MORE twin pregnancy talk? OKAY!
Linda: “Now where is the birth story? And the difficulties of the first few months?”
I had the twins via c-section—not because they were twins, but because I have c-sections. I got to the hospital around 6:00 that morning, and they did the usual pre-c-section things like hooking up the IV. This was my third c-section so I was pretty calm about it. I got my hospital bracelet and they made TWO baby bracelets.
We went into the operating room and there were TWO of those newborn-processing stations, one labeled “A” and the other labeled “B.” There were also more people than usual: I had two obstetricians and they each had a nurse, plus there was the anesthesiologist, plus the pediatrician, plus a representative from the NICU just in case, plus a couple more nurses to assist the pediatrician, plus one nurse to go back and forth. I would describe the atmosphere as “serious party”: everyone was cheerful but focused. Once the babies were born safe and well, the seriousness went way down and there was whooping and joking around and people were placing bets on how much the babies weighed. The APGARS were, if I remember right, 9 at the first check and 10 at the second. It was so funny to hear TWO sets of pitiful indignant wails.
My mom was in the operating room with me so I have a ton of good pictures of the births, but all involve a fair amount of blood so let’s skip that and go to the part where I get a good look at Elizabeth:
My brother and my sister-in-law-to-be came up for the birth, and Rob and William were there with Paul, and my dad was there too, so when my mom followed the twins to the newborn nursery there were a lot of people waiting for that parade. We set up a jigsaw puzzle in my room and there was lots of happy hanging out over the next couple of days, putting puzzles together and holding babies.
My parents brought three helium balloons for each bassinet, pink for Elizabeth’s and blue for Edward’s, and that looked very amusing as they were being pushed up and down the halls.
The first day, the nurse asked if I wanted to learn to tandem nurse and I said not yet. The first night was awful: all night long, I was nursing one baby while listening to the other one cry. The second day, I learned to tandem nurse and things were much improved: both babies could nurse at the same time, and whoever finished first was still getting held. But I still had a hard time because I would fall asleep whenever I nursed and I didn’t feel like I could safely hold both twins that way. The second night I was up until 3:45 with no sleep yet; I finally had the nurses take them, and they had to come back 45 minutes later because they were hungry. The “this can’t be done” feeling was OFF THE CHARTS.
During the day I went to sleep whenever the babies did; this is the nice thing about being in the hospital. Plus, the nurses brought me food: french toast, fruit cups, chicken ranch wraps, turkey sandwiches, milk, warm chocolate chip cookies. (Journal entry from the day we went home: “We’re home. I’ve had four cries already, mostly over no one bringing me chicken ranch roll-ups and chocolate chip cookies.” Next day’s entry: “Paul has gone to the store for ingredients for chicken ranch wraps and fruit cups.”)
Lots of fuss was made over the twins’ size. The pediatrician said he’d never cared for such a large set of twins; several nurses said the same thing. One nurse said, “Gestational diabetes, right?” like she knew that was the explanation (it wasn’t—they were just nice and big). You wouldn’t think twins would cause a fuss in a hospital, but they did. People from other departments even stopped by “to see the twins.” When Paul was out in the hallways he said he’d hear nurses saying “We’ve got twins in room 20!”
In some ways it was easier once the twins were home. It’s nice to have nurses around, but it can get uncomfortable to be monitored, and to have people coming in and out all the time, and to keep having to prove via bracelet code that your babies belong to you. And my own recliner was a better tandem-nursing station than the wooden-armed chairs of the hospital room; I slept in the recliner with them.
In other ways it was much, much harder: I couldn’t nap all day as I had in the hospital, and there were two other children, and housework loomed and oppressed, and I had to take them to the pediatrician instead of having the pediatrician stop by on his rounds.
It helped that after two other babies Paul and I had finally worked out our New Baby system, so he was bringing me food, and neither of us were panicking at my moodiness, and we had a changing station set up in the living room, and we knew how to take care of babies in general. But I still got overwhelmed: I’d start by wondering if I’d ever get around to stamping the twins’ footprints in my journal, and it was not long before I was thinking about how I’d end up estranged from my grown children because of my poor parenting skills.
It also helped that I had a friend with twins. The best advice she gave me was to leave the camera somewhere obvious and take a lot of pictures because otherwise I wouldn’t remember anything about the first few months. The best advice I got from a twin parenting book was to consider SURVIVAL the only goal. Both of these pieces of advice are applicable to singleton births, too. Neither piece was helpful in the middle of the night when one twin wouldn’t wake up to nurse, and then DID wake up as soon as the other twin was nursed and tucked back into the bassinet.
Okay, that’s enough for now. I’ll do the other questions next!