I had all sorts of lofty ideals when I was pregnant with my pair about how our family would handle the twin thing. I read lots of books and agreed with them all about how important it would be to foster my babies' individuality. We succeeded at many things. On only a handful of occasions have the girls been dressed in matching clothes, and then usually at bedtime. And I almost never refer to them as "the twins". They've always been "the babies", "the girls" or just Pearl and Stella. Or Stearl and Pella, if I'm having a bad day.
But the one in which we scored a big fat fail was the idea to spend lots of one-on-one time with each of them. I remember the fervour with which I discussed this plan with the GM. It will be really important, I said, that we each get a chance each week to get out of the house with each baby, on their own. To foster and develop our relationships with each of them as unique and beautiful individuals rather than part of a unit, like.
This on top of my determination that Lola's life be disrupted as little as possible by quite possibly the biggest thing that can disrupt a two-year-old's life - not one but two interlopers. That we get lots of one-on-one time with her away from the babies. And of course, the GM and I would need to have lots of one-on-one time with each other to nurture our relationship as friends and lovers as distinct from parents. Uh-huh. Oh, not to mention lots and lots and lots of special solo time, each of us, on our own, so that we could return to our parenting role with renewed patience and vigour.
Someone send me some of those 37-hour days, please. Maybe nine a week. Uh-huh.
Not counting the hundreds of hours of 'special time' we've spent with Stella in the midnight hours, or the dozens of hours (a day, it seems) I spend with Pearl hovering just to the right of my elbow, one-on-one time with these babies of mine has been a hard thing to come by. And I admit, I've always put the chance for a solo coffee or a solo movie or even a solo supermarket trip ahead of precious ambles in the park with just one of my children, if a spare hour or three has ever arisen.
Until last week when, thanks to the meningococcal scare, I was gifted two awful but very lovely nights alone with my Pearl. Yes, the cannula in her arm was a nightmare, painful for her and a pain in the arse for me every time she moved and set the alarm a-bleeping. Yes, the hourly visits from the nurses to check her temperature were traumatic, not from anything they did but because Pearl thought the worst and would scream and cry until they left the room. And, yes, seeing my little girl lying there covered in red welts, feeling sore and sad and sorry, was heart-breaking.
But it was two nights (Daddy got the daytime) of her and me, cuddling and snuggling, watching 'Playschool', reading 'Nurse Nancy', singing songs, sharing toast, and holding hands across the bed rail. Uninterrupted by the day-to-day. Time standing still.
And I've come out of it with boundless new love and patience for this brave and funny little girl.
Of course, I'm OK if we don't have to go to such extreme measures to find special time together in the future. But however it was delivered, helped immeasurably by the happy outcome, I'm grateful for it.