Being pregnant

Society's trouble with twins

Recent news stories make it sound like twins aren't twice the blessing, but an extra hassle. Our new Pregnant Pause blogger tackles these hot topics.

Photo: barsik/iStockphoto

Our former Pregnant Pause blogger, Cara Waterfall, has given birth to a baby boy. We will update you on her status soon. Australian journalist Tenille Bonoguore will take over Pregnant Pause and share her experiences of being pregnant with twins.

Twins. They’re meant to be “twice the blessing”, right? Not according to a couple of recent news stories that appear to be pitting multiples against singletons.

On one side, we have an Ottawa couple claiming two full paternity leaves to care for their twins, arguing that having two kids at once is such a burden it should make them eligible for a double-load of leave to go along with those triple-loads of laundry.

On the other side, we have cranky transit passengers in Toronto trying to get bulky strollers banned from buses and streetcars, because a parent struggling with a stroller in transit is apparently too big an inconvenience to everyone else.

It’s enough to send an expectant parent (or, more specifically, this expectant parent) into a puzzled, and somewhat shaken, spin.

And it surprised me to discover whose side I have ended up taking on each topic. Let’s start with double-whammy parental leave.

It’s fairly safe for me to pontificate on this one, because it’s totally irrelevant to me. As a self-employed writer, I chose not to make myself eligible for mat leave. So while I’m officially unemployed (or rather, my business is “in stasis”), my husband has the wonderful ability to take the full 35-weeks.

The only proviso is, I have to not only birth two squalling children but somehow deliver a small leprechaun with a pot of gold as well.

Like most parents, we just cannot afford for both of us to be off for a year. Even if we were both on parental leave, it wouldn’t matter: The allowance likely wouldn’t be enough for us to live on.

Instead, we’re hoping to combine holidays, a whack of parental leave and our stash of pennies to allow my husband to take three months off. More time would be great, but I’ll be glad for whatever team-effort we can mount when facing two poopie diapers.

Instead of demanding two full allocations, maybe parents of twins should instead be eligible for an allocation-and-a-bit.

A combined total of 47 weeks parental leave (the current 35 weeks, plus an additional 12) could include a 12-week overlap, giving the new parents a few months to get used to things together before one of them has to bustle back to work.

That seems like the more fair deal, for both new parents of twins (who, let’s admit it, do face a harder time than parents of singletons) and for society as a whole. Sorted!

It’s the second news story that gets me truly worried, though. I’m suddenly realizing that my husband and I could be judged differently than other parents, and could face a whole different set of expectations, simply because we have the “good luck” of getting our breeding done in one shot.

Now, I’ve gone stroller shopping, and the last thing I want is a massive four-wheeler with industrial tires, sun and rain umbrellas, tow bar, latte machine and 12-tonne storage capacity. But it seems that’s about all you can buy these days, especially when you’ll be wheeling for two.

We have been stuck behind enough double-wides at the Farmers Market to know we’d rather pluck out our eyes than inflict one on our fellow citizens. That leaves us with the front-and-back option, which is likely to be one mighty hassle to get on and off the bus.

But you know what? Everyone else will just have to suck this one up.

I would much rather my children grow up in a household that chooses walking and transit instead of jumping in the car for every trip to save other people the hassle of waiting 10 extra seconds at the bus stop.

Something tells me this debate isn’t going to gain any traction, though. After all, anyone silly enough to start an argument with a frazzled parent struggling with a stroller, a kid (or two) and transit all at once is probably going to lose that fight. Big time.