Identical Twin Diaries: The Birth Story of Edie and Mabel

Sunday, 27 August 2017

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll know I had quite an easy pregnancy considering I was carrying identical twins. The exhaustion in the first trimester wasn't nice but I didn't suffer with morning sickness, carried very small and still led a very healthy, active lifestyle... until the last three weeks before the girls were born!

Everything had been going so smoothly until just after my baby shower when I started to feel a bit off. I couldn't put my finger on it but I felt unbelievably tired, heavier, swollen and unwell. The first person I told was my physio - she believed the twins were trapping the blood flow to my legs and at my next appointment, I ended up with crutches because I was struggling to walk. I told my community midwife, our sonographer, and the midwives at my hospital appointments but there was always an air of 'this is your first pregnancy and it's twins.'

The first headache I remember, I was in the shower one day and I dropped my shampoo. As I bent down to pick it up, these sparkly glowing orbs appeared in front of my eyes and I felt really dizzy. I had no idea at the time but I was suffering from third stage pre-eclampsia.

We were having a heatwave at the time and everyone kept telling me I was just swollen because I was pregnant and it was hot. I felt so rubbish and napped all the time but I kept trying to stay as positive as I could. I finally cracked the night before I was going into hospital for my first lot of steroids and broke down crying on my bed. I decided when I went in, I wanted fully examining because I knew something wasn't quite right.

And I almost didn't... when we got to our appointment the ward was manic, people seemed to be rushing all over, there were people still waiting for scans which was unusual. I'd sat down waiting while someone had gone to look for the steroids but something told me I must get back up and ask to be checked. So I did and again, they brushed it off as hot weather but said to go do a sample.

Five minutes later we were taken to a private room in the pregnancy assessment unit and they explained how serious pre-eclampsia was and told me I wouldn't be going home again until I had the babies. I got a little upset after they told me this, I didn't want to stay in, I wanted to go home with Jay and I still had so much to do before the girls arrived.

Call me stupid but when the midwife came back in to tell us we were going to be moved round to a nicer suite in the labour ward - it didn't click. Once on the ward we were introduced to a new midwife who was amazing and she explained things were going to get pretty busy as they were going to treat my pre-eclampsia and deliver the babies by emergency section that night! Suddenly Doctors and more midwives started appearing and it's at the this point things start to get fuzzy for me. I remember bits but it's blurry and I know certain things happened because Jay explained them after. He has photos on his phone of us from this time and I cannot piece it together - I just cannot remember certain things.

They treat my pre-eclampsia with magnesium sulphate, something which I'm highly allergic to. This had been explained but they told Jay that they'd rather risk it and treat me than risk it and lose me to eclampsia. I had cannula's placed in both arms and given a catheter before they started adding the magnesium sulphate. I have never felt so poorly ever before than when I had this, I felt so sick, dizzy and like my heart was going to explode out of my chest. Then I lost consciousness... it was such a strange experience and obviously terrifying for Jay.

He said the room filled with people and he could hear doctors saying 'I'm worried about this one.' I meanwhile didn't have a clue, I thought I could hear someone asking me if I was ok and so I kept repeating 'I feel really poorly, please help me.' Apparently though I was just completely out of it and never said a word. My body felt so heavy and everything just seemed black at one point. The next thing I remember was I was desperate for water but I wasn't allowed to drink. Jay had a bottle of water for himself and they allowed him to give me the smallest sip just to stop my mouth from been dry.

Various staff from the hospital came in at this point to introduce themselves and to say they'd be in the operating theatre. The shifts were swapping over at 8pm but lots of the day time staff who'd treated me were staying to watch the operation and wanted to see the girls. I vaguely remember Jay appearing in scrubs before been pushed to the operating theatre.

It was busy in there, I do remember that. There was a line of people all in scrubs ready to watch and the surgeon asked me if I was ok with it. I was given a spinal and I remember one of the male nurses telling me to rest my head on his shoulder and to give him a cuddle while it was put in. I can honestly say the section was nothing compared to the magnesium sulphate. I felt nothing from the shoulders down and before I knew it Jay was back by my side and then there was a cry. Though they normally deliver twin one first and then twin 2, we'd been told this sometimes wasn't the case with sections. So we asked our midwife to make sure we knew which twin was from my left and right side as we already had named who was who. Edie, who was on my left was brought out first at 9.01pm weighing 4.7lbs, shortly followed by Mabel at 9.02pm weighing 4.2lbs.

They were quickly checked over and brought over for Jay to have a cuddle. It was so surreal, they were both so calm and quiet. Our midwife explained the girls would be in transitional care rather than going up to the NICU and it was best for them to feed as soon as possible. Due to the fact I had so many drugs in me, I wasn't able to breastfeed so Jay and her took the girls to a recovery room next door while I was stitched up.

Despite been an emergency section, the many people who were in the theatre and the fact I'd been so poorly, it was one of the loveliest experiences. It's still fuzzy but the parts I do remember is everyone coming to congratulate me and telling me how beautiful they were. It didn't take long till I was in the recovery room with the girls and I got to see them properly. They were so small and quiet. Jay was feeding them with our midwife and we were told we'd stay there for an hour, then be wheeled back to our suite. I remember shivering a lot, although I wasn't cold at all and I was desperate for water again but wasn't allowed any.

When we went back through to our suite, they let me have peppermints which I'd packed in my hospital bag - these were like heaven as they made my mouth water and I was allowed 10ml of water every hour. It was like sipping from a thimble. I wasn't allowed to get up from the bed so the nurses from the NICU came down to help Jay feed and change the girls for the first couple of days. Our private suite was really nice in the labour ward, we had a bathroom, changing unit and even a bed for Jay however after a few days we were sent to the post-natal ward. We were given a private room again directly opposite the nurses station and though it wasn't quite as nice as the one we'd just been in, it was still lovely for us to just be a family of four.

The girls were on special heat pads still but the only real reason we were been kept in was my blood pressure which just kept going up. Apparently once the babies are delivered pre-eclampsia usually goes away and doesn't develop into eclampsia... I was one of the unlucky ones.

I spent the next few days been monitored, taking lots of drugs and been given various injections. After a couple of days I started to feel really frustrated and I wanted to come home - in hindsight, I wasn't ready and I really wish I'd stayed that bit longer. There were some amazing midwives who looked after me and the girls and I picked up so much from them... who knows what I would have learned and how much better I would have felt if I'd just stayed a few more days.

Coming home with Edie and Mabel felt so good though. Having a shower in my own bathroom was blissful and climbing into bed felt amazing. We weren't exactly left alone though... as I was still very poorly the community midwives came to monitor my blood pressure every day. There was a constant air of 'you might have to go back into hospital' looming and this combined with learning how to look after twins was rather stressful. I'm guessing this is why my blood pressure continued to be high.

Thankfully I never had to go back into hospital. My mum brought me lunch and dinner each day so I ate well, rested when I could and made sure I got a bit of fresh air each day by taking the dogs for a slow walk while Jay minded the girls. The first couple of weeks were a bit tricky as we got used to having two little people who needed us constantly. I was so lucky to have my mum close by and Jay who took an extra week off work to help me. Eventually my tablets were reduced, I was discharged from the midwives to my GP and a new kind of normality settled in.

And we've been living that new normality since. It is the hardest job I have ever done but I wouldn't change it for the world.

Sweet Dreams with the Fisher-Price® Butterfly Dreams™ 2-in-1 Soother*

Friday, 25 August 2017

Identical twin girls napping with Fisher-Price Butterfly Dreams 2-in-1 soother, photo by Belle Art Photography

Edie and Mabel were in a really good 3 hour routine when we were in hospital. Then we came home and it all went a bit muddy. I was still so poorly and we were all so tired. 

One of the things everyone tells you to do, is sleep when the babies sleep and I now personally don't believe that this is good advice. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Our girls are noisy sleepers, especially for the first 45 - 50 minutes after we put them down. If I was to do it all again, I'd go to bed an hour later than them, when they're a little bit more settled and quietened down. It's much easier to pop my head round the door to check on them, or check the video monitor than to leap out of bed at every noise.

I also believe it's never too early to start a routine, not necessarily for the girls but at least for us as parents. Now we're more settled into our ways, I'm a lot less stressed and I have a little bit of time to myself on an evening. Not to mention the girls will sometimes sleep for five to six hours at a time now!

Identical Twin Girls Nursery Shelf Baby Lit

Around 7pm we give them half of their bottle of milk, before a quick bath using the same lavender scented bubble bath and moisturiser. We then move to their room, where I've already closed the blinds and curtains and given the room a quick spritz of lavender pillow spray. We try to include a story here, one of our favourites is Coco Chanel from the Little People, Big Dreams series and then they finish their bottle of milk before going down for the night.

I'm keen to try new things though to try and combat that noisy first hour, so when we were recently sent the Fisher-Price® Butterfly Dreams™ 2-in-1 Soother to review, I was looking forward to seeing how it would work. We've used it the last couple of nights and although I'm not a big fan of plastic baby things, this actually isn't too bad as it's plain white - with the exception of the Fisher-Price red logo tag.

Fisher-Price® Butterfly Dreams™ 2-in-1 Soother*

There's a lovely simple colour-changing nightlight and you can choose between gentle music, nature sounds and white noise. By far my two most favourite features are the beautiful starlight projection (which was so relaxing, I almost drifted off using it) and secondly the option to choose how long the music plays for. We have a couple of other 'white noise' toys and they don't offer this option. There's also a little teddy included which is cute but we've added this to the pile the girls already seem to have curated. 

Edie and Mabel seemed to enjoy it. They both quietened and slept soundly but other than the couple of nights after their first injections, they've been doing this anyway. They're only 9 weeks old (4 corrected) and we've just started to notice them reacting more to the world around them so I do think they still might be a little bit young. I'm fascinated by how much they change on a daily basis so I think it'll be really interesting to see in a few weeks how they react to it. 

We're going to keep trialling it and see how we get on but for now it seems to be at least adding to that calming night time environment we've been trying to create for them. If you'd like to know more about the Soother, click here to take a look or buy!

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!