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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
I have been hinting in my Snapchats about working on something awesome...I can finally tell you all about it! My fellow mum blogger Rebecca and I were discussing how we wanted to collab on something, she came up with the idea of a panel event where we would talk about all things motherhood with nothing off-limits. I spoke to my BFF Julia about it as she had recently finished a Women's Wellness event series and thought she could give us some tips on where to start. Lets just say the stars aligned as she said her and her sister Libby were wanting to do another tour focusing on family health and nutrition. We figured we should roll it into one big travelling event series/ an excuse to hit the road all together for two weeks, and that's how Takes A Village came about. We will be visiting 7 cities around NZ and hope to see a lot of you there! Click read more for all the event details. We are thrilled to have 5+ A Day as our sponsor, thank you very much!
Takes a Village is an evening for women to take the night off and kick up their heels, or perhaps wear heels! Or maybe just clothes that don’t have spew, sticky finger marks or poo on them, and talk abut boobs, babies, broccoli and everything in between.
Join health gurus Julia and Libby Matthews, along with Mummy bloggers Anna Reeve and Rebecca Shannon for a night of laughter and love. We invite you to listen to our motherhood woes and hear about some parenting wins.
It’s an opportunity to take some time out and learn about nutrition for your family on a budget, pre and post conception health, childrens’ immunity, healthy alternatives (to the biscuits you’re feeding the kids for breakfast) and what superfood us superwomen should be eating.
The night will be informative and interactive, with a presentation from nutritionist and published authors Julia and Libby, followed by a panel chat between the old girls Anna and Rebecca along with first-timer Libby.
The floor will then become yours, and guest will be invited to ask it all: routines, parenting battles, vaginas, the dreaded first post-baby sexual encounter, saggy boobs or lack thereof.
Get the girls together for dinner and drinks, and then come along to Takes a Village for a good time, or perhaps drag your partner along to upskill them! We promise there will be goody bags that make shaving your legs worth it, and spot prizes you won’t want to miss.
Get in quick as numbers are limited and when they’re gone, they’re gone… Much like your sanity after having kids.
You can buy your tickets here
GA is $39 and premium tickets are $79 which include goodies bags filled with goods from B-Well, Eco Store Stirling Sports, Water Wipes, Pics, Jack + Jill, Swisse, Sukin, Pure Fiji, Tasti, Bio Balance, Only Organic, Little Skinfood, Natra Care, Caci Clinic and Lifestream.
We have plenty of sport prizes to give away too, a Unirider from Moutnain Buggy, A pair of Skechers, Gypsy Pirate tee, Haakaa gift hamper, One months supply of Anchor Milk, Little Flock of Horrors voucher and a voucher from The Baby Bag.
Tauranga – Monday 29th August
Hamilton – Tuesday 30th August
Auckland – Wednesday 31st August
New Plymouth – Thursday 1st September
Wellington – Monday 5th September
Invercargill – Tuesday 6th September
Christchurch – Wednesday 7th September
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]
Leaving the hospital with twins in tow left me so relived, relieved I got to start normal life at home with my babies, relived to settle into life as a fully fledged family of four, relived to be able to sleep in the same bed as my husband, have home comforts and hopefully start falling in love and bonding big time with these babies who kind of bewildered me at that time! Basically I was desperate to leave (read my last hospital blog post here) and be done with NICU/PIN, but in reality I had no idea what I was really in for in the coming days, weeks or months...or when my fucking soul destroying vomiting would finish. Before I dive deep into this next blog, I just want to say that I know my last three blog posts; Pregnancy, My Birth Pt 1 & My Birth Pt2 have scared some people, especially those expecting twins. I just want to preface all of this that my pregnancy wasn't normal! Whilst being ill in the first trimester is common, it's not actually "normal" to be sick the entire time that's why Hyperemesis Gravdium is an illness. It fucking sucks, like it literally sucks the life out of you, I hated being pregnant. But please don't stress if you have just found out you are pregnant with twins that this will be what you will have to face too. You may, but more people won't than will. Also the whole difficult birth and not bonding thing...thats something I know a lot of people are scared about. Please don't let my experience scare you, I write about how I was feeling as I personally found I never heard anyone have an experience like mine. Which in turn made my difficulties bonding that much harder, I felt alone, like a failure, a bad mum and person all rolled into one. I'm writing about these experiences in the hope that I help even just one person realise that IS normal, you aren't a bad mum or any of the above if you don't instantly fall head over heels in love with your child. It can take time and that is FINE, trust me. So I'm sorry if those posts or what I'm about to cover does freak you out. It's not my intention, I just want to share, because by sharing these experiences we can all feel connected and realise that the feelings we are battling aren't uncommon. They are what make you human after all, we need to feel, even if it feels like it isn't the "right" feelings.
So where was I? Leaving hospital was scary but super exciting as it was our first steps back into normality, or our "new normal". We were warned the boys may be unsettled at home first as it would be quiet where they were used to a bright, busy and noisy hospital room. I hadn't done much reading on routines or books on what to do with a newborn, I just had the info I had been told in birthing class, by my midwives and from friends. I knew that I wanted the boys to learn how to self settle in a cot and that I should demand feed them to start with. I was super strict about not letting them always fall asleep on our chests as I didn't want them getting used to that while Jay was on leave and then in two weeks time leave me with two bloody babies that wanted to sleep on me 24/7. Wasn't happening on my watch!
Certain details are a bit of a blur in those first few weeks as I was still being sick once we got home. So much so that I had to take my newborn twins to the local A&E only two days after we got home, as I had pretty much not managed to keep anything down since we left the hospital. I was sitting on the couch, trying to breast feed all the while suddenly needing to de latch babies, throw (well not quite throw) them to Jay to hang my head over the toilet. I didn't want to expose my little prem men to all the bugs at A&E but I knew I could be there for a long time and I was exclusively BF and hadn't managed to pump enough milk off to feed them. In fact they hadn't even had a bottle yet. That was the main reason I went to A&E, I was super paranoid my milk would be compromised by the lack of food and liquids. ANNNNYWAY, I ended up spending a good 4 hours at A&E hooked up to multiple IV bags, all the while trying to breast feed the little dudes. It was misery, I as crying and in so much pain. The iv line hurt my arm and it was in the crook, so trying to hold the boys while BF made it worse. IV bags tend to make me freezing too, all the cold saline entering your veins . So I'm cold, in pain and trying to manage feeding two hungry, crying and un-settled babies in a curtained off cubicle for 4 hours. Not to mention I was exhausted and desperate to sleep. It sucked! Lucky the IV bags seemed to do the trick, it got me on the level enough that I could eat small things and over the next week that awful vomiting stopped. So finally, 2.5 weeks post birth I was done with being really aquainted with the toilet bowl.
We had our baby photo shoot for Woman's Day after a week at home, the boys were petty good and slept most of the time. I remember doing the interview and talking about how awesome the boys were and shedding a little tear. They wrote how I was emotional out of love and happiness during the interview, but in reality I was crying because everything I was saying didn't entirely match up. I felt like a fraud but I couldn't tell Jay let alone Woman's Day how I was feeling! I loved my kids because I knew they were something Jay and I created, but I wasn't in love with them yet and to be honest I didn't really like them yet, they were so demanding and I was still recovering and just so exhausted from everything. So far they hadn't added anything amazing to our lives like everyone said they would, they were in brutal honesty, being a big pain in the ass and I often called them "tiny little assholes" (hey sometimes I still do, but only when they are being very naughty). There were some serious moments of why did I want to do this again? When I read that article it makes me so sad, I look happy and I was I guess, but I really was playing the doting in love mum when in reality that wasn't how I was feeling. I went through all the motions, attended to every cry, cuddled them, told them I loved them but I knew it was all out of what I was meant to be doing instead of really wanting to. It's a very sad and hard time to think about.
After Jay went back to work my mum who wasn't working at the time came to help during the weekdays - and thank god, I couldn't have done it without her help! The boys had clicked into their collic and reflux stage (not that we had it diagnosed yet) and screamed constantly. They slept at most 40 minutes but often only 20 and then pretty much cried the entire wake time unless being held, but often that didn't work either. I remember mum being so shocked with how "hard" they were, not the sleepy child out newborns my brother and I and most babies are. We had borrowed a bassinet from a friend and I remember she put them both in their one day when they were crying, she was walking around swinging and rocking it by the handles trying to get them to quiet down to no avail. It was physically and emotionally draining both of us.
Once they were out of hospital they were on a two hourly fading schedule and they kept it for 16 weeks, day and night!! They never stretched their feeds out over night. It was gruelling! Every time I brought it up to a professional they said it was normal, maybe it is, but it was the worst thing for my mental health at the time and could have done with some advice on how to stretch their feeds out as everything I tried didn't work. I'm big on having my own space so having babies attached to both of my breasts pretty much all day and night was pretty intense for me. I just wanted a few hours each day that I could have a little bit of a physical "bubble" around me but that didn't happen. It could take an hour to tandem feed the twins and then an hour later they would want to be back on there again. Seriously? The night was the worst, you would finish feeding and go back to sleep for about 40 minutes if that. I would hear them cry again and wake up in a panic that I had fallen asleep with them in bed and that they were already on my chest. The 40 minutes naps throughout the night seriously felt like minutes. I was a zombie and Jay was really tired too as he helped me with the feeds at night. I'm so lucky to have a supportive husband who got up at every feed with me, I know a lot of dads don't but Jay saw that as an important thing he could do to help make my life easier where possible. The boys would wake, I would sit up and get my feeding pillow on/set up and he would bring the babies in one by one and help me position them in my tandem feeding position. He would then get back into bed and sleep, I would wake him once they were finished and we would both burp them. Jay would check/change their nappies and place them back in bed. If they needed settling then we would both get up and help them get back to sleep. It was a good little routine and I can't imagine surviving those first 16 weeks with 2 hourly feeding without him.
I was crying a lot at home and Jay was making small murmurings about being worried I had post natal depression, but I of course wrote it off saying it was normal and that I was just tired. I didn't want to tell him how I wasn't bonding as I felt like a failure and if you know me, I don't like to fail at anything! I'm quite stubborn. Typical Leo!
I remember the first time I really opened up to anyone about it was my friend Aja. She had a baby the same time as me and spent two weeks in NICU with me as her baby girl was in the cot next to the boys too. I guess I felt more comfortable sharing it with her as she understood the NICU side of things. I went for a coffee date at her house and remember bursting into tears when I spoke about the boys and how hard I found it. It was nice to let a bit of emotion out but I definitely didn't explain myself fully. I actually found it really hard to explain just how bad things were to anyone because, you wouldn't believe it...the few times we did go to mum catch ups with my friends the boys were pretty good. No more grizzly than your average baby! I think they all thought I was over exaggerating, or just couldn't comprehend it because they hadn't seen it yet.
Ah the crying, all day every day! This is at I think about a level 4 out of 10 with how they could get.
At 10 weeks someone finally said we should see a doctor about the crying and the vomiting. The boys were power chucking after meals and even an hour or two after one. No one previously had been worried about reflux as you usually don't put on weight when its bad, but my guys had been putting on 250-400g a week! I may have been having a hard time but apparently my milk was pure cream! But considering they had been feed two hourly 24/7 they bloody well should have been putting on weight! We went to Dr Liang and he diagnosed them both with Reflux and Collic. We were given Losec and a muscle relaxant we could give for the Collic. I think things got a little better over the next few weeks but nothing drastic that made me think either drug was working.
During all this poor Jay wasn't getting a look in, I couldn't give the boys what they needed emotionally, look after myself and give him the love and affection he needed either. I felt like I was pulled in a million different directions and just wanted to hide in a room by myself. I know some people may be reading this and thinking I need to suck it up, crying babies, no sleep, being covered in all sorts of liquids is normal when you have a new baby. I get that, but this was bad and I was falling apart emotionally. I was caring for the boys perfectly well and they essentially were thriving in the terms that they were gaining weight, were healthy other than the reflux etc but I was not thriving, I felt like my light was slowly been put out! It really didn't help when I would mention to people how hard it was and they would just say my boys were beautiful, amazing a blessing etc. I knew all that, but I felt like my feelings weren't being recognised and that in turn made it even harder for me to share them. It was very frustrating! I had some moments where I had to put the boys in their cot and walk outside for 5 minutes as their incessant screams had me at breaking point. It was like torture, I swear when they are really grizzly now and have a bad day and cry a lot its like I go straight back to that time when they were little. It's like post traumatic stress disorder, I instantly tense up and feel sick. It's an ongoing battle I have trying to calm myself, breathe and realise I'm not in that space anymore. One day while my mum was away on holiday my Plunket nurse came for a home visit and the boys were screaming and had ben for hours, I was a wreck with bloodshot and swollen eyes from crying just as much as them. I even have memories of yelling back at them and screaming "I can scream louder than you, shut up!". Not my finest moments and make me very sad when I think back on them. Luckily I had an amazing Plunket nurse and she arrange for a nice lady from some public service (can't remember what one) to come watch boys for 4 hours while I slept one day. Thanks Barbara!
At 18 weeks everything came to a head, I was in a Plunket visit and mum was there helping. They ask you all these questions like what is your baby doing, does he smile, at you, do you play blah blah blah and I just burst into tears and pretty much bawled. Ah this makes me cry writing this. I finally admitted that was a walking zombie and was having a really hard time bonding, I admitted I didn't think I loved my children because all I could think about was them screaming at me, constantly needing to be feed, vomiting all over me and them not sleeping. I was an emotional, exhausted, wreck and a bit of a shell of who I was. During my meltdown I could see the look of shock on my mums face, she had been with me every day and had no idea. I had done a really good job of playing the part obviously. It was agreed mum would take the boys for a few days so I could rest and talk about how I was feeling with Jay and just generally try to see if getting some rest would make me feel better. It was really nice to have a few days to myself and to sleep! I even went for a ride with Jay on his motorbike, something we used to love doing together pre babies. It did help me feel a little better as I wasn't so tired anymore, but I almost felt worse that my mum could look after my babies for 48hours herself where I was still too scared to do that/ didn't think I could cope on my own like that yet. You can't win right?
As I have mentioned before I'm a battler, so I got stuck back into parenting and did my best to look like I was doing well. I remember taking my first trip with the boys out of the house by myself, getting them in capsules, clipping them in, going to a mall and setting up the pram and getting them all in there. I was super proud as when I had given birth I was petrified of ever having to get out of the house with them by myself and had no idea how I could even manage it! It seemed so scary, which is funny looking back on that now as it's just part of life and something I don't even think about being an issue anymore. I was definitely starting to bond with the boys and that was getting better daily, but I still was filled with anxiety and questioned how good at this whole parenting thing I was. I felt a disconnect between me and my new life as a mum. Jay finally spoke to someone who had suffered PND and she recommended I talk to a therapist who specialised in the area. I started seeing her and she recommended I start taking anti depressant's, I don't know why but I didn't feel comfortable taking them. I know they help so many people but I wanted to see how I felt after seeing her for a little longer before going down that route. I saw the therapist for 6 weeks and it really made a huge difference to my mental health. She said I was suffering post natal situational distress and anxiety rather than depression from a chemical inbalance. Basically all of this was happening because motherhood hadn't lived up to what it should've in my head, first was the emergency birth, the hospital stay, being so sick still, and then babies that were un well and screamed all day. She told me it was perfectly normal to not bond straight away with a tiny human who just took from you all day as well as screamed in your face the entire time. Having someone validate my feelings, help me see them from a different view point and make me realise I'm not crazy made me feel so much better, just having someone sympathise and understand instead of instantly trying to turn it around into a positive like "well aren't you lucky to have two beautiful babies" and other comments like that helped so much. She taught me it was OK to only be slowly falling in love and bonding with my babies. I knew now this was going to be a slow burn and I was ok with that. I now knew that it was actually normal to feel this way and many mothers do. It's not all rainbows and lollipops like some mothers feel (lucky them!) and that one day I would wake up and realise my heart is so full with love that I wouldn't be able to remember quite how it felt to not love them. I was going to be alright and I realised with her help that talking about it made me feel so much better. I finally felt strong enough to share with people my dirty secrets like not liking my children, feeling like I was failing and that I wasn't going to survive this mother hood gig. I got such an outpouring of love and support it was amazing. If only I did this earlier?
It's funny because as soon as I told people how I was really doing then everyone stepped up their game to support me and they suddenly really saw what I had been talking about, they were tough work. My mum went away on holiday so my friends would come help often, especially my friend Jamie who would come most afternoons to help me with witching hours, I was so grateful and it was really amazing for their bond as they love her so much as they spent a lot of time together. Whenever Julia came over for Sydney she would get up in the mornings with them to give us sleep ins. My friend Emma came over with her mother in law one time and the boys were just upset and crying the whole time, I ditched the kids with them for ten minutes so I could hang all my washing up outside. I came back in and you could really see the reality of what my day-to-day life had dawned upon them. It was nice for people to finally see and understand why I had been in a tailspin.
By the time the boys hit 6 months a lot of the reflux and colic symptoms had started to dwindle, thank the fucking lord/higher power/ energy whatever you want to call it. They still were waking a few times a night and were adamant cat nappers ( even Dorothy Waide couldn't crack them to make them slip longer than 40 minutes!) but I was learning to deal with it. We even managed to take a family trip to America to visit my brother and Grandma who lives in San Diego, the boys travelled super well and there weren't too many meltdown moments on the trip. My mum even watched the boys overnight so we could go stay in a hotel alone and have some time out together. Dreamy. Have you worked out by now how amazing my mum is?
I think by 6 months I was really starting to bond with the boys and my heart was slowly being filled to the brim with love for them. Gosh it was such a relief to wake up and feel that one day. It's what I had been waiting for since I was pregnant and felt that disconnect / anger at them for making me feel so awful.
6 months to a year we got the hang of our new schedule, I was coping much better and really loving being a twin mum after all that shit we went through in the first 6 months of their lives. The boys started sleeping through at 10 months, although they were and still are early risers. I actually think I started nailing it, I was on top of everything, the boys were happier as they weren't in as much pain anymore, I was getting out of the house and managing to catch up with my friends. Life was good. It's funny how feeling like I was doing a great job really helped with my mental health, I was suddenly confident in my self, my abilities and my parenting. I have a very relaxed style to parenting now and I think that is what helped me get through everything in the end. The only thing I'm strict about is nap time/bed time routine, otherwise I am very go with the flow. It made life easier being able to let go of the little things when something went wrong or not to plan, which lets face it, always happens with twins! Hitting that one year milestone was the best, we had a big party to celebrate as we wanted to celebrate their lives but also thank all the people it took to get us to that point. We also wanted a bit of a night out to congratulate ourselves too. It was such a special day and I couldn't believe how far we had come as a family unit. I always say if their were cracks that were going to show in my relationship with Jay it would have been during that first year, and none did. We never had a big fight about everything that was going on, and Jay was pretty good about me wanting my own space after the boys went to bed at night. I was just so sick of having two people cling to me all day that by 7pm I wanted to sit on the couch and not have another much larger human wanting to cling to me too. Poor Jay got bugger all sex that first year. I know he felt neglected and intimacy is what makes him feel loved, but I just couldn't get my mojo back for a long time, it was the last thing I wanted and actually made me feel really un comfortable, and to be honest, it's not the same it was pre pregnancy even now! Sorry babe! But we are so good. We have such a great foundation and those tough times really made us realise we can handle anything together, as long as we tackle it as a team. I'm a very lucky woman to have a man like Jay, he seriously is one of a kind. Ask any of my friends and they know he is a really special man.
So that's that, a small (seriously I know this seems long but there are so many other ups and downs I could write about, but don't want to bore you all!) snap shot of us settling into twin life. I didn't cover too much about breastfeeding, sleep training, learning to settle babies and all of that nitty gritty stuff, as it would make this the longest post ever. So I will save that for their own posts if that is something you would like to read about? Comment below with anything you really want me to cover/know about and I will try and blog about them for you.
Thanks for reading these stories about my IVF journey, pregnancy, birth, hospital stay and our new normal life with twins. It's been really hard to re-live and lots of tears have been shed over my keyboard, but It was great to get it all down and share that having a hard time, like I did, is normal too. Don't worry, you will get there! I look at my boys today and I could just about cry with how much I love them, when at the start I could cry with how much I didn't feel that bond. So chin up, keep on doing what you are doing, talk to your loved ones and you too will wake up one day and everything would have changed for the better.
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?
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