I somehow missed a massive storm brewing in our home. I didn’t see it coming. The warning signs were there. But somehow I missed them.
Let’s back up a little… on July 25th 2014, our twin girls, Mia and Everly were one day old. I was in the hospital still recovering from my scheduled c-section, and this was the day our older children were to meet their new sisters. I had made the decision to not bring our oldest, Holden (who was almost two-years-old at the time), to meet Beau in the hospital when she was born. I thought that this time around, since I was having a longer hospital stay (after my c-section), and because our kids were a little older, that having them come to the hospital for a visit was the right decision. I was wrong.
First, my parents brought Holden, which went smoothly. But, then came our daughter Beau with her other grandparents. She was three-years-old.
Beau held her sisters, and cuddled with me. She was uncharacteristically quiet, as she soaked up some much needed mommy-time.After many failed attempts, it was time to go. Beau was hysterical, violent and upset. Like a wild animal. This was something I had never seen before from her. My mother-in-law had to finally rip her out of my arms (at my request) at the exit of the hospital. I quickly turned and walked away stoically, while shielding my heart. I knew that I could not fully let in what just happened. I had two newborns that desperately needed a whole mother. I told myself, “I cannot shatter.” Beau apparently sobbed in the car until she finally fell asleep, still whimpering while sleeping. My mother-in-law still has nightmares about this.
As the months passed, I tried my best to divide myself among my four children. I gave as much as I possibly could. I did special one-on-one outings with each of the older kids on a regular basis and constantly reminded them how loved and special they are.
I watched as my once confident daughter, was losing herself in the mix. Fear was taking hold of her. She seemed lost.Anytime I would wear my pants with the little grey elephants (the same ones I had on when Beau visited me in the hospital) Beau would become nervous and worried I was going to leave.
Beau loves her sisters, and insists on spending almost all of her time with them. I am sure having two new sisters that never get into trouble (because of their age) and draw so much attention hasn’t helped things. But the love she has for them holds no resentment.Beau’s fear peaked during this past summer. We could barely cross a threshold into a friends house. Beau would wake up screaming multiple times a night. I was trying to stay home with her as much as possible, only getting out occasionally with a friend, late in the evening, once I knew she was asleep.
To say I was stressed would be an understatement. My husband, Mike, and I finally got some outside help and changed gears. We pulled her out of her daycare, and gave her special responsibilities around our home and lots of extra love.
The two biggest changes was the start of kindergarten, and the change in Mike’s relationship with her. He used to think she needed tough love, but after receiving some great outside advice about how the mind of a four-year-old works (they are called the fragile fours for a reason) he has been there for her (and I) in an incredible way. He’s her patient buddy. He listens so well, holds her and lets her cry when needed, and isn’t offended when she just wants mom.
Little by little we have seen glimpses of our confident and vibrant little girl return. Beau has started to grasp that although she can’t always be with mommy 100% of the time, that doesn’t mean that her world is going to fall apart.If I could go back in time and change things when Mia and Everly were born, I would have never had Beau come to the hospital. Out of sight, out of mind. I think every child is different and can cope differently.
I really hadn’t thought about the trauma that one visit could have caused Beau.
My girls had finally arrived safely after 37 weeks and 4 days and I had just finished the most blissful two hours of skin to skin with them to regulate their temperature. Coincidentally a family member had delivered her baby earlier that morning in the same hospital just a couple rooms down. This meant that there was a parade of family hanging out in my extra large deluxe room cooing over our new twin girls. I was okay with this chaos because of my incredibly protective nurse that kept the girls on my chest and was very clear that no one holds them. My girls just melted into my body and my post c-section shivers finally subsided as the epidural wore off and the pile of warm blankets took affect. This will go down as one of my favourite memories of all time.After a couple of hours I was getting pretty tired, (and a little sweaty). My nurse finally allowed Mike and the eagerly waiting family members to take our girls into the hallway while she instructed me to have a nap… greatest post c-section gift (second to my little bundles).
After my two hour nap I was ready to jump back into things. I nursed Mia and Everly and then relaxed and enjoyed a popsicle while Mike and the nurse gave our girls their first baths. Because I already knew how to bath a newborn, I knew I better use that time to enjoy watching from my bed while resting as much as possible. It was very soon after this that my IV was taken out and my catheter removed. This process wasn’t painful, just uncomfortable and gave me instant relief. The rest of day 1 (and the following week) I felt a lot of pain in my ribs stretching across my back. It was a combination of my body recovering from carrying twins as well as residual gas pains from surgery. In fact, the sharp rib pain was almost the only pain I felt for the first day. Sure, my body felt heavy and exhausted but there really wasn’t much, if any pain, from my c-section incision. It was more of a numb feeling.
Mike and I spent the rest of the afternoon cuddling and getting to know the two newest members of our family. They were so peaceful, predictable and easy to please. Every nurse that entered our room mentioned how happy our girls were and credited it to me being so relaxed. Sure, I think that contributed, but these being my third and fourth babies, I can honestly say these girls have very easy going personalities.
We ended day one with a walk around labour and delivery proudly showing off our girls. Yes, I forced myself to walk which has been proven to help with recovery… and it did. I enjoyed a proper meal, and introduced Mia and Everly to a few more visitors. By 9PM I sent Mike home to get a good sleep and with the help of the nurses I had a pretty successful first night sending my girls out to the nurses station and having them brought back to me to nurse so I could grab little bits of sleep.
Side note: when I had my first, Holden, I had Mike sleep in a pull out chair next to me in the hospital while I lay awake the entire first night just staring at him in awe. I think this is pretty typical when you have your first. But the next day Mike and I were zombies. When I had our daughter Beau I sent Mike home to sleep and I slept with Beau on my chest, which was one of the most incredible experiences. With our twins I had always planned on doing what I could to utilize my longer hospital stay and ensure a speedy recovery. This meant using the nurses as much as possible. Let’s face it, I had two more kids at home to parent as well. I needed to be as rested and healed as possible.
Day 2. The BAD Day.
I found that I could start moving around a little better after my c-section on day 2 and I was able to enjoy a hot shower that morning (and every day after). But the after birth contractions set in and my nipples started to blister from all of the tandem nursing. The pain of both of these was much worse than any incision pain and after asking for more medication I got some relief.
This was also the day our two older children were to visit and meet their long awaited baby sisters. Each met the babies accompanied by their grandparents, with whom they were staying with with. When our five year old son, Holden, first visited with my parents he was excited and confident while holding them, insisting he didn’t need help. The visit ended with tears and Mike helped redirect his excitement as he left. Next was Beau, our energetic three year old. She held the babies like a little mommy and couldn’t get enough of them. Her exit was a bit more dramatic. Tears and a full blown meltdown is an understatement. I had to get her to the hospital doors and ask Mike’s parents to grab her from me and carry her away wailing. I knew I had to be strong and not let these emotional good-byes get to me. My mother-in-law is still scarred from this and Beau gets nervous every time I wear those same pj pants with the elephants on them. Mike and I made the decision together to not let them visit again for the rest of my hospital stay. It was too hard on everyone and that ended up being the right decision.
Weeping is very common for the first week after having a baby but unlike after having my older kids I had been tear free. Suddenly the biggest bully I have encountered in my adult life entered my hospital room. A blonde thirty-something hospital lactation consultant (LC) with a monotone voice, dead eyes and who was incapable of smiling, started ripping my parenting choices and I to shreds. From my breast-pump, to me supplementing, to listening to the doctors and nurses that Everly was underweight and needed a little help. I sat there wide-eyed, while my sweet nurse sat quietly behind her helping me bottle feed Everly and watching me with a knowing merciful look. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against lactation consultants, in-fact my mother used to be an LC. But this woman was soul-crushing. While I thought if I just keep my mouth shut she will finish and go away, but Mike the chatty cathy that he is, began engaging her in conversation.
Once the warlock finally left, I started bawling. You know that guttural cry that escapes your mouth without your permission, it was like that. I was fuming! My nurse began to comfort and agree with me, telling me to ignore her. Mike quickly caught on and realized what had just happened… Oops! Just while I was taking a breath between my shocked, ranting and whaling cries, my O.B., the most calming presence on earth entered the room for my post op check up. The sweet, loveable, highly respected doctor who often uses the phases “snug as a bug” and “happy as a clam” while describing how well your fetus is growing, looked shocked and beyond embarrassed with this LC as I described in sobbing detail what I had just experienced. She apparently “dealt” with that LC and banned her from my room.
After sending Mike home to rest in the evening, my girlfriends visited me. We all sat in a circle passing the babies along every few minutes. It was a wonderful break from the traumatic day I had experienced and it was exciting watching them cuddle and bond with Mia and Everly.
Day 3. The Bonding Day.
This day was much quieter as far a visitors go. Mike and I spent the day cuddling and really getting to know Mia and Everly. We enjoyed some outside food Mike brought, (a nice break from the hospital food) and many walks around the maternity ward. It was so nice to be able to move again without the weight of my pregnant belly sending my heart into overdrive. By this point we knew all of the wonderful nurses so well and my confrontation with the evil lactation consultant had become an urban legend.
This was also the day that we started to really get to know Mia and Everly’s personalities. Mia was and still is such a cuddle bug and Everly is so smiley and such a ham. Mike got such a kick out of watching her sleep because she would make such a variety of hilarious facial expressions.
Day 4. The Extra Hospital Day.
We were all packed and ready to head home on day four when the paediatrician and nurse came in with a concerned look on their faces. They weren’t yet satisfied enough with Everly’s weight gain and wanted to keep us there one day longer. This was a hard pill to swallow. My nurse still went ahead and removed my staples from my incision and applied the steri-strips (little vertically applied bandages applied to my c-section scar). Although I had been dreading the removal of my staples it wasn’t bad at all. I was instructed to let the steri-strips fall off naturally but by day seven remove the rest that haven’t come off yet. At this point a fair bit of bruising had settled in around my incision making it look worse than it felt. As long as I had baggy string drawn pants I could pull up over my incision, I was fine.
This was the day we were supposed to reunite with Holden and Beau and give them the gifts we had put away from their baby sisters. We made the decision for Mike to head home and give them their gifts while I facetimed them. In the end it worked out well and our kids were happy to be home with Daddy. I made the best of having an extra day in the hospital by having one of my dearest friends hang out with us. We actually had a really fun time and she stayed way past visiting hours just laughing and cuddling babies.
Day 5. Going Home.
This day couldn’t come fast enough. Although I was still moving slowly and exhausting quickly, I was eager to get home and create my own routine with our family of six. We placed our teeny tiny girls in their carseats, said goodbye to all of the wonderful nurses and ventured outside.
We made the decision to stop at a baby supply store on the way home to buy more swaddling blankets which we realized we didn’t have enough of. It was kind of nice to delay our entry into real world with our older kids but I quickly became tired and was ready to get home. Although I thought I was prepared for real life outside of the hospital… living it was a whole different story. To be continued…
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