Welcome to the World Evelyn and Rose Williams
I started this on 11th April, 5 days after our planned C-section date. Our little girls, however, didn’t want to wait that long and on 14th March at just 34 weeks old, Evelyn and Rose arrived, stealing our hearts. As I type, Ryan is back at work after finishing his paternity leave and the girls are laying, a little restlessly, in their Sleepyheads making the cutest sounds as they continue to familiarise themselves with this new world.
I was unsure whether I’d write a post. Do I want to spend valuable minutes doing anything other than staring at their faces? I genuinely want to look at them non-stop. I am completely captivated and besotted watching their expressions, the faces they make as they sleep – is writing this time well spent? But then I remembered why I started ‘blogging’ anyway. It was so I don’t forget. I didn’t want to forget anything about planning my wedding, or the roller-coaster of our twin pregnancy. And now, more so than ever, I don’t want to forget anything about our new life with Evelyn and Rose.
2 weeks earlier we’d had the 32 week appointment with our consultant, he was happy we’d make it to 38 weeks and so we booked our c-section, due to Rose still being transverse. Overall, I felt good, was still fairly agile and mobile, and the consultant was happy … the goal of making it to 36 weeks, at least, seemed closer. Sunday 11th March was Mothers Day, I booked in for a pregnancy massage my friends had given me at my Baby Shower and treated my Mum, too. It was divine… perhaps a little too divine. The day following the massage was very much like every other day. I got up, got ready and went to work – I’d only recently put our newly packed hospital bags in the car (under pressure from a colleague – I was sure it would jinx me!) and was due to start maternity leave on Thursday 15th. I was very excited to have 3 weeks to myself, resting and nesting.
With the jacket potatoes in the oven and Riverdale on the TV, I was happily laying on the sofa, propped up with cushions, as relaxed as you can be at 34 weeks pregnant. It was 8pm and Ryan was due home from football soon when I felt something. I can see myself in that moment, eyes popping out of their sockets, a nervous but huge, excited smile of anticipation on my face, waddling to the toilet where I stayed as I rang Ryan. Once he got home it was a frantic but funny 15 minutes before we headed to the hospital. They were the last minutes of life as a couple, just the 2 of us, everything was about to change and looking back, remembering him running up and down the stairs, calling the hospital and lining the car seat with towels (the nicer things to include in the blog … some of it was a little grim!), there was so much laughter.
I always thought I’d be scared when it all started, but even though it was earlier than we were expecting, and there hadn’t been any signs, I knew the babies were ok and I felt safe. Among the excitement, however, somehow I had forgotten their early arrival would mean they would have to stay in hospital. As my labour progressed, and through the early contractions, we were taken to the Neonatal High Dependency Unit where the girls would be taken once born. I wasn’t prepared for that. I always felt confident that we’d make it to the safety of 36 weeks so hadn’t spent any time really thinking on what it would mean if they did come early. I talked about it but never thought it would actually become our reality. I cried as we walked through the doors, as we were introduced to the nurses and families on the ward, and as I looked around and saw tiny babies connected to countless wires, alone, in their incubators.
We arrived at the hospital at quarter to 9 on Monday night and 34 hours later Evelyn and Rose were born via an assisted natural delivery. Evelyn had started to turn and although she was slowly righting herself, the consultant made the decision the midwife shouldn’t have allowed me to continue pushing, and that we should be taken to theatre straight away. The risks were explained to me and through floods of tears and snot I signed the consent form – consenting to the one thing I was always the most scared of. I wasn’t scared for me, I was scared for the babies. I hated the thought of them entering the world with metal instruments squishing their heads, it felt so cold, chaotic and clinical. It might sound silly but they were used to the warmth and sounds of the womb, and now, the first thing they’d experience would be these metal salad serving type spoons, surrounded by loud noises, bright lights, and being passed from person to person, instead of straight into my arms.
On the advice of so many ladies, I’d said to Ryan we needed to pack a bag of clothes for him. Being lazy, he said he could always go home if needed. Of course when the time came, after hours in a boiling hot room, he needed fresh clothes. We had none so he ended up wearing my shorts!
After the shock of being told I’d have to push (I’d just been pushing for hours, surely this was supposed to end the pushing!) it was time to push again. Evelyn was born and shown to me at 7.24 on Wednesday morning, followed by Rose at 7.41. It surprised me when I saw the times they were born. In those moments among the sadness I felt and the endless stream of tears I couldn’t control, it felt like the briefest of time, like no more than 5 minutes had passed. Of course I was beyond excited to meet them, but I was completely overtaken with sadness that they would be taken away, that we couldn’t take them home, that they’d be separated for the first time in 8 months. I felt like I’d failed them, failed my first test of motherhood. On reflection that is completely melodramatic, there is more to motherhood than birth, but in the heat of the moment it’s easy to forget that and let your fears take over.
Evelyn weighed a tiny 3lb 12oz and Rose only a slightly heavier 3lb 15oz. The Doctors cut the umbilical cords but left them long to allow Ryan to cut them down and have that moment. I can remember Ryan being asked if he wanted to do this for Evelyn but everything becomes a little hazier when it comes to Rose’s birth. Once both girls were born, they were brought up to me, wrapped in blankets and wearing hats knitted by a group of elderly ladies (I’d later get to meet one of these ladies) who donate them to the hospital for poorly babies. I am so glad they had those hats as a few days later Ryan told me that Evelyn’s tiny head was actually quite heavily marked and bruised.
Ryan left with the girls and it would be 9 hours until I saw them all again. In theatre, surrounded by people in white and blue coats, with my legs in the air and a placenta on the table to my right, the effects of the girls birth were dealt with. I deteriorated very quickly thanks to a subchorionic hemorrhage resulting in 2 blood tranfusions, in addition to third degree tearing and an episiotomy and woke up in a side room with my Mum next to me on her phone, ready to show me pictures of my babies. I noticed quickly that my eyes weren’t focusing and, not only couldn’t I see the pictures but I was struggling to cope with the light and couldn’t see Mum sat in front of me. My face has a tendency to puff up when I cry… I’d cried alot in a very short space of time, so add all of the drugs on top of that, and it felt (and looked) like my cheeks were swallowing my eyes up! It took 3 days for my vision to come back and for the puffiness to go down.
I don’t remember much about the first time I saw the babies in the high dependency unit (Nursery 1), just holding one of them for the first time and being so tired I kept dozing off, my arms relaxing and then waking in a panic that I’d dropped her. The next day they had been moved from Nursery 1 into Nursery 2. Nursery 1 was for babies who need care as opposed to feeding and monitoring only. The staff were all surprised that our tiny girls needed no care and could be moved so quickly. The girls were slightly jaundiced so were placed on jaundice mats with a bandage covering their eyes, protecting them from the rays – I would have quite liked to spend a bit of time on those mats, my honeymoon tan has vanished! They were being fed via tube as at just 34 weeks gestation the sucking reflex isn’t sufficiently developed, and were connected to a number of monitors that beeped and alarmed constantly. Nursery 2 was their second home for 11 days and it was the longest 11 days of my life. We were told they needed to be feeding self sufficiently while maintaining their temperatures and putting on weight before we could take them home. Looking at their tiny bodies, their skinny arms and legs, watching them being fed from the tube, it felt like a lifetime away.
Ryan went back to work the day following their birth as it made no sense to use his paternity leave while they were in hospital. I was still very much recovering, was exceptionally tired and had to go back and forth Nursery 2 and the Post Natal Ward so was pleased to have Dad stay the day with me and Uncle Matt come to visit. Evelyn and Rose had everyone wrapped around their fingers instantly!
I was discharged on the Saturday which meant we had to leave them in the unit and head home. Leaving them that night was the hardest thing I have ever done, it is no exaggeration to say my heart physically hurt, I ached to be holding them close and felt completely empty without them. We got into a routine of getting to the hospital for 6.30/7am, Ryan would go to work, come back at 6pm and we’d leave at 8/8.30. It was such an emotional and tiring time. Mum was absolutely amazing and made us countless meals, bought snacks and lunches for us both – I don’t know how we would have survived without her!
Over the 2 weeks the girls had lots of visits from their Nanny and Grandads, Uncles and Aunties. The hospital doesn’t allow for anyone other than parents to hold the babies so everyone had to wait for their much wanted snuggles!
On Sunday 25th we were told that if the girls fed exclusively from the bottle throughout the night, we would be able to take them home the next day. They had put weight on, they maintained their temperatures, the tubes had been removed and they were having breast milk only. It was finally, hopefully, time to bring them home. Ryan and I drove home that night, as we did every night, chatting about how exciting it will be to have them in their car seats, leaving the hospital behind and driving home. There was so much to look forward to – the girls seeing sunlight for the first time, feeling fresh air on their faces, being in their car seats and driving in a car, being in their new home. The next day when we got to the hospital it was confirmed the nurses would be submitting the discharge request to the Doctors.
It was finally time for us to all be together. If it wasn’t for the fact we had 2 tiny babies in the car seats I think Ryan and I would have skipped out of the hospital that day. We were so proud as we passed people congratulating us on our twins, “twins, wow”, “you have your hands full” … we did, and we do, and wouldn’t change a thing. Having the girls with us, finally, was the biggest relief, they are our truest loves.
I’m finishing this blog on 16th May. Evelyn and Rose are 9 weeks old… the most beautiful, most fun, tiring, crazy and most exhilarating chapter of my life. There’s at least one point in each day where I look at them and am in complete awe, fighting back tears, astounded at what we created, and the indescribable measure of love that has overtaken my life.