Fiji, you were good to me.

Oh Fiji, you were good to me.

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.

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

painting on south pacific island

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.

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.

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.

beautiful sofitel 2

 

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

 

 

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.
    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