A day in the life of twin toddlers

It is 11:30 am and I just pulled a curly India or Dahli hair out of my freshly baked carrot and apple oat cookie. Of course I have. All I can do is sigh and laugh because today is one of those days where I just have no idea what the girls are going to throw at me next.

I have been planning to write a day in a life of twins for ages! Since they were born really, and it just hasn’t happened. I can’t really say, ‘but now I finally have time to sit down and write it’ because truely I don’t. There are many other things I should probably be doing.  However, I think that so far, today has been crazy, chaotic and hilarious. I think if I was watching down upon us today, I would be laughing hysterically. I would like to have the opportunity in the future to look back and read about days like these. 2 year old twins is definitely the hardest stage for me to date.

Amid the Covid 19 outbreak I am on leave from work and the girls are no longer in family daycare (we did this 2 weeks ago now as Dahli and India are high risk). My husband is working mostly from home. Except for Tuesdays. Today is Tuesday. I should also mention that a few days ago the girls learnt to climb up the change table and Dahli started to climb out of her cot, so during isolation we have taken down the cot rails. So much fun! The first night went fairly well as did the following day. Then we had a couple of days that were pretty awful. Last night was a good night though (after we installed locks on their sliding wardrobe) and today’s nap the girls actually went down without a fuss! Oh wait, I can hear them now!…..so I just went in to check on them. Found them hiding behind the curtain cuddling Reuben bear and India looks up at me and smiles cheekily: ‘Hi’. How can I not smile and glow on the insides at that. So precious. But gosh I hope they sleep now.

Okay so a day in the life of 2 year old toddler twins…Here we go…

We woke to the girls calling out to us at about 6:20am. My husband and I agreed it was his turn to get up to them. Of course he waits until he receives a few nudges from me. The girls get increasingly louder so naturally I am wide awake now. I may as well get up. But I don’t. Hubby goes in eventually and changes their nappies. I hear them help by carrying their nappies out to the bin. I hope he gets them to wash their hands. India is whining constantly and I can’t make out what over but I know he has them on the kitchen bench and that making breakfast with a cranky toddler + her twin will be a challenge, so I get up. I relieve husband of India, settle her and then husband goes for a shower while I make the girls and my breakfast. They decide they want oats. First I put some sourdough in the toaster and then I start on their banana and cinnamon oats with their help (such good stirrers). Oats are still cooking but my toast is ready. I put Vegemite and avo on it and take a bite knowing that this toast is not really mine. I place it on the bench to continue with oats and they lick off the Vegemite and avo. Dahli asks for ‘more butter’ (she means Vegemite) three times. She becomes a Vegemite monster. India wants to help me with the oats. ‘Hot!’ she says. then as she stirs them in the bowl a bit drops on her foot so she screams (its not burning hot….she soon recovers). With oats cooling a little longer I make myself another batch of toast. The girls decide they want to eat outside so we go outside. I attempt to sit down with my breakfast but of course they want my ‘help’ to eat their oats. I help them whilst carefully watching Yogi (crazy, red-haired border collie) and rousing at him for going near my breakfast several times.  This goes on for a while. India wants another helping. She has more and then she finishes her sisters. We tidy up and eventually ‘breakfast’ is over. By this time of the morning routine, daddy peeks his head out to say goodbye. He gets a very affectionate cuddle from two rude nudies. I can’t remember when they took their nappies off!?!

For the next hour and a half I am really wanting to get the girls in the pram to go for a run. But I know if I put them in the pram that they will scream and carry on. It has to be their decision or at least feel like it was their decision. I try asking them if they want to go for a walk multiple times. I bribe them with some sweet potato brownie. I start to think that mummy isn’t going to get her exercise this morning. In the meantime, they have dressed and undressed; taken nappies off twice; yelled at me to push them naked in their doll prams; pointed out a fresh dog poo, ‘yucky’ for me to pick up; decided one wants to be inside yet the other wants to be outside; used their helmets as cradles for their babies and constantly whined at me to open and close the buckle over and over..and so on. Eventually I decide to ‘mamma bear them’. I tell them to get into the pram. India actually does when I start to count down from 3.  Dahli does not so I pick her up and put her in. Of course she whines and fusses but as soon as I give her the sweet potato brownie, she changes her tune. So I finally get my run. They are happy and giggling and singing and chatting and pointing things out. Woo hoo! Success!

doll prams

After the run I say I want to jump in the pool and they both tell me no. I am so hot I tell them that they can’t boss me around so I go outside and lay in the pool. Now they think it’s funny. They get naked (again) and get in too. Lots of fun, lots of giggles. The girls play mostly happily and then I realise that I have oats in my hair. I ask if I can go have a shower. I can as long as they come in with me. So I finally get my shower, I think its around 10am, so not too bad.

The next scene…The girls sit at my feet in the shower, playing happily and I feel very accomplished and proud. Then I get out and dry off and take a photo of this precious moment. I think ‘it’ must have happened when I took the photo….because when I put my phone down Dahli stands up and I ask is she is ready to get out. Much to my disgust the word that comes out of her mouth is ‘poo’ and then India says ‘yucky.’ Yup, soggy wet poo. India sits obediently (in the midst of the muck) while I clean off her sister first. She then gets a good clean while Dahli stands very still on the bath mat, not wanting to move because the tiles are ‘slippwwwweeee’. We all manage to get dressed-ish. The girls in nappies, me in a dress. Today I am behind on laundry and I can’t for the life of me find a pair of comfy undies- currently going commando. After this the girls grab one another’s hands and start dancing and walking around the house for a bit. Heart melters.

before the poo

Next, I ask the girls if they would like to make some cookies. Yes, they both decide. So up on the bench they go. It starts out well. But once the batter is mixed and its time to shape the cookies, things go pear shaped. I have never made such a mess in the kitchen before. They have handfuls of gunky cookie batter before I can stop them. They rub it on their legs and feet and all over the bench. All while smiling.  I watch in horror as I simultaneously try to clean them. My efforts at cleaning the girls down with a wet washer are not enough, so I banish them both to the pool to clean off. I am surprised that they are both happy with this! I watch them play while I finish the cookies off and clean up. Another success! Wahoo! — unfortunately no time for photos here!!

The girls are still playing happily outside. They have turned their chairs over and are using them as slides for their mini dinosaurs. So I start making them a veggie omelette for lunch. Of course this is when the fighting starts. Both want to be in the same pram. I watch and hope they work it out. They don’t. India is trying to push Dahli out. I tell her not to push and to get her own pram. Next she hits Dahli in the head. I go and get India and tell her she needs to say sorry. She says no. After a short time in her room, India returns to the scene to apologise and then continue to bully Dahli to get of the pram. Dahli goes to the other pram with my suggestion and then gets over it and wants to come inside. By this time lunch is ready so they come inside and sit at the big table (dining table) to have their lunch. I try and clean up the kitchen but yet again, I have to sit next to them and ‘help’. They both eat well. India gets very upset that she can’t eat her’s and Dahli’s cookie. Then I realise that half of India’s cookie is on the floor. Happy India again, for a moment. When they are all done I head to the kitchen to get a washer and notice all the flies from the girls coming out and in all morning. I swap between wiping the girls down and trying to clean the kitchen. They have lost it now. They are tired. Its 11am and the flies are enjoying the mess on the bench but I have to put the girls down.

We change nappies, find dummies, bunny and lamby and I carry both girls to their room, one under each arm. Often they walk themselves but I know that is not happening today. I put on their sleep suits. India has found a random nappy and is screaming at me ‘nappy’ demanding that I change her nappy to the one she found. I don’t crack to her bullying me and she gets over it. I pick her up and rock her, then as I place her into her cot she bossily tells me that Dahli needs to be rocked too. I give Dahli a rock and put her down and tuck her in. They say ‘bye ,bye’ and I leave their room, wondering what mischief they will get up to. They are quiet. Time to clean and tidy and catch up on washing.

So I clean my shower, hang, fold and pack away washing. I prep a new load (which can’t go on yet because it will wake the girls). I  clean the dining table, the kitchen, and sweep and mop the floor. I take the bins out and tidy toys and random shit that ends up in random places. I place cookies in a container and tidy the kitchen again. I wash my hands a million times. I do all this worrying that the house is still not tidy enough and then I remember I haven’t had a sip of water since after my run. So I scull half a bottle, make a cup of coffee (never drank this stuff until I had twins) and sit down with one of the cookies. My first moment of relaxation and silence for the day. First bite…I think it is maybe a stringy bit of carrot but no, definitely a toddler hair. I eat it anyway!

Whilst eating my cookie, sipping my coffee and writing this post, I have been in and out of the girls room three times. I have changed Dahli’s pooey nappy and had India tell me she has done one too. She hasn’t. I’ve popped them back in their bed over and over but they still get out. They are crying and tired and clearly not ready to get up. I guess I will try one more time but I don’t like my chances… I imagine that this cookie is my lunch for now.

………………………………………………….

I was right. The girls are banging on their door so I open it and I am greeted with a very happy ‘Hello, hello hello’. No sleep today, it is going to be an early night. I make the girls a cup of tea and they have it with a cookie at the dining table. Dahli pulls a straw sippy cup from nowhere and demands I put her tea in it. I do this and then India starts crying because she wants the same so I find her one and make that happen. They sit nicely for a while, but of course before long someone makes a mess. India tips her cup upside down and shakes it all out on the chair, her lap and the table. I tell her that we don’t spill our tea on purpose and that she may have to go in her room. She signs and says, ‘sorry, sorry, sorry, mummy’ and hugs me tight. Heart melted. I clean it up and we move on to the next thing.

This afternoon we use homemade watercolours (ice, water, food dye) to paint. The girls have fun painting paper for a bit, then themselves. They also try to eat it like ice-blocks. It doesn’t take long before India is distracted by other things and wanders off while Dahli and I paint for a little longer.

Soon it is 2pm and we are surprised by daddy coming home! He says hello and then heads for a shower (because Covid19). The girls climb up on their toy box (I moved it out of their room after today’s unsuccessful nap). It is outside the bathroom window and so they yell out to daddy over and over, ‘hello, hello, hello!’ Of course they are super excited and all over daddy when he comes outside. India especially….as if she is saying ‘I have been an angel all day’….

The rest of the afternoon is spent having a family paddle in the pool; helping daddy weed the garden and then taking their bubbas for a walk out the front of the house with daddy while I clean up, again. When I finally go out to join in, India is banging on Daddy’s car demanding to get in. We think maybe we could go for a drive but no, India screams and screams because she wants to sit in the driver’s seat. When this tantrum subsides they continue playing with their bubbas and prams and have a little explore with us in the edge of the bush.

Finally it is dinner time. The girls eat this outside and want daddy to help this time so I go and tidy up and turn on the bath. After a little play, Dahli comes up to me and says, ‘baby, baby’. I pick her up and rock her like a baby and sing the lullaby, making up new words about going for a bath. Hubby does the same to India and they both enter the bath happily. Bath-time is lovely today. Just me and the girls. They lay down on their tummies, both saying, “I swim, I swim” and when I suggest they have a little kiss…they comply. Gah sooooo gorgeous.

The rest of the night goes something like this: get nappies and PJs on -making sure we put on lots of crim (cream); bottle; teeth (after I catch them); fighting over a baby hat (see video below of a very happy Dahli and a devastated India scream in the background); vacuuming the house with daddy; the beginning of bed time (5:40pm- 20 minutes earlier than usual); multiple resettles (including soothing India after she has fallen out); and now, finally quiet….for the time being.

It is now 9:45pm and that was a day in the life of twin toddlers in the Greenhalgh house.

vacuuming

 

Wow that was a long one. Well done and thank you if you stuck with it until the end. Apologies for any grammar or spelling mistakes. I was writing in past and present tense as I kept coming back to this piece and my brain got confused! Hopefully I fixed most of it.

I have realised writing a day in the life post is extremely hard….this is sooooo long, yet so much more happened in our day.  I also found it impossible to write creatively when I am trying to fit so much in. Life isn’t about being perfect though, so here it is 🙂

Sending out lots of love,

From Terri

 

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.

Love Terri

Dear Doctor

Just over two months after my identical twin girls birth (at 27 weeks), I still couldn’t shake the anger that I had towards the my obstetrician. I couldn’t move past the fact that throughout the time that I was in his care, he was so complacent and treated me as he would a general singleton pregnancy, with low risk. I was so distressed with his and the ultrasound technician’s carelessness that many thoughts would flow through my mind at night. It was relentless, I just could not move on and accept what was.  So much was stolen from me.  One thing that I always imagined was that I would attend his practice after the birth of my girls with a thank you card and a picture of the girls for his wall, along with a nice bottle of champagne for him as a grateful gesture. Just one of the many unrealistic expectations of my pregnancy.

In attempt to help me grieve, express my concerns and hopefully prevent other mums going throughwhat I was going through,  I decided to send him an email. I spent many days writing, editing, rewriting…Until finally I pressed the send button.

It has now been over 6 months since I sent that email and I have not recieved a reply. I guess it is due to legal reasons, as if he were to admit fault, he could get in big trouble, not that I would ever take this any further. Mistakes happen and I know that others have had wonderful experiences with this doctor.

To this day, I am still having great trouble moving on and dealing with this hurt. I have re-read and re-edited my email in hope to continue my healing process, to raise awareness about prematurity, and to encourage other mummy’s to never be afraid to advocate for themselves.  I am definitely a lot more forward in this email than I was in the original and I have included pics to help break it up. Get comfortable, it’s a long one. 

 

Dear Doctor,

Thank you for being so kind and supportive throughout my girls birth. During the traumatic time leading up to their birth and the actual procedure I felt reassured and comfortable that you were there. I am extremely grateful that my girls entered the world in safe hands.

But doctor, my girls have been dealt a hand that I believe could have been prevented. The have been dealt a hand that could mean that I won’t ever get to bring them home. They have been brought into the world at a time when they were not ready to live and breathe on their own, at a time when they needed to be inside me, protected and nurtured.

just born
One of the girls straight after birth with their NICU team.

For me, becoming pregnant was a long, physically and emotionally exhausting process and when we found out we were expecting twins, we were over the moon. I did my research and you were recommended to me by two doctors, both informing me that you specialized in twin, and high risk pregnancies. With this being my first pregnancy and it being twins, I of course took this advice and decided to pay to go private as I believed it was the best and safest thing to do for my unborn children and myself. I would pay you thousands to ensure that my babies and myself had the absolute best care.

 

 

I always wanted to be the calm, easy, breezy mum in pregnancy and in birth. I was this. And now I know that perhaps it was my downfall.

scan
8 week ultrasound. One placenta. Dichorionic/Monoamniotic twins

I trusted you. I trusted you with my life and my unborn twins’ lives and you let me and my babies down. You had a duty of care for myself and my babies. And I do not believe that you did your best to keep me safe and my babies alive.

I was hospitalised at 26+5 weeks and every day I was in hospital and my girls stayed inside, was a blessing. My gorgeous girls were born via emergency c-section at 27+3 weeks. I honestly believe that their extreme prematurity could have been prevented and I wish to explain why. Although it won’t help my girls now, I do hope that this feedback may help families with multiples that come through your practice in the future.

 

To begin with, at my second appointment with you, I mentioned that my babies were identical twins, because this was what my previous doctor had told me from my 8 week ultrasound. But when you giggled at me and asked me how I knew that, I doubted myself. You had received all of my files, scans and information so I thought, ‘okay, I’ll just shut up and let you do your thing’. But my previous doctor had told me originally that there was in fact one placenta and since the girls birth I have learnt that it is on this first scan that it is the most clear. Your ultrasound technition was unconfident (and boring quite frankly)  and she said that she thought (with definite doubt in her voice) there were two placentas. You looked at the results and told me two placentas too, so I trusted this as we continued into our pregnancy. But now I know ALARM BELLS…you should have double checked, triple checked, quadruple checked even! If the first scan said one placenta, wouldn’t you think to look a little closer at the ultrasound? The difference between one and two placentas was the difference between a low-er risk and high risk pregancy. You didn’t listen to me. You didn’t listen to my previous doctor. You condesendingly giggled (at the time I thought your giggle kind and cute, but now I think different as I am slamming my keyboard) and told me two placentas, which meant you did not have to see me regularly. Major boo boo. I only wish I spoke up, advocated for myself and demanded you took a closer look.

last scan
The last ultrasound before I was hospitalised.

As I said, this error meant that I was not given more regular (fortnightly) ultrasounds that I obviously needed. Before I was hospitalized, My last ultrasound was at 22+6 weeks and the next one wasn’t planned until 27 weeks. Had I have had one at 25 weeks I believe that we would have picked something up and prevented the traumatic experience that was my birth and the horrible start to life that my girls have had

Another issue is that I was never informed of the risks of prematurity, the possibility of twin-to-twin transfusion, signs that I should look out for, or the fact that it was very likely that if my girls did come early, that I would have to go to Canberra hospital. I booked with the private hospital which now I understand, was not a good choice as the chances of birthing there with twins was unlikely. I wish I was informed about what NICU and special care is and perhaps even statistics of premature births so I didn’t go into this whole experience completely blind. I was a first time mum. You were my doctor. I needed to know these things even if they were scary. I am a studious person but I had decided not to use Doctor google, after all I had paid for a real-life doctor, that specialised in twins. I trusted you would tell me all that I needed to know.

me at last scan
Oblivious to what was to come. My last scan before I was hospitalised.

Furthermore, I have now learnt that I could have been having my ultrasounds at Canberra hospital, where they are very accustomed to multiple births and it is free. I wish I had been informed about this to help save us financial stress and also as they may have picked something up sooner (and been less boring).

At my last ultrasound (22+6 weeks) my girls were both head down and Dahli was so far down that the lady couldn’t get a measurement on her head. First of all I can’t understand why she did not just do an internal to get the measurement (they did this at Canberra hospital when I was first admitted), which would have put our minds at ease as the information that we had to wait for two weeks for over Christmas to be confirmed, showed that her head was extremely small (not even on the scale, small). Also, at the time I thought that being head down and so far down was probably a sign that the girls may have been coming soon, but nothing was said so again, I just trusted and went with it. I feel this was a big mistake.

After this scan I found out that you had looked back on my first scan (from previous doctor) and did in fact see that there was one placenta. Information that was gathered a little too late and yet still, nothing was done until I ended up in hospital bleeding. I also learnt after the birth of my girls that my cervix was not really looked at properly at all. I pressured to have this information at my 6 week postnatal appointment and there was nothing. After the premature birth (with no explanation) of my babies I thought perhaps my cervix was short and maybe that it should have been stitched, but the information was not recorded. Surely my cervix is something that should have been studied over the course of my ultrasounds.

christmas bump
Christmas time bump! I thought I would last at least another 10 weeks.

Finally, the couple of times that I suggested to you that we make a birth plan, you giggled and said we would do so closer to the birth. This not only made me feel stupid but also gave me a false sense on security that my girls would go close to term. Of course birth plans can not always be followed, but perhaps this was your chance to go through the what ifs and possible scenarios of twin births, rather than acting chilled and moving on to your next patient.

This rough start to my babies’ lives may affect them for the rest of their lives. It will most definitely stay with me forever and I just can’t seem to shake the feeling that this all could have been prevented. I believe that everything could have been handled with greater care and that I could have been better prepared. I am so unbelievably dissatisfied and disappointed and it is my hope that this feedback is taken on board and that it may help people who are pregnant with multiplies that come through your practice in the future.

Our future is uncertain. The health of our babies is uncertain. The trauma that I have experienced is like nothing I could have ever imagined. I do not wish to cause you hurt. But I do believe that you should know the affect that few complacent, careless mistakes can have.

Thank you,

Terri

 

So there is is. Raw. Uncensored (Okay maybe a little censored). Of course I won’t ever send this re-edited version of my email but already, I feel a little more release.

Please remember to never doubt your mummy instincts. Don’t worry if you feel silly. Actually, if you are made to feel silly, find another doctor because if you don’t advocate for yourself, then who will! You are strong and fearless and you know best.

Our girls Dahli and India are almost 9 months old now (6 months corrected) and are growing stronger and healthier everyday. Looking at them, you would not know that they had such an awful start to life. They are incredible. They are my heroes. They inspire me to be a stronger and better person every single day.

last pic

Love Terri

 

 

Mummy Guilt

I preface this post by saying that I had planned to write a lighthearted dig at Mummy Guilt. But then I started at the beginning of my experience with Mummy Guilt and well, suddenly I just started to go to town, resulting in more of a self indulgent post. So if you are expecting a funny, tongue in cheek post about the guilt that is Mummy Guilt…sorry but this isn’t it!

Mummy guilt is relentless. She is an evil enemy who poses as a friend and doesn’t care for your feelings or about the people you love. Mummy Guilt is a vicious, repetitive monster that is so very hard to leave behind. She is always there, lurking in the shadows. No matter how hard you try or how much love you shower your children with, Mummy Guilt somehow creeps in. And if you are not careful, she can steal from you what should be the most precious, important time in your life. 

I met Mummy Guilt before my babies were even earth side, which I am sure is the case for other mummies too. At first it was just little glimpses like, “hi, hello- are you sure you should eat that?” Or “You really should be reading those baby books, all good mums read the baby books”…But boy oh boy, did she ramp it up when I was hospitalised with severe bleeding, a ruptured membrane and a dilated cervix, at 26+5 weeks. Was it that exercise I did? Was it the heat I exposed myself to at the beach? Was it the travelling in the car over Christmas? Was it the rearranging of furniture as I began to nest? Was it that I didn’t question my doctor when I should have? Was it the food I ate? Was it Karma for something I have done in the past? Was it that I have no business being a mother?….. the list went on and on and on. And I hadn’t even met my precious little warrior princesses yet. 

On the magical (and traumatic) morning when my gorgeous girls greeted me, fortunately Mummy Guilt didn’t show her face. I was able to enjoy the moment, although it was quite different to anything I ever expected it to be. No matter how tiny and fragile my girls were, at the time all I felt was love and pride for what my husband and I had created. Hearing their cries as they entered the world filled my heart in a way that it has never been filled. 

colostrum! Woo!
Colostrum that I spent hours overnight expressing. I was feeling super proud.

It wasn’t until 2 or 3 days into the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) journey, that Mummy Guilt surfaced again. She mostly wanted to judge me for the time I couldn’t be with my girls. For the time I spent away from them. To begin with, I spent this time being closely monitored with an infection and round the clock antibiotics fed through my drip.  I also expressed every three hours religiously, in my hospital bed. Oh and even more time away from them- at night, where I selfishly slept and tried to recuperate from the traumatic birth that I had experienced. Mummy Guilt expected me to be by my baby’s bedside twenty-four seven.

 

 

discharged
Being wheeled out of the hospital. Minutes before I completely broke down.

When I was finally discharged after 12 days, Mummy Guilt was one chunk of the reason why I cried hysterically the whole car ride home.  For the first time, I really did leave my girls; I had to go home. I went home and left two parts of me at hospital. What a horrible, selfish thing to do. Even though Mummy Guilt knew that I had no choice in the matter, she still slept next to me at night. After being discharged, whenever I was a home, I tried to be zen for my own health. Yes I did practice Yoga everyday as the sensible, rational me knew that I needed this so that I did not go insane. Mummy Guilt, on the other hand thought that it was completely unnecessary and selfish. She also told me that the nurses judged me for the time that I was not at the hospital.

twin cuddle
First Daddy cuddle. First Twin cuddle.

Then there was the time when a lovely, sweet nurse could see that I was not coping and that I had family visiting, so she suggested I spend an afternoon at home with them. I listened and I did just this, even though Mummy Guilt was yelling in my ear that I should always be with my babies. Well, Mummy Guilt won this one. Staying at home for my own mental health meant that I missed out on Daddy’s first cuddle and not just that, but also the first twin cuddle. This was something that broke me completely and required lots of help and time to work through the awful guilt and disappointment. 

 

 

Mummy Guilt was already so present in my life and I had not yet even had the experience of taking my babies home. For the 91 days that my babies spent in hospital, she always had plenty more material to drown me in guilt: morning, day and night. I did not however let her ruin my time with my babies. I was fortunately able to cast her aside most of the time and focus on my precious baby girls.

breast cuddle
Breast cuddles while expressed breast milk is fed through nasal gastric tube.

And now comes the reason why I decided to write this post. I tried my absolute hardest to breastfeed my twins. I was there at the hospital, every day, giving my babies breast feeding practice every alternate feed, as they received my expressed breast milk through their nasal gastric tubes. Then when they were moved to special care and the focus was on gaining weight, it became a cycle of learning the bottle, having tube feeds and practising on the breast. They needed to be confident on the bottle and no longer need tube feeds to come home. So once they could feed without a tube and weighed over 3kg, we were allowed to take our little miracles home.

breast feeding in NICU
breastfeeding whilst the nurses tube fed the girls through their nasal gastric tubes.

 

 

“Your twins will, no they must be exclusively breast fed within the first couple of weeks they are home”, Mummy Guilt told me. Well..sorry to disappoint, but this didn’t happen. My girls were never able to get a full feed from the breast. It is only recently I gave up (although we do still do some ‘breast feeds’ just for bonding). Mummy Guilt had me lose lots of sleep over this. Even though I spend hours expressing litres of milk, Mummy Guilt expected me to breast feed my babies until they turned one. But I have been able to let this go and move on with the new plan. I now always express whilst simultaneously feeding the twins my milk from a bottle. 

 

And this brings me to today and the current argument I am having with Mummy Guilt.  My bubs are now almost 8 months old and so she has me questioning, for how long do I continue this exhausting task that is expressing? My supply dropped with mastitis (this was hell) and I have had to supplement with some formula, which I know people judge and Mummy guilt makes sure I know this. It is her job to listen to the nonsense that people tell me about breast being best, and how I really should see another lactation consultant, and that formula can cause cancer (hello! I was formula fed, and I happen to think I turned out quite wonderfully!). Mummy Guilt doesn’t listen to the kind, positive things that people say, she only cares about the negative. She has absolutely no idea and no place in our lives and yet, here she is clouding my decision making and just filling me with sadness for even thinking about ceasing my milk making days.

expressing & bottles
Expressing as I bottle feed my gorgeous girls. They don’t quite fit so well on my lap now AND they pull the tubes out!

Reading over this post, I hadn’t realised how present Mummy Guilt has been in my parenting journey so far. I was so focused on the tough decision that I have to make about feeding my babies that I had forgotten all the unkind things Mummy Guilt has already said to me in the past. I didn’t realise that I could dig up so much dirt on Mummy Guilt, but gosh has it helped me feel better!

As I reflect, I can see clearly that I don’t have time for Mummy Guilt; Mummy Guilt doesn’t know best. In fact, she doesn’t have a clue what she is talking about. Everybody’s parenting journey is different and the choices we make don’t need judgement. My introduction into motherhood was not ideal and I know that the most important thing I can do, is to give my babies love.

I believe that one day when I tell my gorgeous warrior princesses the story of their first year of their lives, they will be so proud and grateful that I was chosen to be their mummy. 

So I choose to cast Mummy Guilt aside. I know I can do this, because I have done it before. I will do my absolute best to keep her away as I continue to enjoy the special moments with my baby girls every day. I don’t need to make any decisions immediately, but when I do decide to stop expressing (or make any other motherhood decisions, for that matter) it won’t be Mummy Guilt that makes the decision for me. She has no place in my life and nor should she. 

Love to all mummies and may you have the strength tame your Mummy Guilt too! Because, You are amazing.

Love Terri

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
    feed-time.jpg
  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.
    daddy.jpgdaddy
  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.

 

India 4India 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Dahli 2Dahli 1

 

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.

 

India 7india-3.jpg

 

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!

 

 

Dahli nowcupcakesUnknown

 

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!

IMG_3903
Just can’t stop at one!!

 

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