I have been worrying for sometime about how I would cope with the constant carrying phase with twins. I recall with son number one that this particularly onerous milestone coincided with my pregnancy with boy number two. I have vivid memories of balancing my ever heavier son on top of my burgeoning bump. Once I walked the entire, not inconsiderable, length of my local high street with my toddler balanced atop an eight-month baby bump, another time my little boy screamed the place down when my considerate husband tried to take the avowed mummy's boy from me for a few moments to give me a break.
Still carrying one child might be a burden, but it's one that most mums are able to bear. Carrying two just seems like a physical impossibility beyond a certain point. Even when the twins were tiny, carrying both of them was a feat that was usually only attempted over short distances between sofas, now that they are hefty pre-toddlers I can hold them both for about two minutes before my arms start to turn to jelly and threaten to tip both of them onto the treacherous wooden floor below.
Trouble is, no one told the twins about the difficulties of carrying two at a time, and they want to be up in my arms just as much as their older brothers did. Twin two shuffles around after me using his, surprisingly swift, commando crawl, tears running down his blotchy cheeks, blue eyes fringed with impossibly long black lashes raised beseechingly at me, his lips wobbling with despair at my refusal to heft him around with me everywhere I go. Naturally I give in and sweep him up onto my hip. He is the slimmer of the two so this is definitely the easier task.
Twin one who had, up until then, been happily devising new schemes of destruction involving the contents of the recycling bin and a precariously balanced step ladder, looks up with his huge brown eyes, clocks his twin in my arms and instantly a frown clouds his brow. His lips start to shudder and his eyes fill with tears ready to flow down those rosy cheeks. All plans of developing a Heath Robinsonesque means of world domination are forgotten, the empty bottle that had been so absorbing moments before is dropped at his feet and a howl rents the air.
Oh dear, he wants to be carried too. What's a mum to do? Well in the name of equality I plonk down twin one, who was contentedly playing with the buttons on my shirt, and whip up his inconsolable brother. Cue a role reversal so swift you would miss it in the blink of an eye. Twin one is now snuggled into my side, casting smug looks at his brother who has collapsed onto the carpet in a pool of misery at being cast aside so thoughtlessly.
So good mum didn't work, now it's time to institute bad mum tactics. I dump twin one on the floor next to his screaming brother and march off without looking down at their matching, tear-streaked faces. The noise is deafening as they both yell in protest at this shameful treatment. I plug my ears 'La, la, la I can't hear you' I sing. Only it's a blatant lie, even the profoundly deaf could hear this racket and I pity our poor neighbours.
I could (a) sneak off into another room and pretend that none of this is happening, or (b) try and gather up both of them only to be imobilised clutching two wriggly twins on a voluminous bean bag until they calm down enough to play on their own again. While option (a) is always tempting, the screams are reaching the point where the neighbour will call in either social services or the noise pollution team - or perhaps both, so I grab each twin under the arms and heft them gracelessly over to the nearest beanbag.
We all three sink into its depths in relative silence, until their close proximity to each other on my lap precipitates a new fight over who gets to finger the buttons on my shirt, or who should have ownership of the one toy I managed to scoop up with us on my descent into the beanbag. They may have won one skirmish, but there is still a whole war to carry on with on the battlefield of twindom it appears.