Maison de Famille

Maison de Famille

I was recently given a lovely housewarming gift – a wooden plaque with Maison de Famille painted on it. I’ve placed it at the entrance of our new house. Our family house. I still can’t quite believe it….all grown up, married, two kids and a proper house with a big garden for the little tikes to play in.

It’s been a busy few months for us all with a lot of changes. Not only have we moved house, but the babies have grown so much. They now have teeth…which means we have started brushing said teeth. No easy task. I get about two seconds of brushing done before the brush is grabbed and used as a chew toy. And god forbid you try and take it back before they’re done with it!!!!! They are in their high chairs now which makes feeding time a lot easier. I can feed them both at the same time, simples!! Unless one of them is having a strop….which they take it in turns to do. I should have known if anything was going to make life easier it wouldn’t last for long!!!!

What’s yours is mine, and what’s mine is mine

It is pretty wonderful though watching them learn new things. Eating finger foods is my favourite so far. They like their afternoon snacks. Harry always leans over and trys to steal Archie’s food, especially his toast. They’ve started to crawl and can cover a fair distance in seconds!! Putting up a playpen was a priority in the new house. It’s our saviour. The noisy toys are out now too. Oh my. Thank you V Tech (and grandparents!!). We spend all day singing along to the poxy things….3,2,1, is everyone on board? Take off. Where’s the cat? (I know, a plane with cats as passengers?!?). Welcome to our learning farm, we have lots show you-oo! Ring a ling – thanks for calling! The little red phone is now their weapon of choice. They’re obsessed with it. They hit each other with it. They hit me with it. 20170721_190927They hit the bars of the playpen with it like prisoners in old westerns.

They are in new beds too, cotbeds. These beds are huge compared to the little cots they went into when they came home. Back then they seemed so tiny in those. Now they can crawl around their new bed, do back rolls, front rolls, sleep horizontally if they choose to (which they do of course. Face planted into the mattress, giving us sleepless nights!!!).


We are now planning their first birthday party in September. Can’t quite believe it’s nearing that time already. We were reminiscing the other night (with wine, obviously), both of us getting misty eyed at what it was like when the babies first came home from the hospital. Getting through 24 hours was a well deserved reason to celebrate! I used to see daylight as a reward….I’ve made it through another night!!! Like somehow it was easier during the day?!?! Then being able to sleep for more than 3 hours. I remember celebrating when the first night feed began after midnight!!!! And when you were down to just one overnighter… was like being on holiday! And the first time you slept all night. Ah….good times.

For my 40th birthday, I wanted my babies to smile. Which I convinced myself they did (although now they smile all the time I think it was probably wind). They laugh, make silly noises, scream at a hilariously high pitch all the time. Harry commando crawls everywhere, Archie is watching and learning intently, ready to follow soon. We have already earmarked their personality types. We have used the ‘flat pack’ furniture analogy and decided that Harry takes after his dad. His flat pack arrives, he rips open the box and starts banging everything together, hoping it stays up and wondering why there are 8 screws and two pieces of wood left over. Archie takes after me. He makes himself a cup of tea, reads the instructions and pieces everything together in a calm and orderly manner, allowing himself to feel a small amount of smugness at his masterpiece. It will be interesting in the years ahead to see if we are right!!

To my friends who are pregnant now or have tiny babies, please, please, please enjoy these days, weeks and months. Yes they are so challenging, exhausting and rewarding, but they go by so quickly. Before you know it, you too could be wondering which one will you go after first when they both bugger off at the same time in opposite directions!!!!!!

Our first family photograph
Nine months

Nine months

It’s time to start talking about that dirty four lettered word. That’s right. The word nobody likes to mention. Work. Urgh!!! I’m now on unpaid maternity leave and my return to work is approaching rapidly.

What really sucks is that the babies

Food please mum

are now really good fun!!! Their little personalities and unique characters are developing. They’re doing new things all the time. They have so much fun and laugh at everything. It’s such a glorious, uplifting sound when they both start giggling away. I just have to kiss their tummies, or pull a certain face and off they go into giggle meltdown.

So to have to think about work now is something I’m struggling with. And it’s not because I’m lazy!! It’s because I’m really enjoying this job and don’t want it to change just yet. I’m in a new routine now. We all get up at half eight and have breakfast watching Everyone Loves Raymond. Sometimes I think to hell with it, let’s have another cuppa and watch Frasier too. (I know, please don’t hate me. I’m aware this could all change at any minute!!!). The babies usually have a nap while I get ready then it’s off to Jo Jingles, or granny’s house, or to meet up with a friend for the much loved ‘coffee and cake’. Sometimes, we go out for a walk just the three of us. And if we’re feeling brave (or out of wine), Tesco’s!!! I suppose my point is, we do what we feel like doing that day. The babies had a cold last week during the heatwave. They were very sleepy so I took advantage of that and did something I’ve really missed. I sat out in the sun with a book. Not a magazine or a baby recipe book. An actual novel. Heaven.

Roll over Archie!!

So, here’s an example of how our day usually starts…

Archie: today’s the day I’m going to get my foot into my mouth. I know I can do it. All it takes is perseverance. Like when I found my thumb. At the end of my hand of all places!! And to think, it was only a few weeks ago I realised that it was my actual foot at the end of my leg!!! Amazing.

Harry: today’s the day I’m going to roll to the south side of the living room. It’s going to take four consecutive rolls and I’ve only managed three so far without mummy noticing but I can do it. Especially if my pesky brother doesn’t get in the way. He’s always rolling into me, kicking me in the face. Trying to suck his toes. What’s that all about?! Little weirdo. He needs to practice his rolling like me, then we can escape this shaggy rug place and explore new lands!! Anyway, focus Harry. I’m getting just like mummy. Look at her. Watching ‘that American shite’ as daddy calls it and drinking tea when she said ten minutes ago she was going for a shower.

Mummy: today’s the day I’m going to stop eating crap. Yes. I’ll go shopping and just buy healthy stuff. Lots of salad things. It’s summer now, we can eat salad. And we’ll walk down. Get some exercise. But we need wine. I could drive down and get the Kettlebells dvd out this afternoon. I’ll have another cup of tea first and maybe squeeze in an episode of Scandal while I think about it.



Anyway, I’m going to ease myself back to work by doing some KIT (keep in touch) days. To be honest, I’m completely bricking it. I don’t remember much about being a nurse. I used to forget stuff after a two week holiday, never mind a year away!!! And what the hell has happened to my brain?!? Baby brain!!! Is it worse because I’ve had two?! I’m scared a patient or doctor is going to ask me something and I’ll just be standing there, mouth open, knowing I know the answer somewhere but just can’t find the words to form a sentence!!



After being in hospital for three months with the babies, I’ve developed a sense of dread about the place. That never used to be the case. Before when I went to work, it was exciting. All the monitors and equipment. You never knew what was going to happen. Critical care, post-op patients, always having to be one step ahead, so organised and on the ball. Now, I honestly don’t know what would happen if that emergency buzzer went off. The last time I heard it was when the NICU nurse told my husband to pull ‘that red button’ as Archie needed resuscitating for the third time.

I know all my training will come back to me and within a few shifts it’ll be like I’ve never been away. I’ll be back in the loop, privy once more to all the gossip and goings-on that fuel our long days and nights. But I know already a few things will change. As a recent patient and parent of patients I have so much more empathy and understanding for the people who visit my patients. I now get why they ask a million questions over and over. Why they might think I’m missing something or not looking after their loved one properly. Why it’s so important that their mum wear the pink nightgown, not the blue one as it’s her favourite. And it’s because while I’m busy doing a thousand things looking after two patients and thinking about getting home, all they are thinking about is their loved one. 100% focus on that one person. It’s not like I never knew all that already. It’s just that now, I get it.

Part of me is looking forward to getting back to a revised version of normal. Dusting off my scrubs and resurrecting professional nurse Katie. Using my hard earned skills and knowledge once again. Having conversations about anything and everything, not just baby stuff.

Fortunately I have plenty of distractions before the dreaded return to work. We’re moving house in five weeks time. I’m very excited and a little bit scared. It’s a much bigger house which is wonderful as we need the space. But it needs a lot of work doing to it which will take a long time, however it’s mostly decorative. I just like to get stuff done which of course doesn’t happen anymore when there’s two rug rats to think of!!! And we’re going to have a first birthday party for the twins. A combined housewarming. I really want to celebrate this past year and all the achievements it’s brought with it. The coming home of Harry and Archie. Buying our dream house and the adventure of turning it into an amazing home. Our family home.

Busy doing nothing

Busy doing nothing

It’s been ages since I’ve written anything, and I can’t give an excuse as to why! I feel like I’ve been busy doing nothing. I’ve had two colds and a colonoscopy. Don’t worry, they’re not connected. I wouldn’t recommend a colonoscopy as a cold remedy. I have Crohn’s Disease and I stopped my treatment last year to have the boys with the plan of restarting it if my symptoms returned. Well, they started to return. I’m now on a new treatment and so far so good. Think I need to be more careful about my diet though, which is no bad thing!!! Now I’m getting more sleep and have more time during the day, there is no excuse for my bad eating habits.

We also had our first trip away with the twins. We went up to the north of Scotland to see their grandparents, uncle and cousin. It was great to get a change of scenery and my family just loved having time with the boys. The babies took the car journey in their stride and actually acknowledged each other for the first time while being fed in the front seat of the car. It was such a monumental moment, my husband and I were practically in tears. The one thing we did realise however, is that the babies were quite

First holiday in Burghead

quickly overwhelmed. Different house, new faces, unfamiliar people holding them and talking to them. I never thought of them as having a ‘routine’ as such, until the first evening we were away. They hadn’t had their afternoon nap and they became so cranky, we’d never seen anything like it!!!! They eventually exhausted themselves which was heartbreaking but lesson learned.

And then I put my back out! Oh my god. It was agony. I remember thinking as I was crawling along the floor to try and get myself into bed if it was more painful than labour? Then I thought, who gives a c**p which is more painful, just make it go away! The doctor came out and prescribed me some lovely strong painkillers. I was pretty much off my face for a few days. In the time before kids that would have been lovely. Instead I felt unable to look after them properly so I ordered a support belt from Amazon and took the painkillers at night so I could sleep comfortably. My mum came down and helped me with the twins when my husband was at work as I couldn’t lift them. You don’t realise how much lifting, bending and twisting you do with babies. And you certainly don’t put into practice all the manual handling training you received at work. If that was the case, then you wouldn’t be able to put a car seat into a car. You can’t hold the load close to you, you have to twist at the waist and bend forward simultaneously. It’s ridiculous!!!! And you can’t phone in sick. Ever.

On the upside, I had a week of doing proper nothing. No baby classes, no socialising. Just me and the babies chilling out at home. And it was great. They’re 19 weeks corrected age now and they are having a ball. They have discovered their voices and spend ages singing and shouting, and more recently, ‘talking’ to each other. It’s hilarious. I’ve put dangly toys in their cots and when they wake up they like to play with them. To me it sounds like they’re ringing a bell for their breakfast.

That’s the other thing – I’ve left the nursery. We are no longer co-sleeping. And can I tell you, it was so much harder than I thought it would be to leave them!! If you’d asked me three months ago I would have given anything to be able to sleep back in my own room. Now, I found myself missing them. Then I reminded myself that they are now strong, healthy, happy babies and this is a progressive step. Get over yourself. And of course we have the monitors!!

I also got a chance to catch up on my TV viewing during this sabbatical. It was wonderful. Thank you Shonda Rhimes for creating lots of must see TV. I mean Scandal!!!!

Cyrus didn’t kill the president!!? Then who did?!?

Come on!!! I’m literally on the edge of my seat!! And then I discovered Downton Abbey on box sets!!!?! I must be the only person left who has never seen it.

So, now I’ve recovered from the colds, the colonoscopy and the bad back, it’s time to get my backside off the couch and return to normal life. After the Easter holidays, it’s back to Jo Jingles (can’t wait). I’m going to give Bookbugs a go at the local library. I love books and am looking forward to introducing the boys to them. And it’s free!!

Which reminds me, I have an apology to make. I was chatting to another mum at baby massage last week, and she said that she was impressed at how I managed to go to all these classes with the twins. She felt bad as she ‘only’ had one baby to look after and there I was going running with twins. Well, can I put the record straight and say I have only made it once to Mums on the Run. My reasons for not making it since are being ill (see above), it was raining, it was cold, and general laziness. Also, I have the help and support of my wonderful husband. He misses the boys so much when he’s at work that he can’t wait to get home and be with them. Two people changing, bathing and feeding twins is so much easier and quicker, you actually end up with time to do other things. I really am very fortunate.

So make no mistake. I’m no super-mum harbouring the secret to making it look easy. I really enjoyed having a week at home but only took that time off after hurting myself!!! It was heaven for us to all laze around in our pyjamas, watch TV and eat chocolate. I took time to play with the babies, finding myself amazed by their ever developing skills. And it made me appreciate the time I have with them because boy, they are growing up so fast.

Growing up so fast
Class has begun

Class has begun

A few weeks ago, we started to attend baby groups. I don’t like calling them mother and baby groups as my husband comes too when he’s not at work.

Our first outing was Jo Jingles. Omg. I love it!!!! The babies love it. I’m trying to think of a grown up equivalent that I can start. You can’t help but feel energised and ready to take on the world after being there. Jane, who runs the class, is so full of energy it’s infectious. Babies are praised for smiling, laughing, sitting, crawling, screaming, and making lots of noise. It’s wonderful.  Where else are you rewarded for simply being a baby and doing exactly what’s expected of you? Imagine going to work each day and starting it feeling happy and energised? Singing and dancing and laughing and smiling? No one judging you. Just loving life.

I then went to a class called BPD and me. It’s a low impact, toning workout where you wear your baby in a harness. And it’s great! My husband came along so we carried a baby each. You start with a warm up, then do ballet inspired moves, plies, that kind of thing. It’s bloody hard work!! After that, babies go down for a nap or play on the mat while the instructor takes you through some circuit training!!! I loved it even though I hadn’t exercised like that in a long time. Definitely recommend it. And the best thing is you can take older kids with you and everyone just plays while you work out.

Mum’s on the Run

With this newfound lease of energy and renewed enthusiasm for exercise, I promptly went along to Galavanters Mums on the Run. My friend told me that you didn’t really have to run. Well, she kind of lied. Peer pressure ensures you at least jog. We met at 10am on a beautiful frosty, sunny morning at the local park. You start with a warm up then head into the park for the first run. Up a hill!!!! It’s more of an incline but when you’re pushing a double pram I’m calling it a hill. We carried on doing variations of that then stopped for some circuits before the finale of running up steps Rocky style. Followed by my favourite bit, the cool down. Well actually, my favourite bit is plonking my arse on the couch later that day with coffee and chocolate feeling totally justified due to all the exercise I’ve done. A great group to join no matter how (un)fit you are.

Next we tried baby yoga. I’m lucky as Caroline, the instructor takes one of the babies for me which makes it easier! I’ve not got pre-class feeds sorted yet though. One of the babies spit up all the way through the first class while the other one slept through the second class. Although, I think he’s cottoned on and just pretends to sleep to get out of participating. I really miss doing yoga so I love the fact that we can all do it together. And oh my, do they sleep!! Both babies slept for nine hours overnight after yoga class.

We also started baby massage recently. In a nutshell, it’s wonderful. For baby and for mum.

Baby massage

The instructor, Hils, tells you the fascinating history of baby massage and the ways it can help baby, particularly with problems such as colic and reflux. Music to my ears. I was amazed how both babies took to it so easily, and boy, did they sleep!!! Hils then spoils us with coffee and cake while we get to chat as our babies are so chilled out.

I must admit, I was a bit apprehensive about joining these groups. Firstly, due to the logistics of it. Would I be able to get myself and two babies up, dressed and fed in time to make it to class? Secondly, the whole ‘mother and baby’ thing. Would I fit in? Will I be the oldest mum there? Crazy really because I am thoroughly enjoying it, and more importantly, so are the babies. They are starting to take notice of the other babies, responding to people more confidently, making more noise. Each week at Jo Jingles, Harry decides he can do something new. Leigh handed him a rattle and he promptly took it and rattled away. I’ve been trying to get him to do that at home for weeks – nothing!!! They are both benefiting from the socialising and so am I.

It’s great to be able to talk to other mums about the daily grind. How’s your baby sleeping/not sleeping? How much milk are they drinking? Are you weaning them? Do they get grumpy? To admit that some days, I just can’t be bothered to put them in super cute outfits, just for them to spit up on five minutes later. It’s easier to leave them in their sleep suits. Admitting that you don’t actually have a ‘routine’ – you’re just winging it as each day is magically different!!

After his first massage

What I have realised over the past few weeks is how much I’m loving it. Every day I see a change in my babies and now I understand why my husband feels like he’s missing out when he’s at work. They seem to grow bigger each night. When I take them out of their cots each morning, I’m given the biggest, gummiest smile ever and it’s wonderful. If that niggling feeling of self-doubt ever creeps in, I just look at them and remember how far they’ve come. How big they now are, and how happy they are. Then I pour us a well deserved glass of wine…..or two.

Boobs glorious boobs

Boobs glorious boobs

A warning to any men about to read this. This isn’t about boobs as you know them. These boobs are no longer your domain, as you may have already gathered during pregnancy. Boobs now belong to your baby, and mum is going to experience a whole new batch of what the f**k? There are many things I didn’t learn in ante-natal class about what happens to your boobs after baby is born!!!

My breastfeeding journey began at one of these classes. I was looking forward to learning all about how to feed my babies. The class consisted of first time mums and we were all nervous. The midwife kicked off the class by asking how we know when our baby is hungry? I put my hand up and said, ‘because it cries’. ‘NO!!!!!! You never wait until your baby cries,’ was the response I got. I then got a harsh lecture on feeding cues and how difficult it is to feed a crying baby. Well thank you midwife, that has stuck with me ever since

Within hours of my babies being born, I was encouraged to express milk. The nurses were great at setting up the pump and giving me a big ‘well done’ when I expressed 3ml. Bless them. Over the next few days, my expressing became second nature and the volumes increased. However, no one prepared me for ‘when your milk comes in’!!!!! It was about day 4 or 5 I think. I woke up one morning with boobs Pamela Anderson would have paid good money for. Holy crap. And the pain!?! They were hard, lumpy and sore. With no breastfeeding baby to respond to, my body was producing milk depending on what I pumped. I was pumping every 3 hours for 20 minutes as I’d been told. In fact, my boobs responded to me putting the pump together – very strange sensation let me tell you!

So, to relieve the pain and lumpiness, I resorted to good old fashioned advice from experienced mums. Hubby was duly sent off to the supermarket and came back with cabbages – Savoy of course. I don’t know what difference they make but they are boob shaped so sit nicely in your bra. By the end of the day, my boobs were covered in coconut oil, had chilled cabbage leaves encasing them, and a hot water bottle on hand at every express. Oh, and buy a good nursing bra!! I was winning, albeit not smelling so great.

Although these methods provided temporary relief, I found that every day, I was finding painful lumps in alternating boobs. I went to see the midwife who told me I did indeed have a blocked milk duct, and to prevent mastitis, I needed to ‘empty’ my boobs at each express. Well, that night I went home and did exactly that. The relief was instant. Of course, what I didn’t know then was that my hormones would then tell my breast to refill. And so the cycle continued. Within a few weeks, I was expressing 1000ml per day. My babies were only consuming 200ml a day, so the hospital freezer became full very quickly!

It was great knowing my babies were getting my antibod20161007_145544.jpgy rich milk and seeing them put on weight made me so proud. Six weeks after they were born, they were transferred to special care at our local hospital. The babies were breastfeeding once a day each and getting better at it every day. I was told that I would have to reduce my expressed milk supply as the babies didn’t need as much as I was producing. Oh. I was advised to reduce my expressing time by 5 minutes. Well, the pain was unbelievable. My body had gotten into such a routine that it didn’t like being messed with. Out came the cabbages and the coconut oil again. I reduced my expressing by 1 minute per day. The babies were also increasing the frequency and duration of breastfeeding so after a couple of weeks, my supply was being moderated by their needs. I still expressed overnight to keep up my supply as the babies were bottle fed EBM (expressed breast milk) during the night when I wasn’t there.

After 13 weeks, they came home and I naively thought I had feeding under control. At the hospital, they fed every 3 hours and I forgot that I went home every night and got some sleep!! That all went pear shaped when they got home. Never has the phrase ‘feeding on demand’ sounded so accurate. They demanded, I fed! We still had lots of frozen EBM so my husband was able to feed them too, but it was relentless.

To begin with, they fed every 2 to 3 hours. It took approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour to feed each baby as they suffered from acid reflux and winding took forever. So that gave us an hour between feeds. To eat. To sleep. Maybe shower.

I think I lasted about 10 days before I broke down. It was the middle of the night, and one of the twins had been breastfeeding for 4 hours. I was exhausted and just couldn’t take any more. I felt physically and mentally drained. We opened the formula. What a relief.

I continued to combine feed for another 6 weeks, when nature took its course and my milk supply weaned. What I hadn’t expected was the immense feeling of guilt for opening the formula. I met with a breastfeeding peer support advisor who said that lots of women felt that way, and she couldn’t understand why as they were not responsible for making mothers feel that way. I told her about an NHS publication I had read in the hospital, which stated that if I fed my baby formula, I was destroying all the good bacteria in their gut that the breastmilk had provided. That very statement is what made me hold off for so long until I literally couldn’t take it any longer!!!! That’s not supportive!!!!

I do miss the closeness you get from breastfeeding. When you have the energy, spending that time holding your baby and watching them feed from you is such a wonderful, powerful emotion. However, I had to do what was best for me as well as them. And my husband gets to feed them too which is great. They are happy, healthy babies, who are getting fatter and heavier every day.

Knowing that I gave them the best possible start is great. The fact that I kept it up for four months is wonderful. The first few days of their lives they had donor breast milk which I know is not for everyone, but I wanted them to have everything possible to help them survive and grow. So thank you to those women who donate their milk, it is much appreciated I promise you.

I hope you all have a marvellous experience, no matter what you decide to do.



So I reckon this is what happened in my house yesterday. I was feeling pretty chuffed as one of the twins had gone almost 8 hours between feeds overnight, affording me some much needed sleep. Albeit sleep interrupted by the other twin, but sleep all the same.

As late evening approached, I was looking forward to the same thing happening. Stupid mummy. I think it happened when I was making my own dinner. They were sat next to each other in their bouncy chairs, looking all sweet, sleeping soundly. Or so I thought. What they were really doing was hatching a plan. (Names have been changed to protect the innocent until proven guilty).

Bert: Hey, Ernie! You know how mummy got to sleep last night and now she thinks it’s going to happen again?

Ernie: Yes.

Bert: Well, let’s mess with her.

Ernie: I’m intrigued. What’s your plan?

Bert: Well, drink your milk like normal at bedtime, look all sleepy, bla bla, go to sleep straight away when she puts us in the wooden cell. Then wait 3 hours and start kicking off. No….make it 2 hours. Start making that grunting noise you do but don’t open your eyes. It always confuses her. Then after half an hour, I’ll do the same.

Ernie: Sounds great. Oooh, I know. When she goes out to make our milk, scream really loudly, then when she comes back in the room, close your eyes and go quiet again!!!

Bert: You’re an evil genius Ernie.

Ernie: Great. So that’s the plan. Every 3 hours, we take it in turns. Then, in the morning, when it looks like she’s going to lose it, wait for her to pick you up, then give her a big, cheesy smile. She falls for it every time!









Bert: Nailed it.

Labour Day

Labour Day

Monday 5 September 2016, 4.45am. I wake up because my waters have broken. I’m 27 weeks and 3 days pregnant with monochorionic diamniotic (MCDA) twins.
Looking back I was calm about it all. I packed my bag, had a shower, and then woke my husband. We phoned our local hospital who told us to come in straight away. They confirmed my waters had indeed broken, administered a steroid injection, and informed me it was likely the twins would be born within the next 24 hours. They phoned for an ambulance to take me up to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, 36 miles away. Although anxious, we weren’t panicking. Much.

You see, two weeks before, we were really scared. A routine scan picked up an abnormal blood flow in the umbilical cord to twin 2. The hospital in Edinburgh had no beds, so we had to drive to Dundee, 92 miles away. I was 25 weeks pregnant at this point. The obstetrician gave me my steroid injection; we rushed home to pack, and then headed up the road. Neither of us knew what to say. What to think. It took all our effort not to google ‘baby born at 25 weeks’. When we arrived, we were told that they would not be able to do a repeat scan until the next day. I naturally assumed that there could be no great urgency then. Neither of us slept that night. My husband later told me that he did go on google. I didn’t want to know what it said. The next day we had the scan and the results were fine. We had another three scans over the next two weeks; all showing that twin 2 was a bit smaller than twin 1, but otherwise okay.
So, when I went into labour at 27 weeks and 3 days, we felt lucky. Kind of.

I remember phoning my mum. She was on the way to the dentist. I told her not to worry but I was at the hospital and I’d keep her posted!! Soon after arriving at the RIE, the contractions started. Foetal monitors were attached and nothing much happened, but the contractions were getting stronger. I was given gas and air (wonderful stuff!) then the doctor came in to examine me. ‘You are ten centimetres dilated, I can feel the head’. What?!?! All of a sudden, the room filled up with people. I knew twin 2 was breech and had kind of expected a caesarean. Now I was being told that I was delivering my babies….immediately. No time for pain relief, or a caesarean.

I couldn’t breathe. This wasn’t happening. I’d not even written my birth plan. Where were the candles, my carefully chosen playlists? My husband gently rubbing my back and telling me to push? Me, perfectly tuned into my body, breathing through the pain and welcoming my babies into the world with a smile and open arms?

Instead, a team of doctors, midwives, nurses and anaesthetists were preparing for the arrival of two very premature babies. The midwife put a clear plastic bag and a tiny woollen hat at the bottom of the bed. ‘Don’t be alarmed. But we put the baby in the bag to prevent hypothermia’. Bloody hell. This was really happening.

I’ll spare you the details, but at 12.47 and 12.58, my two boys were born. Twin 1 made a noise when he entered the world. Just a small cry. It was the best noise ever. Twin 2 was quiet. Tiny, bruised and silent. It was the most horrific silence ever. Both babies were immediately taken away, resuscitated and ventilated. They were brought into my room for a brief hello, and then taken to the NICU.

I was overwhelmed and exhausted. As was my husband. We were both in shock and trying to get our heads around what had happened. The midwife and doctor delivered the placenta. I heard someone say something about it being ‘ragged’. Over the next hour we tried to make sense of the situation. Then I noticed that I was bleeding. A lot. The midwife took one look and pulled the emergency alarm. The doctor came back in and I was immediately taken to theatre. I remember thinking that I wanted to go to sleep and wake up and it would all be okay.

An hour later, I woke to see my husband standing next to me in green scrubs. Why? Where was I? Then I remembered. We went back to the labour ward and tried to let it all sink in. My husband later told me that after I was taken to theatre, he was left alone in the room. In the space of an hour, his two sons had been born and taken to intensive care, and his wife was taken into theatre for an emergency operation, and he had no idea if they would all survive. It sounds dramatic now but that’s what happened.

While I was in theatre, he was taken to the NICU to see the boys. He told me that the nurse that was looking after one of the babies was so calm and kind, it helped him to calm down too. This is what they do, 24 – 7. Our world had just been turned upside down but this is their job, to save tiny, premature babies.

I was taken round to the NICU in my hospital bed later that day. There are photos of me touching my babies through the incubator but I don’t remember it. They were so small, and bruised. Their skin too fragile to be exposed to the world. It was all so surreal.

Later that night, after my husband went home, I sat in my bed and just cried. I blamed myself, my useless body, for not being able to do its job. I was terrified my babies would die because of something I’d done. I was ashamed of how I reacted to being in labour. At one point I panicked and couldn’t breathe. The doctor told me to focus and I felt like I’d been told off for doing it wrong. I perceived myself to be a strong person, and I’d just fallen apart. Why was I so self-critical?!?! You could put it down to hormones, exhaustion and confusion I guess.

I was encouraged to express breast milk straight away. At last, I felt like I was doing something. Contributing to the care of my babies. I have a diary entry stating that I expressed 3ml at 9am the day after they were born. I remember at the time feeling amazed and in awe at what I had achieved! Little did I know I would go on to express on average 1000ml a day for the three months they were in hospital.

Our hospital stay continued for 12 weeks; 86 days in total. Six weeks in the NICU followed by six weeks in the SCBU at our local hospital, the Borders General.

It was filled with highs and lows. Please join me in discussing our journey and sharing your experiences too.