How Do You Know If What You’re Feeling Is Normal?

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…
Recently I have found myself asking this same question again… Is what I’m feeling normal? And yet again, I just don’t know. I know that I’ve not been feeling quite like myself, which is about the vaguest way of putting it, but it’s a feeling that’s so hard to describe… just feeling ‘not quite right’ but when you can’t put your finger on exactly what’s wrong. I do know that I feel very very tired and I wonder if that’s the whole crux of it. I’m not sure if the exhaustion has got worse or if I’ve just begun to notice it more because I’ve actually been getting more decent nights lately so would expect to be feeling more awake and alert! As it is, sometimes I get overcome by a wave of exhaustion which makes me feel achy all over and, if we’re out walking or something, almost dizzy. If we’re at home, I sometimes can’t help but to just go to sleep for a bit – obviously knowing the twigs are safely contained in the living room, watching tv or something. But it’s not exactly ideal to say the least and just seems more extreme than ever, especially considering there was a time when I used to be up about 20 times in the night with them and don’t remember feeling quite like this then. I wonder if there may be a physical reason such as low iron or B12, as I’ve had problems with these in the past… 🤔
As well as having these waves of exhaustion, I’ve been feeling like my patience is at an all-time low and I’m on such a short fuse. Again, is this just normal? Two-year old twins would test anyone’s patience and can be incredibly frustrating. Now that they don’t always nap, it definitely feels very relentless which I know I’m struggling with, despite them being at nursery for two days a week. I feel like I’m just not being anything like the parent I want to be. I believe in gentle parenting and talking to children at their level etc, yet I find myself constantly snapping and shouting and even losing my temper so much more than I feel I should, and I just can’t seem to control it. It scares me how angry I sometimes feel – like I know in my heart of hearts I would never do anything to hurt them but nevertheless it does genuinely scare me when I feel that loss of control over my emotions. And it seems so ridiculous – like, they’re two for Christ’s sake, I mean what can they really be doing that’s so bad?? But, as I’m sure any parent of a toddler or two will know, these tiny humans can be unbelievably astute at knowing which buttons to press and will do so tirelessly just for sh*ts and gigs 😭 Getting angry is inevitably followed by massive guilt, often tears and just feeling really low and crap. But then there are times when the twiglets are behaving nicely, or being sweet to each other or to me, or they say something really lovely, and I just feel overwhelmed by love for them, really happy and so aware of how lucky I am. It just feels a bit at the moment that there’s no real middle ground – it’s like one extreme or the other. I know that it’s pretty normal for parenting to feel up and down but to what extent?
Anyway, I keep wondering whether I should maybe talk to someone, you know, professional and shiz, like a GP. But I’m torn. On one hand I worry they’ll just laugh me out the room and call me a timewaster for whinging that I’m tired when I have two-year old twins 🙈 (I do know that’s not quuuite what would happen 🙊🤣) And on the other, I worry that if I start admitting I’m struggling, someone will see through me and realise I’m a fraud and not actually capable of looking after my bubbas and, like, take them away or something (I’m fully aware of how silly that also sounds 🙈) So I think I will start by taking some vitamin supplements and see if that makes any difference – hopefully there’s a simple explanation like a vitamin deficiency, or maybe it’s just a random period of feeling down, or maybe it’s just a normal way to feel when you have two little ones going through a challenging stage of development and you’ve been sleep-deprived for nearly three years… Who the hell knows? I guess only time will tell. As always when I start opening up about any struggles or problems I might have, I feel horrendously guilty for moaning when there are so so many people out there, other mums I follow on Instagram etc, who are going through real shitty shit stuff in their lives right now. So it feels ridiculous and quite self-indulgent for me to be whinging that I feel tired and a bit weird 🙈 But I always remind myself that if everyone thought like that, no-one would ever talk about their feelings and therefore be able to deal with them, as there’s always going to be someone going through something worse. Whatever the reasons, our feelings are all important and valid (that’s what I tell myself when I’m being a whiny cow anyway 🙈🤣) So, do let me know if you’ve had a similar experience and what, if anything, helped – I’d love to hear from you 😊

My Birth Story – Part 2 – Delivery

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 😂

IMG_0628.JPG
Eventually the lovely midwife said it was time to start pushing. It is the weirdest feeling ever trying to push when you have no idea what it should feel like as you’ve never done it before, but then you can’t feel anything anyway because everything’s numb. I remember I kept asking over and over ‘Is this ok? Am I doing it?’ as I literally had no idea. I couldn’t feel the contractions so it was a case of watching the machine and pushing as hard as I could every time the spiky things went crazy. I had no idea (and still don’t) whether I pooed myself or not – if I did it was obviously handled very discreetly 😂 Before the pushing started, I was so anxious that it might happen but once I was ‘in the zone’ I couldn’t have cared less. It was almost like the start of the maternal instincts kicking in – at that point, the babies were more important than anything else and I just wanted to do everything possible to push them out. I also didn’t give a crap about the fact that I had my legs up in stirrups with everything out for all to see – and I had a lot of visitors popping in and out to check on my progress (not like family and friends – I mean medical people! Ha can you imagine?! 😂)
Unfortunately it became apparent that it wasn’t really happening. I pushed with all my might for two solid hours. I didn’t register feeling tired or anything (despite being fuelled solely by that one manky banana) – some kind of crazed determination had taken hold I think. It wasn’t having twins that was the problem – it was the fact that Twin 1 (Henry), although only on the 50th centile for weight, was on the 98th for head circumference (obviously we only knew the specifics after he was born – however, at one of our growth scans previously, they had called in a consultant as they were concerned that his head was measuring so big. They decided it was fine but it was quite amusing when the sonographer looked Rob up and down then said ‘yeah I think it’s probably inherited’ 😂). Anyway that kid has a lot to answer for as he’s basically singleheadedly responsible for the destruction of my undercarriage 😭 But more on that later (ooh I bet you can’t wait 😂😂)
Back to it… As soon as a consultant became available, I was transferred to theatre to have some assistance with pushing, in the form of a ventouse. The theatre was in stark contrast to the delivery room, which was almost friendly by comparison. Everything was glaringly white and clinical, and instead of my one lovely midwife, I suddenly had about 15 people around me. They gave me some sort of f**k-off super-strength epidural which made me extremely woozy (my memories are very hazy too) – I remember the guy spraying cold water on me to check that I couldn’t feel it. The pushing began again and I was vaguely aware that the consultant lady was doing stuff down there (otherwise known as an episiotomy). I’m sure I remember seeing Rob’s face at one point and his expression was pretty much pure horror 😂 Birth for us was certainly pretty far from the beautiful, magical moment you dream of 🙈 Rob later informed me it looked like a car crash scene 🙈 Eventually Henry Arthur was born/yanked out at 7.20pm (Friday 3rd July 2015) weighing 7lb7oz. They held him up to show me but all I remember is feeling quite horrified at the amount of blood and just feeling really out of it. It makes me so sad to think about it now. I didn’t even get to hold him as he was whisked off and I had to focus my attention on getting my next bubba out. I do remember breathing a big sigh of relief when I heard him cry from the other side of the room.
So I was lying there on a table in the middle of this theatre with basically a crowd of people around me. My amazing midwife was still there – she stayed by my side encouraging me through the whole thing. Someone was holding tight around my stomach to ensure that Twin 2 didn’t start having a party because of all the space she suddenly had and turn the wrong way. Anyway I started to push again and at 7.33 pm Cora Ann was born, weighing 5lb9oz. I did get to hold her briefly but then she was also taken off so that I could get stitched up. I think it was around then, once the babies had been cleaned, weighed and wrapped up, that they were put into a clear plastic cot and wheeled out with Rob. My midwife also said goodbye and told me that her shift had actually ended quite a while ago but that she couldn’t leave without knowing the babies were born safe and seeing them, which even in my semi-conscious state, I remember feeling so so touched by 😭😭 I felt properly out of it by this point – a mixture of exhaustion, relief and being absolutely off my tits on all the drugs. I remember feeling very sick while the consultant was doing the stitching and actually having to puke but having nothing in my stomach so it was just gross bile stuff 🤢 Anyway, after what seemed like forever, she was done and left the room and I think I probably fell asleep or something, presumably not for long. All I remember is coming round and being aware of all the people in the room starting to flap (probably an unfortunate choice of word!😂) and hearing the word ‘haemorrhage ‘ and feeling really quite scared. It turned out that my stitches had suddenly come apart and I was losing a lot of blood. Another consultant came in and restitched me and I was eventually reunited with Rob and the babies and moved into the High Dependency Unit.

IMG_0634.JPG
I don’t remember a lot about that first night at all – I was out of it and so were the babies. I do remember a male nurse milking me like a cow during the night as I struggled to hand express – what a picture 🙈 Anyway I was in hospital for five days (lucky enough to be in a private room which was fab) and during that time I ended up having a blood transfusion due to the amount of blood I lost during the birth. This made me feel a lot stronger, as for the first couple of days I was gradually turning greyer (my skin not my hair – that came later! 🤣) Being so weak didn’t help with the difficulties I had trying to breastfeed (I’ve already written a post about that so won’t go off on one again 🙈😂) Anyway as I said it’s all rather blurry in my memory but I know I was extremely emotional and overwhelmed and relieved and terrified and guilty and overjoyed and probably a whole host of other things too. I definitely remember being gripped by a feeling of utter terror when we were finally discharged to go home – how were we going to cope looking after two tiny creatures who were entirely dependent on us yet we had no clue what we were doing? How would I manage without having a midwife come running at the touch of a button? The weight of responsibility was huge but looking at those tiny, innocent little faces, I knew we had everything we’d always wanted and somehow we’d make it work.

IMG_0673.JPG

(Me and Cora 😍 I don’t have a photo of me with both of them 😭)

IMG_0672.JPG(My beautiful babies 😍)

My Birth Story – Part 1 – Labour

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.
So anyway… my birth story (as much as I can remember – it’s all a bit hazy!) I was induced at 37+3 weeks pregnant. I… Was… Huge. I mean, a proper whale – could hardly move, pelvis was in agony, sharp pains down my leg from Henry resting on a nerve, feet so swollen they resembled Elephant Man – I could go on for probably a very long time. Don’t get me wrong, I loooved being pregnant (I might write a post about my pregnancy another time) but the last two weeks were pretty hellish. Twin 1 (Henry) had been engaged for a while and we were on for a natural birth as he was head down (the consultant said it didn’t matter if Twin 2 was head down as they’d ‘yank her out by a foot if need be’ 🤤)

IMG_0568

So I was admitted to a room on the antenatal ward on Thursday 2nd July 2015 and given a pessary to hopefully start things off. By the evening I was in early labour although I didn’t really realise it immediately- I just remember being really restless and uncomfortable and feeling the need to keep moving all the time – rocking around on a birth ball, swaying, getting onto all fours on the bed (not graceful when your bump is the size of China 😂)

PhotoGrid_1511975927789.jpg
Anyway fast forward a few hours and I was in quite a bit of pain – the worst part was the pain in my lower back which was constant and didn’t subside between contractions. I was allowed to have a bath on the birthing suite which was actually magical; I can totally see why people want to have water births – the pain-relieving power of warm water is mental. Having twins I’d accepted that things like that weren’t an option for me – I hadn’t even written a birth plan as I knew the likelihood was that it would be totally out of my control. I really wanted to experience labour and hopefully a natural delivery – however I was quite prepared that it might not be possible as most twins I think are born by C-section. I wouldn’t have had a problem with this but as it’s likely to be the only time I give birth, I just wanted to experience it if possible. Anyway, I stayed in that bath until I was a wrinkled prune and as soon as I eventually got out, the pain came flooding back. The one thing I’d been adamant about on my non-existent birth plan was that I didn’t want to have pethidine. So of course, I had pethidine 😂🙈 I think the reason for not wanting it was because it can cross over to the babies? I can’t quite remember but anyway the midwives/nurses assured me it would be far enough in advance to be out of my system so I had it to enable me to get some sleep as there was no way that was happening otherwise. I remember leaving it a bit late after I’d had it to go and brush my teeth, and feeling it kick in while I was still in the bathroom down the corridor. So I then staggered back down to my room feeling super dizzy and woozy which was kind of amusing.
Anyway I had a great sleep and woke up at 4.45am pissing myself 😂 Only it went on for a bit too long and didn’t seem to be stopping… I finally realised what was actually happening and got out of bed for it to continue on the floor 🙈

To be continued… 😊