Jo Mackie is a PR consultant based in Harrogate and founder of Mackie PR. She and her husband Al have five month-old baby twins - a boy and a girl named Percy and Odile. Jo has the Jemima bag in black, roomy enough for carrying all of her twin mama essentials. Find out what she loves about it in her video above and read a little bit more about Jo and her family life below…
You run Mackie PR, a consulting agency for growing British lifestyle brands, what do you love most about your job?
When I was a teenager I dreamed of being a fashion editor for a glossy magazine and I have always enjoyed being creative. Instead of journalism I fell into PR after landing a job in a big agency after graduating from university and, from day one, I loved the fast pace when working with big consumer brands like John Lewis, Petit Bateau and EVE LOM. In 2015, I set up Mackie PR with the aim of providing bespoke support to niche brands in the lifestyle sector, it's so exciting watching them grow into household names. What I love most about my job is working with other mums who have a passion for what they do; every day I take inspiration from their vision and determination to make their business idea succeed. All of our clients run their businesses alongside family life, something I’ve always aspired to do myself.
How did you react when you found out you were having twins?
Honestly, I was so shocked! We don't have any twins in my family and it passes down the maternal line so I'm still not really sure how it happened?! When the sonographer told me, "There's two in there...", I just sat bolt upright and shouted, "Are you joking?!", to which she responded "I wouldn't joke about something like that!!"... She said it was one of her favourite reactions. It still is the biggest shock of my life, but by far the best.
And how did your husband feel?
He was equally excited, but I think we were both also a bit daunted at the prospect of bringing up two babies at the same time...we just never imagined it would happen to us.
How was your pregnancy?
My pregnancy went really smoothly for the first 30 weeks, I was very fortunate that I didn't have the extreme sickness so common for twin pregnancies and generally felt well and able to carry on with normal life. I was really tired in the beginning but it got so much better and I really enjoyed my second trimester. After Christmas when I reached 31 weeks things got tougher as I just felt so heavy and had a lot of lower back pain. The twins were 6lbs 4 and 6lbs 11 which explains a lot retrospectively! Towards my 37th week (considered full term for twins) I was really unbalanced and managed to fall down our newly carpeted stairs and sprain my ankle. Fortunately I didn't break it as that would have been disastrous giving birth with my foot in a cast!! For anyone that knows me this is ‘typical Jo’ and many had a laugh watching me hobble around with my enormous twin bump and crutches in the last few days before I went into hospital to be induced...
Do Percy and Odile have a close bond already?
When they were born they liked being close to each other, however that's changed now. They're quite independent and don't sleep in the same cot but they have really started to notice each other recently and they often hold each other’s hand, which is heart melting! I love the idea that they've got a friend for life.
And how do their personalies differ?
Dillie is inquisitive, independent and makes the sweetest gurgles and coos, while Percy is really laid back, good at 'chatting' and settles easily with a muslin which he loves to snuggle. They really are quite different at the moment!
What has suprised you most about being a mama of twins?
How much people stop you in the street! I can't get around an M&S or John Lewis without a handful of people coming to have a look, saying “You’ve got your hands full!” and asking all the twin questions... “did you know you were having twins? Are there twins in the family? Are they identical?” That last one always makes me laugh!!
What do you think are the differences between your experience and your friends who just have one?
You very quickly learn to multitask. I often think I must look funny when out on my own rocking the buggy with one hand while feeding the other.
It's impossible to do everything that other mums do...you can't easily go to baby massage classes or swimming with twins. One of my mum friends, who I met on Mush, has older twins and she once said to me that you have to accept that you can't do it all. If you get out to one class with two babies that's a real achievement and the moment I accepted that I felt better.
How do you juggle motherhood with running a business?
It's a challenge but I haven't found it too difficult so far because I'm lucky to have a lot of support from family. My husband works flexibly from home and my parents are down the road so we all look after the babies at various times of the day and it frees up time for me to focus on work. At the stage they're currently at, I make the most of their nap times to work and then finish off in the evenings. I enjoy what I do and it gives me perspective on the days I feel a bit overwhelmed.
Do you have any practical tips for mamas-to-be who are expecting two?
Yes, think carefully about what you buy. A lot of things they'll only need for the first three to four months so maybe see what people are selling in your local Facebook or NCT groups. We got our baby carriers and slings second hand as we only used them in the early days. It saved quite a bit of money!
A good quality double buggy is a wise investment. We have the Bugaboo Donkey and have loved it so far. We bought the car seat adapters, which are really useful for transferring the babies when they're sleeping. It's compatible with lots but we have the MaxiCosi Pebble.
We also found the Moba baskets really handy for daytime naps downstairs when they were little and we had one either side of our bed at night before we moved them into a cot.
A Sleepyhead is also invaluable in the early weeks when they are tiny. It makes them feel snug and secure. Eventually we moved them into a Stokke Sleepi cot in their Sleepyheads so they were still together but not touching. They disturbed each other too much otherwise!
Another tip would be to make sure you get help. If you have family, friends or any willing volunteers (!) nearby draft them in for feeding or bath time as those are the times you'll need it most. If you can, try to be alone as little as possible as that's when it's can feel overwhelming. Remember they say it takes a village to raise a child, so I'm not sure what it takes to raise twins!
What do you love most about your Jem + Bea Jemima?
I love the fact that it doesn't look like a changing bag. It's beautifully designed and has so much space for the two lots of baby things. I'll carry on using it way after the baby years and I can use it for work as I can store my laptop in the changing mat pocket!