Being a first-time mum at 41 was daunting. Being a first-time mum to twins was a new layer of terrifying – thinking about it from a time management perspective more than anything else.
But we couldn’t wait to have two babies.
My husband Con and I were delighted when we welcomed a boy and a girl.
Our son Vassili was born two minutes before our daughter Lola in 2009.
As suspected, time management was an issue – especially when they both wanted the boob at the same time!
But I loved having two little buddies together.
The first few years of their lives were as hectic as you’d expect, but Con and I managed to navigate our path as new parents without any major hitches.
If you replayed any of those first few years now, I’d be able to spot the warning signs of autism a mile off, but it wasn’t until Lola’s speech hit a bit of a roadblock that we had any cause for concern.
She was super smart but her speech wasn’t forming – she’d babble away but it wasn’t where she needed to be.
Socialisation was also becoming a bit of an issue for both of the kids, but it was so easy to blame their behaviour on account of them being twins – we’d say it was typical ‘twin behaviour’, especially as my dad, who’s also a twin, recounted stories from his childhood. He said he didn’t talk until he was five as he was living in his own little twin world.
We took Lola and Vassili to see a paediatrician about their development and he told us it could be the result of, in his words, ‘bad parenting’.
To hear that was absolutely soul-destroying.
I knew in my heart it wasn’t bad parenting – I’m strict as buggery with the kids, but you can’t escape that niggle of guilt.
Lola was also walking on her toes – which can be a sign of autism – but her gross motor skills were otherwise perfect.
When the twins were three-and-a-half, we finally got an answer.
It was getting to the point where they were so immersed in their own little worlds, we couldn’t blame it on ‘being a twin’ any longer.
My daughter received the diagnosis first.
Lola has autism.
It was extremely painful, but I’m a pragmatic person and now I knew what it was I was dealing with, I could focus on helping her.
Con had a bit of a different reaction.
“It would be less painful if someone took my arm off,” he said.