Why we’ve been wrong to celebrate our twins’ arrival

Anna and Elizabeth – 5 days old

The last eight days have had us joyfully celebrating the safe and happy arrival of our baby girls.  We’ve been on cloud nine, enjoying cuddling them, caring for them, and cherishing them.  We’ve spent hours marvelling at how tiny yet perfectly formed they are.  Every detail has been taken in, from their tiny fingers and toes to their scrunching of noses when they yawn. The sounds they make and the faces they pull, nothing has been missed and has been closely watched and drunk in by us.  We’ve spent the last eight days savouring every second of this part of parenting where we are getting to know these two new, precious additions to our family.

We’ve been overwhelmed and overjoyed.  We’ve been congratulated and sent cards and gifts and good wishes, yet it came to my attention that we’ve got it all wrong.

I came across a headline yesterday about how mothers of twins live longer and are stronger according to a study of 59,000 women.  I first read it and thought, “Well, good news for me!”.  I then went back and re-read the headline.

“Twice the burden, but mothers of twins live longer and are stronger”

And then I felt annoyed.

Twice the burden? 

Why not something like, “Double the fun” or “Twice as nice”?

Why is it ok to refer to the safe arrival of a new child into the family as a negative thing?  Not only is it ok to refer to a child as a burden, but acceptable to do so?  How many people would have touched on that headline as being offensive or inappropriate?  How many people reading this post would consider me over-sensitive to it and over-reactive?  They’re only words, after all.

The problem is that they aren’t “only words”.  This seems to be the norm nowadays of how children are viewed.  The dictionary definition of the word “burden” is something that is carried (load) or something oppressive or worrisome.   “Burden” is also defined as a dead weight, an imposition, a headache, a concern and a millstone.

Would you console a grieving parent that they are now free of the burden of the child they no longer have?  Or would you pat a couple on the back who have been trying desperately to for years to start the family they so long for and tell them not to worry, at least they won’t have such a great millstone around their necks?  Would you read my last two posts and then send me a “With Deepest Sympathy” card and tell me how sorry you are that I am now subjected to a life of affliction?

We don’t have a right to have children.  We don’t have a right to take them or the ability to have them as an entitlement.  This was all given as a gift to us which we have over time taken for granted.  Then we began to see them as an inconvenience, fitting one or two in if we decide to because, after all, there is so much more out there we could be spending our time and money on, and this slope has now led us to resent the very things we should be appreciating and be grateful of.

The Evening Standard’s article isn’t the exception by any means.  This is one example of many out there and sadly I feel it is only going to get worse.  The effect of which is that people read headlines like this and don’t even question them, which means that it’s normal, it’s accepted and it’s now the view of the majority of society.

So while I go and hold my beautiful newborn daughters and drink in their new baby smell and watch them as they sleep, I will be thinking of all the other crosses in life I could be bearing, and if this is the burden God chose for me to bear then I’ll take it gladly and count myself very, very lucky.


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12 thoughts on “Why we’ve been wrong to celebrate our twins’ arrival

  1. Hear hear….all children, whether it's one, two, three or eight are all a joy and a blessing – never a burden x

  2. Oh, no, I've been getting it all wrong too. I am so happy for friends who have babies, and all healthy births actually… Ooops, I'd best start sending sympathy cards instead… No, I can't think like that, fortunately 🙂

    Yesterday in the play park I saw a woman pushing a buggy with 4 babies in. Actually, I held the gate open for them, looked and said "Wow!" with a huge smile – because I've never seen such a big buggy. I am so glad I didn't say "Wow, quads!" (my first thought was maybe she was a childminder but the babies all looked the same age) because shortly afterwards I realised that they were a family who had lost two of their babies ("the Lamb sextuplets"). And that made me think, four for them is never a burden. Four is too easy, because there are always two missing.

    I am utterly blessed to have had 2 pregnancies and 2 healthy daughters. I have never experienced the loss of a baby at any stage or the trials of month after month of negative pregnancy tests. I do find my girls hard work but never ever a burden. This post really resonates with me because of seeing that family yesterday and remembering how fortunate I am.

  3. Here Here Tania! Children are NEVER a burden! They are a joy to have! Unfortunately, there are some people who feel that they are a burden (so why they ever chose to have children is beyond me). We have 3 beautiful children and would love more, whether that be naturally or by adoption. I just love having a full house. Some people don't know what they are missing!

  4. Enjoy your beautiful babies! They are just precious.

    I hate that our society has decided that children are a burden, rather than a blessing. How far we have fallen! Luckily there ARE some of us who know the truth, that every child is a gift to be treasured, more valuable than anything else in this world.

  5. Well, it's two sides of the same coin really, isn't it? Anything can be both a blessing and a burden. A new job is a blessing because you can provide for your family but it's a burden because you have less time at home and more time in the car, and so on. A holiday to the beach is a blessing because of all the fun and wonderful memories but it's a burden because there's a lot of extra work associated with packing everyone up, organising accommodation, and so on. Pointing out the difficult aspects of any life change, be it a beautiful new baby, new job, new house, doesn't mean it's not possible to simultaneously acknowledge that it's overall a great blessing which most people wouldn't exchange for anything in the world.

    For example, this year my daughter was accepted into the college she dearly wants to attend, and although I know it will be an enormous burden on her in terms of energy and time spent studying, anxiety during exams, financially supporting herself, and worry during her transition, no one sent her a sympathy card because on balance it's a wonderful life event; the rewards will be outweigh the sacrifices. The same is true of newborns, I think. If you look at it objectively there's no denying a newborn is a 'burden' in the sense that it requires a great deal of time, energy, love, food, patience, attention, and so on, if it's to be cared for in the way it deserves to be. But it's ALSO a miraculous joy and blessing and will reward everyone in its life richly.

    Apologies for the ramble! I just disagree that the majority of society views babies as simply burdens, and nothing more, because of a few newspaper headlines.

  6. I do wish I could 'pin' this on Pinterest! That seems to be the way to get the word out. Maybe someone crafty could use your words and come up with some neat craft (or you could use a photo of your new darlings?) and then it could get 'pinned'? Because THIS was GREAT, as usual.

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