It’s Friday early evening and our house seems – unusually – quite civilized. No-one’s crying. The babies have had their tea – rice, peas and Spanish chicken and Florence wants a boiled egg for hers. As we pin up bunting and blow up balloons around the house ready for a birthday weekend for the twins, Florence is helping out and we’re all in good spirits. We’ve come quite far this year and a glass or two of fizz will go down nicely this weekend. We deserve to celebrate – we’ve survived the year and reached a lovely milestone – our babies first birthday.
A bit of a contrast from this time last year… I was in about as much pain as I’ve ever been. I was in a dark place. I couldn’t eat much, hardly walk, wasn’t comfortable sitting, couldn’t bend down and sleeping was just a nightmare. I didn’t find joy in anything because I was so miserable and uncomfortable. I asked Christian to help me at around 3am – he knew I was at the end of my tether. I was only pregnant of course but it wasn’t just any old pregnancy. My little body was working hard. I had four legs, four arms, two heads, two bodies and two placentas growing inside me. It doesn’t sound natural does it – well it didn’t feel natural either. A multiple pregnancy is not pretty – that’s for sure.
As my pregnancy progressed I knew there was trouble ahead… There was the intense tiredness, sickness and the inability to eat anything but bacon sandwiches in the first trimester (not that bad you say?)
Well then the second trimester – when you’re supposed to be blooming I had bloomed and then some – I was ready to pop! I was already complaining of feeling too big with months still to go- but then the third trimester arrived and everything hurt. My belly was stretched so much the skin looked like it was transparent. It was thin and sensitive and I liberally applied the Bio Oil like it was going out of fashion in the hope that my tummy would be kind to me and not leave me with terrible stretch marks.
My bump felt so intense and nothing would relieve the pressure. I was literally counting down the days until my due date: 2.6.13.
I literally couldn’t go on another day but was told by my consultant to keep them babies cooking! All I kept saying was ‘get these babies out of me’ – I’ll be alright once these babies are out – I can handle anything if I’m not in pain like this’. Little did I know that actually once they were out – it was actually easier when they were inside me!
However my body – which to be honest had done a top job of getting to 37 weeks (that’s what I was this time last year) had just had enough. I wanted to go back to being normal and not be the superhuman growing machine I had become. I started to show signs of pre-eclampsia and other things were going on too. My elective C-section was booked for 38 weeks but I had reached breaking point and the babies must have sensed my desperate state.
Then 12th May 2013 arrived. It started as another normal day…I did wake up feeling even more uncomfortable than normal but didn’t actually realise I was in labour. The mild contractions I was apparently having just merged into the continuous pain cloud I was already feeling. I distracted myself playing with Florence, building brick houses with her and reading books. I spoke to the midwife at the hospital who told me to take a paracetamol and count the time in between my contractions. We’re they regular?
I looked in my hospital bag to make sure I had everything and I insisted we eat pie and mash around 16.00 because it was the last normal thing we’d probably do before everything changed. We really should have been on our way to hospital. I started to take things a bit more seriously when, while sitting on our light grey sofa on the phone to my mum, my waters broke – hmm.
We finally bundled ourselves into the car and headed to hospital – my contractions were coming thick and fast by then and I really didn’t enjoy hitting match day traffic on the Mancunian way. When we got there – there didn’t seem to be any sense of urgency about my condition. I could see cameras around and signs up saying ‘filming in progress’. And although I’d worked on One Born Every Minute, I certainly didn’t want to be on an episode – though what followed would certainly have made a dramatic one.
I was finally taken into a cubical and things were progressing. A midwife seemed to be taking things more seriously and went off to get me some paracetamol. (I was way beyond that though – give me drugs!) She examined me and said I was a three centimeters and that they’d get me ready for a C section soon enough. But unfortunately it wasn’t to be that soon and the babies wanted out. I was told they needed to move me to a delivery suite – and could I walk there? Yes of course I could – or so I thought – but then the contractions kicked in and I really struggled to get there.
Once in the room my pain escalated a lot. I tried to have a conversation with the anaesthetist but just couldn’t get the words out quick enough – in-between very fast and very painful contractions. The gas and air was amazing: “No-one better take this off of me,” I thought!
I was examined again. I was fully dilated and nowhere near the operating table. I had two babies that needed to come out and one was breech and very far down my birth canal. A consultant was now involved and said I might have to deliver one baby now and have a C-section for the other one. Erm HELLO? This was NOT in the plan. Florence was there for far too long too. Seeing her mummy in pain wasn’t nice for her. My mum had arrived from Leeds and the idea was for her to take Florence but I didn’t want her to leave me. Mums always make everything better. Had I signed up to be in the latest series of OBEM it would have been the perfect time to go to an ad break now. Tease the audience – what would happen next?
What happened wasn’t half as dramatic as you might hope it to be – it never is. I was whisked round to theatre – they said they might have to push the baby back up the birth canal when in theatre. This didn’t happen in the end. I was given a spinal and finally my pain disappeared. All of a sudden Christian and I were hearing the sound of a baby crying and being told ‘it’s a girl’. It was 21:39 and Sylvie Beatrice entered our world weighing 5ib 2 oz. She was quickly followed at 21:40 by ‘another girl’, her sister, Martha Betty. She was 5lb 6oz.
And so it had begun and our family had grown dramatically – three became five.
And now we’re a year on and we’ve come so far. We’ve spent a fortune on nappies, formula and wipes and done our fair share of smelly bums whilst sleep deprived and smelling of sick. And if I have to do another popper on a babygrow I might go crazy. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. Happy birthday ladies – cheers!
Friday evening continues – the beers are poured and homemade pizza is cooking in the oven. We contemplate the 1st birthday weekend ahead and are just about to give ourselves a pat on the back when I just have a thought. I never did boil that egg for Flossie’s tea. So what did she have? Christian has no clue either. Hmm – so we actually both forgot to give her any tea at all tonight. I feel terrible. I’ve never done that before. I go up and check on her, half expecting her to be sat up, tummy rumbling, but she’s snoring soundly. I head back downstairs and think – well that’s a reality check. We may be feeling really chuffed with ourselves for having survived a year of double trouble but come on – let’s not forget the basics.