Twins of the Month: James and Luke

septtwinsofmonthThis month we meet Claire Madden’s twins James and Luke

Twins names – James & Luke

Age – 32 months

Birthday – 12th January 2014 at 36 weeks (delivered one day earlier than scheduled C section due to me developing HELLP syndrome). The boys were born with what we were told was acute Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome with James weighing only 3lbs 15oz & Luke weighing 5lbs 8oz and because of the HELLP syndrome I had to have a general anesthetic for the emergency C section.

Identical or fraternal? Identical

Favourite activity – Climbing, running, shouting, jumping (anything physical) & an absolute love of machines (excavators, dump trucks, tractors, trucks etc).

A bit about mum and dad – Dad Enda (originally from Ireland) runs a couple of successful companies, one providing & supporting IT systems in schools and one interior design and decoration. I used to work for the IT company iForge before having the twins as well as a yacht charter company (the owner retired the year I had the boys). I gave up work when we had the boys and the day we brought them home from hospital was the day Enda finished a full refurbishment on our house! Enda is also a very keen photographer and is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society, although his usual remit of concert photography has been curtailed somewhat since the boys arrived. We have a 16 year old daughter called Georgia who is in her GCSE year at Waldegrave School & just under two years before the twins we had another daughter Laura. Laura was born with a condition called tracheosophageal atresia with fistula. It was only discovered after her (full term) birth & required surgery when she was 2 days old. Sadly she did not survive the surgery. She is greatly missed.

Buggy – Baby Jogger City Mini double. Highly recommended.

Car – Ford S Max

Help or not? No living grandparents sadly & almost all our family live in Ireland so no help from family. We had a Homestart volunteer from 4 months to 16 months for 3 hours a week. As a twin mum herself, she was invaluable. I have just started with a Homestart volunteer again who meets me once a week to help with a singing class the boys love (it was getting too hard for me to handle them both there on my own).

Quick tip for other twin mums – Routine has been very helpful. Having babies that sleep together & eat together is essential if you ever want to eat or sleep yourself. Once they’re mobile you’ll be very busy, so enjoy the early days as much as possible. Please don’t be afraid to ask for help!

What advice would you give to your pre-pregnant twins self? Enjoy the anonymity haha. Having twins seems to encourage lots of questions and comments from strangers (mostly good). Sleep as much as possible and enjoy not having to risk assess everywhere you go 😉

What advice would you give about sleep training? Do whatever you need to do and don’t worry too much about it. My singleton was an awful sleeper but thankfully the twins are a little easier to settle down. That said, they both had awful reflux so in the early days I fed then held each of them upright while I tried to rest as much as you can in an upright position. Initially I lay propped up on our double bed with them nestling in between my legs and waited for them both to sleep before transferring them to their cot. Now, we do a routine of wash, story then bed (still just hanging on in cots) & I watch them try to sleep upside down on their video monitor while they chat to each other. White noise was a great help in the early days too.

What advice would you about breast/bottle feeding? Be prepared for your plans to change. Because of the HELLP syndrome I was very unwell for the first few days following their birth. I was in HDU for 2 nights nil by mouth in case extra surgery was required. This has a major impact on my milk supply & how my boys were fed. I didn’t meet Luke for 2 days (I was in HDU & he was in SCBU as they were born with acute TTTS – he was the larger recipient twin) & by the time I did he had already been built up to 60mls formula every two hours (his smaller brother James was with me but was too tiny to latch on & in the early days was only managing 25-30mls formula every two hours). I hand expressed as soon as I could but all the hospital pumps were broken or had parts missing so until we bought our own pump the whole process was delayed. By the time I took the boys home on day 5 Luke had started to breastfeed & with much perseverance James started to latch on and feed on day 10. They were both then combination fed – breast first followed by formula (or if I had managed to express breast milk). It was always a very slow process as they were diagnosed with reflux at 5 weeks (on various medications until 16 months). They were always incredibly slow, difficult and reluctant feeders but I managed to breastfeed until 17/18 m.

Do you have any advice on weaning? Not really. My two started off quite well but since about 17 m (shortly after stopping their reflux medication) have gone through various stages of food refusal which can be very tiring.

Do you have any advice on potty training? They’re not showing signs of readiness yet so I’ll wait until they do. This seemed to work with my singleton so I’m hoping it will work for James & Luke.

Best bargain? I love charity shops. There are some excellent ones in the area. The boys are easily pleased with pre-loved toys that we pass back on if they manage to survive.

Best thing about having twins? The company that they offer each other. Having had a singleton for 11 years I’ve experienced parenting an ‘only’ child and it’s vastly different. The twins always have company & are very close to each other as well as being friendly with other children.

Funniest thing the twins have done? This could be different on each and every day. There’s always something to make us giggle. The most recent thing to make me chuckle is their re-enactment of whatever episode of Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom they’ve seen complete with near perfect mimicry of the Wise Old Elf. Oh, and the ‘chats’ they have on their pretend phones are priceless (as well as their back seat driving).

I love Twickenham Twins Club because… twin/multiple mums ‘get it’. They understand the highs and lows in a way nobody else can.