Monday, July 29, 2013
Thursday, July 25, 2013
Yesterday the girls were 224 days old. This number may not seem that significant to most people. But to Rob and I it is a big deal. It meant that the girls had spent as long with us at home as they had in the Royal Hobart Hospital NICU.
When I posted a celebratory photo on Facebook stating the important milestone, a perceptive friend noted that tomorrow (today) is an even more important day. They have spent longer with us at the hut. Whilst Rob and I have nothing but the utmost admiration and respect for the dedicated and professional team of nurses, doctors, lactation consultants, receptionists, hospital aides, cleaners, pharmacists, and social workers that make up the RHH NICU team, it is lovely to see the days free of hospital tally up.
I follow a few of the support groups for premmie parents on Facebook, and while I appreciate it is helpful for some parents, I've stopped reading their posts. Mostly because it seems some of the parents can't let go of the trauma of a premmie start to life for their child(ren).
I am thankful every day that Maggie and Elisabeth got through their NICU stay without surgery, serious medication, hearing or visual impairments, or (so far) a physical or mental disability. It could have been so much worse.
But it would be terrible for my mental and physical health to keep ahold of the pain and fear I felt back there. Yes, I cried and sometimes still do. Yes, I was so scared for them I felt sick, and I'm sure I will feel the same again if they are ever seriously unwell. Yes, it was unfair for them and us, but I've learnt the hard way that life often is. But I am determined not to let those emotions dictate our current life. I try to use those emotions to help me enjoy even the tough moments of being a Mama of twins. When I'm alone and two girls are crying and need me at once. When there are simultaneous nappy explosions. When they are grizzly and squealing because they've forgotten how to go to sleep. When Elisabeth wants to feed nonstop. As soon as I feel a twinge of annoyance or exasperation, I breathe in and see them at day one. Tiny, helpless, red babies. I am transported back to the sounds of alarms, the flashing red signal on the computer screen bringing their nurse running. Or their cries of pain from yet another needle. The discomfort they felt trying to tolerate my milk. Waiting on every brain scan, heart echocardiogram or eye test for a good result. Then I breathe out, and realise my current situation is not difficult or trying at all.
I hope I can still visualise those moments when they are teething, or in the terrible twos, or refusing to eat anything but macaroni cheese, or asking "but why" for the zillionth time, or not doing their homework, or fighting with each other or giving their parents attitude in their teens.
I want to enjoy every moment of being their Mama, and be grateful for even the challenging moments as a parent. I would like their premmie start to be a gift for us, not a burden to carry throughout their life.
Right now we enjoy watching them take in the big new world around them. The colours, the light, the textures, the sounds, the smells. We encourage them as they try to roll over, their faces full of determination and concentration as they work on getting their bodies to do what they want them to. We delight in their smiles as they recognise us. We laugh at their crazy squeals and babbling as they practise using their voices. We help them use their tiny little hands to pick up rattles, blankets, or grab at my nose or hair or their own toes. We love watching them sleep peacefully. I want to remember the way they lunge with excitement to feed from me, holding tight onto my top to ensure I don't go anywhere.
I look forward to the next 112 days, and will be cheering them on as they continue to grow up.
Sunday, July 21, 2013
"A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2013"
Maggie: this look. I was letting Maggie enjoy a bottle of EBM, she was happily sucking away, holding the bottle when she saw me. She immediately threw the bottle down guiltily!
Elisabeth: she is rapidly growing and maturing. So social, so clever, so beautiful.
Joining in with Jodi at Che & Fidel.
Monday, July 15, 2013
Sunday, July 14, 2013
"A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2013"
Maggie: enjoying tummy time. That impish grin is one of my favourite Maggie expressions. A lot of people commented on Instagram that they thought she looks like Rob here.
Elisabeth: she is a big baby now. She likes to sit up and see what's going on.
Joining in with Jodi's 52 portrait project.
Saturday, July 13, 2013
Yesterday we celebrated another milestone, the girls are now 7 months old and have spent 100 nights at home with us. I like celebrating these steps away from our scary premmie baby beginning. How did we celebrate? I searched our meagre wine cellar for a bottle of bubbles but there were none to be found. Luckily Rob must have read my mind and came home with our favourite house wine, the Montepulciano, a glass was perfect with a quick dinner of pasta carbonara. I am a cheap date these days, one small glass of wine is all I need to feel light headed after a year of not drinking at all.
This last week has been a little crazy. Family celebrations and visits, a lunch with friends and a trip to hospital for blood tests. I didn't realise we had developed a routine with our girls, until we broke it, five days in a row. Boy did I know about it then.
So for one day when the memory of these early days with newborn twins fades, I'll document a typical day here.
We wake around 7am. Or earlier if the girls feeds have been a little crazy overnight. I have stuck to feeding the girls separately, twin feeding is a nightmare, especially as Elisabeth still uses a nipple shield, so I'd rather they feed properly individually. Rob will let me get set up with the My Breast Mate feeding pillow (so glad I bought it) and burpee cloth, sitting up in bed and he will pick the girl who is protesting the most from their cot. Sometimes the other sleeps on, other times they are treated to a nappy change and dummy while I feed their sister. Then we swap. Until recently we both got up then. But as the days have shortened, our enthusiasm for leaping out of bed before the sun is up has also waned. I find it too difficult to nap during the day, so a few extra minutes of sleep with a snoozing baby beside me is welcomed.
Rob, stumbles out into the cold hallway (our bedroom is kept at a perfect 18 degrees thanks to a small panel heater and Percy the room temperature penguin). Followed by two excitable German Shepherds. Nigella has taken to sleeping out in the breezeway to escape the crying, but generally likes to come in some time early in the morning and sleep near the doorway. Perhaps so we don't forget her. Claudia braves the crying and sleeps on her mat on Rob's side of the bed, but she can look quite concerned at times. Rob dons a polarfleece jacket, a possum merino beanie, gumboots over his pyjamas and takes the dogs on a morning perimeter, taking a load of dirty washing to the laundry on the way. The dogs love the frosty mornings at the moment, especially frosted wallaby poop. We imagine to them they are like dog icy poles. Eew. Often I catch a glimpse of them chasing after balls or gambolling around like crazy things (the dogs that is). If the washing is done then he'll also hang it up (yes I am lucky and I love him very much!)
Back in the hut, I have usually moved the girls down to the living room. The heat pump brings the room up to a toasty temperature quickly. I will change the girls nappies and put one in the swing and one on a mini bed (actually a change mat) on the window seat. I realise that my days of doing this may be over soon once the girls start to roll. At the moment our breakfast of choice during the week is porridge, with I have to admit cream and brown sugar. Rob also makes us lattes from the machine. My only coffee for the day.
I still have to express a few times a day, as my milk supply never settled down. I've tried stopping it but I get too uncomfortable, so my long term relationship with the electric pump continues. So I often do a quick express here. After bragging smugly about my daily shower, I have to admit that I am only getting one every second day at the moment. The extra sleep in eats into my shower time, and at the moment sleep trumps cleanliness. Besides, I'm saving water right?
Rob has a quick shower and heads off to work in his little car. Usually this morning nap for the girls means I can do something for myself, mostly baking a cake or some biscuits, or maybe reading some blogs, or a book! Phone calls to friends happen now too. I quickly tidy up the living room, even though I know by the end of the day there will be baby blankets and toys strewn across the window seat, table and side tables but it feels good to tidy it all up still. If lucky I might even get a moment for a quick cup of tea.
They usually wake up between 10.30-11. They are given their daily dose of Pentavite with a small syringe. A smelly, yellow, oily multi-vitamin, pineapple flavoured (why?) it often gets on their growsuits, face, hands or mine! Once they start solids that can at least stop. Both are fed now, and they enjoy a little chat post feed on the pillow, their cute smiles absolutely undo me at the moment. They are starting to like sitting up, but are not so keen on tummy time but we still do it. They have a play on the rug on the floor, with a few toys and now their new extremely psychedelic, all singing, flashing, crinkly playmat. They usually spend a few minutes chatting to each other too.
Then I get one to sleep in the swing (usually Elisabeth as she is fighting sleep at the moment, note to self don't muck around with their routine!) and the other up on the window seat bed again. I quickly have some lunch, usually left overs or toast. Sometimes one of them is a bit cheeky and would like a top up snack or a nappy change.
They wake up again around 2 and we do it all again. They get a ferrous supplement in the afternoon. This one is clear, but stains brown if you spill any. I try to get a cup of tea and snack again. Sometimes it's still warm by the time I drink it. Around 3.30pm Nigella and Claudia start getting restive (they spend most of the day sleeping on their mats in the breezeway or in the sun on the terrace) and want to go outside to wait for Rob's return. I know how they feel. Sometimes things can unravel at this stage and one of the girls will be awake, no matter what I do! Clean nappies, full tummies, reading books, cuddling. Often the Putumayo yoga music is played on a loop, we have used this album since the girls first came home, I think more than anything it calms us down!
Around 5pm Rob calls from work to let me know he is on his way, often he stops to shop on the way home. The girls (both baby and furry) and I wait until his headlights come rushing down our 300m driveway, and shine right into the living room of the hut (as we have double glazed windows we don't require curtains or blinds). The dogs rush to get to him first and knock each other over in the process. A quick hello to me and the girls and then he'll head down to the laundry hut, to pop some washing in the dryer, play golf in the dark or quickly harvest some veggies.
Meanwhile, the girls are rapidly unravelling and cluster feeding. Sometimes one might give me a break and fall asleep, but sometimes not. The witching hour most definitely exists here at the hut. Rob will prepare dinner, we will try and discuss our days over crying or chirping. Then we'll quickly sit down at the table to eat. Poor Rob, I really should take a moment to savour and appreciate the lovely dishes he prepares for me, but I have one eye on the babes, and often I abandon or have to scoff it down. One day I hope to eat at leisure. Please tell me I don't have to wait 18 years.
I have to admit by now I feel quite tired myself, and am looking at the clock hoping for it to be 8.30. We will then pack up shop, take feeding pillows, nipple shields, drink bottles, phones, chargers, iPods and of course the babies and dogs down to our bedroom. On goes the yoga music, the lights are dimmed, and I sit up in bed and feed them one last time. Usually they fall asleep in Rob's arms. Usually. But recently it seems this doesn't happen until the magic time of 9.42pm. Then suddenly they fall asleep. They are placed in their sleeping bags in their shared cot, one down each end, and then we thankfully fall asleep too.
If we are lucky they wake at 2am and 5am. If we are unlucky they wake at 1am, 3am and 6am.
So that's our day at the moment. I really do enjoy being home at the hut with Maggie and Elisabeth. Our recent run of outings and visits to the hut have interrupted our routine, and poor Elisabeth has been the most confused by this. Over stimulated by new surroundings, or traumatic blood draws, she has forgotten how to sleep during the day. After a quiet four days at home, she is finally getting back to normal.
Weekends are lovely, as Rob is home too, we can chat at leisure, drink tea together, take longer over breakfast, cuddle babies on either end of the window seat, keep the dogs amused and bathe the girls. Hopefully soon the weather will be a bit nicer, and the girls will be able to sit up in their big double pram, (they don't really like the bassinet one much), and they'll be able to go out for some fresh air.
So that's what it's like with twins. Busy but twice as much love.
Sunday, July 7, 2013
Monday, July 1, 2013
After a recommendation we borrowed Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Veg from the library. Rob missed the butcher on Friday so he raided the garden and the pantry. The parsnip and ginger soup with toasted pumpkin seeds is a winner. The lentils were gobbled up too. The girls are certainly being exposed to a variety of flavours via my milk!
What's been on the menu at your place?