We spent the first week of Duke and Jude's life in the hospital. Luckily, the boys were healthy enough that they stayed in a room with us, and didn't have to spend any time in a NICU (none in Cranbrook anyways, otherwise we would've been flown to Vancouver, Calgary, or Kelowna -- whichever had room for us). The boys were slightly jaundiced, so they spent 24 hours under the lights (a vacation to a baby!) with masks that resembled Spiderman. It was sad to see them in a little plastic box with their faces all covered up, but they didn't seem to mind. They slept a lot and just got woken up to feed every 3 to 4 hours. The boys had really low blood sugar levels. Tim and I decided that we would have IVs administered into each of the boys to get their levels up. That was also heartbreaking to see their little arms wrapped up, and it was also a challenge to move them around, because everywhere the babies went, their IV bags went with them. These tiny little babies with adult sized IV stands on wheels. It was quite the ordeal. The other reason we were in the hospital was because the boys kept losing weight. I wasn't producing much milk at this time, and the boys were having trouble latching, so we decided to supplement with some formula after each feeding.
Each feeding would take an hour usually. Tandem nurse both babies, pump milk, feed babies expressed milk, then top them up with formula. After all this, burp and change diapers. Phew! It was a long process. And it happened every.three.hours. One of our favourite nurses, J, came into the room one morning, and said, "Okay, we're going to do this in an hour. Then you guys need to rest for 2 hours". She was so positive and motivating, that we ended up having two really great days when she was on shift. We love you, J! Your kindness and care will never be forgotten. Side note: I plan to have a post about all the wonderful nurses that work on maternity. They are all so amazing!!
We basically fed the boys and tried to rest as much as possible. We lived in that small hospital room for a week. It was depressing. It was the May Long Weekend, and all we could see out the window was the roof of the hospital, a few trees, and lots of grey clouds. At least we weren't missing sunshine! The main thing I looked forward to was eating. Our parents were amazing and brought us really good home cooked meals that we just devoured. We took up the majority of the fridge space that was supposed to be shared with all patients on that floor. Our lovely OB (our actual OB), kept encouraging us to leave the hospital and go for lunch. I couldn't imagine my life outside of that hospital room. I didn't want to leave the boys, but at the same time, I was desperate to get home. The first few days weren't bad in the hospital, but after awhile you start to go loopy.
Day 3 was the hardest. It was late at night, and we couldn't get the boys latched. We wanted to try a feeding on our own. Up until now, I didn't care when the nurses just came in and grabbed my boob to get the boys latched. I couldn't do it on my own, and Tim hadn't quite got the hang of it, so I let the nurses do it. Nursing is painful at first! My nipples were so so sore. Tender, cracked, bleeding, ouch!! So I thought if the nurses could do it quickly, my nipples wouldn't have to suffer as much. Well, on Day 3, I decided I was fed up with people grabbing my boob! I was tired, frustrated, lonely, sad, sore from surgery.... I had all the feels. Nurse S, came in, and knew that I was upset. I started crying. She said, "everyone cries on Day 3. It's completely normal". It's like the excitement is starting to wear off and exhaustion sets in, and real life hits you in the face. Tim and I both cried after Nurse S left. We cuddled in my tiny hospital bed and just had a good talk about our life. We definitely grew stronger as a couple from that night. For the other nights, Tim had been sleeping on the lazy boy in the corner, and me in the bed, and the boys in the nursery. It is lonely after awhile, not sleeping in the same bed as your partner, and feeling like you're not all together as a family!
After Day 3, things looked up a bit. It was still hard. Really hard. I can't say that I was enjoying life. Besides our parents, we really didn't have many visitors. We weren't ready to have a ton of people swarm us, and because feedings were such a huge ordeal, it seemed there was never really a right time to have people come see us at the hospital. Plus, with my nipples being so sore, I mostly walked around topless or with my robe open to air things out. Looking back, I realize that I didn't have a proper hair elastic and I don't know why I never asked my mom to grab me some new ones. My hair was always half up in a stupid floppy bun, and I could've looked way more together, if only I'd had an elastic!! The other thing that bugged me is that I had a nail appointment set for the evening we had our NST. Well, of course, I never made it to that appointment, so my nails were growing out and chipping. UGH! The little things that you look back on and shake your head at. And people probably wonder, how could you even worry about things like that with newborn twins?!, but the thing is, they slept a lot in that first week. I had down time to think about things like hair elastics and nails (haha).
One of the days in the hospital, (I can't remember which one ... I think one of the first few days) we had to deal with the on call OB who had induced us and delivered the boys. One of the nurses had asked how everything went, and I rambled out most of the story (at this point, I was still slightly traumatized by the labor and delivery). She really was quite shocked and suggested that we talk to the manager nurse about our experience. When we did this, the manager asked the on call OB and our maternity doctor to meet with us. It was awkward. It was uncomfortable. But, we said what needed to be said to his face. He was defensive, he told me, "Well, Taylor, you knew what all the possible outcomes could be." And yes, I knew about it all, but how was I supposed to know how awful it was to be in the OR, to try and push my babies out, strapped down to a table, and then to have to be put under for the delivery. My babies were alone when they were delivered. Alone without their parents. It breaks my heart to think of those moments. If I was given the opportunity to do the c-section from the get go, with a proper spinal block, both Tim and I would've been able to be there, to witness the birth of our babies, to have immediate skin-to-skin contact. Tim also added in to the on call OB, that our experience would have been a lot better if the communication between him and the nurses had been more respectful. Our on call OB really didn't say much, but our maternity doctor thanked us for sharing our experience and concerns. We were a little late to advocate for ourselves, but I hope that someone's experience can be more pleasant with this particular doctor because of what we shared. We also had to meet with the unit coordinator (I am not sure if this is her actual occupation title?). But she is very driven on making the Maternity unit the best it can be, and creating positive experiences for all mamas, daddies, and babies. I really encourage YOU to share your story, your concerns, your feelings, if you have a negative experience while at the hospital. Listen to your mama gut, and speak up! Don't keep quiet about things that make you feel uncomfortable. This is supposed to be a wonderful experience, bringing your baby into the world, and a lot of measures can be taken to make it that way! After we spoke to the on call doctor, I started to move on from that experience and just focus on my babies.
Every morning at the hospital, we'd wait for the OB and paediatrician on call to come and do rounds and update us on the babes. We really just wanted to know when we'd get to go home!! The blood sugar and weight loss were the biggest things. The boys had to get poked in the foot every three hours to check their levels. We continued with pumping and formula to get them to gain weight. When it seemed like nothing was changing, all the sudden, we got the clear to be discharged! The boys were doing better, and it was safe to go home.
It would take us a while to get everything all together, packed up, and the boys into their carseats. We decided to time it so that we'd do a feeding, then go home and get settled. I was so excited to go home! I couldn't wait to be comfortable at home, sleep in my own bed, and to start our life with the boys! One nurse, E, went over a bunch of mandatory papers with us, and I honestly can't really remember what she told us. I was just so eager to go home.
We got the boys dressed for the first time, took a few pictures, loaded them into their seats (so tiny!!), took some more pictures, and headed out. Saying goodbye to the nurses was almost sad! They had been amazing to us for the past 7 days, and we couldn't imagine doing things at home without their help! We hugged them all goodbye, went down to pick up a few prescriptions, and then walked to the car. I was so out of shape, from sitting/laying for the past week, I was breathless by the time we got to the car! We got the boys in safely, and hit the road. We thought the drive home would be really momentous, but really the boys just slept the whole 5 minute drive. I was the one in awe, I soaked in all of the green! It was like spring had sprung while we were gone. Everything was so green and lush and beautiful. It felt like more than a week since I'd been outside and home. Coming home was wonderful. It was like everything was brand new. It felt like our house was huge! We had so much space (compared to our hospital room) and everything was tidy and clean!
We settled in at home, then looked at each other, and said, "Now what?"
We were home for a day, when one of my biggest fears happened, and I ended up back in the hospital. Our trip back to the hospital in the next post.
Thanks for reading,
mrs. + mama