Multiple matters SPRING ISSUE / MARCH 2013
T H E
O F F I C I A L
M A G A Z I N E
Home and away Leaving hospital with newborn triplets
Take the grandparents? A whole new meaning to family holidays
Sisters in 3-D An adult identical triplet on her FAQs
PLUS: NEW DISCOUNTERS
TA M B A
Your chance to win what every busy family needs – a free holiday
• TAMBA GIVEAWAYS • NEWS AND MORE
what’s inside: spring 2013
Welcome letter from the chief executive
Dear reader, What an exciting year 2013 is turning out to be. First off, thank you to the hundreds of families who donated to our Christmas appeal. We managed to raise £3,000 towards the costs of providing hands-on help at home to families in crisis. Issy, who was recovering from postnatal depression and due to be discharged from hospital, got the support she needed when she went home and is going from strength to strength. We received lots of requests for help from other families in severe difficulty and the charity’s trustees, who are all Tamba members elected to run our affairs, have decided to invest our resources so we can help even more people. Until that project gets off the ground, please call Twinline (0800 148 0509), our freephone helpline, if you need support. Our thanks also to www.norlandagency.co.uk and www.godalmingnannies.com who organised for volunteers to help a number of our families free of charge. We have now launched our new breastfeeding peer supporter service and it has proved hugely popular. We also have updated Healthy Multiple Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Guides and a new Practical Preparing for Parenthood Guide – all are available to download now, free of charge, from our website. Our big campaign at the moment is pressing for better maternity and paternity leave for our families. The current situation isn’t working and we are arguing for changes to a new law going through Parliament. There is more information on page 4; please take part if you can. My thanks as always for your help and support. Please do contact me if you would like to feed back on our work.
Multiple matters REGULARS NEWS
Parental leave and choice at school ........................
How to start your own .........................................
Fundraising with the emphasis on fun ...................
If you don’t like football, look away now ............
How not to lose it with your teenagers ...............
From nought to sixteen: your big moments .......
FOUR PLUS ONE
Heard the one about the perfect mother? ..........
To park or not to park... .......................................
15 18 20 23 26 28 29
FEATURES LABOUR PAINS
Choices for mums during delivery ......................
A father’s view of life after birth ..........................
HOME AT LAST
Bringing triplets back from hospital ....................
BOTTLE AND BREAST
A guide to mixed feeding ...................................
Garden safety for tiny adventurers......................
GAME FOR A LAUGH?
Playing with preschoolers ...................................
PACK UP YOUR TROUBLES
Essential kit for hassle-free travel ........................
TAKE THE GRANDPARENTS?
Yours faithfully Keith Reed email@example.com
A whole new meaning to family holidays ............
Starting school and looking back ........................
SISTERS IN 3D
An adult identical triplet on her FAQs .................
MY DAY TODAY
When one twin has autism ...................................
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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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org Tamba in Scotland: Helen Peck 01786 465744 email@example.com To advertise in the magazine ring 01483 304442 or email LucieWigley@tamba.org.uk Tamba Office: 2 The Willows, Gardner Road, Guildford Surrey GU1 4PG Telephone: 01483 304442 Fax: 01483 302483 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com
MULTIPLE MATTERS - ISSN 2049-5765 Charity number 1076478, Scottish Charity Number SC041055, company number3688825.
More on the campaign for parental choice at school and better maternity/paternity leave for our families
CHECKING THE BILL Tamba presses for better maternity and paternity leave for our families As a new Children and Families Bill enters Parliament (at the time of writing), Tamba is taking the opportunity to press for our families’ needs to be better addressed. The Bill covers parental leave during pregnancy and after birth, and in order to try and influence its contents we have been collecting your experiences in a new survey. We already know that our families often have much more to contend with during pregnancy, birth and the first eighteen months of life than families having one baby at a time. The current level of maternity and paternity leave and financial support provided by the state does not meet these needs. We welcome expected proposals in the Bill for greater flexibility in how leave can be shared between partners, but from your feedback
it will not be enough. Nor will the proposal to enable partners to attend up to two antenatal appointments. Current provision means that many multiple birth parents find the first eighteen months of their new babies’ lives unnecessarily difficult, which contributes to ill health, financial hardship, relationship stress and mothers losing out on the opportunity to return to work. We want the Bill amended to double the length of paid maternity and paternity leave for all multiple birth families, and to enable partners to attend more scans during pregnancy. We need your help. Please visit our website for more details on how to contact your MP and the suggested arguments to use at www.tamba.org.uk/Get-Involved/ Campaigns/Finance.
NEW: BREASTFEEDING PEER SUPPORTERS Tamba teamed up with the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) last autumn to train twelve breastfeeding peer supporters, all mothers of multiples who had breastfed their twins. The volunteers have all completed the NCT’s accredited peer support training and are available to offer mother-to-mother support and information to families who wish to breastfeed their multiples. If you would like to have contact with a Peer Supporter, please email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org. They can contact you by phone, email or text so let them know what you would prefer. As the Peer Supporters are all volunteers, they may not be able to get back to you immediately. You can also call Tamba’s freephone helpline Twinline on 0800 138 0509, which is open every day from 10am-1pm and 7-10pm.
/ SPRING 2013
Tamba continues to campaign for parental choice over whether children should be placed together or separately at school with a response to the Welsh Assembly on its consultation for the draft school admissions code. We said that where there is more than one reception class, teachers must ask parents if they have a preference for keeping their children together or in separate classes. Read our submission at www.tamba.org. uk/Get-Involved/Campaigns/education.
CLUB UNDER THREAT? Tamba has been supporting a number of clubs threatened with closure because their local children’s centre says they can no longer use the premises or the venue has asked them to take impractical measures. With a little gentle persuasion these decisions have often been reviewed, resulting in the clubs being able to continue. If your club is under threat then let our clubs officer Diane Cole know at email@example.com.
WELCOME AND THANKS Tamba would like to welcome new trustees Anna and Tim Dulley. Our sincere thanks to everyone who applied or expressed an interest in being a trustee. We are still looking for volunteers who have senior experience of health-related public affairs, a clinical background (ideally in pregnancy, birth or the early years) or plc board level. If you are interested please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The new peer supporters with Tamba’s Janet Rimmer
Left to right: Kerry Morgan and au pair Lydia Aguilar with Ella & Grace; Tracey and Paul Mortimer with Lily & Emilia; Claire and Paul Sheehan with Jacob & Noah; Cat Mawson and Reece Edney with Elyse & Rebecca; Emily Draycott and Ben Jones with Henrietta & Magnus; Danielle and Alistair Bishop with Poppy & Darcy
ALL TOGETHER NOW Parents from Tamba antenatal course celebrate their safe deliveries New parents who got to know one another during a Tamba antenatal class specially designed for people expecting multiples have met up to celebrate the safe delivery of their twelve babies. All the parents took part in Tamba’s antenatal class in Loughton in July. Emily Draycott said: ‘The best part was having someone talk to you directly about the twin experience rather than the usual “It will be slightly different for you with twins” comment.’ It was also useful to ask questions and ‘understand the day-to-day reality of managing with twins,’ said Claire Sheehan. ‘Being able to chat with parents helped, as they shared their hands-on experiences, and it has been
great staying connected to people going through the experience at the same time.’ The parents have set up a Facebook group to stay in touch and provide a venue for postings on sleep patterns, equipment choices, feeding schedules and formula making – plus the allimportant opportunity to exchange photos and celebrate milestones. Members said the group was an invaluable source of support through the difficult later stages of pregnancy and after delivery. Kerry Morgan said: ‘The friendship and support network that we formed on the course has kept me sane and helped me not to feel so alone and isolated.’
Thank you to everyone who took part in our survey: it gave us a really good idea of the level of knowledge among parents and professionals alike. Thousands of families looked at the prevention advice and information on symptoms at www. morethanacold.co.uk , and from your feedback it appears that a number of families whose babies developed bronchiolitis sought medical help after reading the campaign materials.
WANT TO GET MOVING? More and more families are reporting that they have found our exclusive members’ Movement for Multiples programme really helpful. The programme, aimed at children aged 0-3 years, is available online to help you and your babies bond and get moving. Watch now at www.tamba.org.uk/Get-Involved/ Research/Movement-for-Multiples
We have two giveaways and a special offer for you this spring. Emails at the ready...
KIKI & BREE Kiki & Bree is a website devoted to clothing and gifts for twins. There is also a Gallery and Blog where parents can share photos and tips. We have just created a stunning personalised owl canvas in celebration of a twin birth. The contemporary colours and design work for boys and girls and the artwork will bear the names, birth date and birth weight of your baby twins. We have two canvases up for grabs: simply email the names and a photo of your precious pair for the Kiki & Bree gallery, together with your Tamba membership number, to email@example.com by 20 March to be entered into the prize draw.
Ecobubba’s Kiddimoto Kurve (RRP £59.99), made from sustainable forests, is the best way to learn to ride. (Use your Tamba discount on Kiddimoto and all our other products!) To win a bike, just answer: How many sets of twins does Ecobubba founder Berni have? (See ecobubba.co.uk.) Name, address and membership number to firstname.lastname@example.org by 30 March, with ‘Giveaway Ecobubba’ in the subject line. Prizes go to the first names out of the hat after the deadline. WINTER WINNERS: Well done to those who scooped prizes in our winter giveaways. Nelsons’ kind gift of two Bloom Coco Go Loungers goes to Suzanne Rae in Glasgow while the SnoozeShade prize goes to Christina Lagao in Canterbury.
MORRCK OFFER Our Baby Hoodies are designed to make leaving the house with multiples that bit easier. No more faffing with coats or snowsuits: simply place the Hoodie into your car seat or buggy, feed the safety harness straps through slits in the fabric, pop your baby into the seat in their indoor clothes, fasten the straps tightly against their body and then fold the hoodie around them. We’re giving Tamba members an additional
BRONCHIOLITIS CAMPAIGN UPDATE
10 percent off our entire range of Baby Hoodies until 31 March – that’s on top of the 10 percent you already get as a Tamba member. Simply choose your hoodie at www.morrck.co.uk and use the code TAM13 at the online till. We will donate £1 from every online sale to Tamba to aid its work supporting families with a baby or babies in neonatal care – so that’s two good reasons to go shopping!
Labour pains What choices do you have during labour with twins? Sandra Bosman, Tamba’s honorary consultant for midwifery, offers a seasoned view Women expecting twins are used to getting special attention in pregnancy. That continues during birth, but some may feel it then takes the form of restricting their choices in labour beyond what women with singletons would experience. There are good reasons for this. With two babies to deliver, everything has to go well twice, and the chances of complications make it important to have good medical options available and close by. Monitoring is considered important, and while home births are technically possible, most medical personnel would advise against. Does that mean a multiple birth is a birth without choices? Tamba’s honorary consultant on midwifery, Sandra Bosman, works at Royal Victorian Infirmary in Newcastle upon Tyne: ‘It is true that your choices are limited, and it’s important to be realistic. Multiples are viewed as high risk. As with any birth, if you have a very rigid birth plan you are more likely to end up disappointed if the reality departs from that. The more flexible you can be, the more likely you
/ SPRING 2013
are to feel you had a good experience.’ Positions for delivery are one area where women can have choices with the help of a confident midwife. Some hospitals also have monitors that allow women to walk around during labour. You can create the atmosphere you want by bringing in music, aromas or anything else you want to try – Sandra once looked after a woman who covered the windows with black bags so she could labour in darkness. And you can choose who will be in the room with you. ‘It is easy to be intimidated by hospitals,’ said Sandra, ‘so it’s important to ask questions about what is available and speak up for yourself and what you want. About epidurals, for example: in some hospitals you can have it put in place so that it’s there if, for example, a Caesarean section is needed for twin two. But it doesn’t have to be turned on except and until you need it. This will need to be discussed with the anaesthetist. ‘Just make sure you read and think and make notes so you can have a voice and can speak up. I always say to
mothers it is your body, your babies, your voice, so use it.’ Many parents are keen to have the father cut the cord if all is well. If he is also wearing a light T-shirt, he can put twin one inside, next to his skin, for a first cuddle while twin two is being delivered. ‘Skin to skin contact with mum is another important area,’ said Sandra. ‘The first hour after delivery is very busy for midwives, and mums can get swamped by our busyness, so do speak up and make sure you get that early skin to skin contact if your babies are well and with you.’ Sandra’s hospital is now developing a decision-making tool around Caesarean sections that sets out the pros and cons so women can make their own decision without feeling they have been steered. She points out that the more involved mothers feel in decisions, the less likely they will feel that things are being done to them. Speaking up before and during labour is good practice for what comes next. Sandra recalls a case – not uncommon – where a hospital wanted to split a mother and her babies between different hospitals. The mother stood her ground and the family stayed together – something Tamba has campaigned on successfully in the past. ‘Always in labour you have to be reasonable about what is good for the babies,’ said Sandra, ‘but I would always encourage mothers to express their preference, so they can be with and bond with both babies.’
Help and info PREGNANCY, BIRTH AND BEYOND • Download our Healthy Pregnancy Guide and Preparing for Parenthood booklets from www.tamba.org.uk or watch the Expecting More Than One DVD online. You can also download guides on Neonatal Care, TTTS and Postnatal Depression • Book a place on our antenatal courses or Practical Preparing for Parenthood class via the website or ring 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
NEWBORN DADS New fathers shouldn’t assume their partner knows all the answers, writes twin dad Simon Rudland
Labour DO’S AND DON’TS FOR DADS • Make sure you know the way to the hospital and which entrances are closed at night •
Read blogs by , Simon’s wife at , re Cla
Ensure you have change for the car park
Pack a bag for yourself, including a t-shirt, boxers and socks, ipod (or something quiet to do), phone and charger, camera and charger, a nonperishable picnic (she will get fed, you won’t)
www.twin ings. mumrambl om .c ot sp og bl
• Watch the time and update the midwife when she asks (eg how far apart the contractions are, how long she’s been biting on your lapel) •
Entertain and distract your beloved in the early stages
• • Simon and his babies, Jonah and Lydia
Birth, for men, is essentially a lot of sitting around broken up by the occasional fetching of a drink. And even though you may spend three nights sleeping in a chair, the effect this has on your lower back is not something worth discussing in the delivery suite. It’s after the birth that you’re really winging it. The key here is to find a balance between following your wife’s instructions, usually to the letter, and thinking proactively of what needs doing next. Men can easily fall into the trap of never being the one to suggest an idea, assuming that intrinsic maternal knowledge trumps anything you have to offer. The truth is that mums are as new to a lot of things as you are. And in some instances will perhaps feel more pressure to find the solution because they ‘ought’ to know. One of the things my wife recently said to me – through the lens of hindsight – is how much she appreciated me taking the lead occasionally at times when she couldn’t think straight. But, like I said, it is a balance, and a fine one at that.
Get a midwife when she yells at you to do so
Make sure if she wants to sit in the chair that you are not asleep in it
• Keep quiet if you stub your toe/ trap your finger. No one is interested in your pain •
Disregard insults thrown your way
There is no denying that in the first few days and months you will both be a tad more highly strung. The trick is not to compare your beloved’s current character traits to anything you have experienced previously – reminding her how ‘fun-loving’ she used to be is not helpful. Similarly, taking offence at her tone of voice is easily done (does she not appreciate how hard I’m working, at work and at home?) but articulating these thoughts is not helpful. Not helpful at all. There may be times when you do a baby task in a manner you believe to be perfectly acceptable but are told you’re doing it wrong. At this point you can either mumble an apology and make
Maintain a calm and composed exterior even if you feel like legging it
a mediocre effort to follow what you now discover is a ‘simple instruction’, or stick to your guns and explain there are alternative methods here. With the former approach, you run the risk of allowing a precedent to set in whereby you play the role of incapable, incoherent man in all such future scenarios – and uphold a stereotype that forms the number one topic in mum-tomum conversations. With the latter, you may lose, but then again you may not, and the pay-off could be more efficient ways of getting things done. So the choice is yours. As ever, the trick is finding some kind of middleground – another fine balance, but one worth striking out for.
HOME AT LAST Alison Scott recalls how life changed when she brought her baby triplets home after seven weeks in hospital
Triplet parenting is by no means easy but it is the most rewarding job in the world. You bring home three tiny, premature babies and before you know it they are growing into little individuals, all developing their own personalities and abilities. My pregnancy came as a huge surprise. I already had a daughter aged 13 and a son of 21 when a scan showed I was carrying naturally conceived triplets. It took a full week for the news to sink in. I was admitted to hospital at 18 weeks and remained there until the girls were born by C-section at 29 weeks. On that day our lives changed forever. Tilly was born first, weighing 3lb 4oz, then Poppy at 3lb 1oz and finally Daisy at 3lb. Our little miracles were taken to the intensive care unit where they remained for seven weeks. Finally they were allowed home, and that’s where the fun began. We were organised, or at least we thought so: three Moses baskets, three sterilising units, over 40 bottles, 500 nappies, boxes and boxes of baby wipes, tins and tins of formula, you name it we had it. But nothing could have prepared us for the reality of looking after newborn triplets. Sleep was nonexistent, it was a constant cycle of feeding and changing so by the time we had settled the babies it was time to start again. Our house became chaotic, but it was an amazing time. Every visitor was handed a baby and a bottle. These three little people were so dependent on us and it gave us enormous satisfaction to see them grow.
Alison had a tough pregnancy with her triplets, two of whom shared an amniotic sac and placenta. Three-yearold Tilly, Poppy and Daisy are now in good health
My washing machine was a constant background noise. I painted one of my identical daughters’ thumbnails in pink nail varnish for fear of mixing her up with her sister. I had lists for this and lists for that, and feeding charts were vital. I cannot tell you how many times I fed the same baby twice and sat wondering why the other one was crying. Our chart listed which baby was fed, what time, how much, plus nappy changes. Most premature babies come home from hospital on several medications and this can be daunting, so we made a chart to show at what time and on which days the medications were due. We found that routine was vital. Initially we’d fed each baby whenever they woke. This might work for some but it didn’t for us. We found it easier to wake all three and feed them together. And two kettles were a must. I had one for visitors’ tea and coffee and the other full of hot water to keep up with the endless flow of bottles; there is nothing more frustrating than three hungry tummies and no hot water. My husband went back to work after six weeks and I was terrified at the thought of managing without him. All I can advise is to accept any help that is offered, try to have a sleep when the babies are sleeping and ignore hoovering, ironing and cleaning: all that will be there tomorrow, and as much as the mess will irritate you sleep is precious so get it when you can. Feeding three babies on your own isn’t easy, but one bowl and spoon is much easier than three of each. Finger foods are great as they can feed themselves and you might just have time to turn the washing machine on. I used to prepare food in bulk and freeze baby-size meals in small plastic containers. This was a healthier option and more economical than buying jars. Bathtime was the same: all three babies in the same bath was much easier and takes less time than bathing individually. I
It was an amazing time. Every visitor was handed a baby and a bottle
/ SPRING 2013
could only do this when help was on hand, though, as watching three babies in the bath on your own is impossible. I did sometimes feel that my girls didn’t get enough one-onone time, so I tried to take each one out on my own for a short time whenever possible. It felt like I could get to know each one as their own little person, and not just as one of triplets. The first year as a triplet parent does put stress on your relationship, but we managed to get through. I’d say there has been lots of laughter as well as tears. Our girls are three years old and have no health problems. We feel truly blessed, and lucky. Life is very busy, but I have managed to return to my work as a community nurse part-time – something I never imagined possible. So to every expectant or new triplet parent out there I would say: yes, it is hard work and financially difficult, but it is all worthwhile.
Help and info TRIPLETS AND MORE • Tamba runs a Triplet Buddy Scheme putting triplet parents in touch with one another for support either on the phone or by email. If you would like to meet another family or become a buddy family please email email@example.com • Sue Plenty (firstname.lastname@example.org), volunteer coordinator for Tamba’s Triplets group, can chat to new or expectant parents of triplets as well as those whose kids are teenagers. We also have a Triplets Plus Facebook Page and Triplets forum on our members’ message board at www.tamba.org.uk for parents to chat with other parents • Visit Tamba’s website at www.tamba.org.uk to read more on daily care of triplets or more; bringing your babies home from hospital; establishing a routine; getting help; feeding and development. You can also download Tamba’s free guide Twins, Triplets and More: The First Year, or guides on breastfeeding, postnatal depression and more • Ring Twinline, Tamba’s freephone listening service, to discuss any concerns on 0800 138 0509, open 10am to 1pm and 7pm to 10pm daily
Bottle and breast:
‘TOPPING UP WAS A DISASTER’
A GUIDE TO MIXED FEEDING NCT breastfeeding counsellor Janet Rimmer discusses ways infant formula can be used alongside breastfeeding
A recent request for mothers to become breastfeeding peer supporters to other mothers of multiples brought a flood of stories in to Tamba covering a wide range of experiences. Some were from mothers who had fully breastfed and loved it, some from those who had found it challenging but had eventually made it work for them, and some from mothers who were breastfeeding as well as using supplements of infant formula. It was the latter group who told Tamba that there is little information on partial breastfeeding, something that we hope to remedy with this look at how you can use infant formula alongside breastfeeding. Mothers of twins are as aware as singleton mothers that breastmilk gives babies the optimum start in life, both in terms of balanced and responsive nutrition and through other components
of your babies’ lives will give you the greatest flexibility, allowing you to offer breastfeeds for as long as you wish. In practice, this means breastfeeding or expressing 8-12 times each 24 hours for the first five to six weeks. This can be challenging for new mothers, especially if the birth has been difficult, so you may need plenty of practical and emotional support. When feeding your babies infant formula, try and keep to the little and often feeding pattern of a breastfeeding baby. In this way babies don’t get used to larger volumes of milk at certain feeds, which can then lead to the need to ‘top up’ with infant formula at each breastfeed. This is especially important if you are giving more than the occasional feed of infant formula and in the early days, when babies’ tummies are very small.
Help and info
It is generally better to substitute a single feed with formula than to supplement or ‘top up’ breastfeeds in breastmilk, such as antibodies which help protect babies from becoming ill. The government recommends that all babies are given breastmilk exclusively for six months, and then alongside complementary foods. The majority of mothers of multiples will start off breastfeeding but a combination of reasons, including early difficulties, poor breastfeeding support and personal preference, can lead to the introduction of infant formula. So how can infant formula and breastmilk be used together? If you make the decision to combine breastfeeding and infant formula feeding, then establishing a plentiful breastmilk supply in the first few weeks
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It is generally better to substitute a single feed with formula than to supplement or ‘top up’ breastfeeds. If you are past the early weeks then you can drop one or more breastfeeds at a time that suits you and carry on breastfeeding at other times. If you sense that your breastmilk supply has dropped too low for your babies’ needs then cutting down the formula for a few days and breastfeeding more frequently can bring the supply up, often within 48 hours. Some mothers report that their babies go happily between breastfeeding and a bottle from a very early stage. But some are less happy to do this. Therefore, if possible, you
I was absolutely committed to exclusively breastfeeding my twins Frida and Beatriz. However, a long and difficult birth left me exhausted. Although I had lots of colostrum, my milk didn’t come through until day five, the babies lost more than 10 percent of their birth weight and we were sent back to hospital and instructed to give some formula. We did this until my milk came through. I then breastfed exclusively for five weeks until told by a midwife that Frida and Bea were still not putting on weight fast enough, that I didn’t have enough milk and that I needed to start topping up with formula after every feed. This was a complete disaster as Bea, the smaller of the two, began to reject the breast completely. We cut out the formula again and after a week of very difficult persistence, plus specialist breastfeeding support, we managed to get her back on the breast. We then introduced one to two bottles of formula per day, separate from breastfeeds, and I continued breastfeeding both babies at all other feeds. Frida and Bea are now one year old and, alongside solids, continue to breastfeed first thing every morning and to have a bottle before going to bed. I was very upset to have to resort to mixed-feeding my girls as I had such high hopes for exclusive breastfeeding. However, I felt there really wasn’t any other option as I simply didn’t seem to have enough milk for them both. I am very grateful for the support I received from two breastfeeding consultants (as well as my husband and mum!) which enabled me to do mixed feeding rather than give up breastfeeding completely.
• Contact Tamba’s new Breastfeeding Peer Supporters by emailing the team at email@example.com • For individual support with any aspect of breastfeeding you can also contact the NCT breastfeeding support line on 0300 330 0700 or the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 0300 100 0212
might want to wait until you feel the breastfeeding is going well before you start to introduce bottles. A general rule of thumb is that the more breastmilk you give your babies the more benefits they receive, so consider how you share the breastmilk amongst them: eg, if one baby is not breastfeeding at all you might decide to give him some expressed breastmilk occasionally. You may find it helpful to talk over your options with a breastfeeding counsellor or supporter in order to make a decision that feels right for you.
• Download Tamba’s new breastfeeding guide from the website at www.tamba.org.uk, where you can download guides on postnatal depression, our free guide Twins, Triplets and More: The First Year, and read more on routines, feeding and development • Ask questions or share equipment and tips with other parents via Tamba’s members-only messageboard at www.tamba.org.uk, or hook up with other new parents at a twins club – find your nearest one under ‘Clubs’ on our website • If you want to talk through any concerns then ring Twinline, Tamba’s freephone listening service, on 0800 138 0509, open 10am to 1pm and 7pm to 10pm daily
Jessie was determined to breastfeed Frida and Bea exclusively, but ran into trouble when the babies didn’t gain weight at the expected rate
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
For more safety on play and ultiples m g un yo with mba’s Ta d downloa , from ay Pl , et kl boo g.uk or a. b www.tam bers em m to ee fr
FREE ROAMING Gardens give everyone a burst of spring air and a chance to let off steam. But how do you balance freedom to explore with keeping your children safe? Parents of toddlers can spend a lot of time running – generally after the children, but also when a sudden and foreboding silence warns that someone is up to something. For parents of young multiples, there is the added peril of noise being made by one child masking the ominous silence of another getting into trouble. What can you do to make life easier? The idea of toddler-proofing an area of your home or garden is that it provides a safer environment within which your children can play and explore. The Child Accident Prevention Trust has this to say: ‘Accident prevention is not about restricting children or wrapping them in cotton wool. Instead it is about creating safer environments, both in the home and elsewhere, to enable children to thrive and lead a healthy active life.’ If you are lucky enough to have a garden, start by carrying out a safety check. Try to view it from a toddler’s perspective – it is an interesting exercise to get down to their level and see your garden in a different light. Watch out for bits of old rope or wire dangling from fences or trees. Tidy away tools
and equipment like clippers and sheers – these should be kept out of children’s reach and sight, preferably in a secure container or a shed with a lock. Gardening liquids are best stored in a secure cabinet. Never transfer them to alternative containers, where confusion could lead to poisoning. Bear in mind that safety caps on bottles of weed killer and so forth are there to buy you time to notice what your kids are up to, rather than to absolutely prevent them getting inside. Nothing beats a locked cabinet. It is worth knowing whether you have any plants that could be poisonous, although poisoning by plants is very uncommon in the UK. Some garden plants do present a hazard, but the risk of severe poisoning, skin reaction or allergy is generally low. Nevertheless, it would help to teach children not to play with or eat growing plants. One aspect almost impossible to render safe is water. Whether it’s in a garden pond, rainwater butt, paddling pool or bucket, a young child will invariably investigate and can quickly get into difficulties. If there is water around, children must be supervised
Lawnmowers (6,500 per year) Flowerpots (5,300) Secateurs and pruners (4,400) Spades (3,600) Electric hedgetrimmers (3,100)
at all times. Roma Felstein of Safe and Sound, which provides safety and first aid training, said: ‘From a young child’s perspective, a 50 cm deep pond or paddling pool is equivalent to an adult falling into 180 cm of water. It is not usually until the age of four or five that children begin to understand the concept of danger and can heed warnings given to them.’ Almost all child drowning incidents in back gardens occur during a brief lapse in supervision. So if you have a pond or water feature, it is sensible to remove it until your children are older – you can always convert it into a sandpit. You should also empty any rainwater containers or seal them to stop children getting inside, and turn paddling pools upside down after use. As your children develop language, try to teach them about safety in a way that enlists their support. Inquisitive children – still more, multiples acting together – can quickly learn how to open locks, climb up to out-of-reach shelves and get round any safety device. Alongside your vigilance, they do need gradually to understand for themselves what is unsafe and why. For tips on home safety visit www.rospa.com/homesafety
Figures from RoSPA
THE TOOLS THAT CAUSE ACCIDENTS
No club? Start your own...
One of the joys of having twins is that once they learn to play together (rather than merely hit each other over the head with toys) life gets a lot easier. It can be fun too, and not just for the kids. Play ranges through everything from imaginative role playing to stacking bowls (a friend’s daughter loves to share out potatoes equally among the saucepans, and why not?). Sometimes you want your children to play independently so you can get things done. But sometimes it’s nice to leave the chores and do something outright silly and rambunctious together and remember what it’s all about. I set up a free website to bring together some play ideas for any parents who are as tired as I am and could do with inspiration. Here are my favourites:
Fed up with being singled out at regular mother and baby groups, Jacqui Dixon set out to create her own haven for multiples mums
Joanna with 10-monthold sons Charlie, left, and Richard on her lap
GAME FOR A LAUGH? Multiples are readymade playmates, but that’s no reason why parents can’t join in. Twin mum Joanna McKenna offers some recipes for wild fun Raisin the roof
If you need a few minutes of distraction while making dinner then get a bowl of raisins, some pieces of kitchen towel and chopsticks. Sit the children down each with a pile of raisins on a kitchen towel and get them to put them into the bowl using the chopsticks.
Hide the thimble
This is a great game for a wet day. One person (best if it’s the adult to start with) hides a thimble in a room and the children have to find it. You can have rules such as part of the thimble must be visible without lifting anything (i.e. not hidden under a cushion). You can exclude certain areas (e.g. a bookcase of breakables). We also have height restrictions to prevent the ambitious four-year-old scaling the furniture (in case it was hidden on top of a light fitting…). You can give clues such as warmer/colder.
Roll up an old newspaper and secure it with Sellotape to make a bat. Scrunch up pages into balls. Once you have removed breakables, you are ready for any number of indoor games – cricket, rounders, bat and ball, catch, who can
/ SPRING 2013
hit the ceiling, who can hit it into the bin or onto a cushion… Your tolerance for noise is the only limiting factor.
sound effects for added entertainment – the whizzing through the air noise then the explosion as the ball lands.
Seaside assault course
Visit www.entertainingbabies.com for more of Joanna’s party ideas and games for kids aged 0-10
Here’s a good one for children cooped up by bad weather or coughs and colds. Strategically position furniture with a couple of cushions on the floor and challenge your little ones to get around the room without touching the floor – the carpet can be an ocean of sharks that will gobble up little feet! You can also put some string on the floor in a wavy line and get them to walk one foot in front of the other on it: explain that the string is a magic bridge, and one foot must be touching it to be safe while the other must be in the air.
A rambunctious option that works well with 3 to 6 year olds: first each child makes ‘lob-balls’ by rolling up newspaper pages. Then each child builds a fort using cushions or pillows at each end of a corridor or sitting room, taking a stock of ammunition with them. Next they throw the lob balls trying to hit each other – at this age their aim is usually appalling! Encourage them to make exploding
Help and info PRESCHOOLERS • Download Tamba’s booklet ‘Play with Twins, Triplets and More’ or our guide ‘Twins, Triplets and More (Years 2, 3, and 4)’ from the website at www.tamba.org.uk • Watch our ‘Parenting with Multiples in Mind’ DVD online or sign up for Tamba’s one-day parenting workshop for those with children aged 1-5 via the website or by ringing 01483 304442 • Find your nearest Twins Club at www.tamba.org.uk and meet other parents with preschool multiples • 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
When my eldest daughter was four and my twins were two, I would take them to a whole variety of mumand-baby groups near where I live in Sapcote, Leicestershire. I often found myself listening to mothers of singletons say ‘How do you do it?’, ‘You must be constantly shattered’, or the dreaded ‘Double trouble?’... I’d already made a few good friends locally that had twins. We started to talk about the need for a local multiples group. I help out at a group called Totstime and suggested creating a sister group for families with multiples, and so Twins at Totstime was born. A friend built us a website and I set up a facebook page, then contacted local health visitors, doctor’s surgeries and maternity wards and approached local papers and arranged a press release. I was even asked for an interview by a local radio station. We launched in August 2011 with six families at our first session, and
Can any of last year’s many Christmas jamborees beat that of West Bridgford (Nottingham) Twins Club, where 67 children gathered for a seasonal jolly? Anyone who thinks their club did better is welcome to get in touch – photographic evidence please!
Jacqui and her husband with Daisy-May (front), twins Ruby (left) and Penny, and one-year-old Ashleigh
now have over 30 families. Our aim is to offer friendship, advice and support whilst providing a safe and entertaining environment for children aged up to 12 years. We have some fabulous helpers that assist our mums with feeds or craft activities. So whether you are expecting multiples or have multiples already, please come along to have a cuppa and relax while your children play.
What I love is that no twin mummy judges me when I turn my back, take a swig of tea, cram in a biccie and breathe! Joanne Preston, mummy to Spencer and Laila
Twins at Totstime has helped me to make friends with people who, like me, love having twins but struggle at times. Lucy Thomson, mummy to Euan and Callum
Photographs courtesy of www.joannaprestonphotography.co.uk
Visit www.twinsattotstime.co.uk or www.facebook.com/twinsattots
With such an age range you can envisage the future path and get feedback on being better prepared for what’s ahead. Ros Chadwin, mummy to Teagan, Tamara and Josh
Events Dulwich and District Twins Club nearly new sale: Saturday 16 March, 10am-12pm, St Faiths Centre, bottom of Red Post Hill, Herne Hill/North Dulwich, SE24. Good quality baby equipment, children’s clothes, toys and books. £1 entry, refreshment available. Profits to King’s SCBU. Epsom and Leatherhead Multiples Club nearly new sale: Saturday 23 March 10am-12pm, St George’s Christian Centre, Barnett Wood Lane, Ashtead, KT21 2DA. Good quality babies and toddlers equipment, clothes and toys.
FIVE ADULTS BETTER THAN TWO?
Pack up your troubles If the prospect of packing is spoiling your holiday fun, take advantage of Tots to Travel’s essential kit guarantee In the pre-baby years, the biggest issue most women experience with packing is probably the number of pairs of heels you can squeeze in… three, four, five? Gasp! Will that be enough? Going on holiday was easy then: book the flights, pack bags, go. Simple! But when babies arrive the pile of essential baby kit mounts and the prospect of going away on a family holiday ever again seems remote. This is especially true for families with twins or more. Wendy Shand, family travel expert and founder of family-friendly villa specialists Tots to Travel, understands just how daunting a prospect organising a holiday with small people can be: ‘It’s a real challenge for parents trying to get all the kit they need to keep their baby safe and happy into their luggage. There are so many items that we take for granted at home and parents worry that they won’t be able to have a family holiday if they can’t be sure they have all these things.’ To solve this problem, Tots to Travel has introduced a new Essential Kit Guarantee. The first of its kind, every Tots to Travel holiday property now has a list of must-have baby and toddler equipment GUARANTEED at every
property. And this Essential Kit Guarantee covers over 20 ‘must-haves’, from pool safety and bulky furniture such as cots, high chairs and stair gates, to less obvious items such as blackout blinds, potties, plenty of toys and easily forgotten items like night lights, baby monitors and a hand-held blender. This is on top of the selection process that Tots puts holiday properties through before they appear on the site, to ensure suitability and safety for
ESSENTIAL KIT FOR TOTS • • • • • • • • • •
Pool barriers (enclosed by fence, hard cover or net) At least one cot meeting EU standards Good supply of cot linen At least one high chair Booster or junior seat (suitable for use at a dining table) Baby monitor At least one changing mat Steriliser Stair gates where needed At least one potty Child’s toilet seat
/ SPRING 2013
One way to enjoy holidays with young multiples is to take along, well, multiple adults. Juliet Poole enlisted her parents-in-laws and her mother to give it a whirl…
There was a time in my teens when going away with my mum was the least cool thing in the world, but now I’m a parent I can’t wait. Neither could our two-year-olds Joe and Nina, who were bursting with excitement knowing that not only Granny Ruth but also my husband’s parents, Margaret and Richard, were all coming with us on holiday to north Cornwall. The group holiday was my idea, partly because I thought it was a good way of spending time together, but also because it meant Nick and I could get some help Above: Nina and Joe get in character at the Gnome Reserve in North Devon Below: Joe and Nina cool down; a hug with Granny Ruth on the beach at Bude
What’s in a list? •
families with under fives. So, regardless of which property you choose, whether you go for a cottage or a chateau, you’re guaranteed to have everything you need for a holiday with babies and toddlers. In many cases, Tots’ child-friendly villas provide more than one of each, making their properties ideal for families with multiples. All this means that you have a much reduced packing list and less to worry about when you go on holiday.
• • • • • • • • • •
Child’s step Baby and child cutlery, bowls, cups and plates Bath toys and non-slip mat Hand-held blender At least one bed guard Blackout blinds/curtains/shutters in child bedrooms Children’s books, indoor and outdoor toys DVD player and children’s DVDs Microwave Night light in children’s rooms
help If you need ay, get ho family lid planning a Planner mily Holiday Wendy’s Fa advice. d an s p me ti Packs for so rs el offe all Tots To Trav ay bers a Holid Tamba mem . EE FR for Planner Pack y at p co ee fr ur Request yo ack.co.uk plannerp www.holiday
with childcare and have time together as a couple – a rarity these days. Luckily, the grandparents on both sides were delighted. My mum loves having company on a holiday and my husband’s parents are not local and always want to see the little ones as much as possible. If anything, Nick and I were the most anxious. Would we all get on if we spent a whole week together? Would it allow us all to do our own thing and not be on top of each other? We set off with everything packed into the roofbox to Sandymouth Holiday Park near Bude. Being on holiday as a group meant we could split the costs and the cooking, and the pressure to entertain our children all the time was lessened. The fact we had two caravans was a life-saver. It meant Nick’s parents could have a bit of time on their own and we weren’t all diving for the same small bathroom. My mum is very independent so she planned a day out to see a friend during the holiday and took herself off on a couple of walks too. But there were days out together as well – one highlight being the shared delight on the faces of Joe and Richard as the engine steamed into life and the horn blew on the Launceston Steam Railway. Another was the Gnome Reserve and Wild Flower Garden in north Devon, a garden thronging with gnomes fishing, gnomes enjoying a Jubilee-themed tea party, even gnomes taking part in the Olympics. Adults and children alike got to try on silly hats. What did the grandparents make of it all? According to Granny Ruth: ‘It was lovely to see Joe and Nina in a different environment, especially getting stuck in on the beach. And I enjoyed spending time with the other grandparents as we
Family outing: Nick with Nina, Ruth, Richard, Margaret, Juliet and Joe
don’t often see each other.’ Margaret agreed: ‘We could spend time together as family in a more relaxed atmosphere, and we didn’t have to worry about the usual routine.’ The grandparents got on well – I think they were more relaxed about the group holiday idea than I was. In fact, it all seemed to fall into place: the kids loved it and the fact they enjoyed it meant we did too. There was the odd gripe of course and the kids had their moments, but the laughs and fun made up for that. As for us, without the grandparents Nick and I wouldn’t have had any time off. This gave us a bit more of a break than we’d usually have on holiday, but I’d say we managed not to live in each other’s pockets either. Nick and I even had a day to ourselves, and discovered a perfect hideaway pub for a romantic meal for two. So yes, perhaps we’ll do this again...
WHAT’S IT ALL FOR? HOW TAMBA SPEND YOUR MONEY
Tamba’s spring raffle offers just what every hard-working family with multiples needs – a free holiday
Our next two winners can enjoy a three-night weekend or four nights midweek at one of Haven Holidays’ award-winning family holiday parks, with activities, kids’ clubs and entertainment at no extra cost. Up to six people can share two-bedroom Superior Holiday Home accommodation during early July, September or October this year (excluding bank holidays and school breaks).
prizes for its family-friendly self-catering holidays? Take a midweek break out of school holidays in the lovely five-star Granary Apartment for up to eight guests.
Our grand raffle kicks off this year with a host of fabulous prizes featuring holidays near and far, as well as runnerup goody bags for our busy families. First prize is a week’s holiday with Child Friendly Cottages at lovely Mazzard Farm. Set in 17 acres of woodland, Mazzard Farm is a haven of peace where you can relax and unwind or head out to explore beautiful east Devon. Our lucky winners can take their break any time in September, October and November, including half-term. The cottage sleeps four adults and a cot or three people with two cots.
Explore the picturesque Vendee on the French Atlantic coast courtesy of holiday operator VLV. Our winner gets one week (between 1/5/13 and 13/7 /13 or 31/8/13 and 15/9/13) in a two-bedroom mobile home which sleeps six at its four-star Zagarella campsite in St Jean de Monts – just 200m from the beach. Baby equipment can be provided by the English owner, who also has twins.
Next up is a foreign adventure with seven nights in any of Eurocamp’s holiday parcs across Europe. Get planning now – the holiday for two adults and up to four children, or four adults, can be taken in 2014 in May, June or September (subject to availability) in a standard mobile home or tent (accommodation chosen by Eurocamp).
Also on offer is a family break with Pontins Holidays with a choice of self-catering holiday parks (valid until 31/12/13, excluding summer holidays, bank holidays and festive breaks). With entertainments on hand, up to five people can stay in self-catering Classic accommodation before 17 December this year.
How about a relaxing stay in Brackenborough Hall near Louth, Lincolnshire, a venue run by twin parents Paul and Flora which has garnered
Enjoy two nights with Retallack Resort in Cornwall, where our winners can bask in the luxuries of a five-star surf suite or upgrade to a bigger property/longer stay. Bookings can be any time subject to availability and terms and conditions. Among the runner-up prizes, Sony Europe Limited is supplying a digital camera to one lucky family, while Nelsons is offering a hamper of goodies worth over £150 to our lucky winners, including Rescue products, Spatone, Arnicare and Pure and Clear from its natural skincare range. WHL is offering two PurFlo Baby SleepSacs and two PurFlo Shleepy Baby Comforters as a set, plus a set of Koodi double stroller covers (Keep Us Dry Double Stroller Raincover and Double Sun and Sleep Stroller Cover). Trunki is offering a PaddlePak child’s backpack and a SnooziHedz travel pillow and blanket. For a bit of pampering, Green People is offering a Hello Baby Gift Box with everything from organic nappy cream to baby moisturiser. Choose from blue, pink or neutral.
As ever, we’re grateful to the brilliant corporate supporters who are y b donating prizes to our s u lp e Please h e tickets winning families. We ffl ra y n a m te le p selling as m o hope you’ll enjoy c n. Just tact as you ca n o c being in the running ll fu with the stubs with rn – and remember that tu re d details an amba each time you buy T e th to monies ts e k c a ticket, it helps to ti ore office. M m o fr fund Tamba’s work. le b are availa .org.uk a b m ta enquiries@
£100 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 £3,000 pays for us to provide free booklets to 5,000 families with one or more of their babies in intensive care £9,000 pays for in-depth research into the needs of our expectant families £15,000 pays for a campaign worker to raise awareness of Twin-to-TwinTransfusion Syndrome and ensure babies get life-saving treatment at the right time
THANK YOU!! CHRISTMAS APPEAL RAISES £3,000 Our members showed their unfailing generosity towards fellow parents in need with a tremendous response to the Christmas appeal. Donations raised £3,260 towards the costs of providing help at home to families in crisis. Issy, who was recovering from postnatal depression and due to be discharged from hospital, got the support she needed and both she and her family are now doing well. Tamba CEO Keith Reed said: ‘It is heartening to see how strongly our families support each other, even in these times when most people are under financial pressure. A big thank you to everyone who donated. We will continue to work hard to help multiple birth families in tough circumstances.’
SNOOZESHADE PAIRS UP WITH TAMBA SnoozeShade, the awardwinning range of sun and sleep shades for prams, pushchairs, infant car seats and travel cots, has raised £1,000 in donations for Tamba over the past year. sun and sleep shades for babies on-the-go
Cara Sayer, inventor of SnoozeShade (www.snoozeshade. com) says: ‘As a parent I know how getting out and about in the early days can make you feel brighter. Fresh air and exercise is also known to help reduce postnatal depression, which is more common in parents of multiples. ‘I designed SnoozeShade as a way of getting out for walks whatever the time of day or weather and even if it was my daughter’s naptime. I think we’ve all stayed in over baby’s naptime worried that if they don’t sleep we’ll pay for it later! ‘As a company that understands the challenges of bringing up
children, it’s great to be supporting Tamba and to know we’re helping to make the lives of tens of thousands of parents of twins or higher multiples that little bit easier.’ SnoozeShade’s donation will help Tamba conduct research, produce information leaflets and guides, run antenatal and parenting courses and twin clubs as well as keep its freephone telephone helpline, Twinline, up and running. SnoozeShade is also launching a deluxe range this spring, in response to feedback from parents. For more information visit www. snoozeshade.com. Shelley Smith, head of fundraising for Tamba, said: ‘We’re thrilled to be working with SnoozeShade and are pleased to announce that our relationship will continue for 2013.’
Feel like a challenge? Lend us your heart and soles..
places Tamba has k, Great 10 on nd in the Lo at Gre North South Run, ct rider. Conta ht ig Run and N k .u g or a. b m ta luciewigley@ more to find out
Would you be willing to help Tamba raise money to support families with multiples by running, swimming or cycling in a sponsored event this year? Rebecca Capper, who took on the Nightrider challenge last year with her other half, Peter, said Tamba’s resources had made a big difference to them since the birth of twins Isaac and Samuel. ‘It has been great to be able to raise funds so that other parents can also receive invaluable help and support,’ she said.
Rebecca and Peter Capper took on the Nightrider cycling challenge for Tamba
If you’d like to take part in an event please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org. uk. We’d love to hear from you.
column: dad’s corner I think it was Rousseau who said we are defined by our choices. Well either Rousseau or the guy down the pub – can’t recall exactly. Nevertheless it is an insightful remark. Our choices follow us through life like a dependent lap dog. Over thirty years ago I made a choice – perhaps not a logical one. I, like all my school friends, had taken a sympathetic view to following Liverpool football club. At the time they were one of the greatest teams in Europe. They also had great players with weird and wonderful names, like Keegan, McDermott and Dalglish. One day my dad took me to one side (being the lifelong Spurs fan that he was) and said: ‘Why don’t you support a good London club son? One where you can go to games and not have to travel miles away.’ My response was thus: ‘OK Dad. I think I’ll support West Ham now.’ I probably ran out of the room
primary: starting school
PICTURE PERFECT When Sally Green’s twins started school, it was a moment to look back on the first intense years of her children’s life
David with his children Ruth, Toby and John
Team spirit Familial bonds are as nothing beside team loyalty. In David Bootle’s family, the fateful choices are being made as I said it, not understanding the devastating consequences that remark would have for me for the rest of my life. And for my children, and their children, probably until the ends of time. That is football, and I know many
demons inside. So on New Year’s Day down south, I took him to Upton Park (John was more interested in shopping for more toys with his Nan and Granddad). I wasn’t going to let the same fate befall me as had walloped
He likes West Ham for its bubbles, Sunderland because his cousins do, but also follows Newcastle with his school chums of you who follow such things will be nodding right now. The choice I made back then came home to roost again more recently when I could see my twin boys were in a quandary about which team to follow. In a school in Newcastle, where we live, there is only one football team you support – the Toon! That’s it. Simple as. But Toby was wrestling with the
/ SPRING 2013
my Dad thirty years earlier. And Toby was hooked. The bubbles did it I think – what other team blows bubbles? He was also rather taken with the big rubber West Ham hand with ‘Come on you Irons!’ written across it. So now he argues with his school friends about games at school. Luckily West Ham are above Newcastle in the league (as this is written) and hopefully
Toby with West Ham captain Kevin Nolan (above) and at Upton Park
will remain so for years and years to come. But it’s unlikely. West Ham is a smallish club, a family club, and that is why deep down I am delighted to have passed the family tradition on. Yes, it is a choice I have made not without challenge: being a West Ham fan has caused untold ridicule, anxiety, tears and depression. That is West Ham! Toby will learn. John has the right idea. He has decided to support several teams. He likes West Ham for its bubbles, Sunderland because his cousins do, but also follows Newcastle with his school chums. Maybe that’s the solution: spread the net to avoid misery. If only Toby can learn this!
‘Did you cry?’ followed by ‘Did they cry?’ – the first two questions my friends asked on hearing that my four-yearold twins Zoe and Jared had joined their big brother Nathan, 7, in the scary world of primary school. To my great surprise, the answer to both questions was ‘No’. Nobody cried, nobody got overexcited. Off they went together as if that day were no different to any other, just an ordinary day when they happened to be going to a place called ‘school’. For me it was far from ordinary, it was momentous. I had survived the preschool twin years. I felt immensely proud – of myself for reaching this day, and of them for showing me what well-rounded little individuals they had become. The ease with which they entered the big blue door took my breath away. After returning home to an empty house and making a cup of coffee (which I drank while still hot), I began to reflect on just how much had happened over the past few years. I got out the photo album and indulged myself with a bit of reminiscing. In the beginning, being a mum of multiples was all-consuming. I spent hours worrying about details which seem insignificant now but at the time were the be-all and end-all. I remember a neighbour with teenage twins telling me how the first 12 months were the worst. Twelve months? I was horrified. I didn’t know how I would get through the next twelve hours. But somehow we did, and the first year went by in a flash. Gradually I found a way to fit everything in. It took me a while to realise that parenting Zoe and
Jared simply couldn’t be done the way I had looked after Nathan. It wasn’t wrong, it wasn’t bad, it was just different. Similarly I cottoned on to the principle that ‘good enough’ was actually OK. Whizzing around with my double buggy, I realised that although I felt frazzled inside, some mums would watch with envy my apparently magical parenting skills. How was it that I fed two babies, a three-year-old and myself at the shopping centre quicker than two parents with one baby? (I have to confess a degree of smugness about that one.) How did I manage to get everyone in and out of the car before they could say ‘collapse the buggy’? And how come we were never late for school? (They didn’t see the state we left the house in!) Sometimes it was really tough, but before we knew it two bundles of helplessness became crawlers, toddlers, best friends, school children. We visited family in Canada before the start of term, a trip we first attempted when Zoe and Jared were 14 months old and I vowed not to repeat ‘until they are at least 16’. It goes to show how much easier life had become. The time from birth to school really
does go quicker than you think, and is so precious. If you’re just starting out on your parent-of-multiples journey then the road ahead will seem like it goes on forever. But you’ll probably reach your destination much sooner than you expect. When your little ones are ready to disappear through the school gate you can shed a tear if you want, but I’d recommend a cup of coffee and a good photo album.
Help and info THE PRIMARY SCHOOL YEARS • Read about behaviour, development and individuality as well as managing the transition to primary school on our website at www.tamba.org.uk • Download the Schools Admissions and Appeals pack at www.tamba.org.uk, and read research on the educational needs of multiples, school policies and advice on supporting children at school • For a referral to Anne Thomas, Tamba’s honorary consultant for primary education, ring 01483 302483 • Ring Twinline, Tamba’s freephone listening service, to talk through any concerns on 0800 138 0509, open 10am to 1pm and 7pm to 10pm daily
column: teenagers What’s the trickiest aspect of parenting? ‘Sleep deprivation,’ says my friend Kate, who has her hands full with a baby and a three-year-old. ‘The way everyone keeps nicking my stuff,’ rages Cara, reporting that she spends roughly 75 percent of her life hunting for ‘borrowed’ chargers (for her phones, iPod and Kindle) in her fourteen-year-old twin sons’ rooms. Ask a question like this, and you’re bombarded with replies ranging from ‘My kids arguing and fighting’ to ‘Our home being turned into a cesspit’. For me, though, it’s this: knowing how to react when someone Does Something Annoying. Should I shrug it off, deciding that a small misdemeanour isn’t worth mentioning? Or does it warrant a full-scale telling off, with some kind of
3. Banging doors and yelling do not help. I should always explain in a calm manner why I’m annoyed, and what I’d like to see happen in future – eg, with the eight damp towels currently strewn across the bathroom floor. Naturally, my words will blow like tumbleweed through the house. But at least I’ll have tried. 4. Before I react to anything, I will walk away and spend at least one minute breathing deeply while thinking ‘How shall I handle this?’.
F I ON A G I B S ON
Remain calm! Fiona Gibson on how not to lose your cool with teenagers consequence? There are no rules to follow, and each situation requires you to make an instant decision. For instance, say one of my sons has been asked to wash up. An hour later, I find my boy lounging, X-Box controller in hand, and the dirty dishes lying in the sink with a film of scum on top. To complicate things further, perhaps his twin brother has done something even more annoying – like lost the twenty quid I gave him to pay for a school trip. What now? Do I come down hard on one, or both – or no one at all? ‘All you can do is what feels right at
the time,’ says my friend Adele. Fine, but isn’t there a more, I don’t know... scientific way of approaching this? For instance, a blueprint entitled, ‘When to blow your gasket and when to just shrug it off’? Lacking anything as helpful, I’ve made up some guidelines of my own. No doubt yours are different – because, as Adele put it, we all just do what feels right. Which is surely good enough... isn’t it?
How to handle a potential gasketblowing moment: my ten rules 1. I will not over-stress about ‘the twin thing’. Yes, sometimes I might be accused of favouring one son over the other, but that’s life. Likewise, I will never tell them both off as one. It’s undermining to them – and neither of them listens.
Fiona’s latest novel, Pedigree Mum, is out now
2. Best not to start anything when I’m premenstrual. At that time of the month I can end up bubbling with fury when someone drops their toast. I’m better off smiling benignly as if the goings-on in my household are actually nothing to do with me.
5. I will never allow other people to influence how angry I should be. ‘You never used to behave like that!’ my mother used to shriek whenever my then preschool boys used to tear off their clothes and run around the park stark naked, or squirt poster paint over the kitchen table. ‘She’s right,’ I’d think, ‘I should be furious about this.’ So, in about 0.5 seconds, I’d go from being calm rational to completely banshee-like – all because I’d absorbed my mum’s response. Other people’s disapproval should never influence the way we handle our kids. 6. I’ll never rake up misdemeanours from the past. There is nothing to be gained from barking, ‘I’m still annoyed about the time you squirted my Crabtree and Evelyn shower gel down the sink.’ I should add that this happened in 2002. Get over yourself, woman, is the gist here. 7. Overreacting only leads to me apologising and feeling pathetic whilst handing out money to make up for being so horrible. If anything, under-reacting is the way to go. Unless Crabtree & Evelyn shower gel is involved. 8. If I get it wrong, I will be big enough to apologise. 9. Whenever I’m stressed out, I’ll mentally fast-forward to being an older, wiser woman with twins not of sixteen but thirty-six. A friend says that, when she does this, small misdemeanours suddenly seem unimportant. It sounds like a smart way of keeping things in perspective. 10. Finally, I shall try to remember that, on the occasions when I’ve really lost it, I have always felt like a complete berk.
older multiples: triplets
SISTERS IN 3-D People are endlessly curious about what it’s like to grow up as an identical triplet. Katey Campbell considers the (sometimes annoying) frequently asked questions I’ve always thought of myself as basically ordinary. Only rarely does it occur to me that a large part of my life is far from it. I had two sisters in my year at school. We share a birthday and were born mere minutes apart (less than two if you’re looking for precision). While this alone would be unusual – triplets are not born that often – I am even more unusual in the triplet categories as we are identical. Identical triplets are extremely rare. As a triplet I’ve been asked a few questions over and over again. The FAQ of triplets are something akin to these: What’s it like being a triplet? Who was born first? What’s your favourite part? Do you have telepathy? Have you ever tricked anyone? How can we tell you apart? Have you ever got confused? So. What is it like to be a triplet? In truth I can never be sure how accurate my answers to this question are. I have been a triplet my entire life; it is all I
personally know. I have enough indirect experience to try though. I believe that to someone else being a triplet would probably be like having two siblings the same age as you, that also look a lot more like you than the rest of your family. To those people who are out there as only children, I can definitely say that it would not be like having two more people just like you. While some of my sisters’ and my interests overlap, not all of them do, and our reactions to events can be entirely different. I believe that in terms of personality, we are really just about as alike as any regular siblings are. Who was born first? This is one of my least favourite questions. The fact that I was born a minute after one sister and 30 seconds before the next matters little in the scheme of things. For all intents and purposes we are the same age. That birth order means extremely little, especially since we were born via
People confused us when we were younger and had less say about matching clothes/hairstyles, and we resented not being known for who we were
/ SPRING 2013
Katey Campbell, left, with her sisters Stacy (middle) and Tiffany
Caesarean section. What’s your favourite part? Another question I don’t really like, for the most part because I don’t know how to answer it. My favourite and least favourite parts would probably be the same things, but I only know triplethood, and I can’t actually make an informed answer to the question. Having two sisters around can be convenient when it comes to school, and having people to hang out with, but then the same holds true in the opposite side, where having two sisters the exact same age means it’s really hard to be alone, and even sometimes to be recognised as an individual. Do you have telepathy? This is my very least favourite question. And no, we don’t. We don’t have any special ‘triplet powers’. Have you ever tricked anyone? I think
the fact that we never have probably stems from the fact that it doesn’t usually occur to us. All of those fun scenarios people think up usually miss the part where having two people who look very close to you is completely normal. The other reason why this has never happened is probably because when we were younger and had less say about our haircuts or matching clothes, people confused us and we resented not being known for who we were. How can we tell you apart? To this question I really have only one response these days. When I was younger we would obligingly give identifiers such as different freckles, common hairstyles and who wore glasses. Now, however, I can only say that to tell us apart you must get to know us. Any one of my friends would tell you that they generally have no problem identifying me, at least
once they hear me talk or see me smile. Have you ever been confused yourselves? This question is perhaps a little rarer than the others, but I am addressing it anyway. Yes, sort of – I suppose. When we were really little, and at a distance from each other, we might misidentify one of our sisters but never up close and only when we were in the wrong clothes. Being a triplet has been a large part of my life, and I think it has helped me to always search for my individuality while giving me a built-in support structure. I love my sisters, and wouldn’t trade them for the world. Being a triplet is a key part of my identity, even though I tend to forget that not everyone has two people to consult on school, friends and life in general. Our thanks to Katey and the Standard-Examiner in Utah for letting us reprint this story
Help and info OLDER MULTIPLES • Download Tamba’s guide on older multiples, ‘Twins, Triplets and More from 7 to 11’, free from the website at www.tamba.org.uk, where you can also read more on the importance of promoting individuality in multiples and how to do it • 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 Spring beckons, but not before we have celebrated a few milestones with visits to Santa, good exam results and a lot of joyous new arrivals
First Christmas with Benjamin, Samuel and Jacob, born 2 April at 31 weeks.
tical Jack – iden Charlie and little t en ry differ twins but ve dy are ad D d an y m boys! Mum . very proud
Adam and Dan ie at 36+3 weeks l, born 6 June to proud pare nts Colin and Jo.
istmas for n! First Chr Santa’s bee wn, born ro B um Cal Nathan and n. ee d Aber 18 June in
Ready for the first e ve our first e ver holida r swim on Ellie are so y, Rosie and excited!
born at and Lucas, ddy’s y e rv a H , Max nd Da Mummy a 24 weeks. e cl s. little mira ntical girls Our gorgeous ide , born 7 ca ssi Je d Emily an th doting wi ar, January last ye lle . be na An r te sis big
I love how clo se my identic al girls Sophie and Ai mee are; seei ng them laughing and playing m elts my heart. X Ka tie Greig
Kayla and Ed en Mengelgre in, age 3. Specia l girls who gi ve us so much joy an d make us laug h every day.
Isn’t life grea t having a tw in sister to sledg e with! Annie pulling Alice, twin pinks aged 3. and us boys Max ng Our gorgeo ust, bri ug A 1 n or ily. Christian, b y to our fam so much jo
heir with t , 16, ! p s r y o o h b Sam T ell done d n a W David E results. GCS
Happy 3rd birthday Alice and Daisy Keig to htley – on 25 De cember!
born d Isabella, George an ents ar p d te ot es 14 July to b is fe Li . Paul Debbie and l! fu er d won
Imogen arles and Ethan Ch ir first brate the Alice cele ith proud w e n n 15 Ju birthday o Lee and Sam. parents
My amazing tw ins Freddy M ac and Eva May, born 19 July. Mummy, nann y, Aunty Jo an d Uncle Gavin ar e thrilled! orn 25 d Oliver, b Katrina Florian an ts n re a p proud October to nd Steve. a
Emile and Freya Woods, born 27 April. Having a twin boy and girl has been a magical experience. Dylan and Danny Geary, born at 28 weeks on 16 August. Home in time for Christmas!
their first rendan on my and B d n a n ri E um -school. M day at pre re very proud! a y d Dad
Isaac Alan an dO born 2 May. Un liver Ray, planned but the biggest an d best surpris e of our lives!
/ SPRING 2013
Our beautiful day-old babies Ethan Henry and Amber Ro se, born to Kerry and Mark on 22 November.
n, born rcher Brow Harry and A ree weeks old in . Th ! 11 October een tuxedos their Hallow
Ellis and Daniel Lyla Niamh er, with b em orn 27 Nov b s, d ar w d uren and E in sisters La ings. proud big tw ss le b more Rosa. Two
ell ) Popplew nd Jack (3 a n ) in (5 F , ce Gra Reece onth-old with 18-m om Brodick on the fr and Harry, of Arran. Isle
Ava Rose and Graci eA Butler, bo rn 24 July nn . Our girls are b eautiful a nd twins are amazi ng!
ddie and twins Fre h Identical er Ben wit th nd big bro . a g y o d th w o o im sn T man and their snow
Submissions: please take photos on a high resolution setting (300 DPI+) and email with ‘Photo Gallery’ in the subject line and 20 words to multiplematters@hotmail. co.uk by 28 March. 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).
column: four plus one
postbag: readers write
Heard the one about the perfect mother? She doesn’t exist... Single parent Emma Campbell on life with a rebellious but lovable tribe Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by the big decisions in life that when it comes to the question of what to give the children for lunch, I just freeze. The simple choice of whether to make sandwiches or pasta can leave me rooted to the spot. Sometimes all I want is to be told exactly what to do and how to do it. To let someone else take over. Of course I often wonder how things would be if I wasn’t a single parent. It’s easy to blame a lot of my shortcomings as a mum on the fact that I’m alone, but maybe that’s just an excuse. Would I really do everything differently and so much better if I was one half of a united couple? Certainly when the children’s father comes to visit I’m aware that they respond to him in a very different way to me. There’s a feeling of balance in
the house which I really appreciate, even if it is just for a few hours. It’s a relief, however short-lived, to walk away, leaving him to manage the latest squabble or meltdown. Ella, Louis and Theo have just turned three and for a brief moment recently I felt that things were improving. Their behaviour seemed better. I allowed myself to think that maybe I’d finally turned that mythical corner and life was about to get back on an even – if slightly wobbly – keel.
Like I said, it was a brief moment. It’s bedlam again and I just don’t know what the right approach is. What kind of parent am I? Am I getting it vaguely right some of the time or completely and utterly wrong? So, I chop and change. Mother Earth one minute, all cuddles, kisses and positive reinforcement, and the next screaming and screeching, pausing in horror as I catch sight of myself in a mirror – who the hell is that scary, wildeyed lady? Oh bugger, it’s me. It takes a supreme effort to do the right thing on those days when the minutes seem like hours and you’re on autopilot. To turn the TV off and get the play-doh out. To leave the fish fingers in the freezer and make a hearty casserole from scratch. I know what I should do, but when I’m having a tough day I cut corners wherever I can and berate myself later. The thing is, I know exactly what kind of mother I want to be, thought I’d be. Consistent, calm, with clear boundaries
Would I really do everything differently and so much better if I was one half of a united couple? in place but also an endless supply of patience, tolerance and warmth. Oh dear. During those four long years of secondary infertility and recurrent miscarriages, I was convinced that I would never, ever complain about anything and instead would cherish every single second should I be lucky enough to have another baby. I got three babies. I am blessed beyond words, but complain I do. And then I kiss the children goodnight, stagger downstairs and resolve – in the deafening silence – to do better tomorrow. I will walk away, turn a blind eye and count to ten as many times as necessary. I will make sure Ella gets as many cuddles as the boys, even though she’s so hard to pin down. I will try saying ‘yes’ a hundred times more times than I shout ‘no’. Tomorrow is another day and another opportunity to do a few things differently. Thank goodness there’s tomorrow…
Emma’s three younger children are triplets Theo, Ella and Louis
/ SPRING 2013
A recent thread on Tamba’s Facebook page got parents venting about non-parents snaffling up Parent & Child parking spaces ROOM FOR PREGNANT MUMS P&C spaces should be extended to Pregnant, Parent and Toddler. When I was pregnant with my twins I was so large and had such severe SPD that I was on crutches or needed a wheelchair. I found it impossible to get out of the car in some of the standard supermarket car park spaces. Legally speaking, as the majority of supermarket car parks are on private land, they actually have no right to fine anyone for parking in a disabled or other ‘discretionary user’ space and it is down to the good will of the public to use them as appropriate. Lynne Benton
PUPPY WARS I’m always getting told to ‘f*** off!’ when I challenge people for parking in P&C spaces at our local Tesco. My two favourite excuses are, ‘I’m a granddad’ (no children with him) but best ever, ‘I have a puppy and it’s my baby!’. Wonderful! Emma Carrington-Moore
PRAISE FROM OUR FACEBOOK PAGE
Just received the latest issue of Multiple Matters – it never fails to move me to tears. So many lovely stories and beautiful pictures; I love when it drops through my door. Thanks! Amanda Giraud
DISABLED PARKERS FIRST Disabled people are just that: disabled. You can’t possibly get annoyed at a disabled person for parking in a P&C spot, they have to live with a disability 24/7! Having a child, even multiples, doesn’t mean you need to be nearer the door, though you might need more room to open your car doors. P&C spaces should be at the far end of the car park so lazy people aren’t tempted to use them. Katy Waddington
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focus: special needs
My day today Lizzie Clay found separating her twins so one could receive special needs help heartbreaking. But the pay-off has been a renewed closeness as well as gentle progress Lizzie Clay and her four-year-old sons William and Oliver walk to nursery at 8.45 each morning, but when they get there it is only William who stays behind when it’s time to say goodbye. While his brother Oliver used to attend, the family has taken the difficult decision to find a place for him at a nursery for children with special needs. It means Oliver gets to come home and spend the morning with mum, then jump in the car after picking up William from nursery at the end of the morning for the 15-mile trip to Banbury in Oxfordshire. Although Oliver has been diagnosed with autism and global developmental delay, it was not an easy decision to separate the boys. Lizzie had hoped for reassurance when she explained to a speech therapist that her two biggest fears were whether William and Oliver would attend the same school, and whether Oliver would ever talk. ‘I thought she would say of course,’ said Lizzie. ‘But actually she said he might talk, children generally do, but there are some conditions where they won’t. He still isn’t talking now. With school, he may just be happier in a different school. That broke my heart. I wanted them to be together. ‘I had to take stock then and think in a different way. We struggled with the idea of a special needs school. Then we went to see some and they were amazing. We realised that the level of care, attention and the calmness were perfect for him. It totally changed our minds.’ Since the boys have been apart during the day, Lizzie says they have become closer in some ways. ‘They never used to play together because of their different developmental stages, but now William shows his fondness for Oliver more, it’s really lovely. At home together they snuggle up on the sofa and show their bond more.’ Lizzie finds that having the boys one at a time also means she can do more of what each one needs. While William wants to dance and sing, Oliver is more
/ SPRING 2013
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.
A warm thank you to the following discounters, all of which have renewed their offers to Tamba members:
ECO:BUBBA (ecobubba.co.uk) Ecobubba searches for unique and ethically sourced products for baby and child. Whether you are looking for cloth nappies, handmade shoes or unique gift ideas for the new arrival, we hope we have something for everyone. Tamba members can enjoy a 10 percent discount.
Oliver (front) and William enjoying the snow this winter
laid back. He adores snow and any kind of extreme weather, but can quickly have enough of situations where he is overwhelmed by people or noise. While afternoons with William involve trips out and play, the mornings with Oliver give Lizzie a chance to use his Picture Exchange Cards, whereby he selects images to communicate what he wants.
boys sledging in the snow was a huge hit once Oliver realised that getting to the bottom of the slope didn’t mean the fun was over. Oliver’s school has helped the family tackle challenges such as potty training successfully. It has also provided some useful perspective. ‘The school said that yes, we want him to be happy, but we also want the
Lizzie finds that having the boys one at a time also means she can do more of what each one needs ‘The problems with language do bring a lot of sadness because I think you haven’t really got a window into their world,’ she said. ‘But I do see developmental stages going by, just very slowly. And we take great joy in those stages. They can pass you by in a busy world but we appreciate them so much more.’ She and her husband try to push the boundaries, using Oliver’s natural love of the outdoors to help him enjoy activities in social settings. Taking the
children to have an impact on the world,’ she said. ‘Just because they can’t do what other people are doing, they can still have a future. ‘I still grieve sometimes because this wasn’t how I imagined our family life, but this becomes less and less as times goes by,’ said Lizzie. ‘all I have to do is look at oliver and see what a beautiful little boy he is and my worries melt away. We have a feeling that life has great things in store for him. I really do feel that I am the luckiest mum in the world.’
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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.