I thought I’d share a few of my memorable moments of first-time parenthood so far. I’ve used the word ‘alternative’ because they’re probably not the moments you might expect – baby’s first smile, baby learning to walk etc. Not those ones. These are probably a little more… silly. But sometimes it’s the silly little things that can make a significant difference to your life and how you feel about this crazy rollercoaster called parenting 🤪
This is a question I’ve been asking myself basically since the day the twiglets were born. I felt utterly and completely overwhelmed in those first few weeks, even months, and constantly found myself wondering ‘is this normal?’ In the very early days, when we first brought our tiny bundles home, the midwives and health visitor were keeping a very close eye on me as they were concerned about my emotional state. I talked in previous blog posts about how I was pretty traumatised by their birth, and the problem with this is that you have no time whatsoever to make sense of it and come to terms with it – you’re immediately thrust into the toughest job of your life, with more responsibility than you’ve ever dealt with before. Not to mention the fact that my undercarriage was in tatters, I was desperately and futilely attempting to produce milk and get even one baby to stay on a tit for longer than five seconds, and I was a ball of raging hormones. When you put it like that, then maybe the fact that I could barely get a sentence out without bursting into tears was normal – I still don’t know and I don’t think I ever will…
So… My waters had broken (I think just those of Twin 1 – Henry 🤔) There was meconium in the waters so they monitored his heart rate closely. I had two big bands across my bump connected to a machine which was constantly churning out a printout of their heart rates. A lot of that morning is a bit of a blur really but I remember walking up and down the corridor a lot and having an internal examination to check my cervix which was about the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced. I was transferred down the corridor to a delivery room where I met my midwife Susan – the most beautiful, amazing gem of a woman, who was 33 weeks pregnant herself but hopped about like a sprightly gazelle, speaking in soft, lilting Irish tones. I was hooked up to an internal heart monitor – I think to ensure they were getting an accurate reading of each twin’s heartbeat – this involved an electrode being inserted and placed on Twin 1’s scalp. I really can’t remember the timings of everything at all but I also had an epidural at some point. I’d always known I would be having an epidural as the consultant strongly advised it when we discussed having a natural delivery. I was on the gas and air but I think I must be about the only person who hated it! I really disliked the lightheaded feeling it gave me so I didn’t use it properly. It was so difficult to stay still while they administered the epidural, especially during contractions. Anyway that was fine and I think at some point in the afternoon I slept for a while but again, I can’t remember when. I wasn’t allowed any food due to the high risk of needing a C-section but I ended up pleading (I am not a nice person when I get hangry!) and was eventually given a tiny, slightly manky banana to keep me going 😂
I had a traumatic birth. To many others, it probably won’t sound that bad and in truth I know it could have been a lot lot worse, but for me it was traumatic. I think afterwards, you’re so focused on the baby/babies (or in my case completely overwhelmed by them 🙈) that you just push the birth to the back of your mind and don’t really talk about it all that much. Also, when the outcome is basically amazing and you’ve been lucky enough to end up with healthy babies (especially for us, having twins who didn’t need time in the NICU or anything) you feel guilty and almost ashamed to admit just how much the birth affected you. I really do think that mine had a detrimental impact on how I bonded with the twiglets initially. I’m sharing this partly for my benefit as I want to write about it and think it will be helpful, but also to encourage anyone else to try not to feel guilty for admitting that their birth was traumatic and to also try to talk to someone properly about it if you can.