IN A SNAPSHOT
Amber and Kirsty Wilde are a same-sex family with two sets of twins; their sons Balthazar and Lysander are two years old and their daughters Embla and Olympia have just turned one year old. Kirsty is a stay-at-home mother and Amber works as a Personal Assistant. They live in London, England, with their little dog Josephine. Meet the Wildes is an award-winning modern love story about their lives as an alternative family, primarily written and recorded by Amber.
They were conceived using IVF with donor
sperm at a London-based clinic.
Kirsty and I were childhood best friends. We surprised ourselves and each other by falling into bed together one afternoon when we were fifteen; she was recovering from chickenpox at the time and I was harbouring influenza and didn’t know it, I thought the consequent dizziness and nausea were symptoms of falling in love! Aside from one small blip where we broke up for two years in our early twenties, we’ve been together ever since.
Our first set of twins were born when we were twenty-five, and the second set when we were twenty-seven. They were conceived using IVF with donor sperm at a London-based clinic.
HOW IS LIFE WITH TWO SETS OF TWINS?
CRAZY! I work full-time and rarely see them awake during the week, so Kirsty is usually solely in charge of double the number of children as she has hands. Our home is always busy, and always loud! Our hands are very, very full – but our hearts are full too.
Having more children than hands is ALWAYS a challenge! We are constantly working to try to give them ‘enough’ – enough of our time and our patience, enough one-on-one, enough trips out and babyccinos and rides at the fair, whilst being mindful that these things add up with four! We are very fortunate in that we are able to enjoy a good lifestyle, but they would certainly have more Mini Rodini if there were only one or two of them!
We are constantly working to try to give them ‘enough’ – enough of our time and our patience, enough one-on-one, enough trips out and babyccinos and rides at the fair, whilst being mindful that these things add up with four!
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT YOU’VE HAD WITH YOUR CHILDREN?
There are so many best moments. About a week after the girls were born, we walked to our favourite woodland in the next town over for a picnic. There’s this little clearing in the middle of the woods that is so, so quiet and so still, you could be anywhere. I remember listening to the birds and watching my sons fight over sticks of cucumber and just feeding my babies and thinking, ‘How did such an amazing thing ever happen to us?’.
HOW DID YOU FEEL THE FIRST TIME YOU FOUND OUT YOU WERE GOING TO HAVE ANOTHER SET OF TWINS?
We actually planned to conceive a second-set of twins, to the point where the clinic made me sign a disclaimer to state that I accepted the ‘risk’ of twins as it was so likely – so I would have been extremely pleased to learn that I was expecting a second set of twins, had I not been made redundant from my job two days after seeing the positive pregnancy test! Fortunately, I found a new job extremely quickly, but then I had the pleasure of telling my new boss after only three weeks of being there that I’d just had a twelve-week ultrasound and SURPRISE, I was pregnant! And it was twins! That was a little awkward, even though he was lovely about it. Going into complicated multiple pregnancies was not without its stresses but fortunately, none of the big risks of twin pregnancy, such as pre-eclampsia and premature delivery, happened to me and I was able to keep working right up until my daughters were born and return to work two weeks later.
IS IT EASIER THE SECOND TIME AROUND?
Much. We know what we’re doing this time round, but also we’re just that much older, a bit more financially stable, I don’t have the raging PND that I had the first time round. The girls’ babyhood has been a joy.
IS THERE ANYTHING ABOUT MOTHERHOOD THAT HAS SURPRISED YOU?
How much I’ve loved some parts, and how much I’ve hated others. The extent of my strengths and my vulnerabilities. I feel like I’ve found the absolute best in my partner in the patience, kindness and grace with which she responds to our children; she was born to do this. Motherhood stripped me away to my most essential self; it’s made me feel primal in a way that it’s difficult to feel when face-deep in office politics and calendar diarisation. I’ve discovered facets of myself that I would never have known had I not become a mother.
WHAT IS THE MOST VALUABLE LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED?
To breathe before reacting. I am a much better mother when I take the time to plan how I am going to respond BEFORE I respond. I’ve learnt to tell them that I love them every day; I try to be conscious of our own mortality and to treat my children as though every day could be the last – no regrets. I want them to know how much they matter, how wanted they are and how much we love and value them for their own sweet, precious selves.
HOW DO YOU THINK YOU’VE EVOLVED AS A MOTHER?
Motherhood has made me ferocious. It has given me a strength and determination that I didn’t know I had, to be a better person, a more focused provider, wiser and more gentle in my judgement. As my babies have aged, I’ve found that I care less about the petty concerns of infancy that seem so all-consuming at the time – bottle vs breast, baby-led weaning vs spoon feeding vs purees, and more about the world that they will grow up in, whether it will be a good fit for them and they for it. We are already vegetarian, but motherhood has pushed us to seriously contemplate veganism, to notice – and care – about our consumption and waste of plastics, our carbon footprint, the state of the road outside of our home and the plight of refugees. It has made me fall in love with our world again and again and again as people are kind to our toddlers, as they splash in the sea for the first time or spin around on the fairground rides, or taste a new meal in a restaurant and declare it acceptable to them.
Our weekends are so precious to us, and I guard them fiercely. Saturday mornings are for me and the boys, and the girls sometimes join us or sometimes stay at home, depending on how pram-friendly our adventures are. The plan is dictated by the toddlers and can be as simple as popping to the local farmers’ market on the bus and then meandering down to the duck pond with fresh bread and a cake to share, or else we’ll venture into Central London and walk along the Southbank, and eat brunch out. I love giving them time and space to run and explore, and then letting them chatter to me over a meal – it’s such a new thing that they are suddenly so articulate. On Sundays, we do something as a whole family; we love to picnic in the woods close to our house, or to find somewhere new to explore. All of our children are super travellers, so train journeys are no more daunting than being sat at home with them! We haven’t been abroad yet with them, because two rounds of IVF in two years was a not inconsiderable expense and we’re currently saving to afford a third round later this year, but we are only a few hours away from the coast and they love to splash in the British sea in summertime, to scoff ice creams and play in the sand.
All of our children are super travellers, so train journeys are no more daunting than being sat at home with them!
WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU WANT YOUR CHILDREN TO REMEMBER ABOUT THEIR CHILDHOOD?
Laughter! I want them to feel that they have grown up in a warm and loving home, one that nurtures them according to their needs and desires.
ANY SPECIAL TIPS AND TRICKS YOU’VE LEARNT FROM RAISING TWINS?
Let it go. Seriously, take a deep breath and just let. It. Go. Tomorrow will be better!
AND FINALLY, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE PARENTS WHO HAVE JUST WELCOMED TWINS?
Hi, new parents – congratulations! You’re probably a little shell-shocked right now; twin parenthood feels a little like being held underwater at first but don’t worry, you’re going to acclimatise super fast (and if you don’t then it’s probably hormonal – go and tell your GP how you’re feeling). If I could give you one piece of advice, it’s not to judge yourself against the standards of people with just one baby. You have double the baby! You will do things your own, different way, and that’s ok. Try to find yourself some twin parents who ‘get it’, if you can.
Twin parenthood is the most incredible journey. Try to reconcile yourself to the fact that you’ll never make it around a supermarket without getting stopped at least once and that you’ll be asked more stupid questions than you ever thought POSSIBLE, but that if you can embrace this adventure then it’s actually a whole lot of fun – and think of all of the wonderful ‘twinning’ fashion opportunities!
With thanks to Amber Wilde X