15 Things being a twin mum has taught me.

Becoming a twin mummy has definitely been the hugest, most rewarding learning curve I have ever experienced. I wanted to be a mum so much for so long. I thought that I was prepared as could be and then the universe threw me twins! Everyday I definitely learn something new and along with the following 15 lessons, the overarching theme of twin mummy life, is that you have to laugh at everything. I think having a sense of humour and understanding the hilarity that is twins, gets you through everyday and makes the journey all the more enjoyable. Here are 15 things that being a twin mum has taught me (so far):

  1. If one of your babies is going to have a poo explosion, so will the other. Most likely at the same time, and if not, definitely straight after you have just changed the first nappy. Often they decide to do their number twos while I am feeding and hooked up to the expressing machine and then won’t take their bottle until I change them! Quite the challenge! just chilling poo
  2. All of my four limbs can and will be used simultaneously all day long!  Example 1: Right arm: bottle; Left arm: bottle; Right and left leg: cradling baby and/ or bouncy-bouncy burp (whilst boobies being pumped!). Example 2: Left and right leg: cradling baby and/or bouncy-bouncy burp; trunk and chin/shoulder: position second baby here to burp and/or soothe; both hands: patting backs to a tune as I try to keep bubs calm and bring up their burp/s! (pumping here too!) Example 3: Right knee: baby; Left knee/upper leg: baby; right and left hands: entertaining with toys. Example 4: Right knee: baby; Left knee: baby; Right and left hands: baby piano. Example 5: Both arms hold baby and dummy in baby’s mouth; both feet jingle play gym for second baby. Example 6: Both feet: bouncing bouncers; both hands: eating lunch and entertaining babies. I think you get the picture, there are quite a few more variations! possible-feeding-station.jpg
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  3. One smile makes me melt, double smiles makes my heart explode! And catching them on camera- much more difficult than you think. Double smiles always end with a mummy celebration (insert delirious mummy whooping and nonsense lyric improvised song here). double smiles
  4. When I feed one baby, I absolutely must feed the other at the same time! Getting off schedule is never an option in our household! Of course, I make the rules and the girls do not always follow suit!
  5. Double cots make for a fun, simple exercise circuit or stretching station while waiting for bubs to drift off to sleep. Who knew!?
  6. Twin conversation is a real thing and definitely the cutest thing I have ever heard. I think one day I may feel a little left out, but for now, listening to my babies chat to one another as they drift off to sleep makes me a very happy, proud mumma!
  7. Double screams hurt my ears! Especially when Bub’s heads are next to my ears as I desperately try to burp both.
  8. Feeding two babies has turned me into a midnight, mummy monster snacker! I am so hungry. All. Of. The. Time!
  9. Double morning snuggles are the best part of my day!morning smiles
  10. I actually do like dressing the girls the same, even though I thought I wouldn’t. Its easier and cuter. Oh and I love love love baby bows! bows
  11. It is important to get out of the house every single day!
  12. Twins are soooooooooo much fun!
  13. Travelling with twins is exhausting but well worth it!
  14. My husband is nothing short of amazing.
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  15. How powerful, and all encompassing love can be…doubled!

 

I think I could probably add to this list daily, so expect another post like this soon!

 

Love Terri

NICU has changed me

NICU has changed me.

Tonight I was mindfully going through our bedtime routine, listening and enthusiastically singing along to Spotify Acoustic covers, as I changed Dahli into her Pyjamas. India was changed and happily wriggling on her lambswool mat and Dahli was on the change table, her brilliant-blue eyes grinning happily into mine as I sang and dressed her. Soon the song pace slowed and the next artist began to play the familiar tune, Can’t Help Falling in Love.

While we were in NICU, I would hold and sing to my babies for hours, and this was one of the few songs that for some reason, always came out. As it began to play tonight, suddenly Dahli was no longer a  5.2kg happy, chubby baby. She became the tiny, frail, squeaky baby in her humicrib back in NICU. Her body fitted with cannulas on three limbs and a monitor on the fourth, as I changed her micro nappy over her sore, swollen abdomen. She was sick and I was scared. Along with this vivid flashback, inevitably came a wave of emotion that rather quickly, brought me back to present. There she was again. My chubby, little warrior. My baby girl who in the first few weeks of her life, exhibited more strength and determination than I think I ever will in my lifetime. I took a deep breath, wiped my tears  and asked myself, How did I get so lucky? What did I do to deserve such an angel, and not just one, but two.

 

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These moments are common.  A simple trigger like a song, a loud beep (screaming monitors), a picture, a smell; I become totally overwhelmed as it takes me straight back to NICU. Not just in the day, but often in my dreams (hello dream jaw clenching again. I told my dentist I was over that habit!). These moments, although insanely emotional, always end with an astounding sense of pride and gratitude for what we have. I regularly remember that some parents aren’t so lucky. Some babies continue their fight for much, much longer than our precious girls and other warriors don’t win their fight; they grow their angel wings.

I know I will never forget how fortunate we are. Not a day goes by where I don’t remember how fragile life can be. Not a day goes by where I don’t think about the families currently in NICU with their bubs too eager to meet the world, battling to stay positive and sane; to hold their world together. Not a day goes by where I don’t remember the nurses and doctors who cared for my babies at a time when I couldn’t. Not a day goes by that I don’t reflect on the fact that our babies were saved. Not a day goes by where I don’t think, our babies are so special and so absolutely amazing.

 

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I hold my girls just that little bit tighter every day. I kiss them maybe a little too obsessively. I constantly remind them how wonderful they are. I play, play, play until I have nothing left give, on repeat, all day long. I stare at my babies as they sleep with a deep, overwhelming sense of pride. I sneak back into their room a few more times at night whilst my husband is nagging me to get to bed (daddy’s shift). I scroll through their pictures while I lay in bed, too excited to sleep because I have two strong, gorgeous, lovable twins.

Maybe as a parent without the experience of NICU, I still would be doing the exact same thing. But as a NICU mum, there are always underlying thought processes that help you see the blessing of life a little clearer. The simple things become so much more because you are so, acutely aware that in a moment, life can change; life is so fragile; nothing is ever permanent.

 

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In NICU the mantra was always, ‘One day at a time’. Today that continues to be a useful mantra, although it’s more ‘one moment at a time’ as the life of twins gets busier and busier! Of course there are definitely moments of complete frustration and exhaustion, but then I promptly remember how lucky I am to be a mum and just how blessed we are to have two bundles of complete joy.

NICU has changed me, but I believe it to be for the better. I am not sure if the flashbacks will ever cease or if my girls are completely through the woods, but NICU has taught me how important it is to live life in the moment and to celebrate every little success. And while in NICU,  if my girls have taught me one thing, it is what it means to be brave and strong. As the saying goes, ‘you never know how strong you are, until being strong is the only choice you have’. I know that if I can handle NICU, I can take on anything- just like my determined, ambitious warrior princesses. 

The future is bright and beautiful my precious, baby girls!

 

 

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Love Terri

 

To the nurse who told me like it was

To the nurse who told me like it was,

I don’t remember your name, nor can I picture your face, but what I do remember is your no bull honesty. I remember your brazen sincerity as I lay in the hospital bed; veins burning like webs of fire, heart pounding through my chest, arms and thighs bruised from steroids and cannulas, my tummy sticky and gooey with the monitors used to chase my active babies around, and my neck killing me from having to sleep upright, keeping my babies in sight for the nurses. I also remember the relief I felt when finally, a reassuring, firm voice from above (that would be yours) told me, “Honey, these babies are on their way!”

Throughout my whole pregnancy it was like all doctors and other nurses danced around the hard truths. I floated along with my not regular enough appointments, thinking all was wonderful and perfect. I wish I was more informed throughout the whole process and although having my girls arrive so early was extremely frightening, it was also a relief when finally, after almost a week in hospital with nurses and doctors pussy footing around the inevitable, you told me the truth. Thank you for not treating me like an idiot. This is my body, and my babies and I always should be told the truth, even if the truth is scary.  

You didn’t wait for my Dr to arrive (like you were supposed to), you didn’t hold my hand and tell my babies “stay in their bubbas, the world is not ready for you yet”, you didn’t tell me that perhaps things would get better and that maybe I would get back to work and the whole situation could reverse itself, you didn’t make irrelevant small talk. You didn’t whisper in the birthing room corner with the other nurses or doctors about what I feared may be happening. You didn’t care that you broke the rules, not allowing my Doctor to give me the news when he finally turned up. You saw a distressed, pregnant woman, fearing for the lives of her twins, and you told her what she needed to hear- that within the next 30 minutes, she would meet her 27 week old (gestation) babies.

This was my first pregnancy and in just a moment, you taught me a lot. If I do have any more children, or if I find myself in hospital for some other reason, I will be requesting non-sugar coated information. I am not a fan of sugar coating, not in my diet or with my health. I don’t need a pretty picture to be painted of the best possible outcomes, I need all the possible outcomes handed to me. This way I can prepare myself for whatever is to come. Yes, we received some information while we were in this whirlwind, about survival rates and possible disabilities if our babies were to arrive, but it didn’t feel real because no one would tell me that it was likely that our babies were on their way. Maybe I should have figured it out, but when I was deep in this tunnel of the unknown, for some reason, I wouldn’t believe my girls were coming, not unless the words were said by a professional. Just a simple, “it’s likely they are on their way”, or “you should prepare yourself for their arrival”, would have been enough to kick my brain and thought processes into gear, to get my head around the fact that: this is serious, this is very real, I will be meeting my babies soon.

I know the other nurses were all beautiful, caring people (well most of them). But until there was you, I felt like I wasn’t being taken seriously. I felt like it was all a bad, fuzzy dream as my head spun and one day rolled into the next, and the next, and the next. All the while, I imagined that in a day or two I would be on bedrest at home, chilling and watching Netflix. No one would tell me that it was likely that my girls were on their way. No one would whisper the words. True, every day they stayed inside was a blessing, but living in limbo, on a hard, stiff hospital bed, thinking I would return home any day now, was false hope.

So thank you, for giving it to me straight up. I wish I had encountered you at the beginning of my hospital stay. I only met you the morning my beautiful girls entered this world. Now 6 months later, as I reflect on the whole traumatic experience, I remembered you and how somehow, as you handed me the news I had feared, your honesty made everything seem okay. I heard the news; it was go time, and yet somehow, I knew my babies were going to be okay.

 

Love Terri

 

Teaty Biccies

I am currently feeling a bit like a Jersey Cow, hence the name ‘Teaty Biccies’!

My lactation nurse at hospital was fantastic.  She gave me a recipe for lactation biscuits that she suggested I ask a friend to make for me. Reading different things about them left me keen to try them, even if they didn’t work, cookies sounded good to me! So I did have a lovely friend bake them and, boy oh boy did they work!

The first time I had them, I was expressing so much milk that I filled my freezer, the freezer at NICU and still had enough to feed the girls. I will admit that was also having lots of skin to skin with the girls (which studies show helps milk supply). In NICU, you had to hold your baby for at least an hour at a time because of the effort it took for bubs, giving them a good rest once they were out and on you. So I was doing this twice (one baby at a time), in the morning and the afternoon – at least 4 hours a day total. With this skin to skin and the biscuits, I was making so much milk that I ended up getting mastitis (definitely another blog post) because I wasn’t expressing it all out (lesson learnt!).

When the girls came home, I wasn’t having as much skin to skin and life was even busier, so my milk supply dropped. I made a few more batches of the cookies, and each time I saw a definite increase in my milk supply. Of course in the whirlwind of early motherhood,  I have misplaced the original recipe, but I found another on the internet that I like: https://www.bellybelly.com.au/breastfeeding/lactation-cookies/
After baking these a few times with some healthified changes, I think I have mastered the perfect recipe!

The last time I made them, I accidently left out the flour. I was wondering why the batch was so small! But you know the saying about mistakes being important because we learn from them? WelI I actually discovered that the biscuits are so much nicer without the flour! They are kind of like a chewy ANZAC if you do it this way. I find with the flour (I usually use a combo of coconut flour and almond flour or gluten free flour) they are a bit dry. I also have made them with a beetroot late spice (instead of the cinnamon) and these were the tastiest yet! The latest batch I tweeked a bit again, adding just a bit of flour (to help them bind better) and I am pretty pleased with the result! Not only do I find it hard to stop at one, but I have to hide them from my hubby!

Here is my adaption of the recipe:

Teaty Biccies

Makes 12 biscuits, cookies, whatever you want to call them!

Ingredients:

¼ cup wholemeal flour

½ cup organic virgin coconut oil (you may need to soften this in the microwave)

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ cup coconut sugar

2 tablespoons flaxseed meal

1 egg

2-3 tablespoons of water (depends on how moist you prefer the cookies to be)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract (optional, for flavour)

1 teaspoon cinnamon (or beetroot late spice)

1-2 tablespoons of brewers yeast

½  teaspoon salt 

2 cups oats

1 cup of your favourite biscuit ingredients (coconut, dark choc, raisins, slithered almonds, dried apricots, you get the picture)  

Method:

Preheat oven to 180 and line a tray with baking paper.

In a mixing bowl, cream the coconut oil and sugar, then add the egg and vanilla (if using). Mix well.

In a separate bowl, combine the flaxseed and water, let them sit for a few minutes before adding to mix.

Add the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and mix well.

Add the flaxseed mix and dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and combine well.

Finally, stir in your additional ingredients (if using them).

Make the biscuits (using a tablespoon or dessert spoon) and place them onto the lined baking tray. This mix is a little sticky, but it works! 

Flatten them just a little with the spoon or  a fork.

Bake the lactation cookies for around 12-17 minutes, depending on how well cooked or crunchy you like your biscuits. 

Easy peasy!

I should mention that brewers yeast (the ingredient that really helps to get your milk pumping!) has a bit of an unusual taste; yeasty like beer, as you probably guessed! So perhaps use a little less of this ingredient in your first batch and see how you go! Let me know if you make them and what you thought. Also, always happy to hear to any delicious changes that you may have made.  

Happy milking mummas!

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Just can’t stop at one!!

 

Love Terri

 

Gift ideas for NICU parents

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With the increasing rate of premature births, it seems that someone always knows someone who has had a premature baby. Yet the topic itself seems a bit taboo. Hell, my Dr didn’t even feel the need to go through the possibility and he was supposedly the expert doctor for twins and high risk pregnancy. Nobody talks about it. Perhaps out of fear, perhaps just innocently unaware or maybe its because they would never think of it happening to themselves or their loved ones. I was the later two.

In NICU, each day was completely new and we never knew what to expect. You really do just have to take it one day at a time. Some days are extremely positive (like when India had her first cuddle without her CPAP-it felt like I was holding a real baby, weird thing to say but it is how it felt); other days it feels like the whole world is crushing down on top of you (like when we found out that Dahli’s PDA (hole in her heart) was not closing like it should). And all the days, as they add up and up and up, blur into one big, long, messy roller coaster ride, with the one overarching, glowing light at the end of the immensely, intricate tunnel-the day your baby/babies graduate and can finally come home.

Although friends and family found it hard to understand our heartbreaking situation, throughout our time in NICU, we experienced so much generosity and kindness. Family, friends, nurses, doctors, cleaners, neighbours and organisations all reached out.

I recently had a friend ask me what would be a good gift to give their friend who had just had a premature baby and was currently in NICU. I instantly wanted to help because I knew what was so helpful for us and I could relate to their situation. I knew what people did and didn’t do that was so wonderfully helpful and so greatly appreciated. So I decided to make a list of great gifts and things that you can do for parents who have a baby or babies in NICU:

  1. Cook healthy meals that can be easily frozen (for long NICU day lunches and dinners). Some families are a long way from home and may be staying at the Ronald Mcdonald house, and if this is the case you could either send meals with family or purchase meals or groceries online, to be delivered.
  2. Make or purchase healthy snacks (helped to get me through the long drive, the long stays and the perpetual expressing that I needed to do).
  3. Transport. After having a C Section I couldn’t drive so I had family and friends driving me to and from the hospital twice a day. When family left, I was so lucky that an organisation (Community Options) gifted me taxi vouchers which I used until I had clearance to drive.
  4. Bake some lactation cookies or muffins (I ate many of these and I swear by them-post on these coming soon! Pretty sure I have perfected the recipe!)
  5. Create a NICU mummy pack. You could include things like: tissues (for all the tears), memory box (to put tags, CPAP, caps etc in), a cute pen (to label all the expressed milk bottles), some prem baby clothes (these were hard to come by and when buying for two, very expensive), lip balm (and coldsore cream if applicable), nipple cream, hand cream (oh so much hand sanitising!), chocolate (for those weak, I need chocolate comfort moments! And for breastmilk supply, of course!), nice tea bags (you can even get lactation tea), a water bottle.
  6. Support. Knowing that you care, actually means a lot. You don’t have to understand. Just a few words of love and well wishes is wonderful. We had messages of love from many people, including on Facebook, from long ago friends who I wouldn’t have expected at all. Weekly check ins (texts) from friends were lovely. Of course, never expect a reply (although I always did my best) and just make sure that your messages of support don’t press for information about the situation. Your friend will open up if they want, when they are ready. Another nice way to offer support is to ask if they would like a visit (not to see the baby). You might catch up for tea/coffee, have a little picnic near by, or take a walk outside in the fresh air. I remember one day going to watch a movie with a friend in between cares. This broke up a long day and was great for my mental health. 
  7. Space. Of course support is lovely but also be aware of space. Like I mentioned, checking in regularly is nice but it you don’t hear from your friend or family member for a while, don’t be offended.  Sometimes the world of NICU consumes you totally and you can’t bear speaking to or texting another person the same thing, explaining how well or not so well your bub/babies are going.
  8. Don’t be nosy. I know you may just be a caring, concerned friend, but please don’t ask your friend, “why did this happen?” Chances are they are already feeling hopelessly responsible, losing sleep over what they could have done differently to have prevented it. And what I have read and heard from a few doctors is that, in the majority of cases, we don’t know why things like this happen, they just occur and nothing the mother did differently could have helped anyway.
  9. The usual baby shower gifts. If your friend had an extreme premature baby (and it is their first), then chances are they missed out on their baby shower. Mine was planned for the day before the girls were born, so I was really disappointed that I didn’t get to experience this special day. Often new parents wait until after the baby shower to purchase things (like we did), so any baby gifts will most likely be greatly appreciated.
  10. A massage or pamper voucher for mumma at a place close to the hospital.
  11. A voucher for dinner close by to the hospital.
  12. Purchase NICU milestone cards (Like the ones from Miracle mumma https://www.miraclemumma.com.au).  I wish I had known about these or thought about creating them myself. Like I said though, we had no idea what to expect and so I really had no idea what the milestones would be.
  13. Offer to feed and/or walk their dogs (in our case it was dogs, but other families had children. You could help with babysitting, dropping off and/or picking up from school, preparing kid friendly food or even doing some cleaning for them).
  14. Mow their lawn. I was worried about our dogs barking late into the night, while I spent 12 days in hospital. So I had a family member put a note in our neighbours letterbox, apologising and explaining our situation. The next thing we knew, our lawn was mowed and continued to be so, until after we got home with the twins.

Writing this now and reflecting back on the overwhelming support and kindness that we received during our time in NICU, I have become quite emotional. Big or small, the thoughts, gifts and actions from our family and friends will always be so greatly appreciated. You all helped us through, and it is my hope that this list can help other families, as they are in the depths of their own NICU journey.

  “Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in our hearts”. – Winnie the Pooh, A.A Milne

 

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Love Terri

 

To blog or not to blog?

To blog, or not to blog, that was the question…

Then today, I was left on a high. A high I had not yet experienced before. A high that I had heard about from women who were lucky enough to call themselves mothers. Not the high after birth (that’s a whole different blog). But the ferociously, protective high like no other..when you defend your baby/babies and your parenting.

To date, our whole parenting situation has been organized yet floaty. I guess that comes with me being a school teacher and a yoga teacher and my husband a musician and army man. Also, Spending the first three months of our identical twins lives in hospital certainly helped with routine and structure.

But today, when least expected. The mystical creature whom I thought maybe I would never have the displeasure of meeting, made her self known. The  little old busy body, who clearly thinks that her cuteness and years of experience on earth gives her permission to judge our parenting.

We had just visited our superheroes at hospital (NICU staff) and were out in the sunshine feeding our identical twin girls on the field nearby. Dahli was crying and fussing with dad while he was trying to feed her while India was calm and happy as she fed. Hubby was stressed. I was upset that he was stressed and he was annoyed at the effort we had went to to get to hospital and that we didn’t get to see many nurses, and also that he had a crying baby in his arms.

Then, across the field (literally..a whole field) came the little old lady who thought she would impart her wisdom upon us. “You really should put a beanie on that little boy”. I couldn’t believe my ears. That little boy? Who was already wearing a blue, fluffy warm, hoodie that had just fallen back as she fussed with her bottle?

First of all I was annoyed that she had failed to notice the hot pink onesie and maryjanes (not that colours matter, my girls wear a a range of colours) and well one should not assume anyway! Then it clicked that she was questioning our parenting and the clothing choices I made for my girls for their special visit to NICU.

I sternly told the lady that she was a little girl, she was quite warm in her hoodie, she was fine and that we didn’t need people to tell us how to parent our children. My husband went silent, not knowing what to say and the lady was very taken aback too. “I was only being kind”, she tried to say after she had said, “oh well some people don’t put beanies on that’s all”, leading to more judgement about other parents whom I do not particularly wish to judge either.

I understand that she thought her intentions were kind and that she perhaps thought that she needed to educate us. And for a second I thought maybe I should apologize for being abrupt with her. But then I realized, you know what. It’s her that needed the educating. Hopefully the fact that I stood up for myself and made it known that her busy bodying was not appreciated, will make her (and her busy body friends) think twice before they cast their judgement and opinions on another parent or parents.

So then we got in the car, and I just started laughing out loud. I couldn’t believe my ferocity and my confidence. My hubby just looked at me and said “you destroyed her”, in a proud, affectionate way (our little tiff of frustration towards each other had now vanished). I didn’t realise I had this spice but now I guess I know that I do. Being a calm (most of the time) and organised (I do my best) mummy doesn’t mean that I can’t stand up for my parenting choices and for my baby who is allowed to have a cry if she needs to! And to all you mummas out there; you are amazing, you know best, and never ever doubt yourself. And compliments to my sister, “Mum always knows best, except when she has no clue and then we just wing it! Am I right!”

So the high that this unpredictable moment gave me, has led to my first blog. Will I write another? Who knows? Will anyone read it? Who cares? Writing it has been very therapeutic for this twin Mummy.

Mum always knows best, except when she has no clue and then we just wing it!  — Tara Wilson

Love Terri