After a stint in recovery under a heated inflatable blanket, we were whisked up to our window bed on the maternity ward. By then most of the other beds were occupied by new Mamas and their babies.
All I remember of the first few hours is feeling incredibly sick, throwing up numerous times and desperately trying to breast feed.
Our first visitors were my mum and sister in law. They were smitten instantly and it was wonderful seeing them meet our little loves. Such a special moment.
I took a turn for the worst in terms of nausea after they left. Just as my mother in law and sister in law arrived. Picture this, boobs out as I was breastfeeding and periodically thrusting Henry to my husband so I could throw up into my cardboard bowl. Lovely! Luckily I can hardly remember it, it’s all a bit foggy. I still don’t care that they saw my boobs.
Violet couldn’t latch and didn’t suckle at all. Henry on the other hand seemed an absolute natural. However, I had no idea what I was doing. I’d dreamed of exclusive breastfeeding my twins so was giving it a good go.
That evening my dad and brother came in once they had finished work. That was magical. My dad was too scared to hold them but was full of emotion and looked so proud. My brother was so emotional and had snuggles with both my little babes.
Ny husbands sister came back with her husband and my niece and nephew. That was a very quick visit as we were so exhausted and my niece only 18 months at the time was not loving the hospital.
That night we got no sleep. Violet screamed all night. The night midwives took her for walks around the corridors to try and settle her but nothing worked. We could hear her screams getting quieter and then louder as they walked her about.
She was obviously hungry looking back. I tried expressing milk by hand and by pump but got 1oz which Violet had via a little cup. Otherwise she had nothing. I had suggested formula but the midwives were reluctant. I wish I had demanded it, I was in a drugged up state so I can’t really blame myself.
The next morning I fainted on the toilet on my maiden “catheter free” wee. Que me pulling the emergency cord in the toilet and about four midwives coming to my rescue. I was wheeled back to bed in a wheelchair. An hour later I was up again and managed an less dramatic toilet visit. They requested I pee into a jug so they could see if my bladder was working well after the surgery. I nearly filled the whole thing up. Their eyes nearly popped out their heads. I remember being so proud of my massive wee!
That afternoon we were moved into a side room. Mainly because Violet was still screaming. We were causing too much noise and distruption to the other mums and babies. To be honest I was thrilled as it meant more privacy and more space. What I didn’t realise was that we were going to be forgotten about on a frequent basis.
Violet was now clearly jaundice so they set up a UV cot in our room. She had to be under it for at least 24hrs. They gave us a little mask to put over her eyes to protect them from the UV. Well, she HATED that mask and having her eyes covered. Which resulted in, you guessed it, 24hrs of screaming.
The UV cot had a heated mattress underneath to keep her warm as she was just in her nappy under the lights. Well they didn’t turn it on. It was only when I noticed 6hrs later and asked the nurse that they sorted it out.
We had to basically beg for help to feed Violet. She just would not breast feed. I still couldn’t express hardly anything and was breastfeeding Henry all the time. We tried formula with tiny bottles they gave us with numerous different teats. It would take an hr for her to have 10ml – 30ml and that’s only because it would drip from the teat into her mouth. No sucking at all.
They took her to the special care unit, nurses tried cup feeding, they managed to get 30ml of formula in her. That was our quota of help. She was brought back and we were told get on with it. So my husband spent hours trying to feed Violet formula milk via cup and bottle pretty much constantly the rest of the time we were there.
My pain medication was forgotten so many times which meant I would have to try and get out of bed – not an easy task days after a csection on no pain relief, hobble to the nurses station and ask for it. It was awful. Don’t get me wrong the staff were lovely, they just had too many patients to care for.
Henry passed his hearing screen fine, as did Violet on her second go. Violet was still not sucking the teats and was vomiting a bit too now. Slightly more settled in herself though. We started our recording of their nappies, feeds and vomits. This was something we would become obsessed with and carry on until they were nine months old.
On our last day the babies were weighed and had an examination. Both had dropped to 5lb 3oz. That was an 8oz drop for Henry and they were suddenly overly concerned about his exclusive breastfeeding. He went off to have a blood test to check he wasn’t dehydrated, he was fine. They threatened not to discharge us if we didn’t introduce formula as well. So we agreed not knowing any better.
During our 4 day hospital stay, I slept 5hrs max. By the last day I was dilerious, hallucinating and hearing things. I remember leaving the hospital at 10pm at night thinking “this isn’t how it’s supposed to be”, “where is my perfect, taking them home moment” there were no photos of us proudly holding our babies in their car seats outside the hospital. In fact there are minimal photos of us in the hospital at all. I think everyone was too scared to take photos of me so I have less than 5, none of me holding Violet except straight after birth.
We bundled our precious babies into the car. I held my V pillow against my stitches so the bumps in the road didn’t hurt too much. There were many bumps thanks to my husband using his sporty car to pick us all up. He drove about 10 miles and hour, we both glanced at the babies continuously that journey.
Being out of the hospital was so surreal. I hadn’t left that place in four days, had minimal sleep and had become a mother. Something I had dreamed of for years. When we arrived home, my husband carried them into the living room in their car seats. Their Moses baskets had been left in the nursery so my husband started setting it all up in the living room as I sat on our sofa, sobbing. I was so tired, so full of love, I couldn’t believe that WE had two babies in OUR house.
I was sent to bed and my husband slept in the living room, I say slept, he stared at them all night. As my head hit the pillow I was out like a light.
Our inital parenting experience wasn’t straight forward but then whose is. However Violets feeding issues were sadly an omen of many struggles to come.