On Tuesday it was hot here in Tasmania. The girls had been a bit snotty for days, but it had tipped over the edge to a sinister green so they had been swabbed. Whilst their results were pending we were put into isolation, at first just in a corner of the nursery, barricaded off, and forced to wear the obligatory yellow synthetic gowns, blue face masks and vinyl gloves. I sat in the corner, sweltering in that get up, waiting to feed each of our girls. The day before I'd started a course of antibiotics to combat the beginning of mastitis, so after each feed I was given frozen nappies to apply to my breasts, a welcome relief to the stickiness of the gown. Feeding was becoming problematic as the girls were too snotty to latch on for more than one suck, so would push off (heel of their hand into a painful breast) cry and try again. In the end I would let the nurse know and she would suction their nostrils (not an experience they seemed to enjoy much), their crying would exhaust them, and they'd just lie quietly in my arms. I looked down and they squinted up at me warily, tired and a bit suspicious of my mask, I'd rock them for a moment, then ask the nurses to top them up via their nasal gastric tube.
I rushed off at lunch to a physio appointment I had booked weeks ago, to get some exercises to help my post Caesarian belly. Her room was swelteringly hot, a pathetic cheap fan just pushed the hot air lamely around the room. After the initial surprise at me being here (I'd seen her early on in my pregnancy for some pelvic floor exercises), she got me to lie down on the bench so we could work out the damage. She was happy for me that I was stretch mark free (well hardly surprising when the girls had arrived so early!), and had only minimal separation of my abdominal muscles. She then got the ultrasound out to check on my inner core muscles. Last time I'd visited we'd gotten a sneaky peek at the girls who were jiggling around, kicking me in the bladder. I think my physio was more excited than me. It was strange to look at the screen and just see my muscles. She got me to lock on the pelvic floor then draw in my inner muscles around where my scar is. I did it perfectly the first time. But then I couldn't for the life of me do it again. She smiled and looked at me and said, "you're already fatiguing". I laughed, then realised I was lying horizontally in the middle of the day in a room which felt like an oven, my body was trying to tell me something. Slow down. Rest. Sleep.
After a few more exercises to try later on when I have some actual muscle fitness, I went and found some lunch and realised I was starting to feel sniffly myself. On my return to hospital Elisabeth's test had come back positive for RSV or the common cold. The nurses were lovely, I admitted I thought I was getting it too and was going to stay home the next few days to rest, and they all looked at me and said in unison "good".
The next day Maggie's test came back positive and they were moved into an isolation room in NICU.
I have stayed home really since. Of course I miss our girls, I have watched the movies of their first baths about a zillion times the last few days, I ring the nurses every few hours to see how they're going, and send Rob in with a milk delivery each day.
But I'm not moping, or sad. The nurses are looking after them far better than I could. Clearing their noses, checking their temperatures, and feeding them via the tubes to let them rest. Rob said their room is nice and quiet. The girls are doing ok, especially considering Maggie only got off breathing support last week!
I am enjoying being home. Realising it may well be my last days at home alone for quite some time. Getting some time in the sunshine (after spending our entire summer in the hospital), sleeping in after the 6am express, napping in the afternoon, catching up on correspondence, staying in my pyjamas all day, drinking tea. No fluorescent lights, vinyl chairs, noisy alarms, synthetic gowns, or untidy hospital toilets.
I should feel isolated, I guess, but I don't. I know I need a few days to recuperate to be ready for the final run to home. I truly hope my next blog post is to introduce you to Maggie and Elisabeth, at our home.