OUR PREEMIE TWINNIE JOURNEY

ON THE DOUBLE DAILY

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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.

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THIS MOM(ME)’s TAKE ON HAVING PREEMIES

ON THE DOUBLE DAILY

img1400338443193                                              I have read so many posts recently from moms of both singletons and multiples on social media groups about the worry of having preemie babies and asking for guidance and possibly more so, for some reassurance. Along my journey, I have crossed paths with quite a few special moms who have had preemie babies ranging from 29 weeks onwards and although I cannot speak for all preemie births, I can say that although not the easiest and most stress free period in your life, both you and your baby/ies will be just fine once the overwhelming birthing process has settled and you are able to take stock of the blessing you have brought into this world. Like mine and many of the others preemies, they will soon grow into happy and healthy children. The birth story and journey is only a slightly different beginning than one expects when welcoming a baby into the world in that instead of enjoying your moment with your baby/ies after birth, preemies are most often briskly whisked away to be cared for and while mom and baby would usually be able to enjoy some quality time outside of visiting hours, the Neonatal ICU (NICU) restrictions do not allow for visitors other than the mother and father and then grandparents one visit each. I only got a brief few seconds to give each of my boys a kiss before they were taken away for their APGAR tests and then off to the NICU and then could only see them again the following day because I wasn’t allowed to walk until the following day. In that sense, the ‘happy’ in the event of bringing new life into this world is slightly overshadowed by the niggling stress of hoping and praying that your baby/ ies will be born healthy and without complications.

As with many multiples, mine 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 for me let me assure you), they grew happily together 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 that 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 need to monitor and track every movement, meet every milestone, take every precaution, is the most all-consuming, obsessive task as a pregnant woman. I found myself constantly researching every little concern ad nauseam on the internet to try and find some reassurance that all is on track and fine with my babies. Let me reassure you that there is no reassurance to be found on the internet. There is something to be said for the process of pregnancy and the toll it takes on a woman. Apart from all of the things that ‘happen’ to your body as part of the process, the emotional toll was far greater for me. I found that the constant worry dampened the excitement somewhat.

We were told from early on in our pregnancy that we would most likely deliver via c-section and the goal post was 36 weeks. Each week was a celebration of a job well done, the longer the babies were in the womb, the better of course. Each week, the anticipation of wondering if this was going to be the week was torturous and then the gynae tells you, good job see you next week. By week 35, I was ready for another ‘see you next week’ 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 fetal 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 in shock! With my husband having broken the land speed record to get to the hospital as they were inserting the epidural needle for go time, our precious beautiful boys were born at 12pm weighing 1.99 kgs and 2.25 kgs, not bad for 35 weekers  🙂

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. To any moms-to-be reading this post, my advice is to take all you hear from your nearest and dearest, friends or strangers (myself included) with a pinch of salt because no matter whether you (or I, or they) have had one or five children, each birth experience is different and each person’s emotional experience, stresses and circumstances are different. I know that advice giving seems the natural thing to do because people constantly try to relate their situation to yours or their children to yours or their husbands to yours but the reality is that all and any advice, some welcome and some not, some asked for and some not, should be taken from whence it comes. Use of it what you like, and for the rest, shrug it off and smile sweetly. Everyone is going to have an opinion about everything we do no matter what, it’s the human condition. Having said that however, my small pearl of wisdom to add is the importance of a good support system. Support systems were my saving grace. No matter what form you choose, for me it was the other NICU moms who were going through similar situations, sharing the stories and concerns which was a huge support during our week in NICU. Thankfully, our boys were there precautionary rather than for any problems and once they were able to suckle properly on their own, we could go home which was only a week. Many of the other moms had been there for a number of weeks with no end in sight. Then of course the ultimate support system, family and friends. The key for me was strength in my partner and family. I would definitely recommend getting support from others sharing in a similar situation, it somehow helps you feel less alone or as if you are the only one in this trying situation. Lastly, my final pearl in terms of having preemie babies is to give them (your baby/ies) due time to grow and thrive. All in good time.

So my message to moms of preemies, and dads for that matter, is to give yourselves a break. Stop for a moment and take a breath and take in the wonderment of having created new life. It is a special and amazing thing that some people can unfortunately only dream about. Celebrate the good, the wonderful, and the beautiful that you have made together. The difficult days ahead will quickly pass. You will be fine, you will get through it and most importantly, your baby/ies will get stronger and be happy and healthy in no time. Use the support of those around you, take comfort in the safe delivery of your baby and your own well-being after the birth because that too is a blessing, embrace the time you have been given to adjust to this new phase in your life while your baby/ies is/ are in NICU, a rare opportunity I felt was invaluable J Soon enough you will be home with your bundle/s and happily getting on with your new lives together and let me tell you, your days will never be better spent than with your family ❤

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ADJUSTING TO PARENTHOOD – A FLUID APPROACH

ON THE DOUBLE DAILY

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Welcome to the first of many of the ‘journals’ of my journey as a twin mom.

I think for starters, I want to touch on the adjustment and process if you will of becoming a mom in general, be it to singletons, twins or triplets or (bless you) more. I don’t think the number of children matters in relation to the ‘mutual’ challenges we all face as new moms. There are things that are not exclusive to being a mom of multiples for example sleepless nights. It affects us all in the same way, sleep-deprived mom = mom(n)ster [i.e. monster]. Apart from the impossibility of being adequately prepared for being thrown into the deep end of being a parent, as we become moms, it seems that so many of us ‘lose’ our individuality and even more so as a mom of multiples. The only ‘me’ in anything once you become a mom is the mommeee yells and the sad truth is that we as moms accept the ‘second best’ seat. I guess it comes with the territory as nothing is more important than to see your child thrive. Another factor not unique to a mom of multiples is the pressure to be the best mom who does all things right along with the textbook baby who does everything the way it should be. The pressure we place on ourselves is unreal to be the all in one super-mom! Having said that, there is something special and almost, dare I say, ‘boastful’ about being a mom of multiples. ‘Respect!’ is a common phrase I get greeted with from moms of singletons which of course would make any mom beam with a sense of achievement. Being a mom of multiples is definitely not without shall we say, its challenges and curve balls such as the unnatural manoeuvrings of attempting to breast feed two babies at the same time – who the heck got that right?? And when both are crying and pulling on you to be picked up at the same time, the matrix moves that one has to pull off astound me still and you wonder how you even do it sometimes. Mommy-hood is an amazing, incomparable blessing but yes, there is no doubt that it is not all roses summer breezes.

Having said all of that, I find when I’m without my boys, I feel a little less important or ‘accomplished’ in a way. No one carries their qualification around for all to see nor do they wear their job title pinned to their forehead to brag of their achievements. Your children on the other hand are almost always in tow. This seems to generate constant awe and curiosity in people. Now don’t get me wrong, while I do love the fact that I have twins and that it fascinates people, the beyond-boundaries invasion of your personal space and personal life sometimes does get a bit much on some days and then the aforementioned mom(n)ster in me wants to rear her ugly head. I mean, when your children are sleeping in their pram and you’re clearly in a hurry yet people still have the need to stop you to peep in on them as if some zoo animals because they have never before seen two sleeping children??? I guess in the 16 months since the birth of my twins, I have had to adjust to the fact that twins are fascinating to people including their mom most often of all. In a way my twins define me; an expert multi-tasker, a planner, a thriver on challenges. Put aside the academic and career achievements you may have, twins are a living, breathing, visual testament to one’s abilities to take on the most insane and impossible tasks in your stride. Heck, if you’re a mom of multiples, who’s to say you couldn’t run the country, the world or be Ironman himself right?? Or at least it feels like that some days.

So here’s a little bit about my twins, as mentioned my boys are 16 months old and getting cuter by the day. They have days when they’re more identical and as they grow older, the similarities increase. This is in looks only however. It’s amazing how you have two little beings exposed to exactly the same love, care, nutrition and environment yet they are so different but the same. As different as they are, they share variations of each other. One day Kaleb will be the independent cheeky one and the Ryley the quiet ‘thinker’ and the next day they switch, it’s the most fascinating and incredible thing interacting with twins! Being at the age they are, they’re in the, as I like to call it, walkey talkey phase and let me tell you there is truth to the saying ‘moms have to have eyes in the back of their heads’ (and sides, and round corners and generally just be able to split in two as your multiples toddle off in opposite directions.) The reality is, as a mom of multiples, you just do. On the very few occasions my twins have been separated i.e. one off to crèche for example and the only with mom (me) for the day due to being ill, I’ve been a bit ‘lost’ for lack of a better phrase. As a person going from a family of two to four almost immediately, the adjustment was not a gradual one for us. It was an immediate immersion into parenthood and the race was on. We’ve been lucky in that our journey so far has been relatively smooth in the sense that we have been blessed with two good eaters, good sleepers and generally well and happy boys. It goes without saying that moms of multiples are infinitely busier and have to be that much more planned and prepared but on the whole I would never trade the experience and the fact that we were doubley blessed with these two special individuals that we get to nurture, watch grow and help develop into little people. Regardless still of whether you are a mom is singletons or mutliples, the adjustment is never as easy as we anticipate and no matter how prepared we think we are, there are always curve balls so my few cents worth to new parents and parents-to-be, don’t sweat the small stuff and go with the flow. As long as your baby is cared for and loves, the few small mishaps along the way will not be remembered. After all, you are all learning together – mom is learning how to care for this little being she has brought into the world, dad is learning how to be of use to mom and baby and baby is learning how to adjust to being exposed out in this big, new world so cut yourselves some slack and take each ‘obstacle’ as a learning curve.

I have learnt along the way that you never fully adjust to being a parent as the term is a fluid and ever changing animal. Just when you figure our your tiny baby and what he/she needs, they evolve into an interactive little person who sits and smiles and just as your getting to grips with a sitting, smiling bundle of joy you have a crawling on-the-move little hazard and the ever-evolving child requires an ever evolving parent – the journey of discovery and learning never ends, I have found and for me, I am loving the ever-changing phase of learning about each other. So the question, how do we adjust to being new parents, we don’t, we run with the title and mould it to suit our individual circumstances. No baby and no parent is the same and as many have said before, babies do not come with instruction manuals, nor do parents. There is no one way to be a good parent I think, every child is unique and every parent adjusts in their own way to each new and not so new situation. So, my advice on how to adjust to being a new mom, new dad, new parent? NONE. I think advice is something we get way too much of and is far too freely given even if unwarranted and not asked for (I too, am guilty of this.) For me the wisest option is to listen to those who have advice to share, take the bits that work for me and smile sweetly at the rest of the advice-givers while deleting the information from my ‘personal hard drive’ i.e. my over-full mommy brain.

So where are we at now? We have two ‘one’derful one year old boys who are swiftly on their journey to being two and exploring the many firsts in life with so much to look forward to daily!

This week’s happenings: Currently our twinnies are learning to run (never mind walk, walking is clearly so three months ago) and are making their way towards becoming fully fledged walky-talkies! They’re toddling and climbing all over the place and exploring anything they are allowed to (and some they are not allowed to as well).

Favourite words:

Ta tu (their version of ‘thank you’)

Daddeeee

Puppy

Ai ya ya (their version of ‘I love you’)

Bubbles

Ball

They currently love:

Peas, playing in the garden, reading books,rooibos tea with apple juice, animals of any sort (and particularly those who don’t/ cant run away), sliding, peanut butter sarmies and singing and dancing

DoubleyBlessed Inspiration for the week: Very wise words that have resonated with me this week, spend double the amount of time you think is enough with your children and half the amount of money. TAKE the time to play with your children. Children need your love, not possessions.They grow so quickly and I find after my busy day at work, once I get home I have a million things to do, dinner time, dishes, washing and steaming bottles, bath time then bed time. The constant rush makes it seem more of a chore than what it should be, an enjoyable evening with your family. Leave the dishes for five minutes longer, give them their dinner five minutes later. Don’t sweat the small stuff and don’t beat yourself up. Your children will benefit infinitely more from a few more minutes of cuddles with mom and dad than the dishes being done or their room being tidy. We are not given time, TAKE the time to enjoy your family.

My double blessings

My double blessings

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