Timing is everything so when I was made redundant from my job, just as I was going through my second attempt at IVF, I felt a huge relief and knew I could then focus on my health and having a child . Becoming pregnant with twins only cemented my decision to stay at home. The childcare costs alone deterred me from pursuing work and it made more sense for me to be at home. Even so I wanted to throw myself into a maternal world and be the twins sole carer. Little did I know how demanding it would be and how our lifestyle would be affected.
I wanted to create a secure, loving environment for our children
The work involved with raising twins hadn’t crossed my mind until mine unexpectedly arrived at thirty-four weeks. Going from no kids to figuring out how to care for my premature son and daughter made my first six months with them a surreal merry-go-round of endless tasks – steaming bottles, feeding, burping, changing nappies and putting them to bed. I endured the first year on very little sleep but I was conscious of doing my best and I had always wanted to throw myself into motherhood.
Before we got married, my husband and I discussed starting a family and what our ideal set up would be. I expressed that I wanted to be a stay-at-home mother. I wanted to create a secure, loving environment for our children, to form a solid relationship with them, to watch their first steps, hear their first words, cook, paint, dig in the garden, tuck them into bed and read them stories each night – to be there for them, whenever, wherever.
I didn’t have time to miss my old job of editorial meetings and pr lunches
We left London to try country living and to have more space to bring up the twins. I didn’t miss London and I didn’t have time to miss my old job of editorial meetings, pr lunches and sorting through endless freebies that came with working on a magazine. If I’m busy, even with tedious bottle cleaning or food shopping, I’m content. Of course not everyone feels this way, I imagine quite the opposite. I had friends that were aghast when I told them I’d decided to stay at home with the twins. I’d be met with exclamations of, ‘I don’t know how you do it,’ ‘Aren’t you bored?’, and ‘I couldn’t wait to get back to work!’. I remember before tackling potty training, a friend said it was easy with her son, and then she confessed that it was actually her nanny that taught her son while my friend was busy back at work! I am not claiming stay-at-home parents provide better environments than those who need or choose to return to work – this was what I wanted to do.
Having support was crucial and even with help from my husband, mother, a maternity nurse and a night nurse (staggered over time) I felt overwhelmed and there were times I couldn’t quite see the light at the end of the tunnel. I couldn’t wait to stop bottle feeding and start using a spoon, to stop burping, to stop dressing the twins in babygrows, to drop the depth of their cots – silly little changes. I looked forward to any interactions, any progress. However all the smiles, gurgles, first crawls, steps and words were a joy to watch and did feel like milestones. I was totally consumed with my daily chores but I was happy.
The last five years at home have been far more challenging and undoubtedly more rewarding than the previous ten years I sat behind a desk
In some ways I feel like it’s been a long journey well travelled but it also seems like only yesterday the twins were calling spiders ‘spadoirs’, struggling to climb the stairs, trying their first fairy cake and independently using the potty. Luckily we have met some fantastic friends while living in the country – all with similar aged children, which helped us settle quickly, provided us with a new social life and an invaluable support group of new girlfriends for me.
School started this September and they are happy, free spirits excited to start their new adventure. I like to believe we’ve given them the love and reassurance a child needs to be confident in moving forward, in growing up and discovering the world independently from us. The last five years at home, for me, have been far more challenging and undoubtedly more rewarding than the previous ten years I sat behind a desk… and if I were to have more children, I would make the same choices.