Loretta and twins Victoria, Daniel
It’s not every day that you see a 37-year-old civil engineer on the floor using stuffed animals to do a musical puppet show for two babies. For Loretta Walker, mother of seven-month-old twins Daniel and Victoria, it’s par for the course.
For her and husband Brian Barrow, a lawyer, the journey into parenthood has been exciting and surreal; learning the ropes together and navigating the challenges and joys of twin parenting. She will tell you being a first-time mother to twins is hard but one of the most rewarding experiences of her life.
“When we first saw the two heartbeats at the doctor’s office we were excited. Later on when we found out we were having a boy and a girl it was an even sweeter surprise,” Loretta said. “The usual advice is to wait until the second trimester to share the news, but I couldn’t contain myself, I told everyone right away.” she laughed.
Loretta’s pregnancy turned out to be rather uneventful. She even began the exercise programme CrossFit in her second trimester and did it right up until her due date. She recalled with amusement that she ended up having two of her CrossFit coaches in delivery with her; one delivering the baby, one administering anaesthesia and both keeping her entertained with workout analogies.
“I was so eager to see what the babies would look like,” she said, “I had a C-section but I was still able to fully experience the delivery. Brian was in the operating room snapping away with his camera. He got to cut Victoria’s cord,” she added.
The day they brought the babies home from the hospital was when it set in that she and her husband were now 100 per cent responsible for not one, but two little people. “It was a little overwhelming thinking about how they depended on us for everything. The reality is, at this stage we influence their entire lives,” she said.
The twins have changed her in more ways than one. Loretta said she has learnt to slow down and realises her time isn’t hers anymore. She spends a lot of time responding to their needs or preparing for what is going to come next.
“Some chores around the house like the gardening which I enjoy just can’t be done with the same level of intensity anymore. You get over the fact that these things used to be important. The children are now the priority,” she explained.
She has become more disciplined and better at time management, especially taking on the task of exclusively breastfeeding two babies for five and a half months. It’s a juggling act trying to keep them both happy and satisfied but one that she relishes.
“Sometimes I am so tired I wish they would fall asleep. But I keep playing with them because they are my babies and I love them, and I can see how much they love our interaction,” Loretta said. “There’s the love you have for you family, the love you have for your husband and then there is the love you have for your kids. Nothing quite prepares you for it.”
Loretta counts herself blessed to have a lot of family support from both sides. Brian’s family visits regularly and her mother Estalene, a recent retiree, is now the primary caregiver for the children during the day when she and her husband are at work.
“I am lucky to have my mother there with my kids during the day. They can still get all their kisses and cuddles from her. I hope they inherit her kind spirit. She sacrificed a lot for her children and I can only hope to be a mother like her, giving my children the very best that I can,” Loretta said.
Her father, Argyle, died before he had the chance to see her have children and she is sad about that. “From the time we got married he was excited about the prospect of grandchildren. I know he is watching over them,” she added.
Loretta’s wish for her children is that they grow up happy and healthy and have a strong relationship with God. She hopes that they grow to be honest, hard-working and courageous enough to pursue all that they want in life.
“Right now they are full of exuberance. In the morning they wake up with smiles,” she said. “I want them to hold on to that joy for life; to wake up in the morning with a positive attitude and with delight.”