As I mentioned in the first part of this blog, many people told us that after the first year things would get easier. Yet for me, I really noticed a difference when the twins passed 6 months. I have so many amazing and enjoyable memories from the second part of the year which included a holiday abroad, my first trips away without the twins and our first Christmas. We still had sleepless nights and difficult days, but those seemed fewer than they had been before.
The main change that we noticed after the twins turned 6 months was that Flyn and Noah’s wee personalities started to show and I was able to stop worrying that we simply had miserable children. Flyn was cuddly and looked like an angel but had an amazing twinkle in his eye. And Noah, who we always thought was the trouble maker was more cautious and reliant on Flyn than we first thought.
Bang on 6 months I started weaning which was a great experience. With our eldest we had to give him purees for quite a long time. With the twins I wanted to try baby led weaning as Alfie can be a fussy eater and I had heard BLW could prevent this. Thankfully the boys took to food very well and are excellent eaters. It was and still is so messy but with baby led weaning the twins they were able to feed themselves which meant we could all sit together and eat at the same time.
By 7 months we were feeling confident to attempt our first holiday as a family of five. Luckily my mother and father in law were coming as well for a week in Gran Canaria. We had booked two self catering bungalows in a small and quiet complex. There was a pool and not much else which suited us perfectly. Now I plan to write a separate blog post on the holiday so i’ll not go into detail here, but it was a total success and actually pretty relaxing. The kids loved it and it turned out the twins were total water babies. I think the main thing that helped on this holiday was that the babies were not too mobile. They were still breastfeeding and also starting to try different foods which now looking back, made it the perfect time to go.
When we returned from holiday I planned to start weaning the boys off the breast. I had both a trip to London (my mum was being given an OBE by the queen and i’d be damned if I was missing that!) and then a surprise trip to Rome my husband had planned the month after. We had already introduced the boys to bottles early on and had been giving a bottle a day. We started upping it by one feed each day every week and eventually were just down to bedtime and through the night. Stopping feeding was such a huge step. It was an emotional time for me as it would be the last time I would feed our babies but it was also liberating as I could be apart from the twins for longer periods of time. It also marked the end of constant blocked ducts and constant worry I was developing mastitis again so for this I was grateful.
With this new found freedom I was able to enjoy both my trip to London and Rome. It surprised me that I actually found it easier to be away from the twins compared to when I had to leave our first born. Maybe it’s because I needed the break more than when I only had one child or maybe I worry less as a second time mum. But I definitely noticed I was less anxious than I had been first time round.
From 9 months onwards we felt like we were starting to get the hang of this twin business. Don’t get me wrong, it was, and is logistically challenging to do almost anything, but with lots of planning and the babies being more active and physically able we did get out more. Bottles seemed to help ours sleep longer spells at night and we all know that we can tackle everything better on a little more sleep!
By this stage I was starting to prepare myself for returning to work. I was going back two days a week and did a few Keeping In Touch days before this to get my head back in the game. We had reserved places for the twins in the same private nursery we had used for our eldest and they would start settle ins when they were almost 11 months old. Again I was less worried about settling the boys in and returning to work this time round. It helped that I knew the boys would always have each other and were much more independent than our first. As I predicted, the boys loved nursery and settled within the first two sessions. It was another milestone we had made and with one last milestone approaching (their first birthday) we had nearly made it to a year.
Writing about the twins first year has reminded me just how many milestones and challenges all parents have to tackle in the first year of their child’s life. Your body, lifestyle, relationship, career and even home change so much they are unrecognisable. You have to dedicate yourself to these tiny babies and you become the last priority. It’s overwhelming and all consuming and can make you feel trapped and lost. But, and it’s a huge but! It’s worth it. It might sound cringe and cliche but it’s true. Flyn and Noah are incredible. They’re clever, funny, wild and loving and we are truly lucky to have them. And eventually, they can walk, talk, feed themselves and need you less and less. So i’ll let these years be all consuming and hold onto them for as long as I can.