Twins of the Month: Frankie and Lottie

b234acf9-17be-4713-a7c3-0eac4fda828fThis month we meet Jess Banaji’s twins, Frankie and Lottie.

Twins’ Names? Frankie and Lottie

Age? 20 months

Birthday? April

Identical or fraternal? Identical

Favourite activity? Right now it’s climbing on mummy first thing and doing everything within their power to make sure they stay there ‘till bedtime.

A bit about Mum & Dad… Mummy Jess is a communications manager working three days a week. Daddy David is a Professor of Psychopharmacology, that’s an expert in mental health drugs to you and me.

Buggy? Out and About something-or-other. Really good. For the car, there’s a double Maclaren that stays in the boot – £17 on eBay.

Car? Practical, down-to-earth Golf (mummy) that doesn’t mind baby sick, crumbs or being parked extremely badly when twins are screaming. A ridiculously flash Mercedes for daddy that does.

Help or not? Yes yes yes! We are a merged family of seven – there is no way we can do without it! The three other children are Jess’s 12-year-old daughter Roxie and David’s daughter Scarlett aged 11 and son George aged eight. We have a fantastic Spanish au pair called Sara who is like oxygen to me. Also my parents live just around the corner. We are extremely lucky with our support network and know many parents of multiples who do not have help. I marvel at how they do it on their own.

Quick tip for other twin/triplet mums? Breathe deeply. Count to ten – a lot. Remember that well-worn phrase, “this too shall pass”. Learn to enjoy feeling Saint-like.

What advice would you give your pre-twins/triplets (pregnant) self?
Laughter is the best medicine so make sure you do it a lot. Surround yourself with positive, funny people, people who light you up. Watch funny programmes where possible.

Laughing is exceedingly hard to do sometimes…. like right now as Lottie screams for the 17th night in a row at bedtime. Why? What’s going on? If only she could speak. I’ve resorted to ‘ferberising’, a term I first encountered on Modern Family, a programme that kept me sane in the twins’ first year through regular belly-laughs.

The advice I’d give is to my pre-twins self is to be aware that each new phase brings different stresses so somehow you’ve got to get used to it. I recently saw a woman with 5-month-old twins in a café and asked how she was doing. She said, “oh it’s wonderful, not stressful at all.” I walked away muttering to myself like a mad woman, “yeah sure…I soooo believe you…,” but then I thought, perhaps it isn’t stressful for some people. For me it has been and still is because right now I’m in the middle of constant sickness with the twins or one or other of us lot. But usually, just as I’m seriously losing the plot and about to bawl into my pillow, Frankie will turn to me and look up with that beautiful little face of hers and say the word “ear” and then Lottie will cackle at my 27th attempt at asking what the wicked witch does. And these things keep me going and make me realise what a tremendous gift I have in these little miracles – my massive tiny surprises – and how lucky I am. Oh, and by the way, I’ve been in to Lottie and comforted her and she’s still crying!

What advice would you give about sleep training?
See above! When they’re not ill, ferberise the heck out of them. Preferably with Spotify.

What advice would you give about breast/bottle feeding? Whatever’s easiest. It physically pained me when Frankie was too tiny to breast feed (she managed it twice) but I know it was all those darling hormones. So I breast fed Lottie and expressed for Frankie but the endless washing up and sterilising eventually got the better of me. I only managed six weeks. Life is hard enough with twins. Don’t beat yourself up when giving up breast feeding either (if you were lucky enough to do it in the first place). Remember the sad feelings are the result of that little loyal monkey, Mrs Hormone, having her usual dig on your shoulder.

Do you have any advice on weaning? Rely on the experts. Ella has a great Kitchen I hear. There’s nothing more demoralising than spending ages cooking some exquisitely healthy meal like quinoa and fish sauce or Moroccan lamb couscous and then having them take the bowl and throw it straight at the white sofa (yes I know!).

Do you have any advice on potty training? Don’t do it in restaurants while on holiday (a memory from my first daughter Roxie when in Sardinia). Number twos come at most inconvenient times.

Best bargain? Without fail something picked up at a Mum-2-Mum market. They’re FAB. I found a jellycat rabbit for £1 last week.

Best thing about having twins/triplets?
You get a glimpse of what it’s like being famous. People are constantly looking and pointing and saying “oh, are they… are they… are they… TWINS?” (at first this was quite nice, now it’s actually a bit annoying.)

Funniest thing the twins/triplets have done? They’re only 1.5 years so not terribly funny just yet – although tonight Frankie learnt how to sing the ‘eee-i-eee-i-yo’ part of ‘Old MacDonald’ right on cue. It was too darn cute more than funny. I think the funny part comes later, when they’re three or four years old and I can’t wait because it’ll be double the fun!

I love Twickenham Twins’ Club because…
The women I’ve met are wonderful – caring, genuine, funny and the best bit is they completely understand.