By Beate Noldan
When I joined the Kapi Mana Multiple Birth Club, I was pregnant with twins, and had no other children. My main reason for joining the club was to meet other families with multiples (I was working full time and therefore wanted to establish a social network), and to get information about what life would be like with twins. I didn’t even know that I might also get meals, groceries, clothing, access to hire equipment, a playgroup and a pool of knowledge from people who had ‘been there and done it before’. I strongly recommend that people join their local MBC as soon as they find out they are pregnant with multiples, that way they can get the best practical help possible, as early as possible.
I can clearly remember the first contact I had with the club’s New Members person. She visited me in my home and was warm, energetic and confident, and chatted away with me about life with twins, answering many of my questions. She made me feel like I was in ‘good hands’ and ‘sold’ the club to me. She brought me a very informative new member’s pack and a ‘mobile library’ from which I borrowed several books straight away. The club’s mini mobile library still gets taken to potential new members and is also available at Playgroups. The resources have been updated and now also include fantastic DVDs and current NZ parenting books.
Shortly after we joined the club, we were offered the opportunity to attend twin specific antenatal sessions run byWellington MBC, which we gratefully accepted, as we had not managed to attend any other antenatal classes. The KMMBC is very fortunate to have an arrangement with WMBC that enables all of our new members to be offered this opportunity.
The great benefit of these antenatal sessions is that they are specific to multiple pregnancies and birth, and cover what you can expect and also some of the problems that may occur. There was lots of opportunity to ask questions in a supportive environment, and it was also reassuring to know that the people giving the answers were experienced in all things ‘multiple’. We were also able to get the ‘low-down’ on many practical things, such as which buggy to buy, would we need to buy a new car and, if so, what type, cots or bassinettes, same room or separate, hire or buy car seats, etc, etc. It also included a Breast Feeding Workshop, which gave me hands-on advice on how to actually ‘do it’! An extra benefit was meeting other expectant parents of twins/triplets, sharing our ‘stories’ and getting ideas off each other of how to get prepared for our new adventure.
Care after the birth
When our twins were born, we received congratulations from our club, contact to see if we were okay, and a large basket of groceries and some meals. We were totally blown away, as it was unexpected and such a great help in those early weeks, when life is very hectic.
After some weeks, our family, along with several other club members (from KMMBC and WMBC) who had given birth around the same time, were invited to attend a coffee morning hosted by aWellington club member. I attended with the twins, which was one of the best things I ever did, because out of it I made some great friends and we continued to meet and have ‘coffee mornings’ and many family gatherings, for several years afterwards. The support and companionship of this group was invaluable, and it was fantastic for my twins to have other twins to play with.
Our club has ‘Clothing Grabs’ each term. Members are able to get quality, used clothing for their children, without having to bring any clothing along or spend any money. New members are encouraged to stock up on clothing and accessories in preparation for the birth of their multiples. I started attending when my twins were a few months old (they are now 7 years old!), and I still go now to get clothing for my youngest child.
I have bought very little new clothing for my children, and I cannot underestimate how much money I have saved my family, especially in that first year when children barely wear their clothes before they grow out of them! I also accept any offers of hand-me-down clothing from friends, and whatever I don’t need, I put into the club’s clothing supply.
I have found it cost effective to ‘hire’ equipment (often for free)from the club, rather than wasting money buying equipment that you might only need for a short time, such as breast pumps, stair gates, jolly jumper, portacots, double stroller, front/back packs etc.
I attend our club’s fortnightly Playgroup/support group. It is free for members, and morning tea is provided for both the parents/caregivers and children. It’s beneficial as it provides a regular opportunity to get out of the house and meet other families with multiples. We chat about life (with multiples), share information, offer support where required, and our children get to play together.
The club’s bimonthly newsletter, website and Facebook, help to keep members connected and provide a great source of information about club activities and parenting multiples.
My top tip is: join a Multiple Birth Club for real practical help!