Almost three and half years into this parenting gig and I’m still learning things every day. One of the biggest lessons I have learned is to not get caught up in what you “think motherhood should be like”. Those daydreams set me up to fail, hard. It’s the nitty gritty and often taboo topics around motherhood that people shy away from talking about, which is exactly what I did at the beginning of my motherhood journey. Looking back I wish I had the guts to talk to people about what was really going on, so here is a letter to myself full of truths that I would have loved to hear if I magically could turn back the clock.Read More
I had a follower snap me the other day asking about the "real" ins and outs of IVF. You can read all about the steps in all the pamphlets the doctors give you. But they can't tell you how you will feel, will you need care for your kids if you already have them, will you turn into a crazed psychopath on the hormones? That kind of information is harder to find. So I shared my experiences with her to help and thought that could be relevant to anyone else planning on going through IVF too. I know I wrote about my feelings and the emptional side of doing IVF but this delves a little deeper into the actual process, so if you want to know what to expect from someone without a medical degree the you have found the right place!Please note that everyone reacts differently to drugs and hormones, so this is entirely my experience with them and yours could be the polar opposite. The daily injections, this is I think a major fear for anyone starting fertility treatment, especially if you are afraid of them. I'm ok with needles but the thought of injecting myself really freaked me out. Jay of course offered to do it for me, but they need to be done at a certain time each day and didn't want to have to rely on him if he got stuck at work or something. So I sucked it up and injected myself, I worked myself up the first time and cried and cried but it actually didn't hurt. You grab some skin on your tummy between two fingers and inject into that fold of skin, it's such a small prick you won't really notice it. You do this everyday so to avoid getting sore by sound the same spot you kind of go in the shape of a 'smile' from one side of your tummy down and around to the other side. I definitely got some bruises and the places of injections can be a bit sore. The only ones I found to kind of hurt were the ones I had to take in the evening to stop ovulating for the last week or so (I'm so sorry but being over 3 years ago I can't remember their name and the finer details) but you had to mix the powder and water yourself to make the injection, a part I actually found fun pretending to be a doctor! These injections made the inception site feel kind of itchy and they would swell a bit more, but nothing major. So please don't worry too much, the injections were one of the easiest aspect of the whole thing.
Will these drugs make you a crazy person or gain weight? for me personally the later was true, I was the heaviest I have ever been when we did the removal of the eggs. However, I actually was super chill and "full of love" when I was taking the hormones. Which was the opposite to how I was when on Clomiphene aka a crazy lady who my husband really didn't like! I had heard horror stories online and in magazine articles of people feeling awful, sick, emotional un stable on ivy drugs but every actual person I know who has done it said they felt totally normal if not better than normal. So I can't promise you anything but I hope you don't end up being one of those people who said they literally could never face doing another round because of how ill they felt, that would suck! Anyway, our doctors told us I may feel really happy as the hormones can give you that lovey dovey feeling, and it did. Jay was very happy with a very loving and touchy feely wife! So yes there are bad sides, hey weight gain, but I found my mood was great. Once again, this is what happened with me, so no promises.
Blood work, more needles! Great! Every second day about a week after I started injecting I needed to get blood work taken so (I think) they could check my hormone levels and figure out when I would ovulate so they could time the harvest (that is a horrible word isn't it when thinking of your lady bits) of the eggs. This was the biggest pain for me as you had to go to a clinic to have this done, trying to fit this all in before work, when EVERYONE else has the same idea means some early starts! I imagine if you already have kids this will be the hard part since you an wrangle kids with a needle in your arm!
Scanning! So many bloody scans. Safe to say you get very used to having a probe up your vagina to scan your insides! Trust me, when they first pull this thing out it is a bit horrifying, especially if you have never had an internal scan before. You probably have had one to get to the stage of needing IVF, but nonetheless its quite confronting as it looks like a skinny dildo with a round ball on the top! It gets better, the doctor then places a condom on it and lube, I know it's for hygiene and to make things easier, but seriously it made me giggle/go bright red/clench my pelvic floor like I have never clenched it before. Even worse was the offering of shall he insert it or I!? I was DYING at this point, from a hilarity standpoint and embarrassment. I leave what option I chose up to your imagination...ok don't actually think about that, but we will leave some part of my life a mystery. Anyway off course there a little bit; the reason why they need to scan "from the inside" is they need to get a really good look at your ovaries to see how many Follicles you have. If you are like me you would have never heard of having Follicles in there, definitely didn't cover that in health class! We are born with hundreds of thousands of follicles in our ovaries and they basically hold an immature egg that matures and then is released into our uterus for fertilisation. The aim of the game with IVF is to get these suckers working in overdrive, so instead of only one follicle working it's magic like a usual cycle, they want you to grow as many follicles as possible. So during the scans this is what they are counting, to see how you are reacting to our hormones and to see how the follicles are coming along size wise. Basically, the bigger the follicle the more mature the egg, meaning it is ready to be harvested. To give you an idea when they are ready, the follicles reach 16-20mm then they are what they consider "mature" and your egg collection date will be set. So this is where I think my discomfort came towards the end of the cycle. I had 25 follicles so I had about 25 2cm large follicles hanging out in my ovaries, that's a lot more room big taken up than on your usual cycle! So I felt very bloated and my abdomen was tender to touch. If you have kids then this will be another thing that will be tough as I know how toddler love to crawl, kick, stand on their mamas!
Once those follicles are nice and big you take a trigger injection which makes your body prepare to release them, your extraction os scheduled exactly 12 hours after you take that shot. This is when they go in and remove all the eggs with (don't read the next paragraph if you are freaking out about this bit as I'm about to describe the thing they use to take them out)
It's another internal ultrasounds dildo but with a giant needle attached to it!
Ok safe now so you are given some sort of local and some happy drugs so you are a bit out of it but not knocked out. I have senile found out from a friend who had as many eggs as me they usually knock you out as its obvious more painful the more eggs you have to retrieve, no idea why I didn't get that option but hey I survived. I barely remember it but Jay said he was trying not to freak out watching it all go down. I'm glad they let your partner sit in with you, as it definitely helped calm my nerves. The whole process was over in 30 minutes and afterwards you have a nice cup of tea and a biscuit for another 30 minutes to check you are all fine.
You are told to take the rest of the day off work and that you will have cramping but they said most people can go to work the next day with pain relief. I woke up the next day and was quite sore, but that was to be expected with the amount of eggs we had taken out. I spent an extra day at home curled up on the couch with a hotter bottle but felt ok the next morning. If you are ding this with kids then I would try to organise some help or if you have family around maybe send them for a sleepover for a night or two.
Once they take the eggs that's when the baby making magic happens, not quite as romantic as in the bedroom but still so amazing. Wonders of modern medicine! We had to do ICSI, the step up from IVF. In IVF they pop the sperm in a dish with an egg and its a whose strongest wins scenario were one sperm fertilises the egg. In our case Jays swimmers can't even mange that, useless, so they choose the best looking sperm and injected them into all of the eggs.
The worst bit after this is waiting by the phone to hear how your eggs are doing. Even if they get a lot out not all of them are going to thrive. We ended up loosing 6 of this embryos as they just didn't develop like they should.
This is the time all that emotional stress comes, as you worry about the eggs and their development, then that ramps up even further during the transfer and the dreaded two-week wait till that pregnancy test!
The transfer is essentially a breeze in comparison. The hardest thing is you must have a full bladder, so you are lying on a table with your legs in the air desperately holding on why they place the fertilised embryo *well men was a 5 day fertilised egg so it's actually called a blastocyst) back in you! My doctor took 3 attempts to get it in there, he would insert the a catheter through your cervix and you would see little bubbles on the ultrasounds screen and that was the liquid holding the embryo entering your uterus. They check the catheter under a microscope to make sure the embryo left it, and mine bloody didn't. Three times in a row! He said he hadn't had that happen to him in 10 years!!!!! It had me worried but I as just desperate to get to the bathroom before I let go on in the examine room! I went and had acupuncture after the transfer as that's meant to help it "stick" and continue to develop in you. But other than instructions to not get really hot, as embryos don't like heat, so no intense physical activity, baths or spas you are told to do whatever makes you feel comfortable. If thats lay on a couch and rest that fine, but if you want to get back to work or do what you usually do in your day-to-day life then that is fine too. Walking around and doing normal daily activities won't make the egg not implant into your uterine wall. So don;t worry, you don't have to lay with your legs in the air and seeing on bed pans like they did with IVF in the 80s!
So that's that, this was the post on the in's and out's on IVF in our case. I wrote about my journey and all the feelings that came with it here, but after so many requests thought it would be good to share the stuff you can't read in a brochure. I hope it helps!
My last post about settling into twin life was rather heavy, it was a tough one to write and I had put it off for ages. But it's done now and the response to all of the blog posts, regarding bringing the Nuggets into the world, have been so overwhelming. I really appreciate you emailing, commenting, messaging and snapchatting your kind words. I'm so gald my story resonated with so many of you, strangley even, people without kids! It's amazing the different lessons tht can be learnt out of other peoples expeiences. Now because the whole getting pregnant, pregnancy, birthing saga was so dramatic, tough, scary and a bit of a downer I wanted to end on a happy note. The boys 1st birthday party, becuase it was awesome and such a happy day after such a tough year!
I mentioned at the end of the last post how we held a really big party to celebrate making it through the first year, it was as much of a party for us, the village it took to raise these boys and our families as it was for them.
A fellow twin mum friend has a small company that captures the magic of these big milestone birthdays and she made a little video of the boys party. It's so nice looking back on it and it is footage we will treasure forever!
So here it is, step into the Nuggets 1st birthday for a few minutes...enjoy!
P.S child to adult ration is way out! Think we had 10 sets of twins and one set of triplets! All my friends just couldn't get over how many little ones were there!
[vimeo 129830156 w=640 h=360]
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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Let's pick up where we left off. I thought I had wet the bed early in the morning but no, it was JUST my waters breaking! These little boys had finally kept their promise of arriving early at 34 weeks since they had been threatening to arrive since I was 30 weeks! Shit I was nervous even though I had actually been so ready for them to come out. I was over the intense pain, I was over the constant vomiting, reflux and sleepless nights but now that they were on their way I was kind of freaking out. I hadn't even gotten through the full twin specific birthing class, surely there was more info I needed to know that I would miss out on? Dudes do you think you can hang in there for two more weeks? I know I was willing you out but I take it all back! To make matters worse when I called my OB he was on holiday so I had to be looked after by his cover. Not ideal! I'd already gotten over the fact that one man other than my husband had to regularly look at my vagina, but now some other old dude was going to as well?! This is the reason I had female everything when it came to my lady bits, but for some reason I had chosen a male OB!
As soon as I arrived at hospital I was whipped into have an ultrasound to check the positioning of the babies. They had been breach and almost transverse for ages and hadn't shown any signs of wanting to move. Neil (the OB) checked and there they were, Hunter lying on his side with his ear to my cervix and Oscars feet right down next to his head. You couldn't really tell who was the "leading twin" which is an important factor when planning a twin birth. Since they were both in compromised positions we stuck with our original plan of a C-Section but of course now it was an emergency one. I thought that I would be slotted into an open theatre slot for my section. For some reason I thought that it would take a while to get me in there, but back came my OB in full scrubs telling me to change and that we would be in theatre really soon, in minutes actually! Shit! My mum and dad weren't even here yet and I really wanted to see them one last time while I was still pregnant. Luckily as we pulled up to hospital I had called them and they only lived 5 minutes away! At the same time he came in to tell me I would be a mum very soon, contractions started; they weren't bad yet, obviously, but I was glad to have felt "real" ones (remember I had been having some on and off since 30 weeks but they weren't ones during actual labour). I don't know why it felt important to me to feel them, but it made me feel calmer for some bizarre reason.
I was wheeled into another waiting room just outside of theatre, usually your partner/birth support person is the only person allowed in there with you. But my parents had just arrived and they were told I had a few minutes before being taken back, so they luckily were let in to give me a hug.
Jay came out in his surgery get up and said he felt like he was in Greys Anatomy, thanks darling. Glad you are getting to have some fun role-playing make-believe! Jay was so so sooooo pumped the boys were on their way. He is a like a little kid, very excitable and he was all over the place. I was sitting their thinking how surreal this all was, I was nervous, would I feel them pulling the babies out, would they be ok, would I get to see them, cuddle them or would they be taken out to NICU straight away? So many questions! The one question I didn't have was that would I keep vomiting after they were evicted from my belly. Giving birth was something I had been looking forward to for the selfish reason of not being sick anymore. EVERYONE including my OB said I would stop being sick the moment that placenta was out of my body. BRING IT ON was all I could think about! Oh how nice it would be to not have to view the contents of my stomach in the toilet bowl, side of the road or in a plastic bag on the daily.
Into the theatre we went and I had a spinal tap administered. I was a bit scared of the big needles but it wasn't that painful and worked really fast. I was lying on the table and they were running ice up my arm which I could feel, then it dipped below the curtain that was up at my chest and the cold feeling disappeared. It's so weird being able to feel only the top half of your body and knowing they are going to cut into you while you are awake. The wonders of modern medicine huh?!
While this was happening the anesthesiologist was chatting away with me, it was the worst chat ever. I'm talking how's the weather been lately, great aye kinda chat. But he did his job well as I had no idea they had started already. I asked after a few minutes if they could tell me when they were going to start but the OB replied they were almost ready to pull the babies out! One of my friends who had a c section told me she could feel the pressure and the OBs arm inside her moving the baby about, but I literally felt none of that. Good play anaesthesiologist, good play!
Next thing I know I hear a crying baby (note only one crying baby) but I can't see them, they are off to the left hand side of me and being worked on by doctors and nurses. Hunter is swiftly whipped away by staff and after what seems an eternity I'm told I'm allowed to have a quick look and mini cuddle over my shoulder with Oscar, but then he really need to get into his incubator and down to NICU. That's the really shit thing about a lot of prem babies, you don't get to spend any special bonding time with them once they are born. They are tiny little things and are whipped into NICU pretty fast if they are having trouble with doing all the normal things babies are meant to do, like breathe! I feel very lucky now that my babies didn't come at 30 weeks like they had wanted too, every day "on the inside" is about three "on the outside" I am told by the doctors. I'm lucky the boys were ok and didn't need major medical intervention like those really prem babies. My heart breaks for those parents, must be so hard to watch your baby through a plastic box for the first few months of their lives.
Oscar was passed to Jay and he showed me him, I couldn't really see him and my eyes were full of tears from all sorts of emotions. I couldn't believe that tiny little boy was mine, but it felt very odd that I was only laying eyes on one of my babies and I couldn't even hold him yet. I think that not being able to hold him made it feel like make-believe.
I was left in the theatre while the stitched me up and Jay went with the boys to NICU, it was a very surreal and lonely time. I was used to carrying around two babies and now I was just "me" again. I was wheeled into post op care where I had to stay for quite a while, I'm not sure what for. But finally got the OK to move to a ward, they said they could wheel me in my bed (I wasn't allowed to get into a wheel chair at this stage) into NICU to see the boys. It was so strange being pushed into this room with 6 incubators, all with people's babies in them and two of mine. They parked me up next to Oscar and Hunter but I could barely see them from where I was laying and through their incubator. I didn't feel that "pull" to wards them yet, I just felt like I was looking at a random baby.
I was taken to a ward and informed that it was a shared room ward. You only get a private room if you have your baby in the room with you, which I obviously did not. NO ONE had told me this prior to having them and it really threw me. I thought I would be able to have Jay stay with me and some privacy but no, I was to share. This must have been said in that bloody damn last two weeks of the birthing class! I was sitting there (luckily for me at this stage with no one else in my room yet) with my mum and dad. They propped me up in the bed and said I could only go down to see the babies once my spinal tap wore of and I could move my legs on my own. I sat there with a pretty much flat belly, no babies next to me staring at my mum and dad. I felt completely detached and said I felt like I had just had my appendix out or something. I didn't feel "like a mum" and couldn't believe that I really had just had two children. I felt like the last 34 weeks hadn't happened and I was just normal old Anna, not Anna mum of two! This is the moment I think my difficulties to bond with my gorgeous wee men started. I was alone in a hospital and felt like NOTHING had happened. When in reality I had just had major surgery and my two baby boys were being cared for by the amazing people in NICU. It felt like that was all a dream.
It was hours before I could go down to see the boys and I was jealous of all the time Jay had got to spend with them already. I had been given two photos of the boys to look at while I was stuck in my bed and Oscar looked cute and serene but Hunter had a giant PAP machine (to help him breathe) on him and lots of lines into his arms. It was quite scary to look at. I was looking at these two pictures thinking "ok, these are my two kids. I'm supposed to love them unconditionally already right? But I don't, they are just babies in a picture and not even a reality for me yet" It was not a nice feeling and really weird. As I said I was still jealous of all the time Jay got to spend with them, but not because I loved them and couldn't bare to not be with them, but because I thought time with them would stop these silly thoughts I was thinking and help me start feeling that dying need to be with them 24/7. Did I mention I didn't tell anyone how I was feeling at this point? Well I didn't, I felt I was already a rubbish mum for thinking these things and I'm crying now typing this. It was the most isolating, scary and terrifying feeling at the time. All my friends who had babies and everything I had read/heard talked about instantly loving their children so so much and not wanting to go to sleep as all they wanted to do was stare at them. I wasn't feeling that and once again, a big difference between their births and mine. My kids were not in a basket next to me, they were down the hall and locked up in a big plastic box. I wasn't prepared or had no knowledge of this birth reality I was facing and I felt like I was missing out on all the gooey, delicious feelings you got from a "normal" birth where you get to cuddle and hold your baby afterwards. I was in the dark and if you know me you know I don't like not knowing things. This whole process had surprised me even though I knew that if they came early they would be in NICU. The actual reality of NICU was so different to the little I had known about it, let alone how it would make me feel.
Amid all this chaos that was going on in my head I was high on a cocktail of morphine and god knows what, but I did know that I hadn't vomited since I gave birth and was stoked on that! The feelings in my legs finally came back after hours of sitting in bed and I was finally able to call a nurse to wheel me in a chair down to NICU. I was given a swipe card that would be my access in and out of NICU, was told to douse my hands in hand sanitiser every time I went into the room or was going to handle them (to this day the smell of sanitiser brings me straight back to NICU) and we were off. I was nervous but excited to see the boys and hoped I would feel a strong connection with them now that I was going o see them properly. We arrived and Jay was touching one of the boys through the latch in the incubator. Hunter was still needing a lot more care than Oscar and was attached to a lot more machinery but Oscar was doing ok and I was told Jay had already had a cuddle with him out of the incubator. Cue jealous feeling again. I was so sad I didn't get to see Jays face the first time he had a proper cuddle with our son, so many "firsts" had already come and gone with out babies and I wasn't there to be apart of it. It sucked! As much as I wasn't feeling a connection to my kids yet I was determined to overcome feeling like a rubbish mum because of those lack of feeling by throwing myself in there and being the best mum iI could be by being very hands on. If I was doing all the motions and by their side constantly then no one would notice I wasn't recalling feeling all that other stuff then right?!
It was my turn to "meet" my men properly and I stroked Hunter through the incubator. I couldn't believe how small they were and hairy! So much of the baby down hair was all over them, they had such hairy little shoulders and backs. I'm told this baby fluff falls off in utero in the last few weeks, so it makes sense it was still on these little men who had graced the world with their presence 6 weeks early. I think I wasn't allowed to hold Hunter because he was still very much hooked up to everything. I was able to then touch Oscar in the incubator and the nurses said I could hold him. This was it, I was going to get all those butterflies and fall madly in love with my baby! Exciting! It was such an amazing moment being able to hold him and say hi to my little man but I did feel a surge of wanting to protect him and an instinct of needing to get on with "mothering" him, but I didn't feel that huge connection yet and I was sad about it. To make matters worse I started to feel ill! Shit! I thought I was done with this being sick stuff? Seems that them being in my tummy made me feel sick and now holding one of them made me feel sick too! I quickly passed Oscar back to the nurse to put in the incubator and promptly bent over the bin at the foot of my wheelchair and puked! At this moment I was fucking angry I was puking and absolutely gutted it was ruining my moment with my babies. The doctors said I couldn't stay in NICU if I was being sick so I was wheeled back to my room. To be honest I don't remember a lot after this as I was given some pretty heavy anti naus and one of them made me feel rather la la, especially on top of the morphine, but I do remember being really upset about not being able to stay longer with the boys and Jay said I was a bit of a mess about it all. The nurses told me I was probably being sick due to the pain meds so I shouldn't worry, it would stop once they were out of my system....
WRONG I puked and puked that night and it was misery. I remember in between the haze of being absolutely exhausted and sick, Jay waking me up (they let him stay in my room the first night since I was so sick and I didn't have a room mate yet) to get me to massage my boob to get colostrum out which he would suck up in a syringe drop by drop. Jay said I would squeeze my boob, a few drops would come out which he would syringe up and then look up and I would have fallen back asleep hands on boob mid squeeze. Pretty hilarious if you ask me. The colostrum gathering took awhile, but turns out that was one thing I was good at. The nurses couldn't believe I was delivering so many full syringes down for them to feed the boys!
First day of motherhood was long and so much happened, including feeling all these scary feelings that I had already started feeling when pregnant but assumed would go away when the babies arrived. I hadn't prepared myself for not feeling that bond instantly and it was so scary and made me feel really bad about myself. I didn't realise this is a completely normal thing to feel at the time, I had only ever heard the good stuff when it came to brith and meeting your bubba or bubbas in my case. So even though its painful to write about, I'm doing it. If I can help one person not feel as alone, scared and shitty about themselves because they have read this and learnt that it IS NORMAL and OK to feel this way, then I will be a happy lady.
I was glad I got some rest that night, as I didn't realise I would be in hospital myself just as long as the boys and that I would have a long and hard 10 day stay in front of us.
Now let me stop here, this is incredibly long! I think we need to break this up into part one and two because my brith story doesn't really stop at giving birth. It's the whole experience of having prem babies and being stuck in NICU. So let's stop here and I'll write about the rest of our NICU experience and my hospital stay over the next few days. Because lets face it, there is only so much staring at a screen you can do on one blog post at a time. Especially if you are reading this in your lunch hour or even more precious, nap time! I don't want to take up too much of your precious quiet baby free time. So go do whatever it is you need to do while there is no kids running about and I promise
I have been putting off writing this blog. To be completely honest my pregnancy wasn't much fun at all, in fact I kind of hated it. I was really sick so writing this feels like re living it and it's something I try to forget. But here goes, as I know you would like to read about it. So I will put your needs before mine. Don't say I'm not good to you. Here goes it....Read More
Sooooo I'm here, glass of wine in hand with some awful TV on in the background deciding what should be my first proper, proper post should be. I know there is the I'm Anna Reeve one, but that doesn't really count. Ok, lets start at the almost beginning, I say that as I'm starting at the beginning of Jay and I, as that's the beginning of The Nuggets and they are what have led to this, my blog, Anna Reeve.co.nz (yip I'm that un creative I just named it after myself, so clever...right?!)Read More