time can mean you lose out on hundreds of pounds. You can get most of the paperwork ready before your babies arrive.
Help and info GETTING READY FOR MULTIPLES • Get advice from other parents via your local twins club or the Tamba members-only online messageboard; find both via our website at www.tamba.org.uk
How long should I work for? MATERNITY LEAVE The decision about when to stop working depends on your situation: your health and your babies’ health, finances, and the nature of your work. Your bigger bump may make it uncomfortable to sit behind a desk or stay on your feet earlier than in a singleton pregnancy; some people use annual leave to take a bit more time off. As multiples are more likely to arrive early, it can be good to plan to take it easy towards the end of pregnancy – and attend antenatal courses in plenty of time.
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• Read about what equipment you might need in our ‘Preparing for Parenthood’ guide, available free to members from the website. You can also download our ‘Healthy Multiple Pregnancy Guide’, free guides on Neonatal Care, Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome and Postnatal Depression, or watch our experts answer your FAQs in online videos • Book a place on Tamba’s Antenatal courses for parents expecting twins or more or our Practical Preparing for Parenthood workshop via the website or by ringing 01483 304442 • Ring Twinline, Tamba’s freephone listening service, to discuss any concerns on 0800 138 0509, open 10am to 1pm and 7pm to 10pm daily
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MUM Postnatal depression can be treated, but there are still too many mothers who suffer in silence
When Lucy Sage’s daughters Ruby and Lilia were born, she was elated: ‘We came home from hospital four days after the girls’ birth. I was happy – tired and sore but happy.’ Three days later she was rushed to hospital with a haemorrhage and had a blood transfusion. ‘I felt like I’d been hit by a bus,’ she said. ‘When I finally came home I had no chance to rest. I was exhausted. I cried over the slightest thing, was always anxious and started having panic attacks... I remember sitting on the edge of the bed, looking at my two little babies asleep together in the Moses basket and having only one feeling: overwhelming sadness.’ Lucy’s doctor diagnosed her with postnatal depression (PND), something she found hard to admit to. ‘The very basic feeling that I should never have felt that way in the first place is still very strong,’ she said. ‘Any healthy baby, or more, is a miracle and society powerfully ingrains in you that you should be ecstatic and grateful: it just makes the guilt worse.’ Mothers of multiples are at a higher risk of PND. About 1 in 5 mothers of twins and triplets are diagnosed with the condition, and a Tamba survey found that a further 1 in 5 mothers thought they may have had it but did not get treatment. PND is more severe than the baby blues, which is a brief condition affecting many women in the days after birth. It is also different to postnatal psychosis or puerperal psychosis, when someone becomes manic. Symptoms of PND might include ongoing low mood, lack of interest in self and the new babies, anxiety, feeling lonely, panic attacks or feeling trapped, feeling a failure or unable to cope.
need to hide it from everybody, even my husband. I was embarrassed at not being able to cope. I had never felt so hopeless.’ PND can be treated by medication and psychotherapies – and the earlier, the better. ‘I was incredibly lucky to have a fantastic nurse who visited every week, no matter what,’ said Lucy. ‘Just having someone to talk to without fear of judgement was a lifeline for me. Two years later I am in a very different place. Even now there are days when the children are demanding and it is stressful; everyone has those. The difference is that now it feels manageable.’
Caring for her son, Findlay, and baby daughters Ruby and Lilia became overwhelming for Lucy while she was suffering from PND
No one is sure what causes it. For many, PND begins for no obvious reason, but a number of stresses may trigger it, among them complications in pregnancy, delivery or postnatally; lack of sleep or practical and emotional support; and non-baby-related problems like finances and bereavement. Many women find PND hard to admit to. In the Tamba survey, several mothers with PND said they had wanted to ‘pass the tick test’ and were reluctant to give honest answers about their mood to GPs or health visitors. One mother described being determined to prove she could cope. Others said they hid the signs of depression even from those closest to them. As Lucy put it: ‘I felt the
Help and info POSTNATAL DEPRESSION • Download our FREE guide, ‘Postnatal Depression: A Guide for Mothers of Multiples’ from www. tamba.org.uk. You can also visit the website to watch our unique video clips answering FAQs on PND • Antenatal and postnatal courses on parenting multiples and preparing for parenthood can reduce the chances of suffering PND. Tamba runs several courses: visit the website at www. tamba.org.uk for details, email email@example.com or speak to Kate Valentine on 01483 304442 • Ring Twinline, Tamba’s freephone listening service, to share your concerns on 0800 138 0509, open 10am-1pm and 7pm-10pm daily. All Twinline volunteers are parents of multiples
New life-saving research from Tamba will help identify multiple birth babies at risk in utero For the first time ever, Tamba is investing in clinical research which has the potential to save lives, prevent unnecessary premature births and change clinical practice for the better for multiple birth families. Twin babies tend to be smaller than singletons because of the greater demand for nutrients and slower growth in the womb. So it’s important that when twins are measured during pregnancy their measurements are checked against what is normal growth for a twin pregnancy, rather than against singleton growth charts. At the moment, no accurate growth chart for twins exists anywhere in the world. Twin babies are measured against singleton charts, and clinicians must use their judgement – which will vary from individual to individual – to decide if the babies are progressing well or not. Tamba wants to change this. We are raising money to pay for a large piece of research using data from 10,000 second and third trimester ultrasound examinations. Expert researchers from St George’s Hospital, London, will use the data to develop an accurate twin pregnancy growth chart for the first time. The chart will make it easier to identify twins who have a genuine growth restriction and are therefore at increased risk of stillbirth or being born prematurely, and may need an intervention to keep them safe. It will also reduce the frequency with which concerns are needlessly raised over twins’ growth because they are being assessed against singleton growth charts. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has highlighted the need for this research and the development of foetal growth charts that distinguish between growth patterns in monochorionic and dichorionic pregnancies. The Tamba study will focus on twins and aim to distinguish different growth rates for different types of twin pregnancies, as well as analysing the expected level of discordance between twins. Asma Khalil is a consultant obstetrician at St George’s and leads the hospital’s multiple pregnancy service. She has also published more than 30 peerreviewed papers, and will be leading this research for Tamba. She told us: ‘This is a visionary step for the charity to take; the research has the potential to save many lives each year in the UK and thousands around the world. At the moment we are using charts derived from singletons for the management of multiple pregnancies and the consequences of this can be tragic.’
We need your help We need to raise £25,000 for this life-saving research so we can help the increasing multiple birth population. That’s why we have launched the Beanstalk Appeal. You can help by making a donation: use the response form printed here (or on the magazine carrier sheet) or donate online at www.tamba.org.uk/beanstalk Be part of this life-changing research and visit our website to sign up to support our efforts. Please share it with your friends, family, colleagues and social networks. Over the coming months we will be posting messages on our social media sites and putting the Beanstalk Appeal updates on our website, so please visit often.
I Want To Help Save Twin Lives and Donate to The Beanstalk Appeal. Here is My Gift. First Name.................................................................. Surname...................................................................... Home Address............................................................ ................................................................................... ................................................................................... Postcode..................................................................... Email........................................................................... £5 £10 £20 £30 £50 £100 Other Amount £........................
I enclose my cheque/Postal Order payable to Tamba or please debit my Lead researcher Asma Khalil said multiple pregnancy growth charts have ‘the potential to save many lives each year in the UK and thousands around the world’
MASTERCARD / VISA / SWITCH / SOLO (Please circle) Card No: Issue No (Switch Only) Valid From:
Please insert the 3-digit security code from the reverse of your card: Signature.................................................................... Date............................................................................
Add more to your donation at no extra cost. Gift Aid Declaration I would like Tamba to treat all my donations, today and in the future, as a gift aid donation. I confirm I have paid or will pay an amount of Income Tax and/or Capital Gains Tax for each tax year (6 April to 5 April) that is at least equal to the amount of tax that all charities or Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASCS) that I donate to will reclaim on my gifts for that tax year. I understand that other taxes such as VAT and Council Tax do not qualify. I understand the charity will reclaim 25p of tax on every £1 that I have given. Signature:................................................................... Date............................................................................ Please notify Tamba if you want to cancel this declaration, change your name or home address or no longer pay sufficient tax on your income and/or capital gains. Please return this form in the prepaid envelope provided.
feature: sponsor:xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx products
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With three great new products, getting out and about is less fuss and more fun with Morrck
With twins or more it’s hard enough getting out of the house, but the added complication of guessing what the weather is doing makes it even trickier to plan ahead. And there’s nothing more off-putting on a day out than feeling you’re taking the entire contents of the wardrobe. No longer, however, as Morrck has come up with three great remedies to ensure minimum fuss when you’re heading out and about.
Waterproof Ramblers for the tots and, right, 3 in 1 Maternity to Motherhood Coats for the mums
lightweight and comfortable yet warm and cosy – it’s perfect for unpredictable autumn weather.
3 in 1 Maternity to Motherhood Coat
As your bump begins to grow during pregnancy it’s increasingly difficult to do your coat up, not to mention chilly. Morrck’s new high quality waterproof It’s a Wrap(ture) coat is smart, stylish and reversible; Morrck has updated its toddler it takes you from not being pregnant Wrapture so parents don’t need to (because it’s a gorgeous jacket in its worry what the weather is own right) through pregnancy and doing. The outer layer is into motherhood with your a gorgeous waterproof newborns. Yes we know, fabric that comes with genius, right! It comes a choice of three with two panel inserts to from linings: snuggly micro account for older babies donates £1e sale fleece, lambskin in slings. Simply zip in every onlin to to Tamba e fleece or cotton jersey your extra panel(s) to give support th rk that scrunches up you the extra room you o w charity’s really small to fit easily need to cover your bump in your bag. Two lovely or carry a baby. It’s made big wooden buttons are with a super-soft waterproof all it takes to prevent it from fabric – one of those materials that flapping open on windy days – meaning makes you go ooooh, that feels lovely! you or independent little ones can whip It also scrunches tiny to go in your it on and off in no time, with no fuss. bag when out and about. Guaranteed They will love to wear it because it’s so to look great on, and the undeniable
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Waterproof ramblers for busy toddlers
Rambler Baby Hoodies have always been recommended for pushchair or buggy use. Morrck’s new ramblers are made from the same gorgeous supersoft waterproof fabric as the maternity coat and are lined with a snuggly micro or lambskin fleece with a soft layer of wadding between for added warmth. Enjoying the same versatile design as the original Ramblers, they now include buttons to ensure they stay in place on a windy day. They make a great alternative to a foot muff or cosytoes because instead of having to get a child’s feet into a bag, they simply wrap around. Toddler feet can still be on the footplate of the buggy, so dirty shoes are outside and they won’t outgrow it. Wrap and go, quick and no fuss! All of these products are proudly manufactured solely in the UK.
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focus: multiple multiples
STRENGTH Having a second set of twins meant Clare Ratcliff could put her twin know-how to good use
After having twins from one round of IVF, we were knocked over when a scan showed our second pregnancy was twins again, this time after three rounds. Could we really be this lucky after years of heartache and anxiety over never being able to have a family? The news took time to sink in for our families, but to us it seemed right. In our lives things in twos were commonplace: two cots, two highchairs, two trikes, two bikes... It’s not always easy when delivering twins, but going through the experience again meant I could use everything I’d
What are the chances? THREE TIMES TWO IS… Karen and Colin Rodger had a set of twins in May – their third! Nonidentical girls Rowan and Isla have four big brothers: 14-year-old Lewis and Kyle and 12-year-old Finn and Jude. What are the chances of conceiving three sets of twins? In the UK there is a 112-to-one chance of a pregnancy resulting in non-identical twins (excluding IVF). Non-identical twins come in clusters: a woman with nonidentical twins is four times more likely to have a second set next time round, a chance of 28 to one. The probability of having three sets of non-identical twins is one in 112 x 28 x 28... about 88,000. Identical twins are much less common, turning up once in 227 pregnancies (excluding IVF) and not in clusters. The chance of conceiving three sets of identical twins is 11.7 million to one against.
Newly minted big brothers take charge
learnt. I’d had a good pregnancy the first time but when it came to giving birth I had taken advice from those around me. This time, and after another fantastic pregnancy, I had a very set idea as to how I wanted things: a midwife-led delivery with the midwives in complete control. The birth was great, in fact I really enjoyed it. I would say to all mums expecting twins that if your pregnancy is normal you should be treated normally and not as some freak show. Don’t listen to horror stories and try not to read all
school church services and assemblies to attend so some naps had to be taken in the pram, but the afternoon nap was always in the cot. Then if they were cranky I knew it was just one of those things and not because they were overtired. It was a bit of a military operation to get out when the second set were babies. My advice is to keep a changing bag by the door and replenish anything you use straight away. If you have two sets of twins that are all young, buy a big enough changing bag to fit everything in – don’t try to cart round two. Another useful thing was to get things ready the night before. No matter how tired I felt I would sort out what the older set needed for nursery or school – packed lunches, PE kits, clothes – and fill out any forms. It all helped the morning run go more smoothly, especially after a bad night. In the morning I would bring the older twins’ clothes downstairs to keep an eye on them dressing while I fed the younger children, rather than have them muck about upstairs. Life did get easier as the little ones grew up – already my babies are four and starting school this autumn! Some days
Routine is everything with one set of twins, and still more with two the books. If you have questions, stick to asking your consultant or midwife. At the time the little ones were born my older boys were four. The age gap was lovely: they would get involved with the daily chores of washing bottles, replenishing the nappy basket, feeding and so on. Some mornings they would sit with the babies and hold their bottles while they fed. Routine is everything with one set of twins, and still more with two. I had
I still feel I’m fighting a losing battle, but all us mums go through that however many children we have. The truth is I feel very blessed to have conceived twins twice. My life may be a bit crazy but I love it, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Tamba has a list of people with two sets of twins who are happy to offer support to other couples expecting more twins. Contact rachelgh@tamba. org.uk for more information
SINGULAR VIEWPOINT How can you help your older children adapt to the arrival of multiples? The arrival of twins, triplets or more is usually a thrilling event for older siblings, but it is also a change that asks a lot from them. While many preschoolers are proud of their new siblings, the disruption to their lives and relationships can be a challenge. Parents can find themselves dealing with more tantrums and aggression, or if children revert to more baby-like behaviour, thumb-sucking and asking to wear a nappy.
stop to admire the babies, it can help to let your older children answer their questions. This gives them a role and a share in the special status too. Try not to turn siblings’ lives upside down. Setting aside some time just for them, perhaps when the babies are asleep, may help. And do your best to keep the babies away from older children’s belongings. Some older children may enjoy helping you care for the babies,
Feeding times can be tricky as older children may feel particularly left out None of this is easy to deal with when you have your hands full with your newborns, but there are things you can do to lessen the load and help your older children deal with this change in their life. It sounds obvious, but make sure your older children know they are loved and cared for, even though the babies may be attracting lots of attention and keeping you extra busy. When people
or playacting with a doll. Others may prefer to keep baby things at a distance: don’t force the issue, remember they are all different. It is worth bearing in mind that while children enjoy attention, it doesn’t all have to come from you. You could think about asking a friend or relative to spend some time with your older children. Let nursery or preschool know about your new babies and mention that
your older children may benefit from some extra attention. Feeding times can be tricky as older children may feel particularly left out. Trying to make them feel special may help. You could set aside some time to read to siblings before the feed is due, give them a snack to eat while you feed the babies or give them dolls so they can ‘feed’ their babies too. Perhaps you could have a box of toys that only come out at feeding time. Talk to your children about when they were babies and, if you can, show them pictures of themselves being fed by you. One last piece of advice: it is worth trying to minimise stresses on you while your babies are small and you are all adjusting to the changes in your family. Don’t be afraid to ask for special treatment. While you will probably need to go to baby clinics to get your babies weighed or for their immunisations, it is worth asking (especially at the beginning) if a health visitor can come to your home or if you can make an individual appointment instead of having to attend the normal clinic. Your situation is different, so don’t be afraid to ask for help to ease the pressures on you and all of your little ones.
Help and info FAMILY DYNAMICS • Read more about how family dynamics change when multiples are born on our website at www.tamba. org.uk/Parenting/Preschool-Years/ Family-Life • Fiction books such as ‘Fine as we are’ by Algy Craig Hall (an older brother of quadruplets) may help put things in terms your preschool children can understand • There is more on helping your other children adjust in Tamba’s free booklet ‘Preparing for Parenthood’, available from the website. You can also download our free guides ‘Breastfeeding More Than One’ and ‘Postnatal Depression: A Guide For Mothers Of Multiples’ • Get support, ask questions or share tips with other parents via Tamba’s members-only messageboard at www.tamba.org.uk • Ring Twinline, Tamba’s freephone listening service, to talk over any concerns on 0800 138 0509, open 10am to 1pm and 7pm to 10pm daily
/ AUTUMN 2013
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column: four plus one
And they always save the best for last. Finally in their beds, stories read, pull-ups on, dummies at hand and, for Mr Louis, his duvet positioned just so, I kiss them goodnight, turn the light off and shut the door. At the very moment that I start tiptoeing down the hall wondering if I dare exhale, I’m utterly convinced that my trio are winking to each other, silently counting to ten and suppressing gleeful hysteria as they prepare for their final act of torture: last orders. Milk and water. Despite having spent the past hour refusing repeated offers of both they all now develop
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Bedtime? Bedlam... Single mum Emma Campbell on bedtime ritual exhaustion
There has to be a way to make bedtime less torturous. Ella, Louis and Theo’s that is, not mine. I can be upstairs and in my pyjamas with clean teeth, an empty bladder and the light off in a matter of minutes. I don’t mess around and I rarely need a bedtime story. Even getting my big boy Jake settled is plain sailing these days. Well, most of the time. But to say that my three three-and-a-half-year-olds mess around is the understatement of the year. And I do not deal with it very well at all. It’s a horrible way to end the day – none of the picture book moments you’d imagine. Just an old shrew screeching, threatening and occasionally weeping as she falls for the same tricks night after night and finds herself dancing to the merry little tune of three monkeys who are having an absolute blast. I simply don’t have the energy to stand up to them. Theo refuses to clean his teeth? I let it go. Louis wants to sleep in his t-shirt and vest? Whatever. More than twelve long hours after the day began I am spent and would probably give them each a Chunky Kit- Kat and a can of Coke if I thought it would speed things up a bit and guarantee me some kind of, dare I say it, ‘evening’…
an unquenchable thirst. I dutifully stagger back upstairs holding a cup of each and walk around the room back and forth between their beds. Back and forth. In circles. For ages. A sip of milk for Ella and then some water for Louis. Oh and now Ella would like some water and Louis some milk. What’s that you say, Theo? Milk and water? It’s the part of the evening that very nearly breaks me, and don’t they know it. I’m an empty husk, a wet rag on the floor and a source of such mirth to my children that I wonder if I should start charging tickets for the circus that is bedtime. ‘Roll up, roll up – come and see the crazy lady! Driven to insanity by her own flesh and blood! Laugh as she falls to her knees begging for mercy. Gasp as she loses control and curls into a ball by the wardrobe… Sympathise as she eventually stumbles downstairs and heads straight for the bottle of wine and giant bar of chocolate…’ It’s not just me, is it? Tell me it’s not just me… You can follow Emma on twitter @emplus4 or read her blog posts at meandmyfour-emplus4.blogspot.co.uk
Help and info TRIPLETS AND MORE • Visit the Tamba website at www.tamba.org.uk to read our factsheet ‘Parenting Triplets or More – the Toddler Years’ or download our booklet ‘Good Enough Parenting with Multiples in Mind’ • Tamba’s Triplet Buddy Scheme puts triplet parents in touch with one another. Email firstname.lastname@example.org • Sue Plenty (email@example.com) is volunteer coordinator for Tamba’s Triplets group. We also have a Triplets Plus Facebook Page and Triplets forum • Chat online with single parents of multiples on our members’ messageboard at www.tamba.org.uk
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Pedigree fun Twins clubs have long been bringing parents and multiples together for fun and support – and there are some pretty venerable clubs out there
/ AUTUMN 2013
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Summer fun for members of the Solihull Twins Club
We all know how brilliantly twins clubs provide mums, dads and children with friendship, fun and a network of support. But when was the first one set up? Several clubs with a long pedigree have a claim to be among the first. Walton and District Twins Club marked its 45th birthday this year and Patsy Kilburn, who was chair back in 1998 when the club was a mere stripling of 30 years’ standing, believes it may be the oldest. The group now has twenty-two toddlers and four newborns – in 1998 there were only eight children. But, as club secretary Sarah Banbury puts it, ‘the challenges faced by multiple parents and the support gained from meeting others in the same situation remain much the same’ as they were in 1968. Solihull Twins Club, meanwhile, was set up in 1979 and may be one of the largest clubs in the country with around fifty members, translating to fifty sets of twins or more. Sarah Redshaw, one of eight mums on the committee, said ‘every member matters and as a committee we volunteer because we think the club is special and rewarding. We want to ensure that every family has the support they need in the form of advice from other twin and triplet
parents, as well as putting on events that all the families can enjoy.’ Fun events included the group’s summer party in July at Lapworth Village Hall with face painting and a visit from Bob the Builder, attended by more than seventy children and fifty sets of parents
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and grandparents. ‘We are simply out to support the parents and carers of twins or more,’ said Sarah. ‘We all have twins, so we know what it feels like.’ 2014 will be a big year for Solihull as the club celebrates its 35th birthday. ‘We haven’t finalised our celebration plans yet but we’d like to enter a team of twin parents into the Knowle Fun Run next May to run the five-mile course with a backpack containing the birth weight of their twins – mine, for example, weighed in at 11lb 7oz combined! As a fitness instructor I’d like to set up a running night where once a week the team trains to get race ready.’ As for its birthday party, Solihull wants to trace the club’s founding members to invite them along. If you know who they are, get in touch! Is your club the oldest, biggest, smallest or strangest? Tell us all about it at firstname.lastname@example.org
A get together for Walton and District Twins Club
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column: dad’s corner
No-man’s land? Step into the Tardis with Jamie Last and travel back two years to when he first became a stay-at-home dad of twins…
It’s a rainy Thursday morning. I clatter the double buggy through the sports centre doors to join a soft play session. I scan the room for anyone I know. There’s not another man in sight! I manoeuvre the buggy across the sports hall passing breastfeeding mums, nannies chattering to each other in different languages and toddlers examining plug points and chasing brightly coloured plastic balls across the floor. I find a spot alongside fifty or so other buggies and set my two babies free. Still not another man in sight.
It feels good to be spending time with our children during their formative years
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Only last week, at a nursery playgroup, two women confided in me that they had suffered postnatal depression. Their willingness to talk about their struggles served as a form of therapy for me too (and, I am sure, to them). Fathers also suffer from depression, especially first-time fathers and those fathers whose partners suffer from depression. Listening to parenting horror stories demonstrates what we all actually know: parenting is a difficult job. The fact that we are all muddling our way through as best we can helps to unite us.
That was the scenario two years ago. Today, up to 120 parents, nannies and toddlers throng the sports hall on my Thursday morning outing and it’s unusual if there’s more than six or seven chaps amongst the number. I’m not about to bang the drum that more men should be at home looking after the children. And I’m not saying that I’m intimidated by a room full of women, although I am aware that I’m in the minority. But it doesn’t bother me. Despite being outnumbered by women in all the playgroups and libraries of London we go to, one thing that has struck me during my 28-month reign as a stay-at-home dad (SAHD) is that in the end we are all the same – bar the obvious bits. Here’s why:
2. We all want the best for our children
I seldom bump into someone at a playgroup who doesn’t want to be there – apart from the odd child. Yes, we whine about the relentlessness and monotony, but ultimately it feels good to be spending time with our children during their formative years – we wouldn’t be at a playgroup or library together otherwise. We are bonded by
a common purpose: giving our children the best start in life.
3. We are all members of the same club
I have heard tales of men being asked to leave playgroups by breastfeeding mothers and of young fathers feeling ill-equipped to survive in a world which seems the preserve of women. I haven’t experienced this. In fact I feel accepted by the majority of primary carers – mothers. I behave, struggle and muddle my way through like any other parent, and join in with the informal chats on parenting because doing so helps me. I may be a man, but at the end of the day I’m also just another stressed-out parent, drinking too much wine, eating too much ice cream and in desperate need of exercise... Read Jamie’s blogs at www.manandbuggy.com
1. We all like to share our parenting horror stories
One of the great joys of working as a SAHD is that every now and again I meet parents who are willing to share their terrifying parenting tales. These occasions remind me that I’m not a total disaster as a parent. In fact, I wish more of us would share our horror stories so fewer of us feel like failures at toddler parenting.
advice: solving problems
Dear Vikki... Tamba consultant Vikki Cohen is a chartered counselling psychologist and mum to four-year-old twin boys
Vikki with her twin sons, Jasper and Kai
We have two-year-old boy/girl twins. Sadie is showing an interest in potty training and Harry copies but isn’t quite ready. What is the best way to go about it? Do them together or separately? Going out for the day with two to train would be a challenge. Fiona and Jon Rostron Dear Fiona and Jon, My advice is to trust your instinct and do it when each child is ready. Even identical twins can be different, so try not to compare them. And don’t let competitive parenting enter into it – most boastful parents aren’t honest! Children’s nervous systems are not fully developed until they turn two,
and they may vary as to whether bowel or bladder control comes first. Potty training requires body awareness and control, so it’s worth waiting till they are ready. Bear in mind that twins can be good at modelling behaviour to each other. You may find that as one gets trained the other shows more interest, or is helped by their twin to master it. It is important for each twin to have their own potty. Put special toys in the toilet area, use stickers, sweets or other incentives and heap on the praise. They are more likely to continue if they get a big, happy response from you. Watch for signs (jiggling around, holding their crotch, crouching in a corner) and encourage them to sit on the potty. Bowels often open 20 minutes after eating in the morning, so trying then can help. Take a calm approach so you do not communicate frustration to them. When the body is stressed, the child is more likely to either accidentally release their control as a stress reaction, or not relax enough to go at all. A light touch over accidents will avoid raising the child’s stress levels; they are not doing it to annoy you, just learning a new and complex skill. Accept that there will be more washing and puddles on the floor: it won’t last long.
I have boy-girl 14-year-old twins who were extremely close. In the past year they seem to have grown to hate each other! My son no longer wants to be bossed around by his twin sister and this is causing endless arguments. Is there anything I can do to help them? Selina, Essex Dear Selina, The relationship between twins and multiples has been described as being closer than any other human relationship, including marriage. The need to develop a separate identity in adolescence can cause tension. Both singletons and multiples have to discover their individuality and separate from parents during this stage of life. But multiples have the added challenge of separating from their womb-mates. Every newfound autonomous decision must consider not just what parents think, but what a cotwin/triplet/quad thinks. A number of issues can be at play. Some youngsters feel that being a twin/
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Do try this at home WEEKLY FAMILY CHILL NIGHT Dedicate one evening a week for relaxation as a family. You could listen to a relaxation CD (the Relax Kids CDs are great www.relaxkids.com), or do something you enjoy as a family – even give each other massages. Try to talk a bit about what skills and qualities you have seen in each other during the week. Let each child take turns in deciding what food is eaten on that evening – and go with whatever they choose, even if it’s Jaffa cakes and sausages!
triplet/quad is what defines them. When their sibling decides to focus on being an individual, this can be upsetting. Sometimes one twin rejects the role they have held up until now, such as ‘leader’ and ‘follower’. The ‘leader’ twin can be left distraught when their loyal ‘follower’ exerts independence. If the ‘leader’ has gained self-esteem by being the decision maker then they may feel very unsure of who they are without this role. With boy-girl twins, the girl is often the more verbally skilled and socially and emotionally developed until later in adolescence, when the boy may catch up – which can in turn threaten the girl’s sense of competence and esteem. There may be a need to exaggerate differences between them (especially with same-sex or identical multiples). Research shows that multiples raised separately are far more alike than those raised in the same household. Finding and exaggerating differences can occur rapidly during adolescence and create tension. Multiples may have become very
We have a small family, some geographically distant and others mostly unsupportive. As a result, since our boys were born my husband and I have struggled. The pressure on us has been enormous and I’m surprised I’m still 1) sane and 2) married. While the odd article reflects these difficulties, there are a lot of stories of people in love with being a mum, thriving, starting blogs and generally floating through what I find incredibly hard day to day. I’m left feeling like the most inadequate mother in the world. Am I abnormal?! Anonymous
You sound very normal! The reality of life with twins can be tough, with chores and emotional and physical demands on you at all times. Research indicates that the reliant on each other and adolescence most stressful combination of twins to can bring a number of separation parent is non-identical boys, as they can challenges, from first boyfriend or be so active and demanding. girlfriend to different classes in school. I would say it is very important to Parents can help by encouraging recognise how hard it is for you and not differences early in the lives of multiples be drawn into comparing yourself to so they feel confident and secure in their others. No one else has the same set of identity before adolescence. circumstances that you do, so no one Allow individual time with can judge what it feels like for you. each teenager so they can Sometimes we place huge talk about their own demands on ourselves to changes and how it be supermums, and this feels to see their twin creates a whole added t a Email Vikki @ changing. Do not layer of stress. rs e tt multiplema with set twins up to be Seek out another k hotmail.co.u s. We the ‘good’ or ‘bad’ twin parent for some ion your quest ery one teenager as this support – it can really r ev can’t answe will not allow them help to speak to re tu a fe to but will try we can to follow their true someone who has an as many as path and find who insight into what it is like. they really are. There are a number of twin Do your own work as clubs around, or you could a parent on separating from ask your health visitor if there each child. Acknowledge that are any other twin mums locally your status as a multiples parent is likely you could meet. Don’t be afraid to ask to become less visible. This can feel like for help. You may be surprised at how a big loss to a parent who has enjoyed willing others are to lend a hand if you being a twin/triplet mummy/daddy. give them a chance to be involved. Try to find time for a weekly ‘indulge day’. If you can get childcare then use it to get away from the role of mum Dear Vikki, and reconnect with being you. If you I sometimes find articles in the can’t, take it as easy as is possible magazine demoralising. I have during the day and do the things that non-identical twin boys that are you most enjoy doing with the boys. nearly three. I would have loved In the evening, use whatever time you a natural birth but had to have have (an hour is better than nothing) to medical intervention otherwise all indulge your senses: eat whatever you three of us would have died. I hoped want, watch your choice of TV/movies, to breastfeed but had no support get a face pack, glass of wine, box of so failed and became so unwell chocolates, listen to your favourite music that I ended up back in hospital. – whatever you most enjoy.
ALL FOR TWO Bereaved mum who climbed Kilimanjaro ‘overwhelmed’ by Tamba members’ support
Maria Kontos scaled Africa’s highest mountain this summer, climbing 4km up Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to raise money for Tamba in memory of her twin girls. Maria’s babies Lily and Elissa were born beautiful and perfect, but too tiny to survive, on 5 October last year at 27 weeks. Elissa died after eight hours and Lily after nine days. Maria told us: ‘Our world fell apart. Not a day passes where I don’t think of Lily and Elissa – the ifs, whys and should-have-beens. I miss them so much.’ Maria wanted to help others experiencing sadness and loss by supporting Tamba’s bereavement service and healthcare campaigning and research to provide better outcomes for multiple birth families. She set herself the target of raising £4,000 with a sponsored climb. Setting off with a guided group at midnight and climbing by torchlight, she reached the top peak, Uhuru, just after sunrise – and raised an astonishing £5,552 for Tamba. ‘It was a real mixture of emotions,’ she told us. ‘I had taken two little white pebbles with me. At the top, our guide dug a little hole and we put the pebbles in and covered them over with a huge piece of volcanic rock. The sun was beaming on it. Everyone was in tears, the support was amazing.’ At the start of the trek, two rare Tanzanian butterflies came fluttering round her. ‘It was like a sign from my girls,’ she said. Maria plans to do more fundraising for Tamba. She told us: ‘I was so overwhelmed by the response of the Tamba members. It was even more so because it is from people that I don’t even know.’ Maria Kontos (centre) climbed through snow to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro (left). Main picture: Maria sees dawn at the top of Africa’s highest mountain
/ AUTUMN 2013
FUNDRAISING HEROES Tamba depends on fundraisers to keep its services running – everything from bereavement support to Twinline, Tamba’s freephone listening service. Every £100 raised by our members pays for 20 expectant parents to attend a class to prepare them for their babies being in neonatal care; £500 pays for 30 families to receive intensive support by phone; £1,000 pays for detailed advice and campaigns to stop families from being split up across different hospitals. Tamba members like Josie Hunt and Libby Thomas
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RUNNING FOR TAMBA
Some of Tamba’s fundraising heroes who ran in the British 10K, clockwise from top left: Josie Hunt; Jackie Clunes, pictured with her children Frank, Orla, Thady and Saoirse; Libby Thomas; and Mike Braidley with his wife Susan and children Rosie and Elliot
helped fly the flag for Tamba in the sponsored British 10K this summer. Actress, writer and triplet mum Jackie Clune also took part, while the Wright family, Shelagh, Stuart, Sean and Alex, tackled the Nightrider challenge, a tour of London which starts around midnight and ends long after dawn. We don’t have room to mention every one of our members who participated in an event this year to raise money for Tamba, but we would like to thank you all for your support. It is hugely appreciated.
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Saving twin babies’ lives Tamba raises funds for medical research Be part of life-saving research by donating to Tamba’s new fundraising campaign, The Beanstalk Appeal. Read more about our Beanstalk Appeal on pages 8 and 9 of this magazine. You can donate to The Beanstalk Appeal today using the response form on page 9 (or on the magazine carrier sheet) and the enclosed envelope. Alternatively visit www.tamba.org.uk/ beanstalk.
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GIFTS FOR ALL
When Lucy Playford discovered one of her daughters had a talent for gymnastics, she was forced to rethink how to support both her children My six-year-old daughter Beth is super-flexible, resolutely determined and has been asked to train five hours a week for her local gymnastics squad. We’re delighted she’s found an activity she loves so much. But it wasn’t immediately apparent how her success had affected her sister, Kate. Kate is a kind, sweet-natured, gentle girl. At first she was desperately proud of her sister’s achievements. But after a while I noticed the all-too-frequent gym run was becoming hard work. Kate would drag her feet, and started regularly complaining that her ‘tummy was hurting’ on the way to school or in bed at night. She suddenly needed a lot more cuddles. Meanwhile Beth was performing her acrobatics at every opportunity, to the amazed applause of family and friends. It was becoming clear that Kate was feeling overlooked. I finally put two and two together and realised Kate’s behaviour was linked to how we were handling Beth’s success. Things had to change. In the past, I’d used Beth’s gym training sessions (with one child less to worry about) to get
things done. No longer; I set the time aside for Kate, and let her choose what we did. The activities were surprisingly low key. It’s more that we do it together (albeit with her baby brother in the background) and on her terms. During the winter months we stayed in and watched her favourite TV programme (actively watched it – not just let it wash over me!). Kate would choose a jigsaw or a game. Sometimes we’d go to a cafe for a cake or to the supermarket to look at clothes and accessories. In the summer we went to the swings or out on her scooter, and she would decide which route we rode through the park. At weekends, she had daddy there too. Kate has thrived with the extra attention. She enjoys choosing activities without having to compromise with her sister, and having one or two parents to herself. She has developed a closer relationship with her baby brother, changing the family dynamics for the better. And I have loved spending time with her alone. I now really value the
From left: gymnast Beth performs while mum and twin sister Kate have fun in the park, and below, with baby brother
time we spend together and find huge unexpected joy in doing the smallest things, just the two of us, in a way we never had the opportunity to in the past. Beth still loves every second of her gymnastics and the special attention that brings for her. We still celebrate her achievements as we always did. But now Kate has begun to enjoy her sister’s success again too, and our family relationships are the stronger for it.
Help and info GROWING PAINS • Read more about handling differences in ability, individuality and behaviour as well as how multiples can ‘share out’ roles and skills between them on the Primary section of our website at www.tamba.org. uk, or in our booklet ‘Twins, Triplets and More, the Primary Years’, which members can download for free • Ring Twinline, Tamba’s freephone listening service, to talk over any concerns on 0800 138 0509, open daily 10am-1pm and 7pm-10pm
FRIEND OR FOE? It’s the holy grail of parenting: how to help multiples stop fighting and get the most out of their relationship Rivalry is sometimes more intense between twins or more than between singleton siblings. Multiples can become very competitive, with a heightened sense of what’s fair. Some degree of competition can be no bad thing and encourage children to perform well. But where it leads to conflict and jealousy, you may need to take stock. Make sure each child understands that you love them and that you value them for who they are, not for what they achieve. Try not to compare them, especially not out loud and when they are in earshot. Don’t allow the children to voice comparisons either. Encourage their individuality so they feel less threatened by each other’s achievements. If the children share an activity, find different aspects – of equal value – to praise. Be wary of undervaluing one child’s achievements for fear of upsetting the other/s; this can lead to children feeling they aren’t good enough even when they do their best. Deal with disagreements impartially. If necessary, leave decisions to chance by rolling a dice or tossing a coin. Children cannot always be treated the same, and your children need to learn that this applies to them as well as to others. You can help by praising them individually for their achievements and encouraging them to be pleased for each other.
How to handle homework?
Homework can be a tricky area for parents of multiples. Each child needs their own support and it can be useful to create times in the week when each child gets some one-to-one attention from a parent. Try not to let homework become a battleground. It’s probably best if multiples don’t always work together. Sometimes teachers can give different homework for each child so you can avoid any negative comparisons or competition.
Can I stop the fighting?
It’s hard to get to the bottom of aggressive behaviour if you aren’t there when it breaks out. When children fight all the time, it can be a sign of boredom, tiredness or attention-seeking. Or they may be over-competitive or lacking in self-esteem. Try putting some physical distance between them and sending them to different rooms, or keeping them busy. Make sure they are each getting some private space, time alone and attention from you. Reward them when they don’t fight, and reprimand them consistently when war does break out.
What if one child has special needs? Differences in ability are likely to become more obvious with time, and this can put a strain on families. Tamba has a
Help and info PRIMARY SCHOOL • Download our free guide on behaviour and common issues in the primary school years from Tamba’s website at www.tamba.org.uk. You can also download our ‘Schools Admissions and Appeals’ pack which has advice on supporting your children at school • Tamba runs ‘Parenting with Multiples in Mind’ workshops. Visit the website or ring 01483 304442 • Tamba has a closed facebook group where members who have children with special needs can share experiences • Ring Twinline, Tamba’s freephone listening service, to talk to someone about any concerns on 0800 138 0509, open 10am to 1pm and 7pm to 10pm daily
special group which can provide support for families in this situation. A child with special needs may need different standards for behaviour, but they may also resent being praised for achieving something that is easy for their twin. They may want people to have the same high expectations of them. It’s important that they understand the disability and its effect. A child without special needs may be jealous of the time and attention given by parents, teachers and therapists, and may seek ways to attract similar care. They need to understand why their twin behaves and is treated differently. They may have confusing feelings towards their twin. They, too, need time with parents.
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teen: careers ‘What do your boys want to do when they grow up?’ Eek! It’s almost as stressy as being asked what I planned to do when I was their age (sixteen). Much as I’d love to be able to say, ‘Well, medicine’s looking likely, and I think psychology/politics/law might be on the agenda,’ I don’t actually have a clue. Because they don’t, not really. Oh, there are vague ideas about art/music/‘something creative’ – fun stuff that doesn’t involve having to wear a shirt and tie and trot off to an office every day. No one, at sixteen years old, announces, ‘I can see myself working for Standard Life.’ Teenagers tend to imagine rather more exciting options. Working in call centres, or for insurance companies and banks, is for parents. ‘It nearly killed me,’ one of my sons’ friends announced, somewhat overdramatically, after completing a piddly ten days’ work
FIO N A GIBSO N
Whatever next? As her boys prepare for their next step, Fiona Gibson considers teenage dreams and grown-up realities experience at a solicitors’ firm. Recently, we had a family weekend in London. As the five of us strolled along the South Bank, we happened to glance into a huge office block where people were beavering away. ‘Ugh,’ snorted one of my kids, ‘imagine doing that every day.’ I wanted to point out that that was actually IBM, which might be a pretty interesting company to work for. But, deciding I’d prefer to avoid an eye-roll on holiday, I clamped my mouth shut. When we came home to Scotland, I asked a few of my boys’ friends what they’d like to do. Their replies varied from ‘manage a band’ and ‘design clothes’ to ‘set up a mountain biking
centre.’ And of course, dreams, whether they come to fruition or not, are great. As far as my sons’ futures are concerned, I honestly don’t mind what they do. What I do care about is that they find something they love, so it doesn’t feel like work at all. And in order to do that, teenagers need to be passionate about something, to identify what drives them and makes them happy. There has to be a modicum of realism. Will it really be possible to earn a living by strumming a bass guitar or painting portraits? Perhaps it might be wise to have something else up their sleeves? Of course, having being born in 1964, I know precisely nothing, and
Teenagers need to be passionate about something, to be able to identify what drives them and makes them happy
parental suggestions are clearly not wanted. ‘Have you thought about...’ is met with a shrug or an undisguised yawn – imagine, their father and I being able to offer useful advice! ‘Maybe you’d like to study history?’ I remarked, it being a favoured subject of one of our boys. His look of disdain suggested that I’d actually said, ‘Have you considered a career as a drain unblocker, darling?’ The crux is that this is far from an easy stage for anyone. As teenagers, our offspring want to devise their own career plan, in their own time, without being nagged and cajoled and bombarded with pesky questions (‘What about dentistry, sweetheart?’). And we, as parents, can’t resist the urge to try to guide them, even though that guidance is clearly not wanted. We want them to lead fulfilled, happy lives and enjoy their work. Plus, in truth, we don’t wish to be supporting them forever. With this thought in mind, I suggest to my sons that perhaps they should starting giving their futures some serious thought. ‘The alternative is to just stay here,’ I say, affecting nonchalance. ‘I mean, more teenagers than ever are coming back to live with their parents after college, or not even leaving home at all. And if that’s what you want, then I’m sure I can come up with plenty of jobs around here to keep you busy...’ Their looks of horror say it all. A plan must be concocted, and fast.
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Though living apart, Daniel and Thomas still share a passion for rock climbing
older multiples: leaving home
WHEN TWO FLY THE NEST Deborah Geh on the difficulties of letting go
My mother once said to me – I must have been cross about something – ‘one day your house will be tidy and quiet, but you’ll miss them!’. How right she was. My identical twin boys are now living their own lives at separate universities. Our house is emptier, quieter and less messy without them. Yet they are missed very much. Even though we didn’t realise it at the time, the years have flashed by as our boys transitioned into adulthood. Their departure was an exciting time for them, but emotional for me. Daniel and Thomas gained the same exam grades and surprised us even further by choosing the same career: medicine. But they wanted to study at separate universities and we thought this a good thing. After being at the same school together they had never been able to escape being ‘the twins’.
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Teachers right up to the very last day of school were still getting them mixed up – which annoyed them immensely. They had done the same subjects, loved the same sports and hobbies – especially rock climbing, where their lives literally depend on each other – and even shared the same group of friends. It
Daniel and Thomas at one week old, just arrived home from hospital
was time for them to have their own separate identities. School encouraged them to apply to Oxbridge. They applied to do medicine at different Cambridge colleges, but only one was offered a place. Our celebration of Thomas’s success was overshadowed by the disappointment Daniel was feeling – a dilemma for parents of twins: how do you celebrate and commiserate at the same time? Luckily both boys are now happy where they are. Daniel is at Birmingham University, where he can lead the rock climbing club and visit Wales and the Peak District for day trips. And though their career paths started the same, they do now seem to be taking different courses to specialise in. Both boys worked incredibly hard to get where they have got, struggling with dyslexia along the way. They needed a
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Home for Christmas: from left, little brother Jonah, Daniel, dad Ian, Thomas and Deborah
lot of support with schooling, especially during the junior years. Helping them pack to leave the first time reminded me of when my mum packed a trunk with me. I remember how emotional she had been over me leaving home and now it felt strange that I was in her place. It did somehow make me feel older. We moved them into their student accommodation on separate days. I
wasn’t allowed to inspect the facilities or help unpack. ‘Stop fussing, Mum!’ I was told. Like most mothers, I left hiding my tears. It is hard when two leave home at the same time, but it wasn’t as bad as I dreaded. It’s surprising how quickly the holidays come round and the house reverts back – the heaving laundry basket, messy smelly bedrooms and depleted fridge. Once more we buy expensive supermarket shops and cook meals to feed an army. As we sit round the table like old times, I love being a complete family again. I still have one son at home, aged 14, and I enjoy his company while I have it. Does he miss his brothers being at home? No, he enjoys having the space to himself and not being last in the pecking order. The three of them seem to get on better now there’s some distance between them, and holiday time together becomes a fun novelty. I expected Daniel and Thomas to miss
They had done the same subjects, loved the same sports. It was time for their own separate identities
each other, but they say they don’t. They seem to communicate very little between themselves whilst apart – perhaps they are so close they don’t need to. My advice to parents with little ones is to enjoy being in the moment with them at each age. Even though a 24hour period can seem like an eternity when they are small, before you know it they’ll be little ones no more.
Help and info OLDER MULTIPLES • Share experiences with other parents of older multiples using our membersonly forum at www.tamba.org.uk • Multiples over 16 years old can have free membership of Tamba, entitling them to receive e-newsletters, access the members’ only forum and download our magazines, which include articles written by multiples for multiples. They can also keep in touch with the world of twins via Tamba’s Facebook page • Ring Twinline, Tamba’s freephone listening service, to talk over any concerns on 0800 138 0509, open daily 10am-1pm and 7pm-10pm
photo gallery: celebrations
Multiple joys New arrivals, magical wizarding twins and the odd smooch – it’s all to be celebrated in our multiple joys photo gallery
Our gorgeous girls Ava and Jorgie Patton make us feel blessed every single day. Proud parents, Lisa and Simon
le and l girls Isabel Our beautifu born 15 and 16 s, Evelyn Jone proud ectively to sp re March nah an H and parents Lee
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Identical twin s Inez and Av a Coniam, born eight weeks early on 4 Oct ober to Jenna and Si
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Our twins George and Ruby, born 13 March to very proud parents Sarah and Matthew and big brother Oliver.
ot, Joseph Talb Daniel and weeks 33 at er b ptem Rob born 11 Se ud parents to very pro re la C d an
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Amelia and Rupert, aged 11, about to leave for their first ‘black tie’ evening, a choir dinner at school!
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Our beautiful twinnies Charlie and Poppy at 16 weeks
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Millie and Rosie Harrison, born 21 September 2012. Loved so much by very proud parents Clare and Paul
Little Max an d Grace, born 14 March to N Dave. Filling at and our hearts with joy every day.. .
3 July Jack, born Isabella and start e th at work 2012 – hard inute m y er ev but worth
Submissions: please take photos on a high resolution setting (300 DPI+). Photos cannot be used if they are too small. Email submissions with ‘Photo Gallery’ in the subject line and 20 words to firstname.lastname@example.org by 1 July. Sadly, we don’t have space to print all the photos we receive. Tamba has a policy of building individuality which is used to prioritise submissions (www.tamba.org. uk/individuality).
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postbag: readers write
ANTENATAL THUMBS UP
After last issue’s home water birth story, many of you wrote in to say how encouraging it was to hear a mother speak positively about her birth experience with twins
SWEET DELIVERIES Just a short message to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the article ‘Taking the plunge’ by Joanne Whistler in the most recent Multiple Matters magazine. Throughout my twin pregnancy I was absolutely terrified of something going wrong – of bed rest, of an early delivery, of an emergency C-section, of a long stay in the hospital... I had delivered my eldest son naturally, in a birth centre, so I was disappointed that the narratives and statistics I heard about twin pregnancy and birth tended to be negative, dramatic, or simply downright scary. I was so fortunate to meet other twin mums during my pregnancy
SHARED EXPERIENCES Lovely article about home twin birth in the latest edition, it was refreshing to read about a non-medicalised birth. I had a home twin water birth too thanks to Katie, a One to One midwife, and it was amazing. Thank you for sharing your story, Joanne Whistler. Karla Smith
who had gone full term and had the positive deliveries they had hoped for. This helped me to have the confidence to trust in my body and in my babies, despite all the scare-mongering and pressure from the hospital to medicalise the birth. It would be wonderful for expectant multiples parents to hear more about positive pregnancy and birth experiences. Please, please do include such stories in future publications. Women at the start of their pregnancies benefit from hearing that things can go smoothly. I carried my boy/girl twins to 39 weeks and 4 days, and despite being (reluctantly) induced I managed to deliver the babies naturally, without any pain medication. They were born three minutes apart, each weighed over 7 lbs, and we all left hospital the next day. They are now six months old, I’m still exclusively breastfeeding, and we’re so very pleased (and very grateful) that all has gone well. Again, it really does make a difference to hear that a completely healthy, positive, natural birth is possible with multiples. Kristen Healy
I just wanted to drop you a line to say how brilliant the Tamba antenatal class was. The leader Bridget Supple was fantastic. She delivered a lot of useful information in a great manner. I feel much more confident approaching the hospital with questions and preferences about the birth. It was also great to meet twins and their parents who had done the course the year before to hear about their experiences. It’s always reassuring to see that parents do survive the first few months. Tamba really has been a lifeline to us already and our twins aren’t even here yet! Morwenna Mitson
Twinline is a national, confidential, listening and emotional support service for all parents of twins, triplets and more, and the professionals involved in their care. It is staffed by trained volunteers who are parents of multiples.
Editor’s note Send your letters via email to the editor at multiplematters@hotmail. co.uk, or by snail mail to Tamba’s office at Hitherbury House, 97 Portsmouth Road, Guildford, Surrey, GU2 4DL marked for the attention of Rachael Claye
Twinline is open everyday from 10am to 1pm and from 7pm to 10pm on freephone
Image courtesy of www.sarahwilkesphotography.co.uk
My day today What’s a normal day with four tiny babies to look after? Organised, say quad parents Justin and Christine Clark The Clark babies Elisha, Alexis, Caroline and Darcy sleep and feed to a strict routine. No surprises there: caring for newborn quadruplets is a fulltime job for both parents, and Christine and Justin have put a lot of effort into making life with their new babies work. ‘Bed by six in the evening – that’s it, the cut-off point,’ says Justin. ‘Then they sleep for about four hours, and that’s our time. You have got to have adult time: time to put on the washing or pay bills in peace, whatever needs doing. Normal things. We may have four little girls but we are a normal family.’ Justin and Christine’s babies are something of a miracle, though. Conceived through IVF and born at 30 weeks on 25 March, the babies arrived after many years of heartache and longing for a family. ‘Would we swap them for the world? Absolutely not,’ says Justin. ‘Not even for a hundred million pounds. These past weeks since they were born have absolutely flown by. It won’t be long before they are running away from us!’ The family gets through a 900g tub of formula milk in a bit under 48 hours. Justin and Christine prepare all the night’s bottles at 5 o’clock to minimise night-time fuss and stick the lot in the fridge, ready to warm up when the babies awake. The rule is: feed one, feed all. ‘Hopefully they all wake up at once – it’s quicker that way,’ says Justin. ‘We put
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them in our bed, prop them with pillows and do two each. We can get all four done and back into bed in half an hour.’ It’s an achievement to make many parents of singletons weep, but as Justin points out, with four tiny babies to care for ‘you have to be so organised it’s unbelievable – it’s a military operation’. Up at 7, the babies sleep between 8.30 and 10 – unless hospital appointments throw a spanner in the works. To be up for X-rays on their hips next morning, he and Christine have to get every last detail prepared the night before. ‘Our bag is packed and by the door the previous evening with spare clothes, nappies, bottles. It takes 15 minutes to load the car and 20 minutes
Dad holds Alexis and Darcy while mum holds Caroline and Elisha
Elisha, Alexis, Caroline and Darcy pose on their due date for photographer Sarah Wilkes, who donated her services free of charge
the other end to get them into the tandem prams, park the car, get back to Chris so we can wheel them in. All that before nine in the morning.’ They try to get out and about with the babies every other day, though like everything else with quads, it takes some planning. And what happens when there’s only one parent around? ‘If my wife goes out and they all want feeding, I just have to deal with it,’ says Justin. ‘I put them on the sofa in a little row and get the milk ready, then I feed the first two together for two or three minutes, then the second two, then back to the first two again. If someone could invent a one-handed four-operational milk dispenser system for babies that would be great. Till then, I just have to manage as best I can!’ The financial implications are tough. At the moment both parents are at home with the babies, and the costs of looking after them are growing. From six months they will no longer get milk on prescription, and the family will have to bulk buy. Justin hopes the girls will gain from growing up with strong family values instead of lots of stuff. And there are other benefits. ‘Our little girls will learn to share things right from the start,’ he says. And as for the sheer hard work of caring for four tiny babies, ‘when they grow up they will entertain each other – we will get it back!’
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noticeboard: ads and more
NEW TAMBA DISCOUNTERS
Tamba has set up dozens of discounts exclusively for our members. Just visit the Tamba website at www.tamba.org. uk/discounts for details of discounts on holidays, clothing, equipment and more, and for the codes to claim your money off. Any organisation wishing to offer discounts to our members should contact email@example.com. Meanwhile, here are some of the deals available to our families:
A warm thank you to the following discounters, all of which have renewed their offers to Tamba members:
LOLLIPOP LANE www.lollipoplane.co.uk Lollipop Lane-branded goods, retailed through the website, offer a 10% discount on purchases of £100 and over on bedding bundles for twins and triplets. You’ll find a wide range of beautiful nursery collections, furniture collections, bedding essentials, baby clothing and gift sets, as well as carefully selected guest brands. Our online store offers free UK delivery and returns on all orders as well as a 356-day returns policy. MAZZARD FARM www.mazzardfarm.com Mazzard Farm offers Tamba members a discount of 10% on purchases of any holiday booked outside school holiday/half-term weeks. Mazzard Farm holiday cottages in Devon offer luxury and family-friendly accommodation, just off the Jurassic Coast in east Devon. What makes Mazzard Farm especially attractive to families with multiples is that all baby and toddler equipment is provided free of charge. There will be no discount on holidays booked in school holidays/half-term weeks, except for February half-term. SOLES WITH HEART www.soleswithheart.co.uk Soles with Heart is an independent children’s shoe shop specialising in the correct fitting of children’s shoes, from newborn to teens with a wide selection of school shoes. Tamba members receive 10% on full-priced shoes. NUK www.nuk.co.uk Leading babycare brand NUK is offering Tamba members the chance to get 20% off all purchases from www.nuk.co.uk. Simply enter the discount code at the checkout.
PUSHCHAIRS AND CAR SEATS www.pushchairsandcarseats.co.uk Pushchairs and Car Seats offers a 10% discount on a range of twin pushchairs and travel systems. We pride ourselves on providing thoughtful customer advice and offer a car seat fitting service at our Wallingford showroom. RETALLACK RESORT www.retallackresort.co.uk Tamba members receive a discount of 5% on accommodation and a one-hour free Spa treatment with any baby bliss or toddler tastic holiday. Retallack Resort & Spa offers 5* luxury baby friendly Self Catering accommodation with baby/toddler packs included in your house on arrival, special baby and toddler classes to join in and superb childcare choices both day and night. PARK RESORT www.park-resorts.com/tamba Save up to Half price* on UK family holidays! Park Resorts offer fantastic value holidays with a choice of 39 UK Holiday Parks, all right beside the sea. Facilities include pools, sports courts, kids’ clubs, and activities & entertainment for all the family.
Apprehensive about taking your twins abroad? Why not rent our modern 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house in Spain? 30 minutes from Alicante or Murcia airport, 10 minutes drive from the beach. On the edge of a traditional Spanish village. Fully equipped for twins. Swimming pool. Roof terrace.
DISCLAIMER: Multiple Matters is published by the Twins and Multiple Births Association, registered charity 1076478, registered company 3688825. Multiple Matters © Tamba 2010. ISSN 0967 – 8867. Tamba would like to point out that items in the magazine are collected from individuals and excerpts from newsletters etc. The views and suggestions are taken in good faith and the opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed by Tamba. Likewise, advertising or the use of product names does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement by the Association.
ON TAMBA’S LOTTERY AND HELP TO FUND OUR WORK Play the Tamba lottery and for £1 per week you can have the chance of winning up to £25,000. The odds of getting a prize on our lottery, run by Unity, are 1 in 63 – nearly the same odds as having twins. Fifty pence from every £1 spent comes directly to Tamba to help us improve the lives of families with multiples. Sign up online at www.unitylottery.co.uk/tamba, or for a form by post call 01483 304442 or email ShelleySmith@tamba.org.uk. You don’t have to be a Tamba member to play. Visit our lottery page at www.tamba.org.uk/lottery. To take part in Tamba’s lottery you must be 16 or over and reside in Great Britain. The promoter is Keith Reed, Twins & Multiple Births Association, Lower Ground Floor Offices, Hitherbury House, 97 Portsmouth Road, Guildford, Surrey GU2 4DL. Lottery Registration Number SL 152. Registered with Guildford Borough Council. Unity is operated by Sterling Management Centre Ltd. registered as an External Lottery Manager by the Gambling Commission under the Gambling Act 2005 (www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk). Contact Unity with any queries on 0870 050 9240 or visit www.unitylottery.co.uk for a full set of rules. Results can be checked by visiting the Unity website or phoning the Unity winners hotline on 0870 055 2291.