Becoming a Single Mother by Choice of Twins
It was my looming 40th birthday and hearing those words yet again from my doctor – “if you want children you had better hurry up” – that made it clear in my mind that I couldn’t play Russian roulette with my ticking biological clock any longer. So I booked an appointment with Fertility Associates to find out about sperm donation.
The process was fairly easy. See out the 7 month waiting list, choose a donor and then turn up at the appropriate time for the treatment. It was a huge surprise for me, that only two months later, after two IUI treatments that I received the call (4 days before Christmas) that would change my life forever. “Merry Christmas Anna, you’re pregnant!” I still tear up as I’m writing this, the joy I felt, the excitement about finally being a mum.
Fast forward 8 weeks to my first scan. Sitting with my sister in the Fertility Associates reception area I pipe up “let’s have a bet as to whether there’s one or two”. We both guessed one… 10 minutes later – the two little dark dots were staring back at us from the screen. “Congratulations, you’re having twins!”
I was thrilled, although there was a part of me thinking I should be terrified. Single and having twins – am I mad?? Everyone was very kindly telling me how hard it would be – the sleepless nights, the hours of crying, how would I cope? I just held on to that great saying – ‘Twins are only given to those who can cope’ – and hoped it was true.
I was truly blessed to have a dream pregnancy. Morning sickness – what’s that? Aches, pains and swelling – minimal. I was constantly reminded though throughout my pregnancy by all the medical teams about how wrong things could go ‘being a geriatric mother’ but I had put the preparation in so just focused on keeping us all well. I finished working at 29 weeks and tried to relax and finish getting things ready for the great arrival. Stress is one of the leading causes of early labour and I was determined to keep my babies in as long as possible.
And on the 16th August at 37.4 weeks my two little treasures Taylor and Amelie were born.
The enormity of ‘doing it alone’ hit me in the hospital on about day 4. My hormones had kicked in and I was a mess. Not helped by the feeding challenges I was having. I was terrified about going home which I think my obstetrician could see, so he was very supportive and waited until he could see I was emotionally ready before allowing me home.
So 8 days later I carried my new family into the big wide world. There was a HUGE sense of achievement in that, a sense of powerful responsibility that really buoyed me up. I had made a decision to have a family on my own and now I had to get on and raise these two little girls.
The first couple of months were a blur of feeding, pumping and sleeping. And whoever tells you ‘sleep when babies sleep’ either doesn’t have children or doesn’t eat and has an endless supply of burp cloths and baby clothes! It just doesn’t happen. Thankfully your body gets you through the tiny amount of sleep that you do exist on. It was taking me over 2 hours to get through the feeding/pumping process as it was important to me to feed them one at a time to get that very special one-on-one bonding time. So as I was feeding every 3 to 3 ½ hours there wasn’t a lot of sleep to be had! But you get through it. I found just taking each day at a time and above all else tried to create a calm environment at home. Calm mummy = calm babies. Believe me – it works!
I found the Plunket Family Centre at St Lukes a godsend. They not only helped with getting my babies latched properly but the other information you absorb while you’re there is invaluable and I would highly recommend you go even if its just to catch up on some sleep. They also put me in touch with Parent Aid, a free service to families that need a little extra help. Every week someone visits for a couple of hours and takes care of the vacuuming, helps get the washing up to date and helps out with the babies. I made use of this service for a couple of months – it was a great help and I really enjoyed the company. There are also services like Bellyful that again is a free service delivering meals. I didn’t use this service as I made sure I had a freezer full of meals – I would highly recommend you do the same. You just don’t get time to cook – it’s the last thing you’ll feel like doing at 9.30 at night – and it’s so important for your milk supply to eat properly.
The thing I found the most challenging being a single parent family is the isolation. I tried to get out at least every other day, even if it was just for a walk to remind myself there’s whole world out there. It was (and still is) hard not having someone to share all the little things my two girls get up to. I share the big stuff with family and friends of course, but there is so much to get excited about each day.
While it certainly wasn’t my plan A to have children on my own, I absolutely wouldn’t change it for the world. I have two beautiful girls who are now 2.5 and I am proud to say are kind, respectful and full of life. I love that it is my responsibility to grow them into two beautiful and strong, well-rounded women. Thank god I love a challenge!
- Spend time with a mum with multiples before you have your babies – they have invaluable info that singleton mums aren’t able to offer.
- Have your nursery and hospital bag ready to go by 25 weeks – Twins & More has a fabulous layette list – The Ultimate Shopping Checklist for Twins
- If you can, finish work at 29-30 weeks.
- Fill your freezer with meals
- Keep Calm – remember calm mummy = calm babies
- Be organised and plan ahead as much as you can
- Countdown online shopping!!
- Get out of the house as soon as you can – the longer you leave it the more overwhelming it will become.
- Visit a Plunket family centre if you have any feeding, settling, sleeping issues or even if you just feel overwhelmed by it all.
- Join your local Multiple Birth Club and sign up to their facebook page. You can post questions you have and the advice you get back is fabulous. Twin Treasures , MultiplesNZ and BreastfeedingNZ are also ones that I have found really helpful.