Christine McGuinness, 34, model and wife of TV star Paddy, talks about the joys and heartbreak of being Mummy to twins Leo and Penelope, seven, and four-year-old Felicity.
Some people might see having three children with autism as unlucky, but I think it’s a blessing because I don’t know any different.
The pandemic has been extremely hard, though. While it was lovely to spend time together as a family, for children like ours it’s difficult for them to accept change in their routine. It’s quite sad that they’re now used to staying inside. We’re going to have to really build up their confidence again.
Our youngest Felicity developed a severe stutter over the first lockdown, which was never there before. It has got a little bit better now she’s gone back to nursery. They’ve all gone backwards with their speech and communication skills.
I always longed to be a mummy, and even as a teenager I looked at boyfriends I was dating and wondered whether they’d make good dads. I didn’t have a father growing up, I was raised by a single mum, so I always craved that family unit.
I was 19 when I met Paddy, then a comedian who hadn’t done much TV. We laughed a lot and got on so well. Fourteen years older than me, I thought his partying days were behind him, and decided he was perfect. We married in June 2011.
It took a long time to get pregnant. As a teenager I’d had anorexia for 10 years, which affected my fertility. Then, after a couple of years of trying, I was also told I had polycystic ovaries. Every month was heartbreak.
After four years of not using contraception, we were over the moon to fall pregnant naturally. When the scan showed two heartbeats, well, we’d won the lottery! We nicknamed them our Twinkles and excitedly planned how we’d travel together for Paddy’s work and imagined lovely family holidays.
Of course, the practicalities of travelling with twins was harder than we imagined. So while Paddy worked away from our Cheshire home, I stayed with them. I adored Leo and Penelope, but I didn’t have any help. I didn’t socialise at all, so to be honest I had no one to compare the twins with. I just thought they were perfect and gorgeous – they still are. But looking back, the signs of autism were there.
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