Life as a mum to twins…the first few days

October 8, 2011 in Baby tips, Latest, Life

Photo from TheNickster under Creative Commons

Leah describes the day her little twins arrived, the stay in hospital that followed, and the challenges her new family faced.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was sat in a tiny hospital cubicle staring at two little wrinkled bundles that barely had the strength to move. 15 months on, the only time my twins are not moving is when they are fast asleep!!

Giving birth

I’ve had friends who ended up in hospital weeks before their due date or have had to have major surgery immediately after giving birth; so I actually consider myself very lucky really as there were no complications with my pregnancy or during birth. In fact, I remember after having had an epidural (my antenatal doctor insisted on this procedure for twins) and feeling rather relaxed, I was texting family and regularly updating my facebook status until it was time to push!

The twins were born naturally, with just a little bit of help from some forceps, but they were quite small. Beau was 5lbs and Olivia 4lbs 8oz. However, that’s an ok birth weight for twins. Another girl on the same ward as me also had twins and one was only 3lbs 6 oz – tiny in comparison.

Staying in hospital

I was in the hospital for a week with Beau and Olivia, it also happened to be the hottest week of the year and as you can’t open windows in hospital, the ward was stifling. Olivia was suffering from jaundice and was put under a heat lamp for three days, making the already stuffy cubicle feel like a sauna.

That week was probably the worst part of the whole experience for me. Rick could only visit in the evenings as we decided that whilst I was in hospital he should continue to work so that he could use his full paternity leave. The ward was jam packed so the nurses were not always there to help. I felt quite lonely and isolated. More than that, I was completely overwhelmed with the fact that I was now responsible for two lives other than my own – their wellbeing was dependent on me.

Struggling through

Sometimes, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. The enormity of the whole experience would hit me like a ton of bricks and I would be in floods of tears, wondering if I could actually be any good at being a mother.

There was no proper routine, the twins would sleep a lot and not do much else, I’d just be waiting on tenterhooks for a sign of movement. Admittedly, sometimes I’d dread both of them waking up at the same time because I was so scared that I wouldn’t be able to cope, but then I’d get equally frustrated when one would wake up after the other because I felt like I could never get a rest. I think for the first three days I didn’t sleep at all.

Feeding challenges

I decided before having the twins that I was going to give breastfeeding a go, how hard could it be??!! For me…VERY.

Olivia was too weak to breastfeed, she was actually tube fed for the first week, but Beau seemed ready so I latched him on – ouch, ouch, ouch! It felt like someone was running a grater on my nipple. This was not what I had in mind. The nurse came in and told me I didn’t have him latched on properly and ran through a technique with me, but every time I tried it just felt the same.

I was told that a baby would feed from one breast for about 20 mins and then you’d swap. Beau would be stuck on one side for over an hour but would cry when I tried to take him off. The nurses were insistent that I carry on, in fact they were quite abrupt and at once point pretty much shoved Beau’s head onto my boob.

There was one particular night when I started trying to feed Beau at 9pm. He was on and off my breast until 4am. I kept trying to tell the nurse that he wasn’t getting any milk but one nurse turned round to me and said, “What you going to do at home? We won’t be there then.”

Getting by

I shuffled backwards and forwards to the midwives throughout the night until I was practically on my knees begging them to help me because I was so exhausted. Finally they took Beau off me and let me get some sleep.

It was tremendously traumatic; I don’t think there was a day in hospital where I didn’t cry. I began to feel like I was like a nuisance and dreaded having to ring the bell for assistance, but at the same time I was angry because I had two babies to cope with and having had little to no experience with babies before, I needed help and that’s what the nurses were meant to be there for.  The people I ended up getting most help from were the student nurses who had seemed to have less experience but more compassion for the mums on the ward.

I just wanted to go home; I didn’t really feel like I could bond with the twins in this environment. Olivia was so delicate and had to stay in an incubator a lot of the time and the whole breastfeeding drama with Beau made it difficult for either of us to feel comfortable with each other.

One of the most touching moments whilst I was in hospital was seeing Rick change a nappy for the first time. He was ever so gentle, it was as though he was handling some fragile crystal. The poor guy broke into a sweat and kept asking me if he was doing everything right, which he did and with much more precision than I did (that’s the perfectionist in him), although I did have to tell him that sometimes it would have to be speed over the accuracy of a nappy sticker!

Breaking down

The reason we had to stay in hospital was because they wanted the twins to be off tube feeds and putting on weight. Beau was fine, it was little Lady O that was struggling a little. When I first entered the ward I met another woman with twins, she was just entering her fourth week in hospital! So having had such a traumatic week the thought of having to stay another three filled me with dread.

I was so distraught and I have to admit I wasn’t enjoying motherhood at all. I was getting so worked up about everything that it actually felt that me and the twins were on separate sides of a very big room from each other. My arms were reaching out but I just couldn’t feel them.

I just lost it and broke down pleading with the nurses to let me go home because I’d be so much better in my own environment. Now, whether or it was pure coincidence or a bit of divine intervention, a day or so later, Olivia managed to take a little milk in a bottle, the yellow tinge on her skin disappeared and she managed to put on a little weight.

Going home

Finally on the Thursday afternoon, seven days after I’d entered the hospital, I heard the golden words “Would you like to go home tomorrow?” I think I was packing my bags before they finished the sentence. Another woman was coming onto the ward with twins and they needed the bed, so they decided that whilst Olivia was still a little underweight, she was doing well enough to go home.

Walking out the hospital doors on that balmy, sunny Friday afternoon, I took a long deep breath and a wave of calm swept over me. I felt like my new life was finally beginning. Rick and I had entered that hospital as a couple and were now leaving as a family.

In the next post, find out what the first few months were like for me and Rick as we began our real journey into the world of parenthood.

Leah V

Leah V

I always find writing a biography about myself a bit daunting because I have to try and make myself sound really interesting and not reel off the customary likes and dislikes that most people submit in their biogs. I’d love to be able to claim that I have a fast moving all action lifestyle, which includes white knuckle sports, extensive travel and surfing; alongside a high flying career that has seen me win many plaudits, awards and accolades along the way. But alas, whilst I have lived in a city it was Leeds and not London and I think the only recognition I’ve ever really had was when I was captain of my high school netball team! Over the years I have dabbled in a few jobs, but I think it’s fair to say that my longest serving career choices has been in PR and Health and fitness, both at the same time but totally unconnected. Before I had the twins I was working as a freelance PR consultant and as a fitness instructor for Virgin Active. The fitness bit came before the PR as I gained my instructor qualifications before deciding to go to university at 23 to study English and Media. I actually wanted to go into journalism but having done quite a lot of work experience with PR companies during my degree, I got drawn into the world of PR and decided to follow that path instead. Without boring you all to tears I won’t give too much detail about my career/s but I some how managed to keep two running side by side…until I found out I was pregnant with twins. Me and Rick (my boyfriend) decided that I would take a career break to look after twins, so now I am a stay at home mum working full time on bringing her kids up in the best way possible. However, whilst having the time off from my career, my yearning to write has come back with a vengeance and I’m hoping that by writing for mums on the blog it will kick start a possible new career for me in writing and inspire me to finish the book I have just started writing!!
Leah V

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