Tips to help understanding your little ones often confusing stages of learning

Children can be baffling at the best of times. Since the moment they are born we are often left guessing about what they want from us, we think it will get easier when they can talk but when they become verbal it can all be just as confusing as their language struggles to keep up with their busy minds. Sometimes I watch my boys run around the house in disbelief, they seem like crazy little nutters jumping from one activity to another.

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Health insurance that even covers braces? Why I make health insurance a priority for my family.

Autoimmune diseases and skin & lung cancer - scary words when put down in black and white, right? 

Those are the major health concerns that have affected my family and Jay’s in the past, which of course means they are on the radar for us, and now also our boys. Our tiny, perfect boys that I hope more than anything never have to suffer from either of these conditions.

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Hernia Repair And…..A Tummy Tuck. It’s Happening.

Tomorrow I am getting my hernia fixed and a tummy tuck.

I’m very excited but I’ve debated blogging about this decision for ages.

Why I’m nervous to share this part of my life?  I can just imagine people chiming in already with  “love yourself for who you are” “embrace the mummy tummy” blah blah blah.

So why blog about it?

  1. I share a lot of my life online with you all, and I pride myself with being open and honest with you all. Basically I try to keep it real.
  2. If I didn’t share this I would feel dishonest, like I was hiding something. That doesn’t sit right with me. This I a personal space, so it is just pointless if I don’t share personal changes in my life. There are definitely some things off limits, but this isn’t
  3. I have already shared my previous experience with plastic surgery. 
  4. I want you to realise that it’s ok to do something like this for yourself. I’m not saying everyone has to get rid of excess skin, if you are happy with it then that’s awesome. But if you’re not, and you want to do something about it then that’s ok too.
  5. I feel there is so much pressure either way on women these days, you can’t win. People being made to feel embarrassed that they are “vain” enough to want to make a change, to feeling extreme pressure to accept their tiger stripes and be proud of them. Which is funny, because I don’t mind my stretch marks at all, they don’t actually bother me and yes, are a visual reminder of the amazing thing my body did, grow and carry twins. For me it’s the excess skin that they cause that has lead me to this.
  6. Why I’m getting this done?

  7. It all started with my hernia. I have one in my groin which is really strange for women to get during pregnancy. They usually get them around their belly button. But mine is a complication from my c-section and still suffering from hyperemesis. The constant heaving and vomitting caused a tear in my abdominal wall. It can only be fixed via surgery. I put it off for the last 3 years as it wasn’t causing me too much pain yet and the recovery would be tough with small very dependent babies.
  8. The last 6 months it has gotten worse and worse, if I sneeze or cough now I have to hold the area to stop it protruding and if I move in certain directions (twisting etc) fast it is such a sharp take your breathe away pain. So time to get that sucker fixed.
  9. My excess skin has bothered me for 3 years now. I literally can feel it on my lap when I sit down. It gets in the way of how I dress. I know a lot of you will think I’m crazy and don’t think I have this tummy at all, but I hide it well. I have naturally very slim legs/ams etc so people always tell me I’m being silly when I say my midsection is a problem. I wear baggy tops, dresses, nothing from fitting to hide my “issue”.  It’s been a problem even when I have been much lighter than I am now, the skin just gets in the way. Jeans are a nightmare, to buy jeans that fit my legs I get massive issues with the skin on my stomach spilling out everywhere…but to get jeans that fit around/accomodate that skin they are massive on my legs and actually fall down constantly.
  10. The two procedures can be done in one go as the incision for the hernia repair is the same area as the TT. Ideal. I also have the hernia part of the operation covered by ACC as it’s a complication from the c-section. So it just seemed right to combine them and have the down time all in one hit and have some of the hospital/theatre costs etc covered.
  11. So there it is, I hope you are all supportive during this time. I can tell you I won’t have the energy to deal with anyone making snarky comments about it and they will be deleted.  Trust me, I do love myself, this isn’t going to make me love myself any more (I’m very good at accepting not so ideal things about myself, hello full body hair loss!). It’s just a step to make me feel more comfortable in day to day life, literally. I won’t have something dragging me down around my middle. Oh and I can tell you now I can’t imagine doing before and afters as it’s not about that for me.

    So, I’m going to be stuck in a jazzy recliner power chair I have hired for the next few weeks, so hit me with some good tv series recommendations that I can get stuck into. I’m going to have ALOT of spare time!

Weaning two boob loving boys

Weaning was something I was worried about but looking forward too all at the same time. After a few initial bumps in the road I found the process of breast-feeding reasonably easy, but didn't really enjoy like a lot of mums do. The boys were two hourly feeders for a long time and I felt like I constantly had them attached to me, for them then to go and puke all that milk back up - thanks reflux! I basically felt like I was on a roundabout of feeding that I couldn't get off. So after 6 months I was done with it, I wanted to get to a year but it just wasn't something that made me happy anymore.  I was told the easiest way to wean was to drop a feed every week/few days or day, whatever time frame worked with you. I started with the night-time feeds as those I already liked to share with Jay by pumping and us feeding them with bottles, it also one of the feeds that is "most comforting" to the boys, so would be the hardest to get them to give up if I left that till last. Over the course of their sixth month I dropped a feed once a week till eventually I was just feeding them in the morning. The morning feeds lasted for a few weeks then one day they just weren't interested in the boob anymore and that's it, off they went on their happy way to their new relationship with the bottle...and OH MY is it a deep and loving relationship!

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I have to say it was a relief when it was done and it wasn't a battle, I had had enough battles with Collic and Reflux! So nice to have some personal space back and not two wriggly babies grappling for my boobs!

The boys are 2.5 now and for the last 2 years those Nuggets have LOVED their bottles. More than they loved my boobs, which was another huge love at that! Bot Bot's as they are commonly referred to in our household have been a life saver in so many situations.

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From 6 months till a year the boys drank Heinz Nuture formula, but as you know it's expensive so as soon as they hit 1 I moved them onto cows milk. We were lucky again the boys loved cows milk and were happy to ditch the formula right away. We started the boys on Silver Top Anchor milk as it is partially non-homogenised, which means it's closer to it's original form and full of fat, great for growing boys! Farmer backgrounds on Jay's side of the family were very happy with this decesion as it wasn't something that had occured to me utnill they mentioned it.

 

 

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At about a year and a half I toyed with the idea of dropping bottles all together, all the articles I read said it would be easiest to do it at this stage rather than waiting and that they didn't need them anymore. BUT I was far too scared to do it, the bottle was such a source of comfort for them. If they woke in the night and I couldn't settle them (which was very often) the bottle would calm them right down and off they would go back to sleep. Who wants to give that up? Not this twin mama, sleep and calming tools are so important to me! Looking back now we probably should have done it, as the boys are still obsessed with their bottles and there is no way we will be getting rid of them anytime soon.Which makes me feel guilty like I didn't make the right decesion and I should have gone through the hard yards then, as now it will be MUCH harder as they can talk and demand a Bot Bot.  The boys go through on average between 9-11 litres of milk a week! We have a second fridge in the garage that is devoted to holding all their milk. We moved to Anchor Blue when they hit 2 as they decided they liked to have their milk cold (fussy little men) if they had it during the day. The fatty cream in the Silver Top meant that it wouldn't flow through they bottles if it wasn't warm.

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Bottles is one of those crutches they have now that I flip-flop between feeling bad about or not caring. I mean it's a great way for them to get a big dose of calcium, when they are whiny and having an off day I can give them a bottle and get 10 minutes of peace (great for my sanity), it settles them in the night if they are having a bad sleep and well, we never had dummies so it's not like they have lots of other crutches we have to get rid of. But at the same time I stress about it thinking are they too old to be having bottles, is it bad for their teeth,  the added cost to our weekly shops, cleaning all the bloody bottles, is it just a habit and could it get worse? I just generally have the typical mum guilt thinking the main reasons I want to keep the bottles is because it makes MY life better. Funny the internal battles we have right?  Doesn't make it any easier when you get the "oh they are still having bottles!" comments!

So for now the bot bots stay, screw what people think as they do make my life easier and the boys love them. Can't be that bad right?  Have you had bottle loving kids and how did you get them off them? Weaning from bottles is going to be way harder than it was weaning from the boobs!

Boobs, Boobs, Boobs

I have had quite a few requests for a blog on my experiences breast feeding and since I like to please, here it is. One thing we need to cover off before I get into the nitty gritty of breast feeding, is I have implants. Not a secret, it's been written about in magazines before, talked about on TV in a really embarrassing reality tv show I did when I was in my early 20's, but I haven't talked about it recently. Since the Nuggets have arrived I have a new group of followers/readers and you probably weren't aware. For the people who knew I had them, that's usually their first questions when we talk about breast feeding. How did you breast feed when you have implants? It's one of the biggest misconceptions about implants out there, that it means you won't be able to breast feed. My doctor assured me then, as I always knew I would want to breast feed, that unless I wasn't naturally able to breast feed myself, then the placement of my implants would not affect that. It's funny how so many people instantly think it's a write off, even my OB was worried I wouldn't be able to feed.

Anyway I digress...when I first was pregnant I knew I would want to feed and was aiming for a year. When we found out we were having twins I still wanted to feed but knew it would be a tougher journey.

Fast forward 34 weeks and the nuggets made their early entry into the world. After my emergency  c-section I was told to squeeze my boobs to collect the colostrum.I barely remember it, but Jay said he would hover over my boob with a syringe sucking it up and after every squeeze I would fall fast asleep. Apparently it was rather hilarious! The amount of colostrum I collected really impressed the nurses and was a good sign that I would be a milk making machine, which it turns out I was luckily.

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I was still vomiting for about 2.5 weeks after birth and was paranoid my lack of nutrients would affect my supply, but I'm really lucky that it didn't effect it too badly. My milk came in big time and I had beach balls as boobs, they were so full, pert and looked pretty epic if I do say so myself. Poor Jay was allowed no where near them though!

Since the boys were born so small, the first few days they would practice feeding on my breast whilst still being feed by and NG tube. The NG tube delivered my pumped milk directly to their stomach via a tube that went up their nose and into their tummy.

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The nurses were great in Nicu, except one who made me feel like shit for being a little late to feed one of the boys, he was really hungry and it was then difficult to latch him. I was so ill myself I found it really unfair that she was making me feel so bad and guilty about being late (reason being I was being sick in the toilet). Last thing a twin mama wants to feel is pressure and anxiety about doing everything wrong! The rest were great and really helpful with showing me how to latch them and support their tiny little bodies next to me and my giant knockers. One of the things I had to do was pop a finger on my breast and pull it slightly away from their noses, they were so small my full boobs would squish against their face and since they were so small it would cover their nostrils, so the pulling away would give them a clear airway making it easier to feed.

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Once you graduate Nicu you are sent to PIN, a ward where the babies are still supervised 24/7 by nurses but where you are meant to do all of their "cares", basically look after them like you would at home. Most babies are in there to learn how to feed properly, stabilise, put on weight and just be generally better and in a good place to be able to thrive once sent home with their parents.

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I really realised once we were in PIN that I was struggling to bond with my babies and I thought nailing breastfeeding and feeling like I was doing "something" right would help. I really stuck in to figuring the whole breastfeeding out, as I figured that maybe that was the key to bonding, as so many mothers said it does.  Their mouths were so small they didn't always latch correctly, I  was having to pump to keep extra feeds available to be feed via NG tube.  I did get some cracked nipples which wasn't fun at all. I noticed it first when I saw there was blood in my pumped milk and quickly realised it was coming from the space where my areola and my nipple meet. We have a lactation consultant who works in the NICU and PIN ward, I personally found her very helpful. She was straight in there giving me these new Manuka honey breast pads to help heel them and they were a godsend. I couldn't recommend them enough. The healing properties of the Manuka in the pads worked a treat, and within a couple of days they healed and I never got any more cracks or grazes after this. The lactation consultant told me that I was lucky as darker coloured nipples are tougher and I seriously had some dark chocolate afghans going on. Considering how little pain I got in terms of the boys sucking on them, the old wives tales may be true! Thanks to my great grandmas Indian blood for giving me some tough nipps!

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Check the silly pumping video my friend Sophie took when she visited me in hospital, she couldn't believe the set up and how it really was like milking a cow. 

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My milk supply was great, once those first cracks disappeared my nipples were holding up, but my god those let down pains were tough! I felt like I had needles running down my milk ducts for the first 5 or so minutes of feeding. Everyone told me feeding hurt because it hurt your nipples, no one told me my boobs would feel like they were being shredded on the inside! I'm not sure if you just get used to that pain or it goes away after you have been feeding for a few weeks, but that eventually wore off. I would just grin and bear it for the first 5 minutes until it would subside for the rest of the feed!

Sadly the whole bonding experience whilst feeding for the first few weeks didn't happen for me. I was forever trying to keep them awake on the boob, timing how long it was taking them to record on the sheets in PIN and generally falling asleep myself late at night waiting for them to finish their sometimes hour long feeds (that's two hours sitting up in a cold hospital feeding them one by one!), it was exhausting. Thats another thing no one says, they say breast feeding is handwork, but I thought that meant it was hard figuring it all out, not that it was physically exhausting to begin with. The thirst, all the extra water and food you need, the forever having something attached to your nipple, the pain of being hooked up to IV's myself and bending the joints they were placed in to feed, dealing with the boys wires and tubes and the cramp you would get from holding a baby in one place for an hour. Gah! It's funny as I originally thought I had a pretty easy experience breast feeding, as once I got it down it was pretty straight forward, but I really forgot about all of this stuff that happened at the beginning. That is  until I started typing and it came pouring out of me.

After realising I couldn't handle sitting up for two hours at a time feeding the boys one after each other, I knew I had to get the tandem feeding down. Late one night the lactation consultant had more free time to help me learn how to do it and set me up. God it was hard getting their tiny bodes in the right position and up close enough to my giant orbs, there was so may rolled pillows, muslin cloths etc going on but we did it.

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I had to hold their heads up and in the right angle towards my nipples because their heads weren't big enough to lay flat and let their mouth reach me. So sitting and feeding like this for an hour (they were slow feeders to start with due to their size) wasn't exactly comfortable either. The pillow had to wrap around my sides so their legs could lay that way, as they got longer and longer it was tough as I would need to sit so far forward in the pillow for them to be able to lie down. I was forever having to shove pillows down the back of the pillow for back support and to stop it pushing forward if I sat back. I have since found a great looking twin feeding/general feeding pillow online from the states that looks like it solves that problem. Wish I had seen it when i was feeding!

Tandem feeding wasn't easy to start with, so if you have twins and are reading this don't expect it to be something you will master quickly, especially setting it up by yourself. (If you do I bow down to you). The boys were small so it would take Jay passing them to me and me holding them in place to get them to feed correctly, in fact to tandem feed it took Jay being their to help me a good few months before I felt confident enough to do it on my own, not the latching part, but actually getting them up onto the pillow and settled. Jay was amazing and would wake at every night feed to help pass the boys to me and get them on, and then take them one by one when they were done to help me burp them. I should mention here that the boys feed 2 hourly 24/7 for about 16 weeks. Those little buggers didn't get into a great 3 hourly schedule like most NICU babies and demanded to be feed every two hours without fail. There was no stretching them out as they would get so historical that they would end up being too upset to latch and feed properly. It was bloody awful! So props to Jay for being their by my side 100% for all of the night feeds, I seriously have an amazing man.

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It took a visit from Dorothy Waide for me to put on my big girl panties and decide to give tandem feeding when I was alone a good crack. The boys were about 2 moths at this stage and she said I didn't need to treat them as carefully as I had when they were in Nicu. She recommend I set myself up on the couch with each of them on either side of me, pop one on and then pick the other one up with one hand and scoop them up onto the pillow. To burp them mid feed she said I should roll them off the pillow, I know, sounds WTF?! But it worked. I would kind of gently roll them off the pillow gently as possibly onto the couch and lay them on their tummy. Then you could pat their back till they did a big burp and pick them up by the back of their clothes (I know this sounds horrifying but it worked!) and lift them back onto the pillow to re latch. Imagine it being like a cat picking their baby up by the scruff of their neck. So that's how I managed tandem feeding alone while they still needed me to keep an arm under their head, so their mouth could reach my nipples. As they got older I would sit them in a boppy pillow either side of me and latch them one by one. They were bigger and heavier at this stage so I could reach for one and put them on, they no longer needed my hand for support so I could use both hands to get the second. Then eventually I could hold them both in a side by side football hold where they lay on top of each other.

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I'm lucky that after those first few weeks with the pain, exhaustion of the 2 hour feeds it started to click into place for me. I'm not so lucky that the whole breast feeding experience didn't help me bond with my kids, that was a slow burn, but oh boy do I love them with everything now. I have said before that I almost, dare I say it, found it easy to breastfeed once we were established. I think the main reason behind this was that the boys latched well, I didn't continue to get pain, I made a FUCK load of milk, I could pump off 500-600ml in 20mins with no problems and they were good and quick feeders once they got bigger. BUT, and it's a big BUT, they had collic and reflux, which meant they puked everything up constantly! So while I made a tonne of milk it was hard to keep up with the demands for feeds as they were starving all the time after projectile vomiting everywhere.

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I felt like they were constantly on my boob. If you know me you know I love my own 'bubble' I like my own space and me time and it was slowly driving me mental having not one but two things attached to my boob, then people like my mum hanging over my boobs watching them feed. What is it with that? I know people think it's cute and she was worrying they weren't feeding right but I'm like, back up mum, give me some space and keep your beady eyes off my boobs! (love you mum!).

I also wasn't keen on the feeding when we were in public. Don't freak, I'm not one of those people who think its gross to show your boobs whilst feeding in public, I feed them plenty of times out and about and I never covered them up. I don't care and if someone does they wouldn't walk away without a massive telling off from me. It was just the whole process took so long with two, I would have to do them one at a time. As much as I don't care about feeding in public, you can see above that tandem feeding is pretty much rolling fully topless and not discreet with my huge nipples and boobs. If we were out, which was rare, I wanted to eat my meal or whatever we were out for and not spend it sitting and feeding the whole time. So we would bottle feed either pumped milk if I had enough backed up or formula. That's something I'm not ashamed to admit, I am pro 'fed is best' and my children did mix fed during the 6 months that I breastfeed. So never feel bad if you do the same or purely formula feed. The mums who exclusively breastfeed, you are awesome and I am not trying to take away that achievement for you, but those that fed their child whatever way should be just as proud. It's not a competition after all!

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Now a lot of lactation consultants or people in general stress about nipple confusion with bottle teats in the early stages. I kinda ignored that advice and feed them a bottle once a day from about 3 weeks old. I always feed them this bottle at night, the last feed before bed as that was when my milk was at its least fatty and I was tired and exhausted. I liked having the help to feed them or having Jay and another friend who was over doing it so I could have time out. Which is much needed and deserved, so don't feel guilty if this is something you want to do also. The nipple confusion thing never happened and it meant the boys were used to a bottle, so if they were away from me then someone else could feed them. I had so many friends say they gave their bottle to their baby once, they took it so thought all was fine, by the time they needed to give one to them again they weren't having it. I'm no expert but I think a bottle a day or every few days definitely helps with that issue, in my humble opinion.

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I wanted to reach a year BF the boys but we got to 6 months when we went to LA to visit family and the weaning started, mum took them for a night so we could go stay at a hotel and have a lone time and they stopped being interested in the boob. To be honest I was done too. I was still having mental health issues and finding the transition to twin mum rather difficult and I just wanted a bit of "me" back. I was proud of what I had done, but I was tired of feeding only to watch it all be puked back up 2 minutes to 2 hours later so I started weaning.

I guess the point of all this is we all walk a different journey, and like Rebecca said at Takes A Village, breastfeeding is natural, as in we are made to do it, but it doesn't come naturally. Just as like I experienced with the help of a lactation consultant, it's a learned behaviour. We and our babies need to learn how to do it and it can be fucking hard. So don't be too hard on yourself ladies.

Weaning next up on the blog and why the boys still have their beloved bot bots.

Go the Fuck to Sleep Part Two

What the actual fuck is going on right now with the Nuggets sleep? Well I do kinda know, they are playing with the idea that they don't want to nap during the day, but they/we aren't ready! They refused one the other day and 1.5 hours later were fast asleep on the couch!  The reason why I only kinda know, is they haven't slept through the night in months! This was when they were still happily napping during the day. So I feel like there is somehow two separate issues going on right now? IMG_8295

It all started about 5 months ago, we used to pop the boys into bed and they would grizzle for a little bit and then off to la la land they would go. Look they weren't GREAT sleepers, hello 5-6am wake up times. But they consistently went to sleep easily and slept through, or if they did wake they would grizzle for a minute and then self settle easy peasy. Then it happened, one night they got out of bed, lay on their backs and start kicking the fucking door! As I have said any times before, man they can be tiny assholes! Now before you think it, why don't I persist and tell those tiny a holes not to kick the door. May I add it sounds like the door is about to break in, it is so fucking loud. You wouldn't believe it! Anyway we have done the persistence of moving them back to bed, telling off, being nice about it, ignoring it, giving them the grumpy voice. We did it all, they did not stop kicking that door in  as soon as we left the room! Every night after anywhere between 5-15 minutes they would finally give in and off they would go to bed. That's till they woke up again and it started all over again. It literally has been a nightmare. What could get worse you wonder? Moving house!

We went away to Bali for my birthday and moved the day we got back. The boys couldn't get out of their old room, as the door handles were too high but they are nice and low in the new house. I expected the first few days to be tough, new surrounding etc, but we are in week three and its been pretty horrific. They have spent so many nights in our bed, and being in our bed doesn't make them sleep better. They toss, turn and wake up constantly. Our presence does nothing to make them sleep better. Way to make us feel even more useless.

When we try to settle them in their room they have a sixth sense about when we leave, they can be out to it after an hour of settling and sneak out. two minutes later they are hysterical, screaming, the KICKING! They wake up just screaming these days and its heart breaking but also incredibly frustrating. I'm not a very nice person after midnight, I like my sleep and my patience level goes waaaay down. I have to grit my teeth and take deep breaths to calm down as they can be so trying. Basically I have gone from feeling like we had done pretty well at the sleep thing to being down in the mud being trampled over overnight by the nuggets. So I ask again, what the hell is going on? Is this a 2-year-old molar thing (they don't seem to be in pain and don't say anything hurts), is it a recession, is it night terrors, separation anxiety? Please tell me this has happened to other people and is there anyone who can help or specialises in toddlers sleep?

 

Go The Fuck To Sleep

Have you heard about that "storybook" Go The Fuck To Sleep? That's how I have felt all weekend about my children. Pretty much muttered it under my breath yelled it at almost all sleep times for the past 4 days. The boys are usually OK sleepers. Ok in the fact they can self settle (but don't always choose to do it) and generally sleep through the night (just not recently). But they aren't long nappers, never have been, and are early risers. The latter of which I am sadly not. Jays been away in Sydney for four days so I have been flying solo, and sure enough the boys can smell the fear and decide to act up. They have a really nasty habit (just plan naughty behaviour) of getting out of their beds in protest of going to bed, laying on their backs and KICKING their feet against the door and screaming really loudly...and I ignore them. You may think I'm mean ignoring their cry and obvious upset, but I swear they aren't, they just want to protest in the loudest, most aurally confronting way possible! The last few nights they have ramped this up a notch and really gone for it. It seriously sounds like the door is about to fall of its hinges. Yes I can hear you now, go in and tell them off, persist and they will stop, lay in there till they fall asleep....tried all that! My kids bizarrely don't do well with me in their room, they fuss even more and have scary spider sense. I can lay there for an hour and would bet anything they were asleep. I move in the slightest to leave and one will sit straight up and say Mama?! WTF, how did you hear me/why aren't you bloody asleep after an hour? GO THE FUCK TO SLEEP! I know they fall into a deep slumber in way less time when I'm not in their room, so why not when I'm there? Anyway, I disgress. This banging is so so loud and is really intense if you aren't used to it/havent hard the little buggers go for it. On Friday I was talking to my friend Rebecca on the phone after I put the boys to bed and they banged, banged and banged for 25 minutes before they gave up! She couldn't believe it. I think it just spurned us both on to talk about how our children had been horrors the last few days. I love my kids, but gosh they can run rings around you!

So settling to sleep has been a nightmare, nap times have been super short (and we all know nap time is the best time of the day when you are tired and flying solo!) and they have been waking REALLY early like pre 5am early, and wanting come into "mummys bed". It's like they know I am more of a pushover when Jays away, and in my head letying them in is a good idea! They will sleep better and we will all get nore sleep right? wrong! I  then spend a night awake being kicked, pushed and susshing babies to sleep as its suddenly more fun to stay awake and climb over me. Fail. Anyway the point of this blog is to vent, venting is good, so that honour falls on you. Thank you! Sadly there is not some magic answer at the end of this blog to stop my kids kicking in the door and sleep in till 7am. If you think you have one please feel free to share below!

Jays home in 1 hour, and he is on the drive show on Hauraki this week, so no breakfast slot 4am starts for him. Which means...you guessed it. This mama is getting a sleep in! Boom!

Night!

Twins...Lucky you!

"Double trouble" "You must be busy" "You have your hands full" are just some of the things strangers like to say when you are out and about with twins. It REALLY irks a lot of twin mums as they rightly feel they are blessed to have them. The thing is lots of mums of multiples see these comments as a really negative and insensitive thing to say to someone.  I'm ok with it, mostly because I usually think the person is well-meaning or making a bit of a joke, so I don't let it bother me. But over the past two years it is something I have heard almost daily while out and about. For the first time since they were born someone said something that made my heart sing.  I was at St Lukes with the boys doing a bit of shopping and realised I needed to grab a few things from the supermarket. I usually try to avoid the supermarket with the boy as they get bored sitting in the trolley and have a thing about wanting to throw everything I choose into the back of the trolley. But needs must so I headed to Countdown.  I was in the checkout line and the boys definitely weren't being angels. Hunter was tired and grumpy and Oscar was whining (I hate whinging) and was trying to touch everything within arms reach at the checkout. Seriously whats with all the lollies and brightly wrapped packages at trolley seat hight!? I just wanted to get them in the car and home before they went into meltdown mode.

It was my turn for checkout and the lady behind the counter looked at me, clocked my boys who were currently fighting ver who got to hold my wallet and gave me the biggest smile ever and said  "Oh wow, twins?" In my head I though oh here comes the "double trouble" but she just continued "aren't you so lucky". I was floored, I think I am lucky to have my precious boys but not in their two years has a stranger ever told me that or said something really positive about twins. I was blown away, it instantly made me smile and made my day.  It was such a nice reminder of how a small gesture or a few kind words can have such a great effect on someone and totally change their day or mood. I can't believe it took two whole years to experience a moment like this! She then continued to talk to the boys and told me multiple times "You're doing a great job mama". It seriously brings tears to my eyes now typing this. It was such a lovely thing to hear at the end of a long day. Because, and I think ALL parents can relate to this, you can't help but let that doubt occasionally creep in that maybe you aren't doing a great job, you could play more with them, read more, forget about the housework and focus on them! It's nice to be reminded that you are doing a great job, because sometimes us mums don't give ourselves enough credit. I wish I got her name so I could write to Countdown and tell them what an awesome employee they have, but it totally skipped my mind to get it. I will be on the lookout for her next time we visit!

So please, next time you see a mum of twins resist that urge to make the "double trouble" joke, not all of us are offended by it, but you could literally make someones day if you tell them how lucky they are! Because we are, twins are very special and we were lucky to be chosen to be their mamas #blessed ;)

All About That Park Life

When I was pregnant someone told me that I would need to "run my two boys like dogs" as they have so much energy. I thought it was a funny way to describe tiring your children out but now, two years on, I TOTALLY get it! If I could have my two on a leash and ride a bike while they ran next to me I would! The boys have so much energy so we spend a lot of time at parks, trying to do just what that person told me, run them out like dogs. However one problem, I try to choose parks in the middle of fields or far from roads as my two kids like to run in different directions.

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The Tough Reality of my Birth - Part Two

Last post we left off with me falling asleep while squeezing colostrum out of my boob, while Jay hovered over me sucking it up drop by drop into a syringe. Still one of my funniest memories of being in hospital, not that there were that many fun or funny moments to be honest. After that first night which went by as a huge haze, shout out to the morphine! I started to feeling a little better physically. I think the getting up to walk down to NICU actually helped with my healing from the C-Section. I didn't fell like I had to bend over like some other friends described post section. The only annoying thing was that I was still being sick and had to stay hooked up to a IV and have four different types of anti naus though an IV line to stay on top of the vomiting. The doctors all still said it would be me reacting to the pain medication but I wasn't buying it.

Apart from the vomiting I was getting stuck in to this mothering business. I didn't want anyone to realise that I wasn't feeling the love for my kids and think that I was a "bad mum" (crazy to think this I know) so I was going to be that mum who did the best job possible of looking after her kids in NICU.

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On the second day in the afternoon Hunter was finally starting to hold his temperature a little better and wasn't needing any more help with his breathing. Which meant I got to hold him for the first time since he was born over 24 hours ago! Exciting stuff for both Jay and I! I must admit that even though I didn't feel major love for these little guys yet I was amazed at them, that they were a little bit of Jay and I, I couldn't believe that I really grew them in my tummy all the while being so sick. All the doctors said their 2.2kg weights were amazing weights for their gestation and for how sick I had been and how much weight I personally had lost. They obviously were being super selfish and taking everything slightly nutritious in their diet from me, not that I'm complaining! Best it went to them, they needed it more than me. I really tried to put all those emotions of not feeling attached and being scared about not loving them to the back of my head and pretended everything was fine to everyone. Which meant that sometimes now looking back on it, I'm confused. I look at pictures and I'm smiling and look serene in some of them. I think I was going through motions of everything I was meant to do? Maybe I was feeling it, but just didn't realise it yet due to the hormones coursing through my body? I will never know.

First cuddles with Hunter was great, we got to do skin to skin. He was so small and fragile it was a bit scary, but I've been around a lot of newborns so wasn't that hesitant when it came to handling these tiny little babies. It's strange but when you are feeling doubtful about the connection you have with your babies, any praise on my "mothering" made me feel like I was doing this whole thing right. So it was really nice to hear the NICU nurses comment on how confident I was with handling them for a first time mother. They said mums of NICU babies are often very timid when moving them about due to their size and all the wires and monitoring equipment.

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A lot of NICU is still a blur due to painkillers but I do have one memory of coming down to feed them in the evening that ended with me in tears. They were so small but I was determined to breast feed them so even though they would be topped up by their NG tube (A tube that went up their nose and down into their stomach) or sometimes feed that way whilst breast-feeding at the same time too. I was a few minutes late to the set feeding time, god knows why, probably vomiting in the bathroom. Oscar was really fussing while I was latching him. The nurse was probably tired but she made me feel like absolute shit. She gave me a stern telling off about not being late to feeding as the babies would be too hungry that they wouldn't latch probably. I felt so guilty and was in tears about it, I don't think they realise the pressure you are already under being a new mum, to multiples, who are in NICU and you are still vomiting. Telling me off really didn't help the scenario! If he was that starving they should have called me down earlier rather than waiting till they were so upset. Other than that my experience with the nurses there was amazing, they were very supportive, and I knew the boys were in great hands. I will be forever grateful too them.

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We spent 4 days in NICU which was a blur of feeds, changing nappies, being sick and waiting for the boys to put some weight on and be able to hold their own body temperatures so they could move to an open cot and "graduate" NICU to PIN (Parent Infant Nursery).

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PIN is a nursery where you babies stay with around the clock nurses but you are to do all of their "cares" unlike NICU where the babies are mostly primarily looked after by the nurses and doctors. PIN is about teaching you how to care for your baby and any specific needs they have, like if they need to have oxygen etc. It's also about them putting on weight and learning to feed properly and to make sure there are no set backs in their progress. The boys entered PIN and I was really excited, I was really adamant from the get go that I wanted these boys home as soon as possible! So I got stuck into the parenting and wanted to prove to the nurses and doctors that we had this on lock down so they would let us take our babies home. I thought home would be the best place for me to grow all those lovely feelings I was desperate to feel. I knew that I loved them and wanted the best for them, but I still lacked that emotional connection where all I needed to do was look at them to fill my heart with joy. I wanted that! I felt it was unfair after all we had gone through and how much these babies were wanted that I didn't feel like that.

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PIN ended up being much tougher for me than NICU. The casual vomiting I had been doing while in NICU got so much worse. I would be changing a nappy and have to rush to the sink to be sick, I would wake up in the night and be sick all over myself as I couldn't get to a bucket/bathroom in time, it was awful. My poor room mates must have been grossed out! I was so upset that this awful sickness that had plagued my entire pregnancy was now still rearing its ugly head 5 days post birth! I struggled to keep it under control and the doctors were absolutely perplexed. They said they had never seen someone still continue to be this ill after birth. It was misery, I was already having a tough time bonding and now I was feeling just as ill as when I was pregnant. I had been so looking forward to the relief of this after birth as that is what everyone promised me. No such luck.

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Apart from constantly vomiting in basins and any sort of receptacle in the nursery, I was nailing mum life in PIN. Maybe nailing it a  bit too much. As I have mentioned, I'm a battler and when I put my mind to something I push myself even if I am feeling useless and that's what I did. I managed to find breast-feeding reasonably, dare I say it, easy. I'm lucky it came naturally to me. But I think I had a false confidence because even though the boys were putting on weight, I don't think they were having great feeds. I probably overlooked that and would always tick the "great feed" box you would fill out on the charts which we kept that noted everything we did with the babies, the nurses and doctors would refer to them to gauge the babies progress. I knew getting them out meant they had to be fed without the NG tube so either by breast or bottle, putting on weight, feeding well and generally thriving. The boys did all that, but I really think they were putting on weight as they were demanding feeds so so so often! The doctors didn't worry about that, they said it's normal for small babies with small tummies. Most kids come out of NICU and PIN on really good three hourly schedules because it's so structured. But I can tell you now the boys did not.

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We were tracking to get out pretty soon and I was very vocal about it saying we were ready/wanted to be out and the doctors/nurses believed me. Why wouldn't they? I was still an inpatient as I was still loosing weight myself and being so ill. Most mums are checked out of hospital between day 5-7 after a C-Section as they medically don't need to be looked after anymore. I can't imagine how hard it must be for those mums to be essentially told to go home without their babies. They would have to come into hospital "like a job" during the day and then leave them at night to be looked after by nurses. Because I was still in hospital I did all the boys night feeds rather than the nurses doing them via NG tube. That meant the boys learnt to feed quicker than other babies because I essentially gave them 12 hours of extra practice over the babies whose parents couldn't be there, to feed them over night. As great as it was not having to leave them at night it meant that they didn't get on that 3 hour schedule like the other babies.

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Over night the nurse does a rotation going clockwise around the babies, feeding them in order which roughly equated to 1 feed every 3 hours. There would only be one nurse on over night, so if one baby was fussing they couldn't get to them (unless something was seriously wrong obviously), but as soon as my two would fuss they would call straight away and I would be down there to feed them, as that's what I thought you were meant to do. They very quickly were on a two hourly feeding schedule 24/7 which was exhausting. Especially as while I was still feeding them one by one the whole thing would take 1.5 hours, so sometime I was only getting 30 minutes sleep before I was up again.  Thank god the lactation consultant taught me to tandem feed towards the end of our stay. The doctors all told me this much feeding was normal, as it is, but fuck it was hard. Gruelling. The lack of sleep, lack of personal space (two babies connected to my boob constantly!) really didn't help with me feeling great about my relationship with the boys. The boys also started to show signs of their reflux and were really hard to get wind from and settle. I remember being so zonked one night that I feed the boys and burped them as well as I could, put them in their cot in PIN, with them propped up so they slept at an angle (to help with the wind). I left Jay to settle them while I went to bed. The next time I woke up 2 hours had passed and he was coming to get me to feed them again. He had been trying to settle them for two hours and they had screamed and screamed. They topped them up with my pumped milk in the NG tube as they thought they were still hungry, but no, they were just crying for any myriad of reasons a baby does. There were quite a few times like that in hospital and they were big hints of what were to come over the next 6 months.

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We got to day 9 in hospital and the doctors thought the boys were doing well enough to go home, so we got to spend the night together for the first time as parents in a room with our babies. The Parents  Room is where all babies that are in NICU/PIN eventually stay in. Because by the time they are ready to be discharged the parents have usually been at home having full nights sleep etc etc and haven't had to look after their children on their own for 24 hours straight. They place you in this room which is next to PIN but has a tv in it, double bed, shower etc and you are essentially to play house for 48 hours. The nurses are there if you need them but you have to prove to them you can handle it and your baby can handle it. Your baby is weighed each morning and if they lose weight then they "fail" you and you have to stay until they start putting weight back on. They are trying to stop any babies being sent home too early and then not thriving, they don't want to see you come back to hospital. It's a good method and I'm sure really helpful for parents who are a bit scared of actually having their baby with them 24/7 without all the monitoring equipment.  Some children are in NICU/PIN for months and months so you can imagine how daunting that is when that ends. You would be so excited to finally have them with you but I bet it is scary not having the nurses to fall back on if need be.

Since I was still an inpatient the nurses kinda trusted me with this already as I had been doing 24/7 care the whole time. So they let me stay in the parents room for 24 hours instead of 48. If the boys woke up heavier than the day before we were free. I was still being sick but the doctors couldn't put it down to anything. The anti-naus was slowly helping so they said if we graduated PIN then I could go home too. I was determined to graduate PIN and pass The Parents Room stay with flying colours. I wanted out, I was sick of hospital and I wanted to be home with my kids where I knew  all the bonding would happen. There would be no more wires connected to the boys getting in my way, no more drips attached to my arm and we wouldn't be in a sterile environment anymore. Heaven!

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We passed and were sent home together on day 10, I was so happy to be out of there! I missed sleeping next to my husband and wanted to be in our home as a family. Plus it's much nicer being sick in your own toilet than a hospital one!

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Overall all my birth and the hospital stay after it was a bit of a nightmare. I was so overwhelmed with not feeling what I thought I was meant to feel. I think that I was grieving giving up that "normal" birth experience. I also think I was grieving not being able to give my all to one child, I had to spread myself and everything I had between them. When I first was pregnant before we knew they were twins I had daydreamed of lying on the couch with one baby on my chest, snuggling them and carrying them around with me all day. But with two it wasn't really going to be possible to do that.  The realities of twin life had started to hit in PIN and I was scared. They were reasonably unsettled babies and it scared me having to deal with two screaming babies.

I loved my children because they were min, they were half Jay and half me but I wasn't in love with them yet. That fact really scared me and was the start of a bout of post natal depression and anxiety. I think if I knew this was normal and I had spoken to people about it at the time, then I would have gotten help sooner and not started to fall down a black hole of feeling alone. That's the common theme I hear when I hear stories like mine, they wished they had spoken up. You can't get help or feel better without speaking up and asking for it. It took 2 months for me to finally crack and tell people how I was feeling and it was the best thing I did and helped me on my journey to being a happy confident mum who was full of LOVE for her children. That's what I will write about next, that first tough year with twins and dealing with, sorting through all the emotions I was dealing with. If you're reading this and you are in that place, please ask for help, talk to someone and know that it does happen. That bond grows, you will get there! It doesn't happen overnight but it does happen. Millimeter by millimeter you baby will fill up your heart till it's filled with the most amazing love for your baby.

What to read next?

Read setting into twin life here. 

Read Jays view of settling into twin life here

Dads View - Getting Anna up the duff

They say ‘There is always two sides to every story’, probably three, the third being the truth. This is my side. Us fellas are the simplest of creatures when boiled down to the simplest things. We are all the same. In order for us to survive and be happy ‘Feed us and fuck have sex with us’ in return we will do our best to provide you with everything, a roof over your head, a comfortable life, food in your belly and next to that food a baby. That is a pretty standard egocentric view of how things roll. In our relationship I did all those things……except the baby thing. For what ever reason, my swimmers (sperm) are terrible. Not ‘a little irregular’ or ‘a touch inactive’ I'm talking TERRIBLE! Like I said in the beginning, we are simple creatures with one role in ensuring the human race continues and when you are incapable of doing this it’s hard not to feel like you aren’t contributing to humanity,  you're a useless male, luggage.

Luckily for me Anna didn’t share those views, she is a lot more pragmatic with her life approach. She set about putting herself through the only option available to ensure we could have children, pushing needles through which various concoctions of hormones would send her body into overdrive and allow her eggs to be harvested like ripe grapes plucked from a vine. All of which made her sad, happy, sick and crazy…..real crazy. And all for me, us. For this I will forever be enamoured and in her debt. Which is why that is one of the millions of examples of why I coul sail past the ‘I don’t know if I like you anymore' crazy moments fertility drugs brought on because it wasn't her, it's not her fault, we are here because of me.

Needless to say after all that she put herself through when the first embryo was placed back inside her, we cried with excitement. Only to cry again shortly after we found out the embryo didn’t take and we were back to square one. It’s a roller coaster, one that once aboard you are unable to see the end, duration, path it takes or how scary it is. We saw this as the final roll of the dice, with everything bet on it. I know that this isn’t the case, people will say that there are countless options, surrogates, adoptions, ‘a friend of mine tried this’, ‘just relax and it will happen’, ‘when the time is right it will happen’ the list goes on, and I say this with love, SHUT THE FUCK UP. People are amazing and innately offer positivity and solutions, all road maps to similar trips that have been taken but completely different journeys, similar, but not ours.

After we mentally built ourselves back up enough to attempt the transplant for the second time we had talked ourselves into setting low expectations for success, you can’t be disappointed if you don’t have high hopes. How is that for a defeatist mentality?! Deep down both of us had everything thing we could possibly cross, crossed, hoping that this would work. And it did. I can remember the home and garden magazine I thumbed through in the reception, I remeber the doctors suite in the corner of the building looking out over Ellerslie racecourse, I remember Anna’s face and how she seemed to hold her breath while the scan was taking place, I rember the flicking light on the screen indicating a viable heart beat and I remember how time stood still when the doctor said ‘Oh……we need to have a conversation about their being two of them….you are having twins.’ I also remember jumping up and down, clapping my hands and making a weird squealing noise whilst Anna grabbed the wall to stop her from falling, even though she was horizontal on a bed. I always for what ever reason had wanted twins and as always the universe was delivering.

We had done it!!! We were finally going to be parents, job done. That’s what I thought anyway.

Through out the pregnancy Anna was incredibly sick, even with the blood volume in her body doubling and two humans growing inside of her, she was losing weight. She battled hard in the beginning, going to work and trying to work. It is amazing how much the human body can endure, Anna would try her best to eat and drink but no matter what we tried, nothing would stay inside. I was worried that not only she wasn’t getting what her body needed to sustain itself but that the boys were also going without. Trips to hospital to plunge knitting sized needles into evasive veins so that IV lines could top up the fluid levels that Anna couldn’t maintain on her own were a regular, the intercostal muscles between her ribs stretched and contorted to make space for the every growing little humans she was nurturing, but causing her immense pain at the same tme. Massages, heat packs, cold packs, osteo, chiro, acupuncture, you name it, we tried it, nothing worked. Every morning I would wake up wishing I could, but knowing I couldn’t do a single thing to help, no chance of pain minimization, to stop her being sick.. just a hope that it won’t be as bad as the day before. It took every ounce of Anna’s strength to get through each day, no food, no water, the only thing that kept her full was the love growing inside of her. Love was the only thing that kept all three of them going.

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I have to admit that I wasn’t the most supportive partner, I thought for whatever reason all the fun things I did, we did, were coming to a close and I did what every egocentric vapid individual does. I partied, a lot. I convinced myself that going out and drinking as much as I could, would capture some of the partying I would soon be missing. I don’t think I achieved that. What I did do was leave Anna by herself when she needed me most, as we were heading into the biggest moment in our lives, Anna was alone and I was drunk.

I'm not sure at what point things changed, if something was said, if I did something that pushed her past the point of putting up with it, but it did. Things changed. You quickly realize that if you are going to become great parents, you first need to be a great team, a great couple. We had open honest discussions about what we needed, expected and wanted to be the best we could be for each other.

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As we got closer to the due date, anticipation built. A couple of ‘episodes’ had us pretty nervous, at around the 30 week mark we rushed into hospital thinking that the boys were about to arrive, less than ideal. When it comes to twins, everything in the pregnancy is stacked against you, things can go wrong and often do, we were glad we had an amazing OB by our side at times like this. Steroid injections were administered to build the boys lungs up in the event they did turn up early and we were told to be ready. I was travelling away for work to the 7’s in Wellington the next day, my boss ‘Bosto’ at ZM was super cool and gave me the option of staying home but Anna insisted I go.

It was going to take a village to raise these boys and luckily for us we had what felt like a whole country behind us, family, friends, collegues, strangers, everyone was offering assistance. It was incredibly heartening to know we had that kind of support, we didn’t take it for granted and we made sure we took people up on their offers. I don’t know how we would’ve done it without them.

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It was early march and I had managed to surf quite a lot over summer, sneaking in waves whenever I could, everything was looking good for the following day at Piha so the plan was to be at the beach at 6am before the seabreeze ruffled the water. That night however I enjoyed a few cold yeasts with the lads to watch the rugby and hit the snooze button when my alarm went off at 5am opting for a sleep in. At 6:30 Anna woke me up thinking she had wet the bed, this was a sign of things to come, the boys were up and wanting to meet us six weeks early...

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