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