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A year in the life of the father of twins.

No more lazy Sunday mornings debating which new inner city cafe to visit.

It’s 9.30 Sunday morning. I’ve already been awake for 3 hours and had two large mugs of coffee. Despite this, I have achieved nothing. The living room looks like the aftermath of a severe tropical cyclone at Disneyland. A crime scene has been established in the corner of the room where two high chairs sit…the splatter on the walls and floor evidence of a recent massacre of porridge and berries. On the other side of the room, a cat rocks gently behind the sofa.

This is an average weekend morning at home.

A little over a year ago my wife Kath gave birth to twins and our life has been a whirlwind ever since. No more lazy Sunday mornings debating which new inner city cafe to visit. No more impromptu lunches with friends and definitely no more lie-ins. Our carefree, happy-go-lucky existence has been locked up for a minimum of 20 years with no chance of parole.

Ben's wife Kath with their gorgeous twins. Image supplied.

In the first three months, the contrast between our old life and new was stark. In a very short space of time, we’d gone from living in an apartment in a trendy area of Melbourne to moving to the leafy ‘burbs’ and suddenly being parents to two kids. As momentous and awe-inspiring as those first few weeks were, they were probably most defined by an aching tiredness we’d never experienced and a general feeling of mild hysteria.

It goes without saying that having twins definitely comes with its own set of unique challenges. However it’s easy to dwell on these while the positives can be sidelined.

Before the babies were born I’d heard a lot about how men can feel like a spare part, both at the birth and in the weeks/months that follow. Not so for me. Having twins meant I had plenty to do. Even breastfeeding wasn’t the sole task of my wife. I wasn’t lactating but in those first few weeks I was constantly trying to help her feed the babies.

Breastfeeding two babies at the same time is an art form. Those first days out of hospital I’d be constantly grappling one of Kath’s breasts trying to get one of the babies to latch. Inevitably, once one baby was locked on, the other would come off. Add in chaffed nipples and next to no sleep our life began to feel like a comic farce.

The living room, post clean up of the cyclone aftermath at Disneyworld. Image supplied.

I spent a lot of my time doing the paper work and eating the quiche generously provided by friends and family. With my brain barely functioning, I tackled Centrelink forms, birth certificate applications and an unbelievable amount of instruction manuals for baby gadgets and gizmos. (Anyone who says babies don’t come with instruction manuals is talking codswallop!)

In addition to all of this, I tried to read up on parenting to understand what was happening and what to expect in the coming months. One book in particular read like a Stephen King horror, each page turned more frightening than the last. The book stepped out a brutal routine of change nappy, feed, sleep, repeat.

I skim read a few books and what surprised me the most was the widespread contradictions. What they showed more than anything else was that when it comes to parenting, there’s no right way. Once we realised that, we jettisoned most well-meaning advice and have done what we instinctively feel is right ever since.

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By 3 months we had found our groove. The babies were getting plenty of food and had (sort of) worked out the difference between night and day.

With some kind of a routine forming, we were able to have a bit more of a social life too. I remember the first time we went out, just the two of us, and how strange but also liberating it felt.

Finding our groove also meant getting the babies out more and more. From the first month we were keen to get the babies experiencing life outside our house, mainly so we didn’t withdraw from society and become stained tracksuit wearing hermits. Aside from regular trips to Aldi (nappies) and the chemist (on first name terms), we explored our new area with our juggernaut of a pram and found ourselves to be mild celebrities. For some reason, our twins seem to exert a powerful magnetic pull on people. They’d invade our space constantly muttering inane comments like ‘double trouble’ or questions like ‘are they twins’, ‘do you have twins in your family’ or ‘were they natural?’ Er, yes.

"For some reason, our twins seem to exert a powerful magnetic pull on people." Image supplied.

The months rocketed past at breakneck speed, time seeming to warp in some strange way. In one respect the birth seems like a very distant memory but in other ways the last year has travelled by at the speed of light. Milestone after milestone has happened, each one as amazing as the last.

At one, our two are not quite walking but are master crawlers. The best way to describe them is that they’re in everything and everywhere, especially if it’s something that might cause them harm. They are also drawn to whatever the other baby has in their hand, whether it is food, a wooden block, a turd, whatever. When one of them uses said object as a weapon and whacks the other one over the head, which usually ends the game.

"They can literally sit next to each other for ages just repeatedly stealing an item, crying then stealing it back." Image supplied.

Kath has recently returned to work and the babies are in childcare. We’d been warned about the day-care plague, but I believe this is actually understated. The babies are very healthy, but since going to care they’ve had every virus, rash, bug, cold and flu going around. By far the worst of it all was our first gastro experience, which was in stereo and glorious technicolour. Five days of hell that coincided with the baptism and resulted in half the family picking up the bug. We continue to haemorrhage cash at the local chemist and doctors.

Life has never been so hectic juggling work and life. At times throughout the year we have been genuinely been concerned we may actually die from sleep deprivation. Our house permanently looks like a bomb has hit it, the washing machine and dryer are on 24/7 and our bin is overflowing with nappies.

"But life has never been so rich, so full of laughter, surprises and fun." Image supplied.

But life has never been so rich, so full of laughter, surprises and fun. Both Kath and I are so excited about the future but don’t want the now to disappear so quickly. I’d describe it like that moment in the Wizard of Oz when the film changes from black and white to colour, where suddenly everything around Dorothy is bright, vibrant and dominated by some little people. Just like in Oz with its witches, oompa loompas and munchkins, nothing’s perfect. But then, when has life ever been perfect?

We’re just so grateful and blessed to have our two little munchkins in our life and excited about what the next year holds.

“Ben is General Manager at the award winning creative agency, Ensemble. When not working or looking after the babies, he ponders a time when he had hobbies, then generally falls asleep.”

What was the first year of your post-baby life like?