An Autumn Stroll

There’s nothing quite like the glow of a dry and clear autumn day. The low sun lighting up the crisping leaves, highlighting the warm autumnal hues. For a few weeks, the palette of colours all around us has been breathtaking. Bright blue skies providing a perfect contrast to the leaves as they turn yellow, orange and red.
We had the most beautiful afternoon a few weekends ago, when we headed to Barnett Demesne for a dander. The boys aren’t quite ready to enjoy the crunch of leaves under their feet but they do love getting out and about and taking in new surroundings. Here’s a few snaps, courtesy of Mr C, of our day out. 

 
  
   
    
 
 

 

I’m linking this post up with #MarvMondays and #PointShoot and #FabFridayPost

You Baby Me Mummy

Ethan & Evelyn

Our first visit to the NICU –  Meeting our little miracles

Lying on the operating theatre with my husband holding me close, hearing the beautiful little cries from our wee warriors. These are moments I will cherish forever. Our miracle twin boys battled twin to twin transfusion syndrome and made it through life saving laser surgery at 21 weeks gestation. Against all odds they were born crying and able to breathe for themselves.  

Benjamin was born first, weighing in at a teeny 3lbs and 6oz. He was so delicate and had the most beautiful little round face and button nose. Harry followed very quickly, a featherweight at a minuscule 1lb and 14oz. He was perfect but so so tiny and vulnerable looking. My first sight of the boys were through my husbands photos as I lay on the operating theatre and the surgeon completed the Caesarean section. I was dying to hold them close and cuddle them in to me but once they were stabilised, they were brought straight to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).  

  

After I got out of theatre, two of the doctors from the NICU came up to the recovery ward. I will never forget the huge grins they had on their faces. They had anticipated two very sick babies who would need rushed to ICU and put on a ventilator immediately. But the boys were doing better than they could ever have expected – they were both breathing on their own! They were very early and very delicate and they would need a lot of special care but they were doing so well despite everything they had been through.

Nothing could ever prepare you for the emotional whirlwind that is meeting your newborn for the first time. Imagine that and then build in many months of worry, an emergency Caesarean section, babies being born 10 weeks too early and lots of post operative pain killers! I was a mess. Tears spilling out. I don’t think I have ever experienced such deep joy and thankfulness. My prayers had been answered and my little babies were with me. Our little family had just doubled in size!

There were a lot of wires. A lot of beeping machines. A lot of nurses for a tiny little ward with only 4 incubators. But it was warm and friendly. The nurses were so so gentle as they worked away with our precious little bundles. Both B and H had little hats on, with Velcro attachments to keep in place the little mask over their nose, which were supporting the boys breathing with some pressurised air. They both had 3 little heart monitors on their chest, an oxygen saturation probe on their foot and a drip in their arm. I was terrified that I’d dislodge something important.

Mr C and I were dying to hold our baby boys but on that first night they were too weak and fragile – they needed to recover from the trauma of the birth. We had to content ourselves with holding their teeny little hands and staring at their beautiful faces through the portholes in each incubator. Just like that, we were mummy and daddy. I was totally in love already.

The next morning, Mr C wheeled me up to the neonatal unit as soon as I could persuade the nurses that I could walk a few steps! Our little boys had had a good first night. Their little personalities were evident from Day 1. Chilled out little B spending the majority of his time sound asleep, curled up in a little ball and our wee warrior, Harry, wide awake and kicking away with his tiny sparrow like legs.

  

 
From cuddle number 1, the twin guilt started! As soon as I had one of my little beauties snuggled into my chest, I was looking at the other one and feeling bad that I wasn’t holding them too! (This was despite the fact that they were blissfully happy, purring away in Daddy’s arms.) The nurses had the perfect solution and I got to snuggle them both at once – they were tucked down my top and lying on my chest kangaroo style. These first cuddles were so so special.
 

How were your first moments with your newborn baby?

Please share this post if you enjoyed reading it!

I’m linking this post up to #FabFridayPost and #MarvMondays

Ethan & Evelyn

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Ten ways to survive the neonatal journey

My little twin boys arrived at 30 weeks – almost 3 months too early. They were tiny little tots at 1lb 14oz and 3lbs 6oz and so we faced a long stay in the neonatal unit. There’s no doubt that this is the hardest thing that Mr C and I have ever had to do – leaving our little babies every night for someone else to look after.
The first night that I was discharged and had to go home was gut wrenching. I don’t think I’ve ever cried for so long. To be honest, it doesn’t get a lot easier as the weeks and months go on and your babies are stillin hospital. But we did get through it and the joy of bringing our little babies home was life changing. Here’s a few tips that helped keep us sane throughout our neonatal journey:

1. The first time you see your baby will be overwhelming and you will feel scared

About half an hour after my emergency c-section, I was brought down to the neonatal unit in my bed. I was wheeled up to the side of each incubator to see my boys for the first time. I was terrified. They both had lots of wires and tubes poking out of them and they were so so so tiny – like little sparrows that you could cradle with one hand. I was almost afraid to touch them for fear of hurting them. After a day or two, you will get used to holding them, changing their tiny little nappies and caring for your little babies. They really are sturdy little things despite their size.

2. Take lots of pictures

Get seriously snap happy. As soon as you go back down to your ward/home you’ll want lots of pictures to scroll through. Many neonatal units only allow parents and grandparents to visit so you’ll want lots of pictures and videos to show off your beautiful new arrival(s).

3. Try ‘Kangaroo Care’ with your baby

You may not be able to hold your baby straight away but if you can, kangaroo care is a great way to bond with your baby. Kangaroo Care basically means holding your naked (well maybe leave their nappy on!) baby next to your skin.

I usually popped one or both of my babies down the front of my top and snuggled them in close. We needed a nurse to help us with this to make sure that we didn’t dislodge any of the lines or machines. There is nothing nicer than your little baby(ies) asleep on your chest. Sam loved getting some Daddy time too.

There’s been a lot of research into the benefits of kangaroo care for preemie babies – have a Google and read up on it for yourself. Living in a neonatal unit is not what any new parent wants, but you do get a lot of time to just sit and cuddle your babies. There’s no washing machine to empty or floor to vacuum. Well there is, but it’s at home at you’re not! Try and relax and enjoy the 1:1 time with your baby.

 

  

4. Send your nearest and dearest out to find you flip flops and very light clothing

Wards filled with little tiny humans are very very very warm. You will want light and airy clothing – preferably tops that are loose enough to allow you to pop your baby directly against your skin. Make this a priority – you will be so much more comfortable.

5. Look after yourself

You’ve just had a baby. You need to look after yourself and let your body recover so that you are ready to take your baby home. I had a caesarean section and it took me at least 6 weeks to feel properly mobile again. Make sure you keep eating and drinking to keep your strength up. We had a parents day room with a small kitchen where we could leave food for the day. It meant that we didn’t have to resort to the awful canteen food and we also got to know some of the other mums and dads.

6. Don’t be afraid to call the neonatal unit to hear how your little one is getting on

You can’t be at your baby’s cot-side 24 hours a day, but you can call and see how they are getting on. We were given a direct phone line for the unit so that we could call at any time of the day or night. Initially I felt like I was interrupting the nurses by phoning at 3am when I was up expressing but they were always more than happy to give me an update on my precious little boys.

7. Get to know what all the medical machinery is and what it does

We found it really helped us to get some understanding of what all the machines that the babies were hooked up to did. If you can read the monitors and have a vague understanding of what they were saying it helps you to feel like you know what’s happening and you feel a bit more in control. You’ll find that the nurses will be more than happy to explain what everything does and how it’s helping your baby.

8. Find an easy way to update friends and family

Everyone will want to know how you and the little one are getting on but constant messages and phone calls can be very draining. Setting up a Facebook page could help – so you can update everyone on progress at one time. Or you could put another family member in charge of updates and make them the point of contact.

9. Take one day at a time

This is the hardest but maybe the most important piece of advice that I was given and that I really tried to stick to. Deal with the stresses and worries of one day at a time and try not to think too far into the future.

Try not to put timelines on when you’ll get to bring your baby home – you’ll feel so much worse if it doesn’t happen. On day 1, we thought the boys were looking at a minimum stay of 10 weeks – but actually Benjamin got home after 5 weeks and Harry was in various different hospitals until he was 13 weeks. If we had known at the start what was ahead of us, I think it would have been even harder to deal with

10. Take all the help you can get

You’ll want to spend as much of your day as possible at the hospital with your babies, so when friends and family offer to help with cleaning / laundry / making dinner, accept with pleasure! It can be hard allowing other people to do your laundry and clean your bathroom but the less you have to think about, the more you can focus on just being there for your baby.

Spending the first few weeks and months with your new baby in a neonatal unit is not easy. But it’s not forever. You’ll get there and on the way you will get to spend lots and lots of time with your little baby and you’ll meet some lovely people on the way. We were so lucky to be looked after by the loveliest nurses and doctors and we will always be thankful for the fantastic care they provided.

Has your baby spent time in neo-natal? Have you anymore tips to share?

If you found this post useful, please share it or tweet me and let me know!

I’m linking this post up with #MarvMondays #thelist #fabfridaypost

The List

Ethan & Evelyn

The Best Christmas Cake Recipe

I absolutely love Christmas Cake. Although up to now, I’ve never actually made my own. I’ve rather cheekily relied on being given a few slices of the amazing cake my Mum makes every year! Now that I’m at home with the twins and not in the office, I have lots of friends popping over for a cuppa. So it’s the perfect time to make my first Christmas Cake and share the Christmas Cake love!

I’ve been soaking the fruit in brandy for the last month but if you’re pushed for time, you could soak the fruit for just one or two weeks before you make it. If you start now (18th Nov) you could easily soak the fruit for a few weeks, make the cake and still have 3-4 weeks for the cake to mature.

The cake will be in the oven for about 4 hours so you need to make sure you use a good quality cake tin that will help ensure an even bake. I used a springform, non-stick tin from Lakeland.

Mr C and I stuck into cake making on Saturday and the house was filled with the most intoxicating Christmas aroma for the rest of the weekend. I can’t wait to make the first cut!

Fruit for soaking:  

280g/10oz sultanas

280g/10oz raisins

280g/10oz currants

175g/6oz glace cherries

175g/6oz mixed citrus peel

150ml/0.25 pint brandy or rum

2 tbsp sherry (optional)

2 tbsp orange juice (optional)

Cake Mixture:

225g/8oz self raising flour

85g/3oz ground almonds

1 heaped tsp mixed spice

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cloves

225g/8oz unsalted butter, at room temperature

225g/8oz dark muscovado sugar

6 eggs

zest and juice of 1 large unwaxed lemon

Decoration:

2 tbsp apricot jam

225g/8oz bought or homemade marzipan

250g/9oz white ready-to-roll icing

silver balls and ribbon, to decorate

You will need:

A 20cm round cake tin, about 7-8cm deep

Greaseproof Paper for lining the tin

Food processor

Stand or hand held electric mixer

Lemon zester and juicer

Large mixing bowl

Christmas Ribbon to decorate

Silver Balls to decorate

Method:

1. Put the dried fruit and peel in a bowl and pour over the brandy or rum and sherry. (I prefer brandy). Mix well and store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for at least a month. Stir the fruits every few weeks. If they look dry, add more booze or a splash of orange juice.

2. Start making the cake once the fruits are plump. Heat the oven to 150C/fan 130C/gas 2. Butter a 20cm round cake tin – about 7-8 cm deep – and line the base and sides with greaseproof paper. To protect the sides from burning, tie a double layer of greaseproof paper around the outside of the tin.

3. Blitz the soaked fruit mixture in three batches in a food processor, blitzing the final batch only lightly to keep some bite and texture to the fruit. Mix the flour, almonds and spices in a large bowl and stir in the fruits. Don’t worry if it’s hard to mix.


4. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs, one by one. Stir into the fruit mixture bit by bit, along with the lemon zest and juice.

5. Tip the mixture into the tin and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Reduce the heat to 140C/fan 120C/gas 1 and bake for 3 to 3 1/2 hours (4 hours
in a gas oven). Take care it doesn’t overcook. Insert a skewer deep into the cake, if it comes out clean, it’s cooked. Cool slightly, remove from the tin, and cool on a wire rack.

6. Store in a double layer of greaseproof paper, wrapped in foil until ready to ice. You can store the cake for up to 3 months. Make sure you “feed” the cake by making skewer holes and pouring in brandy or rum every few weeks. Wrap up the cake tightly after every “feed”.

7. Brush the top of the cake with jam, roll out the marzipan to fit and place it on top. Roll out the icing to fit and place on top of the marzipan. Decorate with silver balls and ribbon.

I’m going to let my cake mature for a few weeks and once I get around to icing it, I’ll post another picture. Happy Christmas Cake Making.

Let me know how you get on and please share this recipe with your friends!

 

christmascake

I’m linking this post up with #MarvMondays

I’m linking this post up to the #FabFridayPost and #bakeoftheweek and #coolmumclub

Ethan & Evelyn

Casa Costello
Mummuddlingthrough

World Prematurity Day – Meet Our Little Rays of Hope

Meet my beautiful little Harry. He was born at 30 weeks, weighing in at 1lb and 14oz after a struggle with Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS). He spent a long 13 weeks in neonatal; it was a difficult journey and he battled various serious infections. Little Harry also underwent open heart surgery at 11 weeks for a coarctation of the aorta and a further surgery for a hernia at 20 weeks. He’s our little warrior hero and he’s such a contented, happy little chap. He brings a ray of light to everyone that meets him.  

 
This is Harry’s identical twin brother, Benjamin. My beautiful little Benjamin was also born at 30 weeks. He was a lot bigger than his brother but still a teeny little tot, weighing 3lbs and 6oz. Benjamin is also a champion survivor of TTTS and he spent the first 5 weeks of his life in neonatal. Benjamin had a much easier NICU journey – he sailed through from the beginning and once he reached 4.5lbs we were allowed to bring him home. Separating the two brothers was so hard but their reunion was a very very happy day! Benjamin is full of fun, always ready to have a giggle and loves nothing more than a good snuggle.

  
After a very difficult pregnancy and introduction to parenthood, our boys have brought so much joy to Mr C and I in the last 10 months. They are our little rays of light. On World Prematurity Day, we want to share some hope with other parents with babies that have been born very early. 

  
*I hear them rousing from their morning nap, so the wonderful chaos and craziness that is life with twins will resume presently!

I’m linking this post up with #MarvMondays

Our Big Firsts – Joining a Parents and Tots Group

We did it. We left the house on a schedule, with no dedicated extra ‘help’ (aka Granny) and went to a parents and tots group. To most mums I doubt this sounds like an achievement but to me it really felt like something to celebrate!

I have to admit we had a pretty awful start to the day and I did consider canning the whole excursion. I went into planning mode the night before. I set their clothes out, restocked the baby bag, left the bottles ready to make up and worked out when I needed to leave to walk there for 930am. I was determined that we would have a smooth and flawless morning routine. The boys had other plans. Breakfast was a nightmare – H decided to clamp his mouth shut and not let a morsel past and B decided to blow bubbles with every mouthful, covering me, him and anything in a 1 metre radius in pear porridge. Fun. Then we moved into morning bottles. H was not a bit interested and with extreme amounts of faffing about I managed to get him to take 4oz. B drank up with gusto and then proceeded to puke his entire brekkie and feed over him, me and the sofa! So by 855am I had changed B twice, H once, got into my second set of clothes, fed 3 bottles, 2 spoon feeds, cleaned the sofa, put a wash on and changed 4 nappies! I was ready for a cuppa.

Anyways, we ploughed on and at 9am on the dot one of my mummy friends arrived at the door with her baby and toddler and we all headed off.

I’d avoided these sort of groups for months – the boys spent their first 5 and 12 weeks of life in various neonatal units and when they came home they were still very tiny (circa 4lbs) and very susceptible to infection. I was terrified of germs. I was nervous of any visitors and was tempted to spray them all in disinfectant as they crossed our threshold! We had been warned by the paediatrician to avoid bringing the twins to any large gatherings or even to the supermarket until they were significantly bigger. We brought them out for lots of walks but even then I insisted on putting their rain covers on the carrycots to avoid random people poking their hands in to the pram! I was a lioness defending her little cubs.

The other fairly obvious barrier to going out with baby twins is the adult to baby ratio. Two small babies and one adult is just not optimum! There are so many things that could go horribly wrong! I can just about make it work in my own house, where I have systems in place and all the equipment required. But solo outings terrify me!

So yes, going to a parents and tots group today was a big deal. I have to admit, when we first walked in my lioness radar was on full alert and I was trying to keep a smile on my face and carry on conversations whilst my inner monologue was going nuts….

– Oh no, do I need to lie them on these mats. What if they aren’t clean?

– What am I going to do if one if them is screaming when the other one is getting fed?

– I really hope they don’t vomit again…

– Am I increasing their risk of picking up some horrible illness?

– I don’t want them to pick up and suck all these toys. Germs, germs, germs..

– How am I going to join in on rhyme time in the next room? I can only lift one at a time…

Then I started chatting to another mummy and before long I had a lovely, hot cup of coffee in my hand! I started to relax and I really really enjoyed the morning. We didn’t do anything particularly exciting. The babies lay and kicked and cooed, loving all the attention and goings on. I got some help with feeding the boys. Thankfully neither of them showed off their skill at projectile vomiting. I had a good chat, met some new friends and had a lovely cup of coffee. One of the lovely helpers took one of my boys on their lap for song and rhyme time. And then we headed home. I think this may become the highlight of my weekly social calendar!!!!!

It was great to get out of the house and engage in some adult conversation – even if we did just talk about our babies! I think as the twins get older, it’ll be a great opportunity for them to have some social interaction and get their hands dirty on some fun craft projects.

So if like me, you’re a bit terrified of getting out there and joining a baby group, I’d really encourage you to do it. Whats the worst that can happen?

I’m linking this post up with #MarvMondays

Easy Friday Food for Friends

I love tinkering about in the kitchen with a new recipe and enjoy getting friends together for some food and banter. Pre-babies, I was quite hospitable. But by the end of a busy day looking after the twins I’m just too tired to do the entertaining thing. But this week I bit the bullet and invited friends over on Friday night. Almost nine months into this parenting lark and we need to start socialising again!

I decided that I needed a casual menu that could be prepared over the course of a few days with minimal effort required on Friday night. Here’s what I came up with:

Ginger Chicken Curry

This is best made the day before, giving the flavours loads of time to develop. I managed to get it all made when the babies where having their morning nap – about 45 minutes. You can pop it in the fridge overnight and then just heat it through when you want it. It’s yummy, super healthy and really easy peasy!

Ingredients for 6 hungry diners

5cm piece of fresh ginger, chopped finely

3 garlic cloves, crushed

2 red chillis, de-seeded and finely diced

1tsp tumeric

1tsp cumin

1tsp mustard seeds

1tsp coriander

2 tbsp tikka masala paste

5 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces

2 large bramley apples, peeled, cored + diced

4 medium onions, diced

1 carton tomato passata

500ml chicken stock

Fresh coriander, to serve

  • Fry the ginger, garlic and chilis in a little oil for 1 minute
  • Combine the dry herbs with a tablespoon of water and add to the pan for another 30 seconds
  • Add the tikka masala paste to the pan and fry for a further minute
  • Add the onion to the spices and fry until they soften
  • Add the apple and fry for 2 minutes
  • Add the chicken and fry for a few minutes until it is sealed
  • Add the passata and chicken stock and bring the curry to the boil
  • Simmer the curry for 30 minutes, with the lid off to allow he sauce to thicken
  • Serve with basmati rice and/or naan bread

Apple, Coriander and Chilli Salad

 

It may sound odd serving a curry with a salad but believe me, they work really well together and it always goes down a treat with my friends. I think the origins of this salad came from a Jamie Oliver cookbook – he may not approve of serving it with a curry but I think the combination is inspired!

4 red eating apples, cored and halved and then sliced with the skin on

1 red chilli, de-seeded and diced

I-2 lemons, juiced

½ tsp sesame oil

Bunch of fresh coriander, finely chopped

Handful cashew nuts, dry toasted and chopped

Combine all ingredients and pop in a pretty serving dish. You can adjust the amount of lemon juice to taste but just make sure all of your apple slices are well coated in lemon juice to avoid browning.

 Lime and Ginger Cheesecake

 

This is the perfect make ahead dessert – you can freeze it easily and just lift it out about 12 hrs before you want to serve it, defrosting it in the fridge. It’s also really yummy and very very easy to make.

Ingredients

6oz ginger biscuits, crushed finely

3oz butter, melted

1 can sweetened condensed milk

250ml jar whipping cream

3-4 limes, zested and juiced

  • Crush the biscuits until they are fine crumbs
  • Add the melted butter, combine and spread over the base of a loose bottomed 20cm flan dish
  • Cook at 180 degrees for 10 mins and allow to cool
  • Whip the cream lightly and gently combine with the sweetened condensed milk
  • Add the zest and juice of the limes slowly – taste as you go but make sure you add enough lime juice for a zesty kick
  • Once the base is cooled, add the creamy filling to the flan dish and put in the fridge to set
  • Decorate with fresh berries and a few sprigs of mint

Serve with an espresso on the side or a glass of dessert wine if you want to keep the party going!

This worked well for our first night back in the entertaining game – the only problem was the twins really didn’t play ball. They picked that night for teething to kick in with gusto and I think we spent more time in the nursery than at the table! Here’s to better luck next time!

What’s your experience of cooking for friends since babies have taken over your life?!

I’m linking this post up with #MarvMondays and #TastyTuesdays

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com

My Twin Pregnancy Part 4 : The Boys Arrive

29 weeks pregnant. My bump was huge. Everything was an effort. Putting on my own socks and shoes was not an option. I was up all night for bathroom trips – sometimes it felt like every 20 minutes. My bladder was just being constantly squeezed. The only comfortable/bearable sleeping position I could find was with my V pillow in between my legs and under my bump and my husband ‘spooning’ (!) my back to support it!! Poor man! Twin pregnancies are not easy on your body. 

Our 29 week appointment followed the usual harrowing routine (see Part 3!). My little twin was making very slow progress – his growth seemed to be coming to a standstill. Although at the time the consultant thought that the blood flow to my placenta was still good so he was keen to try and let them grow for as long as possible. We were to be monitored even more closely for the next few weeks and as a precaution I was started on a course of steroid injections that day. If my little twin didn’t makes significant progress pretty quickly, there was a chance that I’d need to deliver the boys very early and the steroid injections would help to mature their little lungs. 

I had a second set of steroid injections later that week and about 24 hours later, I was back in the Emergency Obstetric Unit hooked up to a CTG machine to monitor the twins’ heart rates. Over the course of the previous day I had been feeling the babies move less and less – I was trying everything – glasses of ice cold water, sugary food, lying down. But there just wasn’t as much movement as normal. The twins never really had a distinct pattern of movement – I think it’s quite common for some babies to have quite regular awake times but this hadn’t been my experience. This made it harder to tell if there was something wrong when I thought there was reduced movement. The on-call Doctor scanned the babies and she seemed to think that the blood flow to the placenta was compromised. She reckoned that the placenta would only provide adequate nutrition for about the next two weeks. I was admitted to a maternity ward for 3 hourly observations. I spent that next 2 days being regularly scanned and closely monitored. 

On Day 3, Mr C and I made our way to the consultant’s room for our regular clinic appointment. The consultant did the mandatory scanning and we sat down to talk next steps. Our little twin was not growing. But his big brother was doing well and growing at a good rate. Delivering the boys at 30 weeks would carry huge risks for both babies as they were still both very tiny. It was a hard call for the consultant. Given the reduced fetal movement, the rapidly deteriorating blood flow in the placenta and the fact that our little boy’s growth had stalled, the decision was taken to deliver the babies that afternoon by emergency caesarean section.   

The reality of what was about to happen was terrifying. Our little tiny babies, that were supposed to have another 2.5 months in my tummy, were about to be wheaked out of their little cosy comforting environment and into the sterile, gloved hands of masked up doctors. I wanted to protect my babies but I couldn’t keep them safe anymore.

They put me on a magnesium drip for an hour before the caesarean to help protect the babies’ brains. It made me so hot and so nauseous – maybe that was no bad thing as it took my mind off what was about to happen. Up to that point I’d been so obsessed with the TTTS and how the boys were doing, I hadn’t really thought about the ‘getting them out’ part of the process. Although as soon as they were diagnosed with TTTS, I knew we’d have to have a Caesarean section. Birth plans went out the window!

 As the nurse was doing all the not so lovely things to prep me for the surgery, two of the neonatal doctors came to talk about the birth. They were preparing us for the worst and with very grave faces told us that they expected to be dealing with two very sick babies – my heart sank to the floor. They warned us that we may not get to see the boys as soon as they were born. Despite everything I knew could happen, I still wanted to be hopeful, to believe that my babies would be perfectly healthy. Sam held my hand and we prepared to go into the theatre.

I knew there would be quite a few people in the theatre but I don’t think I was prepared to be surrounded by such an audience… There was two anaesthetists, two obstetricians, four theatre nurses, two teams of neonatal doctors and nurses and a handful of student doctors observing!!!! As the spinal injection kicked in and my body numbed, the anaesthetic made me feel really sick. Wretching your guts out in front of about 20 onlookers is not fun. Thankfully the anaesthetist gave me some wonder drug which made the nausea disappear as quickly as it arrived.

Then it all started. I should really get Sam to write this part as all I could see was a green curtain. Unfortunately for him, he saw the entire operation reflected in the huge overhead lights. I don’t think it was pretty. About 5 minutes in, the obstetrician lifted out the first baby – she announced ‘I think it’s the small one.’ Before he could be handed over to the neonatal team he let out the most beautiful little sound I had ever heard. My heart sang. My baby was breathing. And crying. He was ok. Then the obstetrician said ‘actually I think this is the small one’ and handed baby two to the other neonatal team. The next 30 seconds seemed to last forever and then he let out a little cry and I was totally overcome. My littlest baby was here, he was breathing. My beautiful little miracles. I just wanted to see them, to hold them, to cuddle them into their mama.

The doctors were confident that the babies were stable pretty quickly and Sam was able to go and see his beautiful sons. He took some video and lots of photos so that I could see my little miracle boys while the surgeons closed me up. My babies were so beautiful – perfect little boys. They looked so very delicate. Little Harry was 1lb and 14oz and his big brother, Benjamin was a not so hefty 3lbs and 6oz. My little miracle babies were here. They had defied the odds and we were so so thankful.

Linking this post up to Marvellous Mondays

My Twin Pregnancy Part 3: The waiting game

So I was 21 weeks pregnant with identical twins. We’d just returned back home after an impromptu trip to London for surgery on my placenta which had saved the boys lives. The next weeks and months went something like this:

Go to hospital appointment. Sit in waiting room nervously wringing hands and tapping feet. Alternate between extreme optimism and crushing pessimism. Worry about how on earth we’ll cope looking after two new babies. Feel my world blacken as I contemplate losing my babies. Get called into the consultants office. Exchange pleasantries and do the chin up routine. Get on the bed. Gel on and scanning starts. Wait for the heartbeats. I hear them. Relax. Then the measurements start. Wait nervously to hear how the babies are growing and if the twin to twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) has returned. Get off the bed for ‘the chat’ with the consultant. He tells me that there is growth but it’s very slow and my little twin is very very small, half the size of his brother. I try and think of all the good TTTS stories I know. I remind the consultant of them. He is cautious. He reminds me of all the risks. He’s trying to prepare me for the worst. We schedule another appointment and I leave. I worry for 6 days. Then the cycle repeats itself. Again. And again. And again. For 2.5 months.

The in-between six days were hard to fill. Each week was measured in the number of days from the last scan and to the next scan. I’d been signed off work due to the risk of early delivery and I had too much time to fill every day. What made it worse was that the SPD which has started at about 15 weeks, was getting more painful and I was not able to walk any distance at all. So I spent way too much time lying on the sofa in my living room. I usually love getting lost in a book but I just couldn’t focus on anything. My mind wandered back to the boys pretty much constantly. I googled and googled and googled. That didn’t help much.

I passed a lot of time reading twin pram reviews – this was a great distraction! I’ll share my expert (!) opinions soon and believe me, those opinions are very very well researched. I did become scarily obsessed with making sure we made the very best purchase. I read up on twin baby carriers – I’d always fancied doing the baby carrying thing. But two babies side by side on your front? I think I’d be seeing an osteopath very soon after that.. I watched YouTube clips of mums demonstrating tandem breastfeeding twins. Now they really are super-mums. I read lots of parenting books and persuaded myself that we’d stick to one of these rigid baby routines and our babies would be sleeping through the night by 8 weeks! Oh the naivety!

Everything I did and thought about was overshadowed with a deep seated, sickening fear that my babies wouldn’t grow and thrive and that I’d never bring them home. Committing that sentiment to writing is difficult. It’s really hard to forget these feelings and even now, almost a year on, I frequently feel overwhelmed with the fear, anxiety and pain of this time. Often it’s the oddest things that make these feelings rush back. Every time I sit down to write my twin pregnancy posts, I end up with panda eyes and a heavy heart. Then I look over at my miracle boys enjoying their morning nap and my heart bursts with joy.

I’m linking this post up to #FabFridayPost

Ethan & Evelyn

Vomit in stereo – How to cope with the boke

My boys are generally very contented little men. They smile and gurgle and giggle as they roll around on the play mat. But they are vomiters. Both of them. I’m not talking a little mouthful of milk here and there. Proper projectile vomit – the stuff that redecorates a room in 5 seconds. Everyone and everything in the wrong place is soaked in smelly sour milk and the contents of the last meal. It’s really quite horrible.
I can’t deal with any more of the stuff. Months and months of daily vomit disasters. Looking after twins on your own is hard work but the addition of projectile vomit grows the workload exponentially. I feel like I’m constantly changing the babies clothes, changing my clothes, repeating ‘lost’ feeds, bathing pukey babies, scrubbing carpets etc. etc. It’s a soul sapping cycle.

Then you have to deal with all the well-meaning advice that anyone with an iota of common sense (I’m counting myself in this number!) would have obviously already tried. Comments like ‘maybe you are over feeding them’ are just not helpful.

Apparently it will stop eventually, or so everyone says, but until then, these are the ways that I’m trying to keep my sanity through the vomit cloud:

Laugh. Getting annoyed and upset about it will just make you feel worse. Have a giggle as the vomit soaks through your T-shirt and down your bra. Then just get on with cleaning up!
Thankfully the puking doesn’t upset the boys to much – once they’ve shot the arc of vomit as far as possible, they usually have a big grin on their vomit covered face. It’s super cute. After the sixth vomit of the day, the ‘just laugh’ thing gets harder!

Have a dressing gown handy. I leave a dressing gown nearby so I can strip off all the vomity clothes there and then and pop on my dressing gown so I can sort out the baby as quickly as possible.

Invest in a tumble-dryer. This is hands down the best decision we’ve made in months. The volume of washing and clothes airing out over radiators after a day on the washing line was really getting to me. This just makes life so much easier. I still dry as much as I can on the washing line but for rainy, cold days the tumble dryer is a life saver.

Give visitors an apron. If you want your lovely friends and family to come back and keep helping you out, give them an apron!!! No-one wants to drive home in stinky vomit soaked clothes.

Do not, under any circumstance, play ‘aeroplanes’ with your baby up to an hour post feed. I still require counselling after H vomited into my mouth and over my face whilst I held him up in the air playing aeroplanes over my face! Totally vile. Eurghhhh.

Here’s hoping that the vomiting is going to stop very very very soon. If you have a cure (!) or just some more survival tips, let me know!

* If you are worried about your child’s vomiting, please speak to a doctor. The tips above will not address any medical issues – they will simply help save your sanity!

***Edit – The boys are now 9 months and the huge volume of projectile vomiting seems to have stopped. We didn’t want to celebrate too soon but we have now had almost two weeks free of projectile vomit. Take hope if you are in the midst of vomit hell!***

 

Vomit-in-stereo