How a stranger in the park saved my day - and my sanity

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 Photo: Getty Images

Some days I feel like Supermum. My five-month-old twin girls wake up with a dazzling smile, they take 90 minute naps and go down without protest because I judged their tired signs just right. And we make it to our antenatal coffee group without any dramas.

This was not one of those days.

Their usual napping routine wasn't working anymore and we were caught in an evil cycle. The girls weren't napping long enough, which meant they were grumpy about an hour after getting up, which in turn meant they couldn't stay up long enough to get tired enough to sleep longer. And repeat ... 

With all three of us crotchety and exhausted I thought a walk might help. Most babies settle when they're in the pram, right? So off we went ...

But when I was at my furthest point away from home on my circular walk, N started to pipe up. Her crying quickly escalated and within a couple of minutes she had screamed herself in a panicky state. Very soon after, her sister joined in with that crying that sounds like they're being tortured and haven't eaten for days. No pram bouncing would calm them down.

We played a short but very noisy game of taking N out of the pram, calming her down, then putting her back and having her immediately protest at the top of her lungs again while I try to take her sister out. Not fun!

I realised that we wouldn't make it home without a calming bottle (as they don't accept the breast when we're out and about). But you see, that's easier said than done with two very upset little mites.

At the nearby park I sat my girls up in the pram and got the milk bottles out of my bra. Yes, my bra - I'd tried to warm the milk up by popping them in there while walking in circles with a panicky expression in my face.

But nah. "Are you kiddin' me Mama? That's still waaaaaay too cold," my daughters seemed to cry.

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I took the most stressed one out and tried to feed her while jiggling her on my knees and offering the bottle to the other one in the pram but it just didn't work. They were  getting louder and louder (if that was even possible) and I was close to tears.

It was a Thursday afternoon and the park wasn't that busy. There was one elderly lady walking her dog who shot me a glance, seemingly saying "Oh dear, you don't have your children under control, do you?" and kept on walking with her pooch.

At that point I was close to panicking myself. I just couldn't see how I could calm both babies down enough to get them home. I needed help. 

Then my saviour appeared: a mum who was at the playground with her six-year-old asked if she could help. I wanted to shout "Praise the Lord" and "I love you!!!" but just nodded, stared wide-eyed, and shoved one baby into her arm.

With her help we managed to calm both babies down, feed them, and pack them back into the pram. I was eventually on my way home with two content daughters.

Without her it would have been a terrible experience for my girls and me. I could hardly put into words how grateful I was.

Being a mum, and even more if you have twins, you'll sometimes find yourself in situations where you struggle. Your baby might be crying like a banshee at the supermarket checkout, or your five-month-olds lose it because they didn't sleep. It can be extra tough not having anybody to talk to all day.

As a first-time mum you learn as you go, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. You feel tired, frazzled and insecure, and sometimes close to breaking point.

Having a stranger help you out, give you a smile or offer to load your shopping onto the supermarket conveyor belt while you're rocking your pram and trying to find that damned dummy can make all the difference. Instead of despair you have a warm and fuzzy feeling that the world is a good place.

And although I know I'm certainly no Supermum most days, with a little help from a mum (or dad, brother, sister, son, daughter, granny, granddad, stranger in the park ...) I'll survive another day.

Stuff.co.nz