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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