As with many multiples, our twin boys were preemies. Their home (aka my womb) got a bit crowded and at 35 weeks there was no more ‘room to grow’. My pregnancy was a happy and healthy one with only one or two hiccups along the way being early pregnancy bleeding and low blood pressure which lead to one or two bouts of fainting. Other than these scares (which were more than enough let me assure you), they grew happily together without any hiccups until the 35 week mark. There is nothing more concerning to a mom than her unborn child/ children’s safety and well-being. If I’m being honest, although my pregnancy was quite healthy, the stress you take on as a woman responsible for the creation, development and well-being of another (one let alone two or more) human being is the most daunting experience of my life to date. The overwhelming instinct to protect your babies already and need to monitor and track every movement, meet every milestone, take every precaution, is the most all-consuming task as a pregnant woman and mom to be. There is something to be said for the process of pregnancy and the toll it takes on a woman. So when your gynaecologist tells you at 35 weeks (at which point you are exceptionally ‘over’ the beauty and magic of pregnancy) that your babies have not grown since the week before and you need to be booked into hospital for monitoring for a potential caesarean in the next day or two, reality of the lack of preparedness to welcome your blessings into this world sets in. Being last-minute.com checked into hospital and monitored hourly with your husband en route to collect the essentials for a hospital stay and of course the half packed baby bag because after all you still had at least 1-2 weeks left before delivery was imminent, is a whirlwind experience. It goes without saying that being given two steroid injections to help develop your babies lungs and being on a foetal monitor throughout the night is uncomfortable to say the least but as all moms near the end of their pregnancy know, this is nothing unusual and sleep is somewhat of a luxury most nights anyway. To add to the discomfort, Braxton Hicks is an added delight to third trimester pregnancy joys. So on a lovely Saturday morning at around 10am after a night of being monitored the gynae comes in for his morning rounds and checks in on us and checking the foetal monitor asks the nurse a few mumbo-jumbo questions about how long the spikes have been like this etc and after assessing her answers proceeds to announce that I’m in active labour and its ‘GO TIME’. Now, having had regular Braxton Hicks bouts for a number of preceding weeks, if I had been anywhere other than in hospital, I would have been in serious denial because it was honestly no worse for me than the usual Braxton Hicks discomforts. I was totally surprised! Around 2 hours later, our beautiful boys were born weighing a good 1.99 kgs and 2.25 kgs. I think the saddest thing for me after the delivery was not being able to have my babies with me or hold them, it was a brief, beautiful meet and then they were off to NICU. I only got to hold them for the first time the next day after all of the new mommy stuff had been taken care of.
Another thing to be said for pregnancy that no one can prepare you for, no matter how many people tell you their experiences, is the process of giving birth by whichever means, caesarean or naturally. To any moms-to-be reading this post, my advice is to take all the advice you are given with a pinch of salt because no matter whether you have had one or five children, each birth experience is different and unique and each person’s emotional journey and stresses are different. The challenges that one family experiences will never be the same as another family’s experience but we can all take comfort in the sharing and the similarities in the experience, specifically the joy that this bundle or in my case these bundles will bring. Whether you’re lucky like we were to only have had your preemie/s in Neonatal ICU for a short period of time before being able to take them home or they have to stay a little longer, rest assured that they have been made perfectly and are fighters. The human will to survive is an incredible thing, being exposed to the NICU, we got to meet some special people whose journeys were both inspiring and heart-breaking. Thankfully our twinnies were in NICU for only a week before we could take them home, some families are not as fortunate. At the same time, we were grateful for our time in the NICU because we got to have a bit of an adjustment period to the parenthood beast with all of the help and the care of the NICU nurses so for us it was almost a blessing to have had that week ‘course’ in how to bath, feed, and care for a preemie baby which although we were very prepared for (or so we thought anyway), we were ultimately very grateful for the additional ‘lessons’.
I have to reassure moms of preemie twins that although they may be born smaller and seemingly so frail and tiny, they do flourish and catch up so quickly. My twins grew beautifully and were in the normal singletons growth chart percentile within weeks of being born. They may need slightly more care than a full term baby in terms of more regular feedings and some NICU care but these little beings are stronger than we realise, what a beautiful thing it is to watch something so tiny and so dependent flourish and thrive! My twins are now two boisterous, spirited, adventurous and inquisitive two year old boys with double the spunk, double the charm and double the cheek J May you be as blessed as I am…
DoubleyBlessed Inspiration for the week: Prioritise. Once you realise that the wellbeing of your family is your priority and the grooming of those ever developing minds, everything else naturally takes a back seat. SO, so what if you’re ten minutes later for work because your toddler wants you to take their shoes off so they can put it back on themselves and so what if you’re stuck in traffic because of your toddlers (plural – when you have twins because they seem to synchronise these things) meltdown in the school car park because they want you to carry them in to school rather than walking in on their own and you have to spend some extra time consoling them and making them understand why they need to walk in on their own rather than yelling and making them and yourself feel worse. I guess ultimately, everyone has a family to manage on top of work in whatever form they know it to be, and if you prioritise what matters most, everything else seems to naturally reprioritise. Be real. Real with yourself, with your spouse, with your boss, with your family. People understand circumstances more than we realise, take comfort in fact that you are not alone.