Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A reflection on motherhood so far.

Before I was pregnant, and even during my somewhat truncated pregnancy, I often wondered if I would be a good Mama. Not many of my friends were new Mums recently, so I hadn't spent a lot of time around babies. As the eldest of 5 children born in 6 years (ironically no twins) I have some vague memories of helping with my younger siblings, but it was all a bit foggy. As much as I love reading your many blogs and watching how you are Mama/Mum/Mom/Mother to your children, I couldn't help but compare myself to you; motherhood seemed somewhat oblique to me. I was worried about my own skills, for want of a better word.

I read your birth stories and those precious moments when you held your baby for the first time, how you fell in love, and to be honest I was worried I may not feel it.

Also with your honesty about the reality of sleep deprivation, crying babies and other keeping it real moments, I wasn't sure I would cope with one, let alone two babies.

Now I know that at 5.5 months it might be too early to call, but I can already tell my fears were unfounded. I realised it this morning as I enjoyed a shower, a precious moment of alone time that Rob ensures I enjoy every morning (well except in the rare days I decide to stay in bed all morning thereby forfeiting my shower token).

My start to motherhood has been quite different to what I expected, and certainly very different to all those stories I read. While I wouldn't wish the premmie journey on anyone, I feel it is important I recognise all the emotions I felt and celebrate how I became a Mama. Particularly as I have no photos during my labour or the emergency Caesarian to help trigger my memory. 


This is the last photo of me pregnant, in a lovely hospital gown two days before Maggie and Elisabeth's birth. 

In the last few days as my Obstetrician balanced the risks of Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS) to my babies, (we still didn't know their sex), against the risks of birth at 26 weeks, I refused to think about their birth. Perhaps in a vain hope it might delay that moment until it was safer for them.

At dawn on 12.12.12, despite all our worst fears, as I lay on the operating table, with a hastily erected curtain close to my face, Rob's hand holding mine ever so tightly, I heard our Doctor ask Rob if he'd like to stand up and see the first baby's appearance, and I felt excited. She joyfully announced "It's a beautiful baby girl", and as Rob's tears fell on my face, I quietly wept as I heard Maggie's tiny but determined cry, and I felt it. A love stronger than anything I had ever felt, particularly for someone I hadn't even seen, as I became a Mama. One minute later the Doctor asked Rob to stand up again and Elisabeth entered the world screaming just like her sister, and another wave of love washed over me for my second daughter.

The girls were whisked straight away into the care of a team of Neonatalogist Doctors and NICU nurses in the corners of the room. Rob was able to take a closer look and reported back to me that they looked like skun rabbits. Once stabilised their humidicribs were wheeled past me as I lay being stitched up on the operating table.  The nurse flipped down the side so I could see Maggie (at that stage still unnamed) for the first time. But given the number of tubes and the fact she was in a plastic bag for warmth I didn't see much. 

While we were in recovery and then in my room, the adrenaline of labour kept me excited as we waited to go and meet the girls and give them their hastily finalised names.

They wheeled my whole bed into NICU and as I got close enough to see into their cribs, my emotions overflowed yet again in silent tears as I fell in love hard with our tiny, red, jelly-skinned girls. Desperately wishing they didn't have to endure such a tough start to life.

I realised then the love part of motherhood is innate. The skills side of motherhood still worried me a little as I had my first cuddles (11 and 13 days after their birth), nappy changes and baths. But I treated our 112 day stay in NICU as a motherhood apprenticeship. Surrounded by professional baby nurses and lactation consultants, many of whom were mothers or fathers themselves, I asked questions constantly. But the wisest advice given by a few nurses about how to care for babies was to do what feels right for us. 

In doing that I have surprised myself. I can be a good Mama to Maggie and Elisabeth, and I have coped so far with the intense needs of two newborns; with Rob helping me of course!

I look forward to continuing to learn and trusting my instincts as a Mama.


My first twin cuddle 38 days after their birth. Arranged as a birthday present for me by the NICU nurses. The best present I have or may ever receive.

20 comments:

Amanda said...

Beautifully written... your love for your girls shines through your words. That nurse's advice was so very true... trust your instincts... only you know what is best for your precious bubs. Thank you for sharing this post with us xx

ally said...

I just adore that photo of you - luminescent is the word Rob and I agreed on.
I found the love part easy and innate too - its the trusting myself that I have a harder time with
(and I'm jealous of your shower time....even now!!)
xx

Violet said...

Absolutely beautiful. Maggie and Elisabeth's entrance to this world may not have been as planned but it is no less perfect. It's is their story and that alone makes it wonderful. Your love for them will continue to guide you as their parents. You've got some amazing girls there.

Andrea said...

I have enjoyed watching (on here and instagram) your journey of becoming a mama with complete awe of how you've dealt with the (hmmm trying to think of a clean word to use ;) ) difficulties that you've had to deal with.

Your girls are so lucky to have such an amazing mother and yes, the nurses are spot on, you have to do what's right for YOU and YOUR family, mightn't be how others do things but they're not you guys!!

AndiePandie73

Jane @ Shady Baker said...

Beautiful words as always, thanks for sharing this with us x

Mrs Mason said...

That fear of being no good at it and not loving a baby at all/enough stopped me having one at all. It felt like too great a risk to take. So pleased to see you and yours and all doing so well. Much love xx

Katie said...

Beautiful words. Having your child whisked away and spending the begining of their life in the hospital is a very different experience. I've often told people in some ways it's much harder then what I had imagined and in some ways it was easier(drs and nurses are going to teach me how to be a parent!). So perfectly captured.

nat @ natalia familia said...

Such an emotional story, well written. Thanks so much. I admire your ability to write so well about you emotions and love for Elizabeth and Maggie. I get a huge lump in my throat just reading it. Also, I love the photo of you having a cuddle with E and M. The first moment I got to have a "double-cuddle" with my preemie twins, I cried and cried, the nurses had to leave me to it. I was so emotional about it all suddenly. What a roller coaster. x

Hazel said...

Thanks Nat, you know better than most how scary TTTS is and the whole NICU rollercoaster ride!

mumofsix said...

What a journey you have had! I was so scared for you when I heard those little mites had been born. And look at them now. Feisty, strong and beautiful. Just like their mama xxx

tea with lucy said...

My goodness! My new baby hormones plus your beautiful words have left me a blubbering mess. What a journey you guys have been on . . . and what a fantastic job you are doing!

rachel xox

Hazel said...

Thanks Amanda, sometimes I still second guess myself, but mostly we are getting along just fine.

Hazel said...

Thanks Ally, I was a bit more used to the kanga cuddles by then, so I was really excited rather than nervous.

Hazel said...

Thanks Violet, they certainly have a story worth telling!

Hazel said...

I guess I didn't know anything different - perhaps if they'd been a second baby I would have been more upset by our long hospital stay in comparison. Thanks I still have a lot to learn.

Hazel said...

Thanks Jane.

Hazel said...

Well I'm sure a lot of women feel doubts. Thanks for your good wishes and love.

Hazel said...

Thanks Katie, you know too well these feelings.

Hazel said...

Thanks Sarah. I try to keep my feistyness under wraps! Xo

Hazel said...

Thanks Rachel. Amazed when I saw your beach trip already on your blog. Good on you. Xx

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