Dani honestly and openly shares her experience of being a new mum to twins, who are currently in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. We’ve all loved Dani’s Diary… so here’s more!
Hi Dani*, you’ve been in touch with Life for some time now and we’re delighted that you are writing for us today as part of your ongoing project ‘Dani’s Diary’! Regarding this pregnancy, can you explain how you felt when you first discovered you were pregnant?
I was nervous; it was a pregnancy after loss. My anxiety was high, struggling to relax in the midst of not knowing what would happen. With it being twins my anxiety was even higher. I contacted Life knowing I was struggling with my mental health and emotions. I was scared and feeling vulnerable but something that I longed for to happen happened.
We wanted a baby… and we got two!
How was the birth?
Having your waters burst early is very scary, we rang the hospital immediately and headed in to the labour ward. It was quickly decided after the team welcomed us that something was wrong. Our babies needed a chance and we would lose them if we continued the pregnancy.
The birth was medically managed very well by an amazing team. They delivered our babies incredibly early at 24 weeks and 2 days. It was emotional, scary, upsetting, unknown… things happened very quickly. The babies needed to come out after my waters had ruptured (PPROM).
We were in the space of complete unknown, would they survive the birth? Would we get to meet them both? What if we lost one twin? We had so many questions. An emergency C-Section is not a small operation, recovery is long and blood loss can be a concern but I am doing well considering.
Thankfully, the birth was well managed and it has given our twins the very best start in life despite them being micro-preemies. They are still feeling very tired from the birth… so are we all.
I know that you have spent some time in NICU afterwards. Would you mind sharing your experience?
We are currently in the NICU ward with our twins. It’s the ward where every body fluid is measured, ventilation sounds stay with you for a lifetime, every beep makes your heart skip beats and you celebrate every ml of milk and each pee. Watching and waiting for them to grow and continue to develop. They have little beds filled with special things to help us feel like we are more in a nursery rather than a hospital, although we still see all of the wires and tubes. Nurses make the rounds and it is incredibly busy with lots of medical information. As you hear “beep beep beep” from your little one, it can either be a reassuring sound or a sound that makes your heart drop and the tears flow.
It is always 1 step forward and 10 back. A place in which you become a family. Everyone knows their job is to support these tiny lives. The place in which you have hormones like nothing else but still hold on to the strongest of hopes. You learn to love by holding a tiny hand with a slither of glass between you. Sedation is protection of their energy to help them grow. A day can feel like a week. You sleep with your shoes on, ready to pounce out if they need you.
Praising every morning when you wake up and they have made it through the night. Finding the strength in your relationship and at other times shedding tears alone when it becomes stressful. Expressing in all hours to give that little bit that is a lot to your baby. It feels never ending but as the saying goes, what is worth it is never easy…
It sounds incredibly overwhelming. I’m pleased the twins are still doing well, though. How are you doing?
Now that is a tricky one. Some days are better than others. Being a NICU mum is draining, we never stop worrying all while trying to be brave as we face unknown futures about our little ones. All this while trying to recover ourselves from a big operation. I’m expressing too, and that is hard work but something I have personally chosen to do that I feel is right for me and my babies. Trying to eat healthily and sleep to help the milk supply is difficult. The schedule of NICU isn’t always the ‘norm’, and I have two babies on two different medical care plans. Trying to squeeze things in can be tough!
I have cried a lot and I have also been frustrated but thanks to Life with their Pregnancy Matters™ team I have always had support alongside the hospital team. It is good to talk things through especially when you leave the NICU bay and your head is still swimming with the sounds of the ward.
What advice would you give to women carrying multiples or who are perhaps nervous about their pregnancy?
Talk, ask questions, reach out for help and accept that help. It’s ok to fall apart. NICU is a scary place and handing over your baby is the hardest thing. Read them books, talk and sing to them. They know you are there. Bonding squares, one for you and one for baby, put your smell on it and pop it next to them, it helps in the early days to create a bond when you are unable to pick little one up. Try and nap between procedures or tag team with the support around you. Keep your fluids up and if you can’t find time to have a full meal, graze on some healthy energising snacks. Looking after yourself is so important.
We never know how long this journey in NICU will be and sadly I know all too well that some babies born so early who have a stay in NICU never make it home. Every day brings new news and challenges that as a team you will face but you need to be in the best mindset and as rested as possible. Accept that five minutes’ rest, go and grab a quick coffee with the nurse and talk. As the theory goes in situations e.g on a plane, if an emergency happens, you put your own oxygen mask on first so that you can help others and often this applies to NICU. It’s ok to not be ok, asking for support and help is not weak, it is brave and in neonatal you will need every hand you can hold.
If you’re a NICU Mum, hang in there… they are often stronger than we think.
If you have been on a NICU ward and taken your baby home, I hope they continue to thrive and before you know it those beeps are long in the past.
To NICU Mums whose baby has passed, they are not forgotten. They continue to be loved and they will always be a part of your life.