If this is the first time you’ve come across TwoofthemOneofme you may not know I, the writer am the mother of twins Avia and Ayden. Today I’d love to share my neonatal care unit experience and some tips that will hopefully be helpful to the families that may have to go through this.
Just three days before I became a mom I attended what would turn out to be my last antenatal appointment. During my third trimester I attended appointments every week. These appointments would consist of me waiting, having a scan, waiting some more and then seeing my consultant. The appointment was always the same, I’d see the sonographer and ask if the twins were ok to which she would reply “yeah, from what I can see but the consultant will explain everything in detail”. I’d then see the consultant to be told again everything was ok and should I have any problem to call immediately.
That was the case until Friday 10th October 2014, this appointment was different. On this visit to the sonographer, she missed out the “yeah, from what I can see” bit and funnily enough I didn’t pick up on that until I had got out of the appointment with the consultant. Anyway, I get in with my consultant and I’m semi at a point where I’m like I know exactly what you’re going to say so can we wrap this up quick because I’m dying for a McChicken Sandwich Meal. But, boy was I wrong.
“Lucia” she said. “Unfortunately, twin one isn’t getting the nutrition she needs and therefore has stopped gaining weight, it would appear that twin two is taking most of the supply”. Ok so she didn’t say it exactly like that, but you get the gist. Anyway, she continues “We need to get both babies out as soon as possible and as you’ve chose an elected C-section (yes, I was too scared to push, don’t judge me), I’m going to book you in for Monday 13th so that way you can get the steroid and swabs done this afternoon”. I can honestly remember tears just rolling down my face. I could not believe the s£&t I was hearing, and I can’t even begin to describe the fear.
I get it, there’s some possibility multiples will come before their due date and be much smaller than “normal” babies. But, guys the twins weren’t due until the 25th November, which of course meant they would be six weeks early, I was so sad. Don’t get me wrong though, I was somewhat prepared for this. I had already packed my hospital bag by this point, brought almost everything off the checklist I had printed from google, set up my bedroom with everything baby, but I just wasn’t ready. I spent the next three days rushing around buying everything I could in premature baby size and googling survival rates of multiples. Honestly, I did not sleep a wink.
Monday arrived very quickly, but by this point I felt ready. I got to the hospital at 6:45am and was prepped for theatre. The wait was the worst and I literally s£&t myself I swear. I said to my sister “Laura, I’m going to s£&t myself” to which she replied “go on then, the toilets there” but all I could think of was the poor women opposite us having to use the toilet as well. Anyway, around 8:30am I was walked to theatre where I had a drip put in my hand, an epidural and was talked through everything that was going to happen and weirdly enough I was calm.
By 10 minutes past 9 Avia had arrived and just one minute after at 11 minutes past 9 Ayden was born. After a little kiss both twins, Avia weighing 3lbs 4ounces and Ayden weighing 4lbs 10oucnes were taken to the side so a team of neonatal doctors could examine them before taking them straight to the neonatal care unit. I seriously can’t put into words the feeling I experienced when Avia and Ayden was taken away from me but of course I knew it was for the best.
A couples of hours later, I remember my sister and the twin’s dad bringing pictures he had the neonatal staff take. The nurses took and printed the pictures, so I could see the twins properly for the first time.
Feeding at first was a struggle, I couldn’t feed the twins directly, so it was difficult for me produce milk. I remember me and the twin’s dad trying to catch droplets of milk through a syringe, the nurses said it would help production and I’d be able to feed them little bits of my milk into their tubes. Guys, the amount of times I just wanted to give up and be like “no, powder will do” but I can honestly say the pressure from the nurses and the twin’s dad kept me squeezing that milk into a syringe. Funnily enough the syringe and nipple struggle worked out and by day three I was producing 2L bottles of full fat milk, I could have supplied to Asda.
Although I was supplying enough milk for the whole ward and I was able to give the twins the best I didn’t feel like their mom or at least I wasn’t living up to what I expected of a mother instead I felt like part of the nursing team and honestly that was the hardest thing about my time spent in the neonatal unit, that and the fact that all your emotions are heightened and all you want to do is your get your family home.
Whilst all the heightened emotions and feeling like I wasn’t enough was the most mentally draining thing, being up and down just a week after a C-section was the most physically painful thing I have ever been through. I can just remember pushing myself and thinking of anything else other than the pain to stop it, so I could get on with being with the twins all day and night.
But, the twins made great progress and were discharged from hospital just two weeks after they were born and I’m so thankful to the team at New Cross Hospital’s Neonatal Unit. As you can see we’re here three and half years later to tell the story.
If you’ve made it this far, I’d love you to read on. I’ve put together what I’d like to call a parent survival guide for the neonatal care unit:
1. Prepare Early (especially for multiple births).
2. Don’t be afraid to take breaks from the ward.
If you didn’t do the first step, use this time to prepare for when your baby gets discharged and indulge in a cheeky bit of self-care.
3. Try to be there every morning when the paediatrician does their round.
The paediatrician is the one person that can tell you the most about your child’s progress and most importantly discharge information without having to flicker through their notes. (Please note I wasn’t told the paediatricians schedule, I had to ask)
4. Don’t be afraid to read your babies notes and more importantly ask about the things you don’t understand.
5. Don’t be in such a rush to go home and don’t be too disheartened when your discharge date gets pushed back.
Even while you are desperate to get them home and nurture you child or children don’t forget you can do this while in hospital. Try and get them out of their incubator as often as you’re allowed, have as much skin to skin contact, read them a book and let them know you’re there. This is your home until you are home be the mom you want to be.
6. Ask about accommodation, your hospital may seem like it doesn’t have it, but chances are it definitely does, and it will help you a great deal
7. Make sure if you’re breast-feeding, you’re getting the hospital meals your entitled too (check if this is available in your hospital if you’re unsure)
8. And even if your not breastfeeding ensure you are getting the nutrition you need even if this isn’t provided by the hospital, don’t forget you’ve just had baby or two.
9. Don’t be afraid to cry, you have every reason to be emotional. Let it all out, trust me it helps and if I know one thing, it is that crying doesn’t make you less of a strong women and mother.
10. Finally, while you should respect the nurses and doctors, you are the boss and this is your families journey, own it.
I wasn’t made aware that I was able to request a larger cot, so the twins could spend all their time together and I am certain that when the twins were put back together, their development soared.
Even with all of my tips, nothing can prepare you for your child/children being taken down to neonatal care, being put on drip, having feeding tubes put in and oxygen masks covering their tiny little faces, but they are stronger than we think, and god willing everything will be ok.
I’m sending my love to anyone currently experiencing the neonatal care unit and anyone that has to in the future. Thank you for reading, and if you any tips please feel free to share them.