Two weeks ago, Flo and Archie were one. They’re Leap Year babies which makes the birthday thing a bit weird. Only celebrating their birthdays once every four years seemed a bit harsh plus I’d be having to buy teeny tiny school uniforms for September so we plumped for 1st March instead on non Leap Years. This was partly in honour of St David who plays a fairly hefty part in Justin’s life but also to reduce the February offspring birthday party quotient in future years. Being the Brigadoon of birthdays, it felt decidedly odd to be celebrating such a landmark occasion on the wrong day.
The day Flo and Archie were born, the local paper called the hospital and asked if we’d be in a ‘Leap Year twins birth shocker’ photo story. I considered their kind offer for about oooh 10 nano seconds and declined, what with my partial paralysis, pallour and post natal poundage. Oh and because I worried that Flo and Archie would never forgive me for cashing in on their first precious hours.
We had a little family birthday tea party to celebrate this most special of birthdays. Flo and Archie played with balloons, ripped open presents and sucked wrapping paper, and ate their first chocolate cake. They ate it just like you should eat your first chocolate cake – wide-eyed, by the handful, smearing it all over their lovely little faces, spilling an awful lot on the floor, and gagging ever-so-slightly afterwards. I was proud and got misty-eyed and we drank champagne.
Four years ago, at Evie’s first birthday party, Justin made a lovely speech and we shed a happy and triumphant tear. This time it felt a bit different. No less happy or memorable a celebration, I fancy we had a look of the battle-weary war veteran about us - a bit jaded, line-y eyed and frazzled around the edges even in our party clothes. No speeches this time but in a quiet moment, we touched hands and had a silent conversation which I think we both knew acknowledged that we’d made it through what has been an incredibly tough year.
There are things about having two babies at the same time that I’ve really struggled with this first year. You know the stuff from my previous warblings: the freak effect in the supermarket, the ‘double trouble, you’ve got your hands full‘ quoters, our colossus of a buggy that kills spontaneous outings and requires Geoff Capes to travel with us on all occasions so we can get it out of the car. The pitiful lack of hands to cuddle, feed and carry everyone at the same time. The relentless logistics and bone-aching exhaustion. And let’s be honest, the sheer cold realisation that I’m far too old to be doing all this at my age.
A friend once asked me: “So would you recommend the whole twin experience then?” and before missing a beat I said “God no, why would anyone want to have two babies at the same time, it’s madness.” I felt guilty for answering quite so vociferously but on paper, you have to admit it’s a crazy concept.
But there’s no denying it - there are plentiful magical moments too. Hearing them chat with each other or watching them chase around the house like mad puppies. Or pinching each other’s snacks or laughing at each other. Seeing them splashing in the bath alongside each other or climbing on my lap for a cuddle or pointing and waving at Evie. Taking tins of baked beans out of the cupboard and rolling them around the kitchen floor. Doing a crawl-y runner down the garden every time the front door opens. I could go on. I will go on – but in the privacy of my own head just to remind myself that these little chaps are a precious gift and we’re so very lucky to have them in our lives.
... Even when they try and chew the loo brush.