Sunday, 25 January 2015

Forever House - A's nursery

by Roz

So it's been forever since my last blog post, life has been hectic! I'm not going to list the reasons here but I've missed writing posts and wow am I in awe of Bex finding the time to blog with two babies!

I'm excited to finally post about a finished room in the house and it's my baby boy's room. I just love how his room has turned out. I previously wrote about my thoughts for his room here where I shared the wallpaper I was going to use and a few things I had my eye on. Of course I initially shared the nursery in the second floor house tour here (bedroom three) which shows the room as an empty shell.

It's funny but having spent so many days working in the room, sanding and filling the woodwork, the walls, mist coating and painting - including the cornice 4m up whilst pregnant with A! - the room was always empty and I guess felt quite small. With everything in it, I'm amazed at how big the room is!

 This picture is a little blurry but I wanted to include the big light

 Aaron wanted in on the photo shoot!

Love the reflection of the light in the window!

 I am so in love with the rainbow rug :)

I am so happy with the grey colour on the walls, it's a lovely deep shade that works so well with all the white wood work in the room and doesn't feel dark at all. We actually bought the paint for our hallway but B is having second thoughts about grey paint (much to my disappointment) and keeps wanting magnolia or cream shades. Someone tell me how to convince him other wise?? All the bedrooms have the same grey carpet that is in the nursery, it's a beautiful deep pile carpet that is so cosy underfoot but has the added bonus of being scrubbable and bleachable for any little accidents! I hoped it wouldn't be too much grey but I love it and of course the rainbow rug adds a massive splash of colour.

The room has a built in cupboard / shelving unit which is so handy. I've added a hanging rail in the bottom for clothes and changed the handles for stars :) It's just a lovely place to display some of the lovely gifts we were given when A was born.

Nearly everything in the picture above are presents from wonderful family and friends

Another item that I am so happy with is our Ikea spolling change table. Unfortunately Ikea don't make them anymore, it took me about three months of Gumtree and eBay searching to find one local, and then when I spoke to the seller it turned out she had two for sale so we bought them both for a total of £30. Until A was about 7 months old we changed him on top of the oak dresser in his room but now he is way to wriggly for that! The change table is made of fabric and the curve hugs him in place, it's genius. I first used it in a restaurant in Glasgow and am so happy we have them. A loves it too!

Lots of pockets to store nappies, wipes, creams etc!

A loves it, even if he is longer than it already!!

Similar to Bex, I ended up with a bit too much stuff for A's room, so the playroom is going to have rainbow bunting, prints and animal heads that were originally bought for the nursery. The playroom is still very much a dumping ground at the moment though so won't be on the blog for a while!

Similar to Bex's post I've included a few links to where some of the bits came from as so many people have asked from my instagram photos, especially the rainbow rug!

Rug - ebay rugssupermarket
Armchair with matching footstool (not shown) - eBay the sit and sleep shop
Cloud cushion - This Modern Life
Light - Maskros Ikea (the 80cmwide one!)
Coloured wooden letters - This Modern Life
George the Elephant Head - Emiline House
Animal Alphabet - Ketchup on Everything
Cable & Cotton lights - Achica
The cot is a Mama's & Papas Chamberlain cot bed in oak that I bought from another online seller for way less than M&P and the M&S oak dresser was bought second hand from the lovely Sarah

Roz xx

Friday, 23 January 2015

Breastfeeding twins - my experience so far

by Bex

Breastfeeding two babies has been difficult but oh so worth it.  I feel so proud to be able to say I have now exclusively breast fed the twins for 10 weeks and counting.

Skin to skin breastfeeding Priya on day one. 

I know that not everyone is lucky enough to be able to breastfeed and some simply choose not to.  I can also easily see why some people might have to or want to give up, it takes sheer determination to be able to continue in some cases and had we not been able to get Kal's tongue tie fixed so quickly, I'm pretty sure I couldn't have kept going!  After a few days I couldn't imagine feeding them for weeks never mind months!  I'd always hoped I'd be able to manage to breastfeed them for at least 6 months but I was trying to be realistic and not put too much pressure on myself if I found it too hard.  I felt so disappointed when I thought I might not manage but I knew Nik would support me whatever happened and it wasn't worth making myself upset and stressed if I couldn't do it.

I know people who haven't been as lucky as me and really wanted to breastfeed but couldn't for various reasons and despite some serious effort in some cases.  I was very lucky in that I had lots of support to help me keep going when I found it tough and we found a solution to my pain.  Not only had I prepared Nik by asking him to help me try to keep going as long as it wasn't making me and/or the babies stressed and miserable (basically by not making it easy for me to give up and encouraging me in what I was doing) but I also had some great help from the midwives and a very good 'Breast Friends' volunteer in hospital as well as from the midwives in the birthing centre we had a couple of nights in post-discharge before going home.  (I have to say one of the midwives squeezing my nipple trying to express colostrum on the first day to make sure the twins were getting enough was pretty horrendous but there was another midwife who was extremely helpful and she was much more effective and less painful at hand expressing for me while I learned what to do.)

Priya feeding less than 2 hours after she was born

Priya receiving some expressed colostrum on day 1

 Feeding Kal while Priya waits, then feeding Priya while I have dinner - day 1

Feeding Kal - day 1

On day 4 (Friday) when my milk started coming in and I had the hormonal surge people had warned me causes the (usually day 3) blues, I was really struggling.  It was very frustrating as I'd been told by more than one midwife that the twins' latch looked perfect after I was shown how to help them on day one.  Despite this, my nipples ended up cracked and bleeding after being mangled by Kal due to his tongue tie (which was only slight but made a huge difference to his ability to feed properly!) and I was dreading the next feeding time.  I knew I couldn't do it and I asked for help.  I received it.  Nik was supportive and helped me not to feel like a failure.  I called Roz in floods of tears and she told me how she'd had a similar crying fit during a hard time in the early days and she offered advice and empathy as well as giving me hope that it should get easier as it had for her.  And finally the midwife fetched the breastfeeding support volunteer and we came up with a plan.

As for the emotional side of things, I was a mess in the morning!  We were dealing with Kal at one point and waiting for some help from the midwife and Priya was crying.  When we picked her up she had an actual tear!  Her first tear and I felt SO guilty!  I burst into tears thinking she'd thought we'd abandoned her as she'd been crying (not just noisy cries it turned out but actual tears!!) for a couple of minutes before I could pick her up.  It was horrendous!  (Obviously there have been many more tears since and I just have to tell myself that there's only one of me and two of them so despite my best efforts, sometimes one will have to cry for longer than if there were just one of them but it doesn't help with the guilt and heart wrenching when I see those tears!)

Feeding Priya - 3 days old

I was so concerned about switching to a bottle (of either expressed milk or formula) on just day 4, well before breastfeeding was established but they reassured me that it is not as much of an issue as is made out and that it certainly wouldn't mean I couldn't get the babies back on the breast.  They brought me a breast pump and showed me how to use it.  Initially I continued feeding Priya and we gave Kal the expressed colostrum/milk but my nipples were still painful and bleeding so we decided I'd rest the boobs completely for a few days to allow healing and only feed the babies expressed milk from a syringe/bottle.  I felt better pretty quickly just knowing there was a plan and it wasn't necessarily the end of the breastfeeding.  I was discharged the next day (Saturday) and we went to Crowborough Birthing centre where they also fetched me a breast pump and did all the sterilising for us!

Feeding Priya - day 4

They also helped me to get Priya back on the breast two days later as I was scared by this point that it was still going to be painful but luckily it was fine and I could see how it could work.  If we'd gone home without stopping at the birthing centre for those two extra nights I'm not sure I would have managed to get back to breastfeeding so easily.  They also sorted me out an appointment asap to fix Kalyan's tongue tie on the Tuesday.  Luckily for me, we had no problems with his latch once that was sorted and after those few days of expressing while my nipples healed, I was able to start feeding both twins back on the boobs again.

Feeding Priya - day 4 - she just loves to wave her hands around!

I have still had some pain since then, either due to the excessive amount of time I have a tiny person suckling on each breast, particularly during growth spurts when they are just hungry All. The. Time, or as a result of someone chomping down a bit too hard in overexcitement to get fed!  It's never been bad enough that I've had to stop although I did rest a nipple for a day or so if one became too sore and just pumped that side instead.  Expressing has definitely been a life saver from this respect as well as helping my milk supply.  I am SO glad I bought a breast pump before the twins arrived as we were given a loan of one in the hospital but I was having to pump every time I fed Priya while Kal was exiled from the boob for making them bleed (poor thing, totally not his fault) and knowing I had my own ready at home made it much less stressful than if we had to go about finding one when we were discharged.

Kal having some expressed milk at home - day 8
He used to love holding his face!

Besides the initial issues with severe pain and just the general discomfort while the nipples get used to their function, the other thing which could have been difficult is just the time it takes to feed the babies.  Although I had managed to successfully tandem feed them a few times right from the beginning, it wasn't easy to get them latched on and Nik had to help each time as well as lots of bolstering with pillows.

Tandem feeding the twins on day 3, gosh they were so teenie!

It's only now they are a bit bigger and we're all more used to it that I am confident latching them with one hand and I'm able to use the bulky breastfeeding pillow (a bit too uncomfortable following my section and not really suitable for such teenie babies anyway) which has made life a whole lot easier and freed up a lot of time between feeds!  Given that it takes about an hour for a full feed (including nappy change so about 45 minutes really), if I wasn't able to tandem feed I would be left with very little time to sleep between night feeds and hardly any time to feed myself during the day!  Not only has it saved time but it also enables me to feed them hands free!  I often support them with my hands anyway as I love to stroke them behind their ears while they feed but it means I can use my phone or the remote control, take a drink or even eat over them if I need to (which I often do!) and of course, take photos of them!

The first time using the twin feeding pillow.

I bought the Harmony Duo twin feeding pillow and highly recommend it!  Now that I've healed following my section, it's very comfortable.  They're ridiculously expensive to buy (£85) what is essentially foam and a washable cover but we got ours second hand on ebay for just £25.

You can see how it supports them in just the right place.

It also works well as a rest for the twins once we've finished feeding.  Sometimes I just let them snooze there rather than disturb them, it also makes it easier for me to entertain both of them at once when they're awake as it's difficult to hold them both at once while also being able to see their faces.

Priya loves to stretch, regardless of where her brother's face is ;)

Although I have frequently fed the twins in public, I do feed them one at a time when out and about.  I obviously don't use the pillow in public as it's a) too bulky to take anywhere and b) I'm not THAT confident that I'd get both boobs out at once.  I am happy to say I am much less self conscious now than I thought I'd be and it was quite nerve wracking the first time (on day 8, after Kal had his tongue tie fixed we had a coffee in the WRVS cafe in the hospital and I fed him there) but I've never had any horrible stares or bad comments.  Of course I am prepared with my reaction if I ever do but I think it would have been hard initially to actually stand up for myself if I did encounter any negativity.  I'm hoping that such incidences that I have read about in the media are actually few and far between as it's certainly been my experience that I've had people come and tell me the twins are beautiful while I'm feeding one of them, without batting an eyelid about the fact I am breastfeeding, which is as it should be in my opinion.

So far I have also fed them in two local pubs and a cafe, Asda, Sainsbury's, Yo Sushi, an Italian restaurant, Costa and Ikea.  If I couldn't feed them in public I'd never be able to go anywhere for more than 30 minutes for fear of screaming babies.  I prefer feeding them at home because it's more comfortable on my sofa with the twin pillow but I love the freedom I have being able to just leave the house and not have to worry about when I need to get home or lugging bottles around with me and having to plan how much milk to take or where I might be able to heat it.  Being able to just sit down anywhere and feed my babies is just fab!

Out for dinner with Nik & his parents at the Crow & Gate - 16 days old

In Yo Sushi with Nik - 8 weeks old

In Otello with Nik, my parents and my brother - 
Although I've mostly been with people whom I know would back me up if I faced any negativity, I'm now confident enough to nurse in public on my own as I had to in Costa when Nik had gone for a Christmas present for someone while I rested and ate after we registered the twins' birth.  Priya decided she was hungry too!  My confidence is definitely helped by thinking of Anna saying she had a breastfeeding in public face, I can imagine her glare were anyone to dare challenge her.

Other than the freedom it gives us being able to get out and about with ease, I just love feeding the babies.  The noises they make, the satisfied faces when they're done, the way they gently grasp or hug my boob while they eat (and Priya's Jazz Hands below!), the way they sometimes hold hands while feeding together... it's just magical!  I didn't realise quite how many photos I had taken of them feeding but I'm glad I did, despite our difficulties, they are all happy memories for me.

Jazz Hands - day 4, during my blood transfusion

Priya on day 2 - SO teenie in comparison to the boob!!

Kalyan on day 2

Kalyan on day 2 again - skin to skin

I just love the eye contact although they still often close their eyes when feeding - 8 days old
Kalyan - 12 days old
Feeding the twins one at a time - 16 days old

Getting used to the feeding pillow with tired eyes - 5 weeks old, boob box in the background!
It gets awfully hot with both babies against me so I often just wear vests when feeding at home.

Holding hands for the first time - 5 weeks old
6 weeks old

Feeding on Christmas Day :)
6 weeks old

Holding hands on boxing day - 6 weeks old

I'm SO lucky!!!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

After the birth

by Bex

So, our birth story was pretty straightforward, better than I imagined and we got some amazing photos of the event which I'm so chuffed with.  The next part was a bit harder.  I lost quite a lot of blood in theatre (1 litre) which left me a bit anaemic and therefore more tired than expected and extremely pale.  I was in a bit of pain following the surgery as well and had a catheter so was stuck in bed for the first day or so.  As a result, Nik changed all the nappies while we were in hospital and I only had to worry about feeding them.

Nik changing Priya's first dirty nappy

I often felt like we were in our own little world, I had absolutely no idea what the ward was like as it is a corridor of private rooms and we were in the first room so I hadn't seen the rest of the place pre-surgery.  I was glad we had a window with some daylight coming in and a view of trees.  I found the nights quite long and hard and was glad to have my phone as a connection to 'the outside world' - it all sounds very dramatic but it was a bit surreal during those first few days and nights.

The first day was spent in a haze of newborn snugglieness with lots of skin to skin as the twins and I tried to get the hang of breastfeeding.  I have written a post about my breast feeding experience so I won't go into that much here but I did find it easier than I expected at first before it became very difficult due to the pain I experienced.  I also found it hard not knowing if they were even getting anything but their sheer cuteness was the perfect distraction to any worry, pain and tiredness.  I loved looking at them (obviously taking dozens of photos) and just spent the day amazed at how lucky we are - they were here at last!


Because Mum had come in with us in the morning so she could take the car home while we were in hospital, she basically just stayed in our room while I was down having my section so we got to keep her all day!  ;)  It was lovely being taken back up from recovery knowing she was in our room to meet the twins.  Later that day Nik's parents came for visiting time for lots of cuddles and many more pictures were taken including our first as a family of four.

Kalyan trying to latch on to Nik's face!

(Shame about the lanolin stains!)

Opening the gift from Alison

After visiting time I was supposed to be getting helped to get out of bed and mobilise, have a shower and get my catheter out.  Unfortunately when someone came to help with this I was feeding so they said they'd come back later and never did.  This ended up being a bit of a pattern the following day too as the first time someone came I hadn't had any painkillers and despite trying to get up it was far too painful and I ended up in tears so we had to give up until I had some pain relief.  The next time someone came, I was feeding again.  We tried pressing the call button and were told someone would come as I was now quite uncomfortable having been sat in the bed for over 24 hours.  Eventually we gave up waiting as I got quite upset and Nik had to help me get up, carrying my catheter bag into the shower with me.  I was in a lot of pain and found it extremely difficult to move but managed to give myself a much needed rinse in the shower before hobbling to the chair in our room.  I was desperate to get back into bed as I was exhausted just making the effort to move (which we later learned was due to my anaemia) and became out of breath quickly but the bed was soaked in blood despite my maternity pads being changed regularly by the nurse.

We tried the call button again to get the bed changed so I could get back in and had to wait quite a while again, being uncomfortable in the chair.  Once I was back in bed, they said they'd come back to remove the catheter but this didn't happen until visiting time in the evening.  Generally we were very well looked after in Pembury - when staff were available, it just seemed they were really short and struggled to help us when we needed it.  We were left alone for very long periods as we tried to get to grips with being new parents and having had a section this was much more of a struggle as I was also finding it hard to recover following the surgery.

My bloods were checked on the first day and noted to have low haemoglobin due to blood loss but they weren't too concerned as they knew I'd lost 1 litre of blood in theatre.  It wasn't checked again until day 3 and before we got the results, one of the midwives was talking about me going home the next day.  I could barely walk to the toilet never mind down to the car!  When one of the junior doctors came to review me, he agreed that we could stay as we didn't feel ready to go home yet.  He returned a couple of hours later to say he was glad we weren't ready to go as my haemoglobin was now below the threshold for a blood transfusion which explained my shortness of breath and extreme tiredness.  It was a relief to know there was a reason and I wasn't just pathetic!  It turned out I had lost a lot of blood postpartum as well as in theatre and had just half the blood volume I should!

He recommended I get a full 4 units of blood to make sure I was well topped up back to where my levels should be, especially as we had twins, his consultant agreed I should receive a transfusion to make sure I was strong enough to cope with twins when we returned home.  He said it would take a while to organise as they needed a new blood sample as the previous one was now out of date for a group & save but that I would at least get one unit that day before the remaining 3 the following day.

Sadly that didn't happen either, the midwives said they would only be able to do it before 9pm (as in it had to have been transfused by then) and if they didn't get the blood by then we'd have to be transferred to the labour ward to receive it overnight but that would only happen if they had room to take us.  We really didn't want to have to move everything and the twins and hoped we wouldn't have to move anyway.  The midwife on night shift said she'd be happy to do it where we were if she could start it by 9 but despite her calling for the blood numerous times, it never came.

We eventually received it the next morning, once the handover and breakfast was done!  The 4 units were finally finished by midnight!

It was amazing how quickly I felt better, even after the first unit!  It made such a difference when dealing with the babies and generally recovering following the birth.

Already getting a bit more colour in my cheeks!

As a result of receiving a blood transfusion, I've been told I can no longer give blood.  I thought it might be for a certain period of time but I'm never allowed to donate again.  As a result, I'd like to urge those of you who can to please, please donate blood.  It made such a difference to me and of course can be even more essential in other situations to save lives!

During all this blood drama, I was well distracted by our gorgeous babes of course ;)

They each had a security tag added to their ankle which set off an alarm if they were to leave the ward!

Yet another thing bringing me down during those first few days was the rash which had started as a small patch under my belly button (the bit that's now purple below!) spread throughout my stretch marks across my whole belly.  It was extremely itchy and uncomfortable.  I asked Nik to take photos to document it as well as the size of my bump post-delivery as I was surprised just how big it still was once the babies were out.  It was initially very deflated looking but then became quite round again as I mobilised.  I found it quite uncomfortable due to it hanging down onto my wound once it was no longer stretched out with the babies inside, it took a while for me to be able to walk without supporting it with one hand.  I also got quite a lot of back pains similar to the Braxton Hicks I experienced in the days before the birth.  They explained this was due to my uterus contracting quickly due to the breast feeding.  The photos aren't pretty but I thought they might be useful for other new mothers who might experience the same horrible rash (Polymorphic Eruption of Pregnancy).

Unfortunately the rash became much worse, spreading across my whole body - the only places not affected were my face and chest.  It took about 3 weeks for the rash to disappear and another couple for the itching to fully disappear from my legs.  This made sleeping really difficult even when the twins were asleep which was an extra added difficulty for those first few weeks being a new mum too!

Anyway, eventually it was time to leave the hospital and on the last day, I just happened to receive a call from our local midwife checking up on me as she'd seen I was due soon.  I explained we'd had the twins and were being discharged that day and she asked how everything was.  I told her about the section, the blood transfusion and my difficulties breast feeding and Kalyan's tongue tie and she asked if we'd like to go there for a stay before going home.  There being Crowborough Birthing Centre which was much closer to home.  She explained that they only had one mother currently there so we'd receive one to one care and we wouldn't be taking a bed away from anyone as they had plenty spare.  She seemed very keen for us to go (we think they're fighting to keep it open) and we'd heard great things about the place when we went to an NCT baby show a few weeks before.  Some mothers there described it as being like a holiday while recovering and suggested we ask to recuperate there if we could (we couldn't since we were having twins but since we were now being discharged, they could take us).  So, off we went to have a couple of nights there to help us feel more ready before heading home.  It was the best choice we made but I'll save that story for another post!

It was quite late by the time we were discharged so we left in the dark after dinner to make our way there.  I was terrified of the first car journey so padded out my wound under the seat belt and Nik drove very slowly.  It was actually fine (I was also given morphine before we left to help with the trip) and we made it there by about 7pm.

Heading outside for the first time!
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