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Disclaimer: This post is in two parts not as some kind of odd suspense tactic, (hint: it has a happy ending!) but because I can’t really tell my birth story without giving a bit of background!
When you become pregnant, the whole ‘giving birth’ part hovers somewhere in your mind. It wasn’t something I really thought too much about. I parked myself firmly in the ‘cross that bridge when I come to it’ camp. With twins, I knew there were so many variables that would determine the type of birth I could have, and that things could change at any time. I accepted early on that I probably wouldn’t have a gentle water birth with twinkly lights and soft music, and went back to counting baby grows and knitting bunting for the nursery (which, to this day, remains unfinished)!
I was fortunate that my pregnancy went absolutely swimmingly for the first and second trimesters. I had no nausea, no sickness, no major fatigue. I didn’t get any strange cravings. I felt normal!
Until one night at around 29 weeks when I had a bleed without warning. I was examined and admitted to hospital. As a precaution, I was given two steroid injections, administered twelve hours apart, to mature the babies’ lungs in case labour was to start early. I spent 3 days on the antenatal ward for monitoring – no cause was ever found for the bleed.
I was relieved when I was allowed home, but after that my entire mindset changed. I had previously drifted along, thinking that as I was young and healthy I would sail through to full term. (How naive I was). I simply couldn’t relax any more. I went out less, stopped exercising and took things easier, wondering if something I had done had caused the bleed. I knew I would spend the remainder of the pregnancy on constant ‘knicker check’ and became grateful for the end of each day that the babies were still safely inside me, growing.
Then at 32 weeks, I lost some clear fluid after going to the toilet. Again, panic struck. I took a deep breath and called maternity triage, who asked me to come in for an examination to see if it was amniotic fluid. I was monitored first and then, I was taken to a room to wait for a doctor. Hours seemed to pass and it was quite late into the night when I was finally examined. The doctor looked very serious when she said “Your cervix is closed, but I can confirm your waters have broken”.
Before 37 weeks of pregnancy, this is called PPROM –
Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes.
And so, again, tearful and terrified that my babies were about to be born very prematurely, I was admitted to the ward. My care plan was as follows:
-To monitor the babies’ heart rates on the CTG twice daily
-To monitor my pulse, blood pressure and temperature 4-hourly to check for signs of infection
-Monitor the babies’ amniotic fluid levels and growth with weekly ultrasound scans
-Monitor my fluid loss. If the clear fluid was to change to green/brown at any time, it could indicate meconium (baby’s bowel movement) in my waters which is a sign of distress, and the babies would need to be delivered swiftly.
-Best case scenario – to deliver the babies by inducing labour at 34 weeks.
When we hear about ‘waters breaking’ or see scenes on television dramas, it is often shown as a dramatic gush. However, it can be just a trickle, as it was for me.
Although I leaked continuously, the amniotic fluid levels remained within the normal range. Thankfully, I did not develop an infection at any point. My observations were all normal. The babies’ growth remained consistent.
Two cots were ready for us in the neonatal unit.
If you are pregnant and think you are leaking fluid at any time, please do not hesitate to contact your midwife or maternity unit. I could have easily convinced myself that it was urine or just some kind of new discharge. (Oh how glamorous is pregnancy?) Seriously though – do get checked out.
1 – Lamaze Flutterbug– The boys were given this when they were born and I’m sure it will get a lot of use. At the moment they just enjoy looking at it and I help them to grab the rings. When the rings are pulled the toy vibrates. There are lots of colours, patterns and textures to discover and the flutterbug is a great size to clip onto the pram or car seat. (£10.89, Argos)
2 – Set of 6 Coloured Scarves – I got the idea to buy these from a baby group. It is such a simple thing but the babies just love them! I throw them in the air so they can watch them float down, or drape them across their faces and hands, saying the colour names! (£6.99, Amazon)
3 – Chad Valley Set of 4 Activity Cubes – The babies can’t really interact with these on their own yet, but they are nice and soft and I build towers in front of them (or sometimes, stack them on their tummies)! The cubes are nice and bright and each one has a letter, a number, a shape and an animal on. (£6.99, Argos)
4 – Fisher Price Rainforest Melodies & Lights Deluxe Baby Play Gym This is a great playmat with plenty to see and do. The toys that hang from the frame include a mirror, rattle and a spinning toy. In one corner there is a ‘scrunchy’ leaf for baby to kick. Hanging from the centre are two butterflies, and above them, two lights that flash. The gym also has music and rainforest sounds at two volume levels. My boys have enjoyed lying on the playmat since around 6 weeks of age, and now at nearly 4 months they beginning to discover that they can interact with the toys. (£51.99, Boots)
5 – Lamaze Activity Spiral – This spiral is perfect for either taking out and about or playing with at home. It can easily be stretched across a crib or through the bars, or wrapped around a car seat handle. My boys seem to really like the friendly faces of the cat and lion! (£12.99, kiddicare.com)
6 – Lamaze Purring Percival – (Last from this range, promise!) Another thoughtful gift, this toy makes a gently purring sound as you rock him from side to side. Like the other Lamaze animal toys, Percival has a friendly face the babies love to see, and I’m sure the teething beads will be useful in future! (£10.99, Amazon)
7 – Chad Valley Activity Triangle – I bought this at the same time as the cubes because the boys had ‘played’ with something similar at a baby group we go to. It’s amazing how so many functions fit on one toy! The corner pillars are all some sort of rattle. There are things to spin, beads to push, and even a mirror on the end. I either prop the babies up so that they can see/touch this toy, or lay it to the side of them when they are on their backs. Such good value! (£6.95, Argos)
What games do/did you play with your young babies?
For my boys.
As summer shifted to autumn, I found myself reflecting on the season which has – this year -changed everything. My mind, my thoughts, my outlook on life – they will never be the same. Neither will my heart. It has expanded, pushing out old beliefs to accommodate the love I feel for you, and the pride and heightening acceptance I feel for myself.
This afternoon, the rain is beating down on the windows and we three are all cosy inside. You are napping side by side as I write.
I can’t tell you much about what the weather was like when you were born. For one, it was the very middle of the night. But when we all left the hospital together 12 days later, we stepped out on the cusp of a summer’s evening. And that was the real start of summertime for me. Bringing you home at last. From then on my memories of summer are almost all accompanied by pure, warm sunshine. We spent afternoons outside in dappled shade. We took you to visit gardens and soaked up all the admiring glances and compliments we had daydreamed we would receive as new parents.
A couple of times the heavy, humid days gave way to thunderous nights. I peered out of the windows and the entire horizon lit up, lightning zig-zagging across it. I felt the wonderful calmness of watching you both cocooned in sleep, oblivious to the storms outside.
D – You are my wide-eyed wonder, my snuggle and my hand holder. How much you have grown and changed, from the curled up, tiny newborn you were. We did wonder if you would ever straighten your legs!
I adore your piglet-like snuffles and kissable pillows-for-cheeks. Some people take you as the more shy baby, but in fact your confidence is growing, and I love to see you smile, even for strangers .How you surprised me when you rolled over the other day. (I expect it was a surprise to you too, and I’m not sure it will be repeated for a while, but I wait eagerly to see it again).
A – You are a strong, determined, little boy. You are so keen to hold your head up by yourself. I’ve a feeling once you get moving I will having trouble keeping up with you.
I love noticing new things about you, like the fact that you have one eyelash longer than the rest, right in the middle of the row. And I love the contented, breathy little sighs you make in your sleep.
You are really making yourself known by starting to babble and explore your voice. There’s a certain look I give you that makes your face erupt into the biggest of grins and a sparkle in your deep blue eyes. Aren’t I lucky?
So boys, this is how we depart from summer – just think of all the new experiences to come. Keep on learning, keep on amazing me every day and let’s see where autumn takes us.
- Something new for dinner. There is so little time to cook nowadays, but with autumn well and truly on its way, I thought it about time to get the slow cooker out again. We’ve been rotating the same basic meals for weeks so it was time to shakes things up. I’ve started a Recipes board on my Pinterest page for inspiration, looking for meals with no pre-cooking, and little preparation. Today I tested out “Quick and Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Curry”. It was really simple and tasty! I chose to use coconut milk and also added some chopped spinach for an iron boost.
2. One baby-free hour with a hot drink and my laptop. My husband sent me out at lunchtime on Tuesday with strict instructions not to return for an hour! I headed to Costa and just enjoyed a bit of quiet time to gather my thoughts.
3. Sleepy cuddles with one of my boys. Ahhh, what can be more soothing than a lovely warm bundle falling asleep on your shoulder? I had to snap a quick selfie with Mr D, as before I know it the day will come when mama cuddles are no longer required.
What simple pleasures have you enjoyed this week?
Also, if you have a great slow cooker recipe to share, do let me know!
Swaddled at 10 weeks old
Our day usually starts between 5:30am and 6:30am when one twin wakes. If it’s closer to 5:30am, that means offering cuddles in bed (no blankets!) to try and eke out an extra bit of sleepy time for me!! DH is up at 6:00am to walk the dog and then leaves to catch his train at 8:00am so from the get go, it’s two against one! Between 6:30am and 6:45am I take the boys into the nursery, change their nappies, make their bottles and then feed them. Then they go back into their crib together with lights on, swaddle free (I think this helps them understand it’s now morning and not night). They are more than happy to kick away to some nursery rhymes while I stumble in and out of the room in a state of undress, singing along and searching the floordrobe for something semi-clean to wear. (Wow I sound attractive). Once I’m satisfied they are happy I grab a quick shower. The bathroom is just next to our bedroom so I often continue singing or chatting just so the babies don’t think I’ve abandoned them! (Precious First Borns!)
The daytime feeds are generally 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm.
At 7pm we bathe them, dress them for bedtime and then feed their last bottle. After cuddles and winding they are then swaddled and put down to sleep. Usually one of us sits and pats them if they don’t seem drowsy straight away. We always have a fan on in the room for white noise, and often play lullabies at a low-level until they drift off. On a good night, they are both asleep by 8:30pm and we are then free to enjoy some time to ourselves! One baby will wake between 2am-3am, so we wake the other and feed them both. They then settle back down until 5:30-6:00. And so the cycle begins again!
This is just how we do things, by instinct – and it is working for us so far. So that’s morning and bedtime sorted. I’d love to hear how others have established appropriate daytime naps for their babies – singletons or multiples!
The picture wall is one of my favourite parts of the nursery, as it started off with three frames and has been added to since the boys were born.
“The Perfect Summer’s Day” framed print. My husband bought me this for my birthday a couple of years ago and its place was in the living room until a few weeks ago when it moved upstairs! I love the vintage appeal of this brand, and the colours seem to complement our scheme really well. Available mounted and/or framed from Belle & Boo
“Woodland” I designed this paper cut myself and had it brought to life by a laser cutting company. I love how it looks in the ‘floating’ perspex frame.
“Let’s Look at the Stars with Wonder” This is another of my own designs that I had giclee printed. The inks are beautifully rich and vivid.
A lovely gift from friends, the prints spell out the boys’ names and are illustrated with animals. Beneath are their name meanings and birth statistics. These, plus lots of other great gifts and personalised stationery are available from FrameMyName.
“Garden Birds” by John Dilnot. I bought this print while on holiday in Whitstable. Much of John’s work centres around British wildlife, which I love. I knew as soon as I saw this print that I had to buy it! See more of John’s prints and a list of stockists on his website
I picked up this frame from the Fleetville Vintage Emporium just outside St Albans. I think the butterfly is a Menelaus Blue Morpho and its iridescent wings are truly stunning. The emporium is a treasure trove of all things vintage, from furniture and clothes to records and books, and everything in between! Well worth a visit if you are in the area!
What’s on the wall in your nursery/children’s room? Do you have any favourite pieces?
Jackie Oates – Waiting for the Lark
While browsing music as I settled the boys down for the night, I typed ‘lullaby’ into the search and came across this song, which completely stopped me in my tracks. I’m no music maven but I was enchanted by Jackie’s velvety voice and the less-is-more arrangement. I think I could fall asleep to this, never mind the babies!
Read more about Jackie and her music here.
Sometimes it’s easy to get stuck in a rut, particularly if you feel you are just going through the motions, doing the same thing day in, day out. But a little tweak in thinking can turn things around. Words can be so powerful! At the start of each new day is possibility – who knows what great things are just around the corner?
What inspires you to think positively?