I keep telling my­self not to worry but I don’t think it will ever hap­pen

DOU­BLE TROU­BLE FOR A FIRST-TIME DAD OF TWINS

Gloucestershire Echo - - FAMILY MATTERS - Richard IRVINE

IT’S been a solid ‘B’ for parental per­for­mance over the past 17 months.

The ‘A’ evades me due to ir­ra­tional fears.

Whether or not they hin­der my abil­ity as a par­ent can be ar­gued both ways.

For ex­am­ple, the fa­ther who says, ‘a good night’s sleep will sort that rash, stiff neck and high tem­per­a­ture right out,’ is pos­si­bly too laid back.

In­ter­est­ingly, dif­fer­ent fears have dom­i­nated dif­fer­ent stages of the twins’ life, so let’s have a look at those con­cerns chrono­log­i­cally. 0-3 months: It was a mael­strom of ter­ror. We had two fairly small babies, lit­tle sleep and no idea. My main con­cern was sup­port­ing their necks. I strug­gle to sup­port my own neck, so be­ing re­spon­si­ble for the twin’s cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem blew my mind. Ev­ery move was mea­sured, and ev­ery step was ac­com­pa­nied by Vic­to­ria shout­ing ‘hold their head’.

There was also my gen­eral unease with the con­cept of be­ing en­tirely re­spon­si­ble for keep­ing an­other hu­man alive.

Thank­fully, we were given a leaflet on sud­den in­fant death syndrome when we left the hos­pi­tal so we could fol­low pro­ce­dures to lower the risks and panic un­con­trol­lably be­cause it’s very rare.

3-6 months: Al­though the bro­ken neck fears were sub­sid­ing, I was now con­scious of drop­ping a baby. I drop lots of things in day to day life so why not a baby?

Thomas could also roll over and liked to pull the blan­kets over his head, which meant I rou­tinely woke up to check he hadn’t smoth­ered him­self. 6-12 months: A time when the

twins started eat­ing proper food and we were never far away from our leaflet on how to save a chok­ing baby. De­spite this be­ing my main con­cern, I also re­mem­ber check­ing their de­vel­op­ment on an online chart, which seemed to sug­gest if they weren’t play­ing ten­nis by 12 months, they had some kind of dis­or­der. They also slept through the night for the first time and I nat­u­rally as­sumed we’d had a car­bon monox­ide leak and they’d died.

12 months to present day: The gen­eral fears about some­thing ter­ri­ble hap­pen­ing have been re­placed by a gen­tle anx­i­ety about whether they’re do­ing the right things at the right time. Nat­u­rally, their abil­ity to move with­out our help is both a bless­ing and a curse. Thomas has an abil­ity to climb, which is vastly su­pe­rior to his abil­ity to de­scend. He’s get­ting bet­ter but still views jump­ing head­first as the safest way to get down. Pre­sum­ably, these fears will con­tinue to sub­side all the way through child­hood un­til they’re al­most non-ex­is­tent once they’re driv­ing and look­ing for a job.

Watch out, baby on the move

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