Twins of the Month: Emma and James



This month we meet Maria Lanzellotti’s twins Emma and James





Twins Names:  Emma Chloe McDonnell and James Nicholas McDonnell

Age:  2 years + 9 months

Birthday:  23 April

Identical or fraternal:  Fraternal

Favourite activity:   Riding on their scooters, jumping on a newly made bed, singing nursery rhymes, arguing over a choochoo train (despite there being another one identical lying ignored on the floor) making mess with play-doh and eating ice cream

A bit about mum and dad:  They met in Rome many years ago while working together for an Arab owned satellite TV company.  Moved to Ireland first and then the UK, 11 years ago. Dad is now head of broadcasting projects for an IPTV company and mum works in IT sales within a company specialising in cyber security

Buggy – Out n’ About 360.  PRO It’s great value for money, light, easy to manoeuvre and fits even in the small car boot. CON – they can get punctures easily.

Car:  Audi S4 estate for dad, Alfa 147 for mum

Help or not? Yes, anything you can get or afford!   We have no family in the UK and both of us work so it was essential to find someone reliable.
Our situation in the early months wasn’t great. We appointed a mother’s help soon after the twins were born but that was a bad experience which made me even more stressed. We decided that at least for a part of my maternity leave and whilst I was still recovering from a bad pregnancy, I would move to my family for a few months during the summer.  We then found a great nanny that we all adore.

Quick tip for other twin/triplet mums:  You’ve heard it before – organisation is paramount and also try to work as a team with your partner or other family members.  I would also add, try to enjoy the time before the babies arrive, particularly if there is something that you love to do and know you won’t be able to do once the babies arrive. I wish I had gone more frequently to the cinema or theatre.

What advice would you give to your pre-pregnant self? If you are working – don’t work right up to the end.  Twins may well come early so don’t leave it too late. Try to have all the essentials in place in good time such as cots and clothes. Don’t worry about the nice-to-haves until later.

What advice would you give about sleep training?  We have the odd bad night but in general both children are decent sleepers.  Myself and my husband do not follow strict routines but we started making going to bed a fun activity.  Our favourite game is a silly walk or march into the bedroom. We also started giving them their night milk in the bed as soon as they could figure out what was going on, so they looked forward to going to bed.

What advice would you give about breast/bottle feeding? My pregnancy was not the greatest.  During the last 3 months I developed a catalogue of issues, including diabetes, cholestasis and severe diastasis pubis dysfunction.  My health was so deteriorated that despite my initial attempts, breast feeding wasn’t an option.  We spent a lot of time (and money) looking for the right brand of bottle that the kids would accept. Eventually we found NUK with latex teats (and a choice of glass or plastic bottles) was the twins preferred choice.  Choosing the right formula milk was also difficult but we eventually settled on HIPP.

Do you have any advice on weaning? Weaning is easy – it’s the bit that follows that’s difficult. Batch cooking is key and having a stock of food in the freezer is a must.  I did read the Annabel Karmel book but eventually I decided to follow my instinct and my Italian based recipes.  Find their comfort food such as a pasta tomato sauce and always have a reserve in the freezer. As for the difficult foods such as veg and fish, we found if we staggered the food on the plate, they would eat the lot.  For example, it we put potatoes, chicken and veg on a plate, they would go straight for the potatoes, pick at the chicken and leave the veg. Whereas if we put veg only on the plate, they would gobble it up, followed by chicken (until all gone) and then potatoes, they would clear the plate. Labour intensive, but worthwhile .

Do you have any advice on potty training? Unfortunately this is not done yet.  We have tentatively tried, but failed so they so they are still in nappies.

Best bargain? Ikea Antilop high chairs – these are fantastic and practical.

Best thing about having twins? Twins are tough, (hats off to triplets), but seeing them interacting, hugging and kissing each other, talking and laughing together is quite an amazing experience.

Funniest thing the twins have done? Many! These days is their way of singing after nursery rhymes or their speaking utilising a mix of English and Italian funny words that most of the times make me struggle to maintain a serious face when they tell me a story.

I love Twickenham Twins’ Club because… Despite not having participated in as many of the groups and activities as I would have liked, my kids and their nanny don’t miss a Wednesday group which is also conveniently located near our house.  I think that this club does great work to support all mums and I always found some good advice, even by simply following FB threads