We made it through day one. I woke up in pain and remembered I had three children now. A bit like Christmas day with a hangover. A midwife had helped me to the loo in a wheelchair. I thought I’d try walking back to see what happened and it wasn’t so bad. I have my leg strength from spending 6 weeks squatting to pick up toy cars rather than bending (ok I hadn’t really been sitting that still on ‘bed rest’ for 7 weeks). It’s still very sore going from sitting to standing but not so bad once you’re up. They kept telling me it’s good to mobilise and I am so very motivated to be able to move about independently so I can get up to the third floor by myself to see the babies.
I expressed diligently into a syringe for the fourth time that night, delighted to produce a bumper 5ml over an hour, got dressed, put my make up on (I know, but it made me feel better) and went upstairs to proudly present it to the nurses in the IT (intensive treatment )unit. I felt like a five year old who’d drawn a picture and handed it over to an indulgent grandparent. They were so delighted and kind. They have a charming protocol in there of always greeting you warmly and introducing themselves. The nurse assigned to your baby will come up and tell you that they are responsible for x’s care today and spend time updating you on progress before leaving you to have a hand hold and chat to your baby through the little plastic window into their crib.
This was followed by a bit of a shocker as the terribly nice doctor told me in a nice kind voice that Alexander was making great improvements in spite of a dodgy night with a suspected infection for which they were administering antibiotics, low blood pressure that they’d decided to treat him for, and that they’d had to totally paralyse him and put him on morphine because he was fighting the incubator. ‘Great!’ ‘Any questions?”Er no, I think I’ll just take it in a bit at a time.’
I went away unsure want to make of the ‘good news’ and resolved to get a better orientation of what was normal next time I went in. The trouble is there is a different normal in there and you have to recalibrate. I’m not bad at receiving bad news and grasping new medical information but I needed to get a fix on where we were. I felt they had been holding back the reality of how sick he was when we saw him in the delivery room and had, understandably, not wanted to land this on us on day one.
When we went back I did manage to say politely to Terribly Nice Doctor no. 1 that because everyone was so very kind in there I found it difficult to gauge where we were at. That ‘progress’ earlier had sounded like all negative news. On a scale of normal for 28 weeks how bad was he? This was the right question as it elicited an honest response. ‘Well we haven’t felt the need to have one of those serious conversations with you about his survival but he was at the sicker end of sick babies when he was born, but he’s been travelling in the right direction ever since and he’s stable now.’ Thank you. Never trust a doctor who tells you everything’s fine in the delivery room.
We had a good day. Strangely it’s not all that stressful as I feel Beatrix and Alexander are in such good hands and I am enjoying being on the ward more now and taking time to recover and engage with my new tasks. I am in a two person room with a new cell mate who seems really open and down to earth. She gave birth at 4am this morning having been in labour since before I arrived there, and looked so fresh, a bit like she’d just popped back from the pub. She and her partner were really kind and supportive today and it really made a difference from the great British reserve.
Gerard came in a bit later and we both went back up together which made me feel stronger. The great thing about having two babies is that you can each spend time bonding with one without crowding each other out or feeling you’re neglecting a twin. We both got to hold hands with the babies and chat to them. Beatrix really likes to grip a finger firmly but isn’t so keen on a whole hand covering her. I want to stroke them both and touch their little arms and legs and hair but I think a still hold seems to reassure them more. I think she likes my singing and I see her whole body respond. She used to move a lot in my womb when I sung Lucas his goodnight medley.
Alexander is harder to gauge partly because he’s on so much medication but he does respond to being touched and often tries to open his eyes wide when you sing or say hello or goodbye to him. I have a feeling from what he was like inside and now that he is going to be very tenacious and she a bit mellower. It’s such a cliche to say that every premature baby is a fighter but he wants off that equipment and to be out of there. I feel it. Like his big brother Lucas, who fought off an evil swaddling on his first night, he doesn’t like being restrained.
We watched the Murray match back in the ward and both fell asleep for the exciting third set. I realised I must be emotional when Andy Murray’s losing speech nearly made me cry. He’s normally such a boring turd. It’s good to see a man unashamed of expressing emotion in public and I admired him for it.
I went back up a couple of times with more milk deliveries, a good excuse to check in a few times a day and sung them each a lullaby at bedtime. My expressing was so meagre tonight after the doctor advised me not to drink or eat this evening (bad post Caesarean wind pain. I told you there was a cheese baby in there!). I decided to cut myself some slack on the three hourly regime and said I wouldn’t be delivering a feed in the night. They have milk from the breast milk bank. Mine’s better for them apparently but I figured if I don’t get some rest and relax a bit it’ll dry up anyway. A kind charismatic midwife told me I was wonderful tonight and to ignore the doctor and eat a banana and have some green tea if I felt like it because my milk would come if I was happy and relaxed. So many good people here who just want to make you feel better. I had a decent sleep and didn’t mind Valentina’s baby crying at 5am. I think she’s more stressed by the idea of disturbing me.
Hospital suddenly got more interesting with a reason to be here. I’ve been in more than a week now and find myself asking how much longer they’ll let me stay rather than when they’ll let me out. I hope Lucas is ok without me. He sounds like he is is having a nice time with his dad and superstar grandparents who have dropped everything and moved in. If he doesn’t see either of us all day he gets a bit twitchy around 6 or 7, the time we’d normally get back from work. He doesn’t seem to miss me that much but I guess I should see that as a sign of a secure child.
Sorry for the long thinking aloud ramble this evening. It’s very therapeutic for me and you don’t have to read it! Right, time to get up and start my milk expressing regime for the day. It’ll be so much easier once I can go on the pump, but until I get 10ml in one go and we’re past the colostrum stage it’s a waste. Both sets of grandparents are coming to see their new grandchildren today which is exciting. Lucas will come too but I’m not sure we’ll be able to let him see his brother and sister yet because he’s recently been ill and they are so vulnerable to infection.
Day two. I’m ready for you. Bring it on.