Expecting twins!

Expecting twins!

 

When I was asked to write this article for the Cheltenham Twins Group, I was delighted to be able to share my thoughts and insights.

            During the sixteen years I have been a working as psychotherapist, I have supported many parents through difficult times. My aim is to identify and help them manage the issues they are facing in a healthy way.

            Most people these days will have heard of the term ‘Baby blues’ or ‘post natal depression’.  However, planning to have a child can bring about issues and stresses at many stages, not only after the birth. For some couples the process of becoming pregnant can be a full on operation; IVF and similar militarily organised efforts to get pregnant can put a strain on the couple. With luck the effort will result in a pregnancy, but sometimes this also means the end result is more than one embryo, possibly leading to higher risks and more frequent interventions from health professionals. Sadly for some parents there may be the loss of a baby or babies.

             

Multiple births require more consideration, whether the stage is pregnancy, childbirth or postnatal. It can be a time of mixed and varied emotions for a majority of parents; excitement, fear, doubt, confusion, exhaustion, shock, bewilderment, disappointment, anger, rage, amazement, exhilaration, joy, love and so many more feelings, are just some of the changing and varied emotions that parents experience as they move through the various stages from conception to childrearing.

            Most births, let alone multiple births, can result in a challenge for parents who find their normal life and routine disrupted. Social life, what social life! Love life, some chance! Finances, let’s not go there! Life in general can feel like a series of tests and subsequently may cause unhappiness. Not surprisingly there are a variety of reasons someone may come to see me. I have listed some of the common ones. However, depressed mood and/or the effect on the couple’s relationship are a common reason someone will seek help.

 

Common reasons for contacting me.

 

·      Fear.

·      Bereavement.

·      Low mood/anxiety or mood swings.

·      A fear of failure.

·      Burnout and exhaustion.

·      A loss of identity.

·      Relationship breakdown/doldrums.

 

There is no doubt that the eventual outcome of having a wonderful family can be the most rewarding life experience. In spite of this, it is quite normal for parents to have their own unique worries. Sometimes one or both are apprehensive as to how they will cope, and not every couple find it easy to share their concerns or be open with their feelings. So I would like to offer a few tips, as to how to ensure communication can remain stress free.

 

Regardless of the stage or issues involved, it is important to learn how best to ensure that your conversations are effective and valuable.

 

·      Don’t spring your concerns on your partner unannounced; try to agree a time to chat.

·      Avoid chats late at night in bed, chose a time when you are both alert and relaxed.

·      Before you decided to talk, take time to make a little note as to what you want to discuss.

·      Think about what you would like the outcome to be: a change in something, a question answered, a commitment made, a specific action taken or empathy with your feelings?

·      Limit you discussion time so neither of you become exhausted; 30 minutes max is a good rule of thumb.

·      Take it in turns to talk and try not to interrupt each other. The biggest problem for most couples is feeling they are not being heard. (Failing to actually listen, on one or both sides).

·      Try to use kind words and avoid inflammatory language.

·      If you cannot see eye to eye, then try for a compromise or agree to differ at times.

·      If the relationship is suffering, do not leave it too long before you seek independent support form a relationship therapist.

 

 

It is very normal to feel ‘out of sorts’ when we are going through a period of change. Once upon a time, life was free and easy! We may have had a career and a love life, even some hobbies. Then suddenly even brushing ones hair can’t be fitted into the day.  Popping to a shop becomes an exercise requiring precise time management, juggling skills and spatial awareness that is not even required by a Harrier jump jet pilot! There are many example of how life becomes a strategic nightmare at times and mostly it may feel like you are the only one that feels like this…YOU ARE NOT.

            So I thought it might be helpful to list a few important factors in trying to achieve the best mental/emotional health possible through what can be a challenging time for all.

 

 

·      Remember that ‘thoughts are not facts’ so try to avoid negative self-talk or thinking, as it will bring your mood down or make you emotional.

·      Take help from others if offered, as there is no positive value to doing more than you need to.

·      Take time for yourself where you can. (You are more important than the hovering)

·      Dads, talk to other dads. It really does help.

·      Strive to eat well, sleep well, and relax where you can. Not easy, but always work towards it.

·      Remember, no one is perfect, so don’t put undue pressure on yourself.

·      It is important to remember to have fun, smile, and laugh.

·      If you do not have partner to share your thoughts, fears, hopes and expectations with, then try talking to a trusted friend or therapist, as emotional support is a very important part of reducing stress.

·      Consider joining a multiple birth group or similar, where you can share, gain information and valuable support.

·      If you very sadly you lose one or more babies, give yourself time to grieve and to heal. Partners feel the loss too, but do not always express it so readily for fear of upsetting the other parent. Try to talk when you feel you can and remember we all grieve differently.

·      If your feelings at any stage are overwhelming and you feel you cannot go on, seek the support of your GP.

·      Remember in most cases, that this is a stage, it will not last forever (might feel like it right now) but it really won’t.

 

 

Whatever you may be experiencing, please do not suffer alone. Great friends or support groups can be invaluable; a therapist can be helpful too. A good therapist can help you focus, normalise, and find a path forward, find yourself, or the couple relationship again.

Copyright Jslater2013 

 Useful websites:

 

The Multiple Birth Foundation

www.multiplebirths.org.uk

 

Twins and Multiple Birth Association

www.tamba.org.uk

 

SANDS (Stillbirth & Neonatal Death Society)

www.uk-sands.org