The birth of surprise twins meant some big changes for this Manawatu family of four, writes Renee Murphy.
With an energetic 15-month-old boy and a sassy four-year-old girl to look after, Pam Perkins (pictured above with her twins)and fiancé Greg Mildon were content with family life.
Looking forward to having more flexibility as Antony their youngest became more independent, the Manawatu couple had no plans to add to their brood.
However, a vasectomy had remained at the bottom of the ‘to-do’ list and life took a twist.
Realising her period was overdue, Pam made the trip to town to get a pregnancy test. Unable to cope with the suspense, she did the test in the toilet at the mall.
When it revealed she was pregnant, she burst into tears.
“I don’t know if I was excited. It was a mixture. I think I was more scared about having to tell Greg than anything,” says Pam.
A Warrant Officer with the New Zealand Army, Greg was away on one of his regular work trips, so Pam broke the news to him over the phone.
“I got on the phone to him that night and he was really quiet.”
When he returned home, they took a few days to process the news and consider how a new baby would change their lives.
A dating scan followed, and the sonographer revealed that Pam was fifteen weeks pregnant with twins.
She said, “oh there’s two in there.”
I said, “What??!” and burst in to tears.
The couple then had to consider the practicalities of having two newborns, as well as a toddler and preschooler.
Pam was disappointed that the SUV they had recently purchased had to be replaced with a people-mover.
A few weeks later at the 20-week anatomy scan the images showed there was only one placenta, meaning the babies – two girls - were identical.
With all the surprises along the way, Pam took a while to accept her life was going to change.
“I think I was probably 6 or 7 months pregnant when I thought, ‘okay I’ve gotten over the shock now’”, she says.
After a whirlwind pregnancy, Pam birthed twins - Kaia (main image left) and Zoe (main image right) - in hospital. The labour went well and the girls arrived four minutes apart.
“I would do it all again. It was such an incredible experience,” says Pam.
Although her memories of the newborn days are hazy, she recalls feeling excited. There were also moments when she thought “oh my God, we’ve got two!”
The first year with four children was very busy and sometimes the days blurred into one. New challenges arose as the twins reached milestones such as teething at different times, but Pam took it in her stride.
“Having two kids already I knew to take things day-by-day.”
The couple have no family living locally so they flew Pam’s mum up from Oamaru to help if Greg had to go away for more than a week in the early days.
Neighbours provided support when needed, whether it was a few minutes of child-minding or cuddling an upset child while Pam was busy breastfeeding.
The family were also fortunate to qualify for 240 hours of funded help from a nanny because they had children in addition to the twins. The practical support managing daily childcare tasks was invaluable and it took Pam time to adapt once nanny Jade, finished.
“A week after nanny Jade left, Tiana said, ‘I wish nanny Jade was back because you need her. You are really grumpy.’”
Kaia and Zoe are now 17 months old. Antony is three and Tiana is six-years-old.
While Pam is relishing life as a mum of four, she is open about the pitfalls of juggling all their needs and admits that “probably once a week there will be a burnt dinner.”
Family outings are also a logistical challenge and Pam feels envious of families with only two kids at times.
She tries to take a minimalist approach to life and decluttering the house has helped.
“I think the reason I feel so calm is because I don’t worry about the small stuff. I just don’t sweat it. What’s the point?”
Getting rid of SKY TV has made Greg a lot more productive, she laughs, and the couple share domestic duties where possible.
Staying in a routine is also key to maintaining a happy household. Tiana is at school and Antony attends kindergarten four days a week, while Pam has the twins full-time. Thursday is Antony’s day to chill at home with mum.
Watching her children play alongside each other and getting constant cuddles are among the greatest rewards of motherhood for Pam. She is also loving seeing the twins’ personalities developing. She says Kaia is independent and mischievous while Zoe is more innocent and nurturing.
“I love it. They are so much fun.”
The vasectomy is still on the to-do list.