Do you ever imagine that you don’t know this life and you’ve entered just a short clip of what your future you will be? You look around and you get clues about what your future entails? I do. Maybe I am more dramatic than most and this isn’t the norm but this blog is a transparent me and so I thought, why not share? Maybe others do the weird things that I do.? Maybe they don’t? Oh well! … So this evening I stopped for a moment and I looked around. My mind pretended I didn’t know this life. I was outside a house, standing on warm, hard pavers. Where am I?, I thought. I looked around for clues. I saw two pink bikes, multiple pairs of toddler shoes, two pairs of pink, flowered swimmers drying in the sun…I have twin girls I thought. Then tears of joy ran down my face. How lucky am I!? And now I live in a house, not an apartment…awesome! Next I continued into the house. I walked past my hungry dogs (whom I am just about to feed) and into the living room. I was now drawn towards a bookshelf and atop it a portrait sketch of a baby in my hand or perhaps, a baby angel. I see his name sketched and I notice his halo. And I think…oh that’s right I lose a precious baby boy…
And when I am not off in a daydream like this, this is what its like…every day. Yet most of the time its not so gentle or gradual. Its every moment of happiness, or every ray of sunshine I absorb…then circled around to the memory…oh, but I lost my baby boy. Its only when you sit down and think about it, that you realise how awfully exhausting this rollercoaster is. Its having a fun night with friends, then noticing the bassinet that they have returned that was supposed to be for your baby boy and you absolutely lose it; Its putting your baby girls to bed for the night and high-fiving your husband, then sitting on the couch and wishing you were nursing your baby boy; Its getting so excited with planning Christmas fun, then remembering that your newborn won’t be snuggled in your arms, nor passed around for cuddles by the Christmas tree; Its lying in bed at night and gazing out the side of your bed, visualising the bassinet and your baby boy that should be cooing next to you. And you wonder… when will I ever experience happiness again, without the almost instant realisation that I lost a child?
I know how blessed I am to have my baby girls. And I do not need any more reminders of this..I never needed to be reminded. This loss is not about my girls. And having them does not make the loss okay.
I also know how lucky I am to have the support I do. Even though friends are close and afar, I have people who try to understand and who show their love most days; this means the world to me. And had I not gone through the heartache that I have, I would not have connected with some amazing people who give me more strength every day.
I have not written in a while. I’ve been dissolving in twin life, uni commitments, grief, moving states, legal meetings for medical negligence, exercising for my mental health, human rights complaints, the maternal inquest, and planning to say goodbye to my beloved current school. I did not plan to write tonight. But it has been on my mind because of a lovely friend. I was recently telling her a twin story and she asked if I wrote about it and encouraged me to. This reminded me that I have neglected my writing and so I plan to get back into it. I guess tonight’s post doesn’t really have a flowing goal or purpose. I apologise for this. But it is a start. A start of beginning to share again. And I do aim for my next post to be much more uplifting. Specifically, I have a ‘Day in a life’ post planned very soon to feature on Growing Our Tribe’s page. I am looking forward to writing more.
I was asked recently if I have experienced any joy since Reuben’s passing. I was a little confused by the question but it had quite a simple answer: yes. And then the question got me thinking, perhaps there are people who go through similar trauma and loss and for a very long time, they will not experience real joy. But me, I receive joy every day. At first the joy came with guilt. But now most of the time I am able to be present in the joy and not feel bad about it. The joy I am of course talking about is my precious, little warrior princesses Dahli and India. And I think it helpful and the perfect time to write a post about the joy they have been bringing me daily.
We are so grateful everyday to have been blessed with twins. It truely is double the love.
Its double the giggles, double the smiles, double the milestones, double the poo…double everything really and it is absolutely amazing. I feel that I was destined for this role. It feels natural, it is challenging at times but it is all that I know and I love it every single day. India and Dahli are now 18 months old (15 months corrected). This corrected business means that developmentally, this is where they are. I am not completely sure, but I think by the time they are around three, we can let the whole ‘corrected thing’ go a little.
So lately, these little girls have been making us laugh and smile and really been holding our whole world together. Let’s talk about some of these things that make me feel so grateful and happy every day.
Twin talk really started when the girls were in NICU. I remember feeling so proud yet devastatingly disappointed and upset that the nurses heard it first. One night the girls began calling out and responding to each other in their humicribs from opposite sides of their room. The nurses were telling me how cute and yet how naughty they were chatting all night long. Hehe. Such cheeky girls from the very beginning! It wasn’t long though until I heard it for myself. The video below shows one of my twin cuddles with the girls where they sound like little lambs chatting away. Total heart melters.
Today their twin talk has changed a lot. No longer do they speak in their little lamb prem voices, but they babble expressively in an undecipherable language. Usually one takes the lead and talks the most and the other responds here and there. A few days ago, India was sharing her sultanas with Dahli and telling her to say ‘ta’. Tonight in the bath they were both cuddling their bubbas and India let hers go ‘bubba’?! Dahli found India’s bubba and kindly gave it back to her. Sometimes I look at them having their conversations in disbelief. When did they get so clever?! I have been trying to get their conversations on video for a while now but they stop as soon as I try! So I did my best.
So I already told a little story above about India sharing her sultanas and there are a quite a few other sharing moments. They often like to pass food to one another in their highchairs or steal from one another trays. Haha. Apart from food, the girls have security bunnies and security lambies. Lately if Dahli has been getting upset, India has found her dummy and given it to her and also given her the lambie or bunny that she was holding. Soooo cute! One time she instantly got upset and wanted her bunny back though! Most of the time though, the girls don’t like to share. India is the boss at the moment and she wants everything. Dahli is adapting and beginning to not get bothered if India takes her toys…but her tolerance depends on how tired she is.
As the girls were born so premature, I had in my mind that they would walk at 15 months corrected. And guess what! I was right!! The anxiety has always been there about milestones-smiling, rolling, sitting, crawling…would they ever get there? And if so, when?? Walking seems like for now, the final milestone and they have stood up to the ‘statistics’, toddling their way into a whole new phase, completely unaware of the trauma they experienced in the first few months of their lives and oblivious to the fact that they are mummy and daddy’s amazing little miracles…suddenly getting too big too fast! I could just sit and watch them toddle around all day, it still takes my breath away the pride I feel.
India’s joy when Dahli came home from hospital..and there were balloons!
Dahli’s warrior strength-smashing her head through her drum!
Kissing and cuddling me and each other
Oh my gosh this has to be one of the best things about twins. Double the affection! Dahli and India can be so kind to each other. Cuddling and kissing and laying on one another. At the moment they cuddle and kiss on cue…its unbelievably cute! And then at other times one tries to ride the other without permission which of course ends in screaming and mummy and daddy trying not to laugh. The first time I ever showed the girls Reuben’s little urn, they both kissed it. So sweet and in-tune. From that day, each time I put the girls to bed I say goodnight to the girls and to Reuben and they all get a little kiss (at the moment Reuben’s urn is on a little shelf in the girl’s room so that he can be with his sisters). Sometimes I get his urn down, and without fail India always goes in to kiss him.
The girls were never really cuddly, loving babies when they were littler. I always wondered if its because they spent their first three months of their lives in an isolette or hospital cot, away from one another and only having one or two long cuddles a day. It could have been that or perhaps just their personalities. It made me sad though that when they got wriggly they wouldn’t want to have many cuddles. But literally, since the day Reuben was born they have been the most cuddly babies ever. They always want me and are always up for a cuddle, snuggle or kiss. It is absolute bliss.
Already we are having to be careful of what we say because we have double the chance of being mimicked. Its funny the things the girls start to say that we don’t even realise we must say a lot. India’s favourite is ‘uh oh’! At the moment. And the other day Dahli actually mimicked daddy’s ‘f*#! that!’ Haha. I feel like they are trying to show each other how clever they are with their words at the moment.
This one is hilarious. The girls absolutely love our dogs Yogi (happy and energetic 5 year old boarder collie) and Bongo (old and cranky 13 Year old Maltese Poodle). They love to mimic them, pat them, chase them and having Yogi drag them along by their socks! The girls go under their highchairs after they have eaten and help eat up the scraps they dropped with the doggies. They also like to get down on their tummies and pick the food up from the floor in their mouths just like their big brothers. Hehehe. Great for the immunity no doubt. And a favourite toy when playing outside is the dog bowls (I know…disgusting but these girls can just be too quick for me!). They quite like to clang them together and to sit in them (their little bottoms sit quite perfectly inside the bowls..it actually looks like they are trying to go potty!). I look forward to watching their doggy bonds continuing to grow.
My baby girls love to come and sit with me when I do my makeup. They pull everything out of my makeup bag and put it all back in. Although yesterday I had taken my ugg boots off and they managed to put most of the contents in them which I hadn’t realised until they were napping and I tried to put my uggs on. Sometimes I put a little lip gloss on them and they get so serious about it, watching as I do their sister and leaning forward ready for their lips to be painted too. hehe.
These little, big things and so many more twin antics are my daily dose of joy. But grief is weird. It is always there, it never goes away. Its like this constant bubble that you are living inside from which you do your best to live, to love, to laugh, to carry on with life. All the while knowing that as shit as this grief bubble is; as much as you wish everyday that you could wake up from this nightmare and bring your baby back, You are still so blessed, you are still so loved and you are a god damn, freaking Warrior Queen.
Every day I wake up and I think of you. Throughout the night, as I stir, I rub what used to be your home. Some mornings I wake from dreams of you and your big sisters and everything feels lighter. Other mornings my body doesn’t want to move and my mind races through a million unhelpful, yet necessary thoughts. People tell me you are always with me and with every ounce of my being I want to believe this. In this moment as I have began typing, I am beginning to see that perhaps it is true, you are here.
Right now your here in a way that hurts me so bad that I feel like I am choking and there is a knife in my heart. Yet this morning you were with me in a way that floated me to my baby girl’s room and gave me the sense that everything is going to be alright. You were with me in the car today as I drove myself to an appointment, feeling reassured and noting that everything that I am right now and that I will be, is a part of you just as you are a part of me. You were with me at lunchtime today when I finally made the decision that I actually do need to care for this body, if not for me, for you and Dahli and India. I can not let what happened make me weak and a bad role model for my baby girls and I must not lose myself as well. If I were to lose myself then I will have lost you completely. You need me to be strong. You need me to take care of myself and you’re guiding me as I do this for you, for my girls, for my husband and for me.
The things I do every day, the things I say, the emotions I feel, you have led me to them all. I can not hold you, but I can feel you. I can not see you, but I am beginning to believe that you can see me. I can not smell you, but I can talk to you. You have given me signs and I patiently await for more. It is not enough. It will never be enough. But it is something. And right now, in this uncharted territory, something is all that I can hope for.
Fly high my sweet finch, and don’t forget to visit your mummy.
I lost Reuben at 22 weeks. One more week and they would have tried to save him. But at 22 weeks my baby’s definition -insert dr speech marks here – was “not-viable”. I fought for him, but it wasn’t enough. They said they would check his weight and if he was big enough they would try and save him. But it was too late. While waiting for this ultrasound to check his weight, I went in to labour. He was born about 15 minutes after the ultrasound was planned. A million questions go around and around in my head every day. Some far too raw for me to have the strength say, let alone write down. But here are 11. 11 questions that may never be answered. But 11 questions that I will be asking when I finally have my follow up specialist appointment (an appointment I had to chase up by the way. No planned 6 week appointment for me unless I actually pushed for it).
So here are just 11 questions that burn a hole in my heart daily:
Would have Reuben been in pain when he passed away?
I went private with my twins and it was a waste of money as I didn’t get the care I needed and my Dr was complacent and in my eyes, a reason my girls came so premature. So this time I went public. I had learnt that public is where NICU is and all the resources for preterm birth. But when I was admitted this time, there was a lot of waiting around. Waiting for a Dr, waiting for my ultrasound, waiting for my pessaries, waiting for my cannula and antibiotics. Realistically, had I not have had to do all this waiting (ie if I had a private Dr) could have my baby boy survived?
Why was I and my high risk pregnancy referral not taken seriously? Why was I not a part of the high risk program? The program I learnt about after it was too late. Especially as not only was I a ‘high risk’ pregnancy, but I also fell pregnant in under a year after having twins a 27 weeks.
Why did my body let my perfectly healthy baby boy go? Why did I go into preterm labor again?
What were the results to the 10+ blood tests I was tortured for after everything? It’s been 6 weeks and I’ve been told nothing.
Is there something I could have done to have stopped this happening? Or something I might have done that caused it?
Did falling pregnant so soon after the twins have anything to do with why this happened?
Is it safe for me to have another baby?
My drs appointment was changed to a week later: The Thursday after I gave birth. If I had attended this appointment at the original time (the week before), is it possible that you could have seen something? And if so, could we have done something to save my baby boy?
Whatever is wrong with my body, is this something that I could pass on to my girls? Could they have the same problems that I have?
Why did I by some miracle fall pregnant naturally, if it was just going to be taken away from me? (Okay, I won’t ask this one of the drs but I think about it all the time).
These are hard hitting questions. And I know some won’t have answers right now or maybe ever. However, asking these questions is going to be part of my healing journey. It’s going to be extremely hard. But I’m goingto do it. If I don’t, I will regret it. I know none of these questions will ever bring Reuben back but I need to at least try and get some answers. I need to ask these questions along with many others, to help me move forward, to grow stronger and to heal.
I miss you every day Reuben. Sometimes, in a blissful moment, I forget that all of this has happened and you are still here. But then I remember and it breaks my heart all over again. I love you so much.
Writing is also part of my healing process. I write a lot. Some things I share, some things I don’t. I was not sure if I would share this piece. But then I began to think, if there is just the slightest chance that this could help someone else, then why not? People who don’t want to read this, won’t. People that want to or need to, hopefully will. I may never know, but it this could help someone who has gone through, is going through or will go through the trauma, heartbreak and loss that I have. I have had many people thank me for being so open and vulnerable with my journey. And also some other amazing angel mums who have reached out. I haven’t shared everything. Just when the time comes and I feel ready, I have shared parts of my journey and I know already, that I have helped others. I find comfort in this. Helping others also helps the healing process.
Running away to Fiji for a bit was actually my husband’s idea. He is a problem solver and wants so bad to fix what has happened. And although we are both coming to terms with the fact that this can not be fixed, that things will never be the same and we need to grow to accept and live in the new normal, Fiji was just what we needed.
We had many people help us to get to Fiji: financially; support to help us organise it so fast; minding our dogs; helpful advice and even cooking snacks that were perfect for the girls on the plane. We are forever grateful. Thank you.
waiting for our plane
India’s first plane ride
Dahli’s first plane ride
India and Dahli were the movie stars of Fiji. I knew that the Fijians love children, but I didn’t realise just how much! In Australia, maybe every fourth or fifth person stops me when I have the girls asking, “twins?” But in Fiji, it was absolutely everyone. From toddlers to the elderly. Even young men, who is Australia would have no interest in babies! Everywhere it was, “Bula! Twins?” and then the many questions and clucking and cooing that followed. The girls loved it and I think they may have even said Bula themselves. I was trying so hard to teach them! Not only did the Fijian’s love to look and touch and kiss our babies, but they also kept stealing them.
Lovely baby stealers in Fiji
Plenty of picnics in Fiji
Nannies are super sweet, amazing with children and really cheap in Fiji! We didn’t plan to use one really but by the second last day, both my husband and I were physically exhausted! Another afternoon of swimming with the girls was not going to be possible for either of us. So we booked a nanny for both of the girls and finally, we got some time to ourselves. We sat by the pool for two hours, had a mocktail and even ate some tacos which we didn’t have to rush and stuff down our throats as the girls pointed and screamed that they wanted them. It was pretty blissful. And we knew the girls were in such safe and loving hands.
India at kids club
Fighting for the slide
Kids club fun
Although beautiful, my gosh Fiji is so expensive! I would say even more so than Australia. I guess because it is a resort area they can charge what they want. I had a local on the plane suggest going on an island tour. But this was going to set us back over $400 and also we couldn’t see how on earth the girls would handle a whole day of island tripping (from experience without twins, we already knew it was exhausting). However, we did go for a stroll one evening by the marina and a local managed to reel me in and suggest a half-day tour that’s perfect for families that we could go on for just $20FJD…there had to be a catch, right? He admitted there was. So fast forward to the following day we hopped on a bus to another resort and sat through a presentation where a lovely man tried to sell us a new amazing ‘time-share’ where we can go anywhere in the world! Twins crawling everywhere, crunching rice crisps and making a hell of a mess of their immaculate presentation room, while we had to answer a few questions and listen to a sales pitch…but I wasn’t having any of it. I just wanted our cruise. So as soon as the chance came up, I said no. No no no, this is not for us. We are spontaneous people. We can’t be tied to this for life. Luke joined in on my ‘no no no parade’ and so the salesman didn’t really know what to do. I think we stayed for about 40 minutes of the 90 minute presentation when I left to change a nappy. Luke finished up with salesman and we left. We explored their resort and then hopped back on the bus. So for sitting through 40 minutes of a sales pitch and having a lovely walk throughout their oasis, we got a $400+ cruise for 20FJD. This cruise included all transfers, food, alcohol/beverages, a finding nemo tour and submarine ride (which we chose not to do) as well as a nanny for the girls. It was absolutely amazing. In my eyes, it was the best day we had. It was my happiest day since we lost baby Reuben.
Our lovely island set up
Twins are sleeping!
Dahli loved the bean bags
Our South Pacific Island Nanny
Time to relax
Babies sleeping in pram!
As lovely as getting away and having some special family time together was, it was also weird. We shouldn’t have been in Fiji. And it was surreal to be there. We should have been at work. The girls having fun at daycare. I should not have been drinking alcohol or many of the foods I ate. And we definitely shouldn’t have been spending all the money as we needed to keep saving for my mum bus and for when we became a family of 5. I kept telling Reuben that I wanted to give Fiji away. I apologised to him that we were in Fiji and promised him that all I ever wanted was him. For his sisters to have a baby brother. For us to be happy at home, awaiting his safe arrival. I dreamt of him and I have since. I hope he stays in my dreams forever.
sunset fish and veg
Riding on daddy
Rainy day pamper session
The girls loved the comfy beds
Relaxing with Daddy
I took lots of photos and videos of our holiday. I want to remember our very first holiday in memory of Reuben. And we plan to do something every year around his birthday (although not as extravagant as Fiji) because we want to honour his memory. We want his sisters to know about him. I am trying my hardest be be strong and live a happy life in honour of Reuben and for our precious baby girls. I remember a quote that resonated with me so much when the girls were in NICU, and even more so now “you don’t know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice”. I don’t know that I am ‘strong’ but in this moment, I am doing my best. Some days my strength is my tears; some days its me getting out of bed; sometimes it me playing and laughing with the girls; some days its making myself eat a healthy meal; sometimes its writing to help me heal; sometimes its being vulnerable; often its pouring all my love into my baby girls and my husband; its admitting that I am not okay and reaching out to others; at times its keeping myself busy with a never ending list of to dos, and some days its catching up with friends. Strength comes in many forms and daily, I am slowly finding mine.
swimming with daddy
hanging on the balcony
dinner on the marina
So thank you Fiji. Although I am finding it extremely hard coming back to the ‘real world’, something has shifted. We are slowly moving forward as much as I wish we could rewind and somehow fix it all. Fiji was special. Just like our precious baby boy. It holds a special place in my heart, somewhere in there along with our guardian angel, Reuben Luke.