Identical Twin Diaries: Things I was unprepared for

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

identical twin girls swaddled mothercare

I've never hidden the fact that despite been in my late twenties when I found out I was pregnant, I was totally unprepared for motherhood. Don't get me wrong I love my girls so much and I wouldn't change a thing but I enjoyed my baby-free lifestyle. Having only got married in the summer, myself and Jay were selfishly enjoying lazy Saturday mornings, eating out whenever we felt like it and planning holidays left, right and centre. I went shopping whenever I felt like it, booked myself random spa days and called in places to get my nails done. Having a family was something we both wanted but didn't expect to happen for at least another year and having two at once was something neither of us could have ever imagined!

I wouldn't say I was naive to the fact things were going to change when we found out we were having twins, I knew things were going to be different but I certainly didn't prepare myself for certain things. So when Mothercare got in touch with me about their online help guides, this got me thinking about what I wish I'd known in advance so I could have prepared myself:

001. Babies make a lot of noise
I never knew this! From gurgling, groaning to full on grunting, our two seem to chatter away even in their sleep. In the first couple of weeks after we came home, I was paranoid that something was wrong with them and it kept me awake constantly but once I learned some babies just don't sleep peacefully - that helped me get a bit of shut eye!

002. Sleep Deprivation
It seems when you're pregnant people take great pleasure in telling you, 'enjoy your sleep while you can!' Well I have some good news for you, sleep is possible... even with twins. I've worked out that I actually only lost about three hours each night - the killer is that it's broken sleep and you really need those extra few hours when you've spent the day running round after two tiny newborns.

003. The Poo
Now I'm not talking about poo explosions, I'd heard about these and I even knew that the first poo our babies did would look a bit odd. What I hadn't prepared myself for was that I'd worry about it! Colour, consistency and constipation are all now regularly discussed at our breakfast table on an almost daily basis! 'Have they gone too much?' 'Are they going enough?' 'Did you hear that noise?'

The good news is that Mothercare have a rather apt 'Good Poo Guide!' We've already trailed through this and been able to find a multitude of answers to our babies rather potent problems.

004. Time
It takes no more than five minutes for the threading ladies in our local shopping mall to whip my eyebrows into shape! Can I find five minutes to get them done? Absolutely not. If you've been watching my Instagram Stories then you'll know it took me nearly six days to complete my Tesco food order - so there's clearly no hope for my brows!

Most importantly though I've found that despite the long nights, the first seven and a bit weeks of our girls lives have gone by in a whirlwind. And though I knew I'd have less time than before, I never expected it to disappear so quickly.

Some people prefer to wing things and to a certain extent, I do too. I try to take each day as it comes which I think is especially important with twins as you really never know what to expect - each day is massively different. However I like to be armed with knowledge and in a world where everyone has their opinions on how you should parent and what you should do, it's really helpful to have some unbiased up to date advice.

The 'good poo guide' and the other resources on the Mothercare site have been such a valuable tool since I found out about them.  They cover everything from bringing your baby home to pelvic floor exercises. If you're pregnant or recently had a baby... or babies, confused by poo or battling with the swaddle or not to swaddle conundrum then I highly recommend you take a look. They'll solve you a multitude of puzzling problems and save you from been put off your cornflakes again!

Identical Twin Diaries: Five Weeks Old

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Five week old identical twin Edie

Time is flying and the girls are getting so big so quickly - at their last weigh in the other day they'd both made 5lbs. They're still so teeny but it's miles away from what they were in hospital. Their legs are no longer skinny and they have little rolls and double chins (sorry girls you got that from me).

I've been snapping and filming away with my new Olympus PEN E-PL8 so I can remember everything. It doesn't matter how hard the nights have been, I've tried my best to soak up all the little things and remember it all while they are still so young and small.

Life is so different to how it was before but I wouldn't change a thing. I'm so lucky because we have a lot of help and now I'm feeling a bit better, I'm enjoying it more. It's easy to see how if a twin parent didn't have plenty of support, they could fall into postnatal depression.

identical twin, Edie

Edie, our little twin one who was always the more active on our scans lives up to just that. She has a smaller head than Mabel but is chunkier and she feeds amazingly well - the girl loves her milk, clearly she takes after her Dad. She's more curious than Mabel at the moment and has these big beautiful eyes... most of the time. Edie also inherited my frown and glare and she lets us know when she's not happy about something. I shared the funniest video on Instagram Stories when we switched from pre-made milk to powdered during the day and her reaction caused so many laughs.

She hates been swaddled and likes to be free to move when she goes to sleep however we've realised she keeps startling and waking herself up. So this week we purchased what we keep joking is a straight jacket for her, a Woombie.We've only given it a try the once but she seemed to like it and it even seemed to improve her reflux. Edie also has the cutest hungry cry ever which Jay makes back at her.

identical twin Mabel

Mabel, our tiny twin two is so laid back and lovely. She had a hospital appointment this week which took two hours and with a long car journey there and back, I had been expecting her to cry and twist but she sat calm and quiet the whole time. Jay used to play Ed Sheeran all the time in the car when I was pregnant and Mabel loves nothing better than listening to him.

She loves Edie and stares at her intently when we put them next to each other and she's just this week started to react more to us. Unlike Edie, she loves to be swaddled and sleeps really well when she's wrapped up. She also loves the rain and will lie on the changing mat listening to it on the conservatory roof all night if we let her. She makes the most adorable noise when she swallows her food but then sounds like a little old man when she's been winded.

Things I want to remember about both of them:

  • Our walks on the farm. We have bought a Bugaboo Donkey. This lives in the car but we also have a single Silver Cross Pram At the moment, while the girls are still small enough, we put them in together to take for walks in the fields. I'm wanting to get a sling for when they get too big, so I can carry one and push the other, any recommendations?
  • How cute and soft their hair is and especially how long at the back it's getting - it's dark and thick just like mine and Jay's.
  • This week they've both finally been able to sit in their Baby Bjorn Bouncers (they were too small before), which is making life a little bit easier with their reflux as they're more upright.
  • Speaking of reflux both of them pull the funniest faces when faced with Infacol drops
  • They sleep really well and go for 3.5 hours most of the time, however because of this reflux issue, it means we're not getting much rest. 
  • How small they still are in their tiny baby outfits - Jay tried putting Edie in a newborn vest and we joked 'she couldn't go out like that' because she was flashing. Newborn clothes are way too big still. 
Things I've learnt these past couple of weeks: 

  • Accept all the help you can get, my mum, mother in law and sisters in law, even my brother have all been amazing help. From teaching me new tricks to staying over on a night for a couple of hours to cleaning my kitchen - it's made my life so much easier and I've been able to enjoy the girls more. I honestly do not know how some twin mum's manage, you all deserve medals and spa days! 
  • If you don't laugh, you will cry. It's hard work, I'm not going to lie and dress it up but when it's all going tits up, I've found the best thing to do is laugh. Sometimes it even confuses the twins why I'm doing it and they stop twisting! 
  • There is a whole host of tutorials on Youtube... if you need more confidence tandem feeding or new tricks for getting wind up, youtube it! 
  • Learn when to say no. I never wanted to be a 'clingy mum' and I want my girls to be used to being picked up and soothed by different people so they don't rely purely on me and Jay but we've fast learnt that if an influx of visitors turn up and it's bath and bedtime, for now it just needs to be family or they will refuse to settle.
  • An endless supply of chocolate, biscuits, snacks, pop etc to hand is an absolute must. I wish I was as organised as to freeze meals while pregnant to defrost now but I'm not and also who wants to eat frozen lasagna at 3am - pass me the Dairy Milk! 
  • Buy more than 8 bottles - you will feel like you spend your life sterilising and may break down crying into your fairy liquid filled sink with only a bottle brush for company.

Identical Twin Diaries: Three Weeks Old

Sunday, 16 July 2017

newborn identical twins in hospital

Wow... How my life has changed in just a couple of posts! Things had been going so smoothly all the way through my pregnancy - it really did seem too good to be true! And I guess it really was.

Shortly after writing my 35 week post where I mentioned I'd been feeling pretty rubbish and swollen, I went into hospital for a routine check. We were meant to be in and out within thirty minutes but we were ushered along to one of the private rooms and I was told I had third stage pre-eclampsia and wouldn't be leaving the hospital until I'd had the twins. Things escalated quickly and before I knew it, we were headed to the labour ward where I was told the babies would be delivered that evening! It did however get pretty scary for Jay as I had a reaction to some of the medication and lost consciousness and from then on, the first few days are a bit of a blur.

I'll save all the details for my birth story post but the good news is, I'm finally on the mend. Time has absolutely flown by and I can't believe how much they've grown and changed already. Everyday I look at them and notice something new and different.

newborn identical twins So honestly, what's it like with newborn identical twins? It's the hardest job I've ever done but the easiest at the same time. I'm not going to lie, I've had a couple of meltdowns... mostly towards the end of the end of the day when the sleep depravation gets the better of me and I realise I'm not going to get a nice solid straight eight hours again. Speaking of which, the girls sleep really well BUT no one told me how noisy newborns (especially preemies) are. They sound like little french bulldogs, snoring away and then they cough up fluid because they were section babies and then they dream and make random cries which ultimately results in one paranoid mum checking them all the time. I never switch off. That makes recovering from a section and eclampsia really hard but I wouldn't change any of it for a second.

It's fascinating watching them grow from babies into little people. They are already developing their little personalities and although we're not sleeping through the night, we're in a good routine right now.

There's a few things that nobody told me which I've learnt since becoming a Mum to our twins and wanted to share for other soon to be twin mums. So in no particular order:

  • Tommee Tippee Bottles aren't always best!

  • Everyone I spoke to recommended them until I got to the hospital and our girls couldn't manage the teats. We used the hospital bottles and teats from then on but once we were home we ended up spending a small fortune hunting down teats which both of them could manage. We're now using these MAM Anti-Colic Self-Sterilising Bottles which are much better for little mouths.

  • Newborns are noisy!

  • As mentioned above, not all babies sleep silently like you'd imagine. There's a number of noises and these are amplified times two with twins. They snore, cough, let out little cries and talk to each other in their sleep which makes for one very tired Mum. I cried on my midwife around about the third day we'd spent at home as I'd had no sleep at all and she assured me the babies would turn their heads if something was wrong and I'd get used to the noises. She was right - I've now started to work out what all the different squeaks, grunts and groans mean and though I hear them, I don't react to them all now. If I'd known this before, I would have felt much better.

  • You know your body!

  • I'd had such an easy pregnancy and I carried very small. Everyone kept telling me you'll get really big at the end and this put me off complaining to the midwives and doctors when I did. I felt different in those last couple of weeks... my face felt squishy, my legs had no shape and when everyone said 'it's twins your carrying, it will be hard' I believed them. I shouldn't have because I've since learnt how serious pre-eclampsia and eclampsia are and though the girls were fine, I put my life at risk by waiting for my appointment and not ringing my GP or midwife and I missed out on a lot of the first few days of the girls because I was so poorly. You know your body and if you feel something isn't right, don't listen to anyone else and call your pregnancy unit. It's much better to be safe than sorry.

Introducing our Identical Twin Girls Edie and Mabel

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

If you follow me on Instagram, you will already have seen our news. Two days after my last post, our beautiful identical twin girls, Edie Caroline Tate and Mabel Alice Tate unexpectedly arrived into the world via an emergency c-section at 9.02 and 9.03pm on June 22nd.

Though my pregnancy had been rather smooth running, there were a few complications in the last couple of days and though both the girls were perfect weighing 4 lbs 2 and 3 lbs 7, my recovery has been a little bit harder than expected. I will of course be writing about their birth story at some point but for the moment, we're enjoying our first week at home spending time as a family of four. We are so incredibly in love with them and feel so lucky that we made it to 35 weeks.


Tuesday, 20 June 2017

It feels very surreal typing this, that it's my last week by week post before the babies arrive! I am absolutely in awe that my body has allowed me to get so far given everything that all the doctors, midwives and various other medical professionals I've seen have said. Along my journey, I came across another three mo/di twin mum's to be who all had due dates either the same or just after mine and all have given birth. The only explanation as to why these two haven't made an early appearance by now is probably down to the fact they're both sat in breech position which in my eyes as uncomfortable as I am now, is a blessing.

How Big are the Babies:
At our 34 week scan, Twin 1 was 4.11 and Twin 2 was 4.9 so perfectly on track to hopefully make it to 5lbs for week 36 when they'll be delivered. Our family have been taking bets about how big the girls are each week when we've been scanned and this week everyone got a shock as no one thought they would have made those weights!

I've been a bit quiet lately on here and on social media... mainly because I've felt so rubbish the past couple of weeks. I don't really feel like I can complain as I've had hardly any symptoms up until around 30/32 weeks. My blood pressure has been perfect throughout the pregnancy but I started to swell up and everyone had a little panic it might be preeclampsia - thankfully it wasn't. However the babies are sitting blocking the flow to my legs which no matter what I do causes them to swell up excessively. Much more so than your usual pregnancy fluid retention. I'd already been referred to a physio through my consultant and she's been so helpful, attempting to move the babies by manipulating my back and providing me with crutches for support. I've also got a not so sexy support wrap that makes me look like I've been mummified to support my back and abs.

As I've felt so heavy, that's took toll on my energy levels and I've been napping a lot more throughout the day. On a night I've been waking up to go to the bathroom but I've been so exhausted I've gone straight back to sleep, despite been so uncomfortable. I do have a new found admiration for fraternal twin mum's as I have no idea how you manage to get through these final few weeks and go full term!

I've tried my best to stick to my three healthy meals a day and healthy snacks but with feeling so glum I've treat myself recently. I've indulged in ice creams and chocolate bars when I've wanted and considering how good I've been till now I don't feel guilty at all.

Weight Gain:
Curiosity got the better of me and I hopped on my Mum's scales the other night! I've put on around 35lbs from my pre-pregnancy weight which isn't too bad I don't think considering there's nearly 10lbs of baby, a placenta, a lot more blood and fluid in general in me right now. Like I mentioned in my last update, family are still shocked at the size of my bump but I think that's because I was so slim and always have been but strangers and those who don't know I'm expecting twins can't believe there's two in there!

As with last week's update - I'm trying to stay as active as possible but at the same time following Doctor's orders to keep my feet up and rest as much as I can.

As mentioned above - I'm exhausted from carrying all this weight around. It's disturbed sleep but I'm getting lots of it.

Other Notable Things:
Yikes! I start pre-op in a couple of days and the next time I write a blog post, my two tiny twins will be here! See you on the other side!

Twin Pregnancy : The Anti-Birth Plan

Friday, 16 June 2017

On my last update post, I announced that we'd found out our d-day in our latest appointment with our consultant and provided our girls don't make an early appearance of their own, they'll be joining us at 36 weeks, in June. It was a surreal experience finding out the birthday of your babies before they're here but I've known for a while because of our twins chorionicity that the process would be much more clinical than a singleton pregnancy.

Our type of twins, mo/di share a placenta and are separated by a thin membrane (our doctor describes it as a piece of clingfilm in a bag of water) and research has shown, as well as other various reasons, the placenta isn't strong enough for both after 36 weeks. Therefore they are delivered early. However modi's apparently have a habit of turning up of their own accord earlier than this!

Been under consultant care means we've been seen and scanned at least every two weeks, sometimes more depending on what has been going on. On top of this I've had additional appointments with community midwives, health visitors and my GP, so we've definitely been well looked after. Birth was discussed at our very first consultant appointment and it was explained we could still potentially have a natural birth provided the circumstances were right. I'm not a doctor so I won't even begin to try and repeat everything we were told here. I also believe that everyone is different and as it turns out because of our twins circumstances, the best thing for us, was to plan a date in for a section at 36 weeks.

The idea of a 'Birth Plan' isn't something I've ever been comfortable with. I'm no expert but in my opinion there are so many things that can happen during labor or an operation that really it would be hard to make a plan for what you want to happen. And I think this is why so many friends, family members and people I've spoke to feel so disappointed with their birthing experiences... because they didn't go the way they intended.

So I've been very much anti-plan from day one... I'm happy to go with the flow and whatever is best and safest for the twins is what I want. We've got all our dates to begin the process which starts the week prior and then our section date but if the twins decide to make an earlier appearance, we'll be assessed then to see what the best course of action is.

What I have done is made some points with our consultant which we discussed. For example, I quite like the idea of hearing the process so if I can, I want to know what's going on. In terms of skin to skin, the priority is obviously making sure the girls are fine and healthy but as soon as possible, section or v-bac, we'd like whoever can if that's me or Jay to be able to have some skin to skin time with the babies. Finally if the babies or one of them needs to go to NICU, Jay is to go with them while I'm finished been stitched up.

And that is as far as the plan on paper goes. The rest of the plan is to spend the time between now and the twins arrival getting ourselves and our home ready for them and enjoying what time we have left as just the two of us as much as we can. It feels very surreal but terribly exciting that we'll shortly be meeting our two little mini me's!


Tuesday, 6 June 2017

The bags under my eyes in this bump photo say it all. Growing two tiny humans is exhausting. Some days I feel like I have been pregnant forever and other days it only seems like yesterday I was throwing the ClearBlue stick at Jay explaining 'we might have a little issue...' Oh if I'd only known then that our little issue might be x2. I have successfully made it to 32 weeks pregnant with our little modi twins and looking back, I've really not had that bad of a pregnancy. I have however started to really notice my limitations. Not long now though - we met our consultant again this week and d-day (or c-day should I say) has been decided!

How Big are the Babies:
Been scanned by our consultant this week was a different experience to been scanned by our twin midwife as there was a lot to take in while she was doing the scanning. The girls are now so big and are cuddled up together so it's really hard to make out two baby shapes - we really just see various body parts and to top it off they were sat in strange positions. Twin 1 was 3 lb 7oz, still comfortably sat in breech position. Twin 2 for the first time in the whole pregnancy had over taken her sister and was 3lb 8oz, also breech and both facing each other, heads together. Twin 2 had definitely been doing some stretching as one of her legs was up by her head!

The back pain continues - it's more of a dull ache everywhere until I try and do something like bend or reach then sometimes I get a sharp pain. It's also waking me up during the night and whilst I'm most comfortable sleeping on my left, I get bored and turning over is really uncomfortable. Generally, once I've turned I need the bathroom and have to get up so it just doesn't seem worth it. I did have a very successful physiotherapy appointment today which I'm going to cover in a separate post as it could be really useful to anyone else who's pregnant with twins!

Braxton hicks - apparently my Mum never even noticed when she had these. Mine sometimes are a little uncomfortable but are worst when I'm a passenger in a car. Going over bumps in the road is like a form of torture.

I still have a healthy appetite and eat more than I used to but I wouldn't say I'm eating for three or even for two. I'm still having three balanced meals and as I type this, after lunch and before dinner, I'm snacking on a tin of peach slices.

Weight Gain:
No idea. Family and generally older people (our gardener for example) take great pleasure in saying 'oooh you're getting bigger' 'looks like you have two in their ha ha' and 'have you swallowed a couple watermelons?' Friends, friends of friends and strangers have slightly different reactions - some comment that I don't even look pregnant from certain angles, others 'can't believe there's two in there' and a few have said 'what a tidy little bump.'

So my bump is definitely growing and is bigger but I really don't care as long as our twinnies are healthy. I have started to notice I'm carrying more fluid and my face, ankles, feet and hands are swollen. With only a few weeks to go, I don't think this is bad going though.

I don't think I can call it exercise any longer - I move and I try and keep as active as I can. I walk a lot slower and I haven't been swimming due to my classes running out. I've still been doing my stretching and I'll be adding the exercises my physio gave me to these.

As mentioned above, I go to the bathroom multiple times through the night now and turning over is a challenge so it's not great sleep. There has been the odd night where the twins have decided to have a party and all I can feel is them turning and kicking, which is a lovely comfort to know they are there and ok but a pain in the bum when you're just dropping off and someone thinks your bladder is a trampoline.

Other Notable Things:
So my little bit of a wobble while trying to put socks on is now a full blown impersonation of a weeble (remember them?). I can't reach and I've stopped trying. I can't pick things up off the floor without doing the most ridiculous looking lunge and I waddle when I walk. I get stuck in our sofa and feel like a space hopper with giant arms.

The most exciting news which I briefly touched on above was that we had another appointment with our consultant and we now know when the babies will be born, this is provided they don't decide to make an early appearance themselves! Since there is a lot involved with twin pregnancy birth plans I've already started drafting a separate post about ours to go live later this week. It's very much an anti-birth plan. Can you believe than in less than a month myself and Jay will be the proud parents of two tiny humans? Now that's going to fly over...