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.