Before I had the twins the whole notion of making friends with someone just because you both have babies was a total mystery to me. It seemed a tad shallow and I wondered if there was really enough to talk about when you appear to have so little in common. It's only when I started meeting other twin mums that I realised the importance of having a network of people around so that you can build a new social life.
In short; I no longer go on nights out to bars, restaurants, the cinema, concerts (I've never been cool enough to call them "gigs"), or anything that involves me being on my own with a drink in my hand. When you have children the brutal truth is that things change. Before you hit me with a chorus of "go on a night out then! He can look after the children! Let your hair down!" - let me tell you that guilt, unfortunately, comes with the mum package, as does an inability to forget that you're going to have to spring out of bed at 6am, hangover or no hangover. So basically nights out are a thing of the past. Luckily for those of you who are watching the pennies you can direct all the money you used to spend on, well, basically yourself, to all those baby essentials, so having a baby pretty much costs nothing. Hurrah!
So, no social life then. Or at least not as I had previous known it. To avoid wailing uncontrollably into a muslin and wiping my tears on a (hopefully clean) nappy, but also to have a reason to apply make-up, I realised that I had to build a new, daytime social life around the needs of two very small babies. Playgroups are literally everywhere if you look for them: at children's centres, schools, nurseries, church halls, scout huts and coffee shops. Swapping cocktails for tea and biscuits sounds depressing, but it's really lovely to be in a space that is set up for babies, along with changing facilities and sympathetic fellow mums to moan to. The lovely thing about playgroups that are set up for multiples is that I frequently found a mum with slightly older twins who would jump to carry a heavy carseat for me, feed a baby, wipe a nose and generally give me a welcome hand. No one gets it like a twin mum. As well as being a healthy place for you to meet people and let off steam, these groups are also really good for your children because they go to new places, see other children and get to play with different, often quite dirty, toys.
Mr R seems to think that these groups are set up purely for the purpose of husband-hating discussions about how crap men are. I'm not going to lie: the subject does come up, but the boys shouldn't flatter themselves that that's our only topic of conversation. We also talk about baby poo and w(h)ine. Anyway, wouldn't your baby-daddy prefer us to let off steam to our mum friends rather than blast him with it the moment he comes home from work? Better still; sometimes we will go to a playgroup seething about something he has/hasn't done, only to realise whilst listening to the woes of fellow mum that our fella really isn't that bad.
Quite simply there is no one better placed to understand exactly what you are dealing with than someone who is dealing with exactly the same thing. To be honest, at first, I wasn't even particularly interested in meeting mums with a single baby the same age as my two. Singleton mums made me jealous with their compact pushchairs, easy-breezy breastfeeding and spare hand. I wanted to talk to people who had had twins and I found a couple of friends before I had my babies through TAMBA (Twin and Multiple Birth Association) who ran a seminar for multiple parents-to-be. We swapped emails and met up a few times before our babies arrived, which was lovely because I had people I could talk to straight away after the birth. Knowing that there were other people doing this scary thing and surviving was quite reassuring. Meeting up with them was a safe start to getting out with my babies in the very early days, before I felt brave enough to join a baby group, which I did when they were around 3 months old.
If you're not really a "playgroup person" (and quite honestly, who is?) then you need to join a few groups and steal the best people to be your new friends. I used to casually drop the words "pinot grigio" into conversation and see who pricked up their ears. One you find someone on your wavelength arrange to meet outside of the group, even if it's just for a walk, and you'll be swapping weaning tips and sleepless night stories before you know it.
Of course, not everyone you meet will be your cup of tea. I remember a mum who offered to help feed one of my twins made a song and dance about never having given a baby a bottle as she exclusively breastfed her twins for a year and they went straight "from breast to beaker". Good for her. Bet she doesn't drink pinot grigio either.