Monday, 23 May 2016

Life With Irish Twins: Finding Out & The First Weeks

Irish Twins.

If you are totally unfamiliar with this term and have no idea what on earth I'm talking about, don't worry - I had no idea either until a friend informed me of it a few months back!

The term basically refers to a pair of siblings born less than 12 months apart *

It's quite an unusual occurrence I suppose, to have 2 babies in less than a year who aren't actual twins...and I quite often get the looks of shock and comments of "You really do have your hands full..literally!" and "Are they all yours?!".

I'll never forget the day I found out that I was pregnant again so soon after having Noah.

 I was sitting in the living room one night when I was suddenly hit by a strange phantom smell - it's so difficult to explain but this particular smell was something I only ever experienced when pregnant and it is so very distinctive...I know it's not really there but to me it's overwhelming.

Noah was only 9 weeks old at the time, the same age that Sailor is at the time of writing this post, and I remember thinking "NO...I must just be smelling it because the hormones are still in my system".

But it worried me and so, even though I was quite sure I couldn't possibly be pregnant, I decided to take a test the next morning just to put my mind at ease.

There was none of that usual nervous anticipation of waiting for the results to show because I had no doubt in my mind at all....I wasn't pregnant.

 I was just being paranoid and that phantom smell had just been a random occurrence. I had a 9 week old baby laying asleep in the next room after all, of course I wasn't pregnant again! That would be CRAZY.

I picked the test up and glanced at it...ready to throw it away, breath a sigh of relief and get on with my day...and there they were. Two lines. As clear as day.

I was absolutely, 100% pregnant.

I feel terrible admitting to how I reacted now, but I have to be honest - I burst into tears.

I worried so much that my body wouldn't be able to cope with the strain of another pregnancy and another c-section delivery so soon after the last one. I worried that my scar wouldn't be strong enough yet to support a growing was a fresh scar, just weeks could it possible withstand the strain of a growing pregnancy again so quickly!?

I shouted for Jon to come upstairs, and when he came into the bathroom I ranted and sobbed like a toddler - shoved the test at him and shouted things like "But how can we be having a baby?! We've JUST HAD ONE!"

The confusion was added to by the fact that I was on the pill. I knew that they weren't 100% effective  - of course I did, everybody knows that...but nobody REALLY thinks that they'll end up in that 2% of people who get pregnant on it... I had no reason to think I'd be one of them.

The next few weeks are somewhat of a blur, but soon the morning sickness started and I knew it was all very real - I was actually going to have another baby - looking down at the 3 month old baby in my arms as my stomach churned with pregnancy nausea was a very strange experience.

The pregnancy was, thankfully, quite easy on me until the end - infact it was certainly my easiest pregnancy by far up to a point - with my first two I had suffered with hyperemesis gravidarum until 20+ weeks but this one saw the slight nausea I had ease away by the 14th week which I was so thankful for.

But the end of the pregnancy was VERY hard going....Those last two or three months of being heavily pregnant whilst trying to look after and keep up with a toddler and an 8/9/10 month old baby who was crawling everywhere was difficult - it was physically and emotionally draining and something I never want to repeat. The guilt I felt every single day almost completely overwhelmed me...I'm used to mummy-guilt but this was on a whole new level.

I worried so much that my little baby Noah wasn't getting the attention he deserved throughout his babyhood because I was too busy having all my energy taking up with a pregnancy.

I worried that I was effectively wishing away his baby days because I wanted to get the pregnancy over and done with.

I worried that the "shine" had somehow been taken off him because family members might focus on the pregnancy or the new arrival instead of him, and that he'd somehow miss out on any limelight.

I had desperately wanted to keep the pregnancy a secret for as long as possible - partially to avoid the comments about how close together they were, but also because I just wanted Noah to have his time as "the baby" without anybody knowing that there was another one on the way.

I wanted him to have his first Christmas with no comments made about being a big brother soon...the pregnancy proved too much for me though and I couldn't keep the secret that long, instead I announced it just before Halloween when I was 21 weeks along...Noah was just over 6 months old.

And then, on 12th February 2016, just 318 days after his big brother Noah was born - Sailor arrived into the world.

And at 10 months old - Noah was a big brother.

That's just 7632 hours between births - kind of crazy to think of it that way!

Once Sailor was here, all that pregnancy guilt was replaced with new guilt - the guilt of remembering how I cried when I got that positive pregnancy test - oh how awful I feel about that now!

Life with Irish twins (plus a toddler!), so far, has been hectic - that's for sure.

Sailor suffered with silent reflux quite badly from the moment he came home from the hospital, and he struggled with tongue tie which meant getting him to latch on to breastfeed just wasn't happening...we had days of syringe feeding, and weeks upon weeks of exclusive pumping - I felt as though I was spending more time with my breast pump than my baby.

In the end we had to resort to feeding using nipple shields which - although excellent for breastfeeding a baby with a poor latch -  makes things all the more difficult when there are two other young children who need you to be on hand constantly, as having a hand to hold the shield and a hand to hold the baby means that there are no hands free for anything the older baby might need.

And at the same time as struggling to get a newborn fed and settled, we had a 10 month old baby who was teething and struggling to sleep at night...Noah had also just learnt to crawl and so he wanted to go off exploring all over the house, and needed me to be right behind to get him away from any possible source of danger...but with a new babe in arms who never wanted to be set down, that was a pretty difficult task.

I spent most days feeling as though I was always failing one of them and it was easy to feel overwhelmed - a lot of days it still is.

My life feels like a constant haze of changing different bums, feeding different babies, picking out different sized vests and trying to remember which size goes into which drawer, trying to remember who's dummy belongs to who., trying to remember which size nappy goes onto which little bottom,

And when I wake up in the night to the sound of baby cries, it takes my brain a few minutes to process which cry it is and which baby needs me.

The challenge of life with Irish Twins can feel like a lot, some days it feels like I'm just not up to the job...but other days are smoother...there are days when everything just falls into place, things run like clockwork and I even manage to do some messy play with the toddler and churn out homemade chicken nuggets instead of yet another frozen pizza for dinner...On those days I feel like I'm winning at life and rocking motherhood. Like I have absolutely, 100% GOT THIS.

And on the days when I feel like it's all going to shit and crumbling around my ears, I try my hardest to remember how it feels on the good days...and remind myself that they'll come around just have to take each day as it comes and roll with the punches.

And as cliche as I know it sounds...yes double the babies is double the work, but it's also double the fun, double the love, double the baby coos, double the gummy smiles and double the cuteness...and what's not to love about that?!

(note: apparently some people consider the term offensive to mums with babies close together or the Irish, but it doesn't offend me and the lady who made me aware of it IS Irish so...whatever! Be offended if you like, nobody cares.)

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  1. Gosh it sounds exhilerating AND exhausting at the same time! They look so alike and will be such great friends! Go you! :-) (and I wouldn't worry about offending anyone... Like you say, who cares?!)

  2. Aw just look at the two of them together, adorable! They will be the very best of friends, my little 2 are 14 months apart and by god it was hard for the first few months but now the bond they have is amazing xx

  3. Great post Hayley, I can't imagine it! Aria's 6 months old and I'd still cry if I got pregnant so soon, let alone if she was 6 weeks!!

  4. Wooow, what a beautiful family!:)

  5. I got pregnant with my 4th when my 3rd was only 7 months old and I had the same reaction to getting pregnant again so soon. I cried for a couple of day straight. My pregnancy with my 3rd baby was SOOO hard and the idea of going through that again right away was horrible. Sure enough, my 4th pregnancy was even harder plus I was caring for a baby/toddler. When my baby was born, he ended up being medically complex and had to have a feeding tube. He screamed almost nonstop and couldn't handle his siblings being around so my little 17 month old was pretty much neglected. When my youngest was 2, he was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. It turns out that all of his siblings and I have it as well, but to varying degrees. My EDS was what made my pregnancies so hard and painful and I'm lucky that I managed to have 4 healthy babies without any serious complications.

  6. I know exactly what you're talking about. I have four children. My last two were born nine months and eleven days apart. I found out I was pregnant for my fourth child when I went in for my six week checkup. Surprisingly, I was shocked. I know everyone always says have your children close, but I'm sure they didn't mean this close. They are twelve now and after all we went through, there's not one thing I would do different. Thanks for your blog. Glad to know I'm not alone in this 😊

  7. Everything you said is so true! I am 3 months in with 11 month apart twins! Pure survival mode. Luckily I have 2 older daughters who help a lot or I would be insane. So nice to hear others feel the exact same thing. I know one day it will get easier but it sure seems far away now. I love them both so much I just wish I didn't feel all the guilt!!!

  8. I got pregnant with my 4th daughter when my 3rd daughter was 9 months old. I cried for about 4 months straight bc I didn’t know what I was going to do. I was on the pill, never missed it, and just didn’t understand how it happened. My daughter is now 11 weeks old and I just found out yesterday that I am pregnant again. Yes, I was on the pill (again). Instead of crying I just laughed bc I know we will figure it out and it will be fine. I’m not thrilled right now but I know I will be eventually. My oldest daughters are 7 and 5 and now I will have THREE under two. God has got to have a sense of humor. LOL.

  9. I love this blog! Your babies are so wonderful. I’m currently due with Irish twins my son has just turned 9months and his sister is due in 2 months time. So he will be 11 months old. I’m very nervous as he is very attached to me and I get worried that when he new baby comes along there will be a lot of crying because mummy can’t devote herself 100% to him. I also suffer with Pelvic gurdle and SPD. Did you get that? I’ve been told I can’t have pain killers this time around 😳. Crazy

  10. Thank you for this blog! I have been super nervous lately that I am pregnant again (have yet to confirm, though i doubt it) my little princess is only 5mnths old and the idea of irish twins scared me as i feel like im barely coping with the one baby. Though if i do end up with them it will be a bit of a laugh, as my husband is irish. Any way, youve put my mind to ease that it is possible and indeed enjoyable at times. Though hubbys reaction would be my only fear


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