I can still remember the drive to the hospital, last nights drinks had me stragely relaxed. I was taking photos of the sunrise along the motorway as we drove, more photos out the hospital window where we waited for the plan of attack. I guess at this stage it still felt like we were just going to be sent home, we were 34 weeks and I still had a couple of big nights up my sleeve and our OB wasn’t around, neither was his back up so here we are with option number 3 in his casual morning attire. This isn’t the plan. Turns out it is.Read More
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.
What to read next?
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