the twins · thoughts

A (week) day in our life 

Ever since our confinement nanny left, many have asked how do we cope with the twins, the toddler and the dog. Some have even remarked that I am “Supermum” or that I am “really awesome”.

Well, here’s the truth.

We have an amazing village behind us. Without this group of super beings, we would have keeled into a giant puddle of helplessness. I know of mothers/parents of multiples who do everything on their own. No helper, no family. I salute these super beings and think that they are very very capable. Personally, I am fully aware that without help, I will not be able to parent effectively. What the heck – even with help, I can barely function on some days. Call me a wuss or even weak, but that’s just how it works for us around here.

Our amazing village consists of my in-laws, my mum and our very capable helper. My MIL and my mum take turns during the week to come over to our home to help with the twins. Elliott is at full day childcare and my FIL drives him to and from school each day.

If you’re ever curious about a typical (week) day in our life, here it is. Do note that the timings are rough estimates. Some days are longer than others 🙂 

6.30 am – Helper wakes, washes up and prepare to take over from me until my MIL or mum arrives to help with the twins. I’m usually brain dead by this time.

7.00 am – I try and pump milk if it’s too uncomfortable. If I’m feeling ok, I drag my pillow, bolster and exhausted self into the master bedroom to crash.

7.00 am to 11.00 am – While I am dead to the world, my MIL/mum, with our helper, will feed, burp, soothe, change and give the twins their morning bath. Helper will also take Moon for her morning walk, and feed her.

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11.00 am – After 4 hours+ of sleep, I’m usually ready to function again as a human. I usually do another pumping session when I get up. The twins would have been showered and if it’s a good day, both will be napping. I will either have some breakfast or go straight to an early lunch. Helper prepares simple fare (fried rice, noodle soup, etc) or we simply da bao food from the nearby hawker centre.

12.00 pm – I take a shower so that I feel less icky. If you’re a breastfeeding mother, you’d know what I mean about smelling like stale milk all day errday. Washing my hair and face, and changing out of my pyjamas always makes me feel instantly better.

12.00 pm to 4.00 pm – It’s a constant cycle of feeding, changing, burping, soothing babies throughout the afternoon. Helper will go about her usual chores and it includes washing 10,000 pieces of baby clothes, swaddles, burp cloths, etc. 

This is not counting the constant washing and sterilising of milk bottles (x2), breast pump parts, etc. There are also clean clothes to fold and put away into cupboards and diaper bins to empty. Because we have two babies, we go through A LOT of diapers and the bin fill up really quickly!

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If you look carefully, both grandmas are carrying Edith. This is because she’s the one that needs to be entertained and rocked to sleep. Everett, on the other hand, is the unicorn baby. Unless he’s bothered by hunger/gassy tummy/dirty diaper/heat, he falls asleep on his own with the help of his pacifier. There’s no need to rock or carry him. I am just very thankful that at least one of them is an ‘easy’ baby! 

5.30 pm – Helper starts dinner prep for the family, then takes Moon for her evening walk when the sun sets.

6.00 pm – Elliott returns from school. Mayhem ensues. FIL will stay on for a bit to cuddle the babies while we all take a bit of a breather. By this time, I’m usually feeling pretty exhausted.

7.00 pm – Dinner time for the family. We chase after Elliott to get him to PLEASE SIT DOWN AND EAT YOUR DINNER PLEASE. The husband is usually not home yet. On good days, he’s back at 7.30pm. On not so good days, it can be 9pm, or later. Helper takes her dinner, then gives Moon her dinner, and does the post-dinner wash up. 

7.45 pm to 8.30 pm – The twins get wiped down with a damp warm towel and change into their pyjamas. We turn on the air conditioner in their room and keep a dim light on. They get a milk feed and once the room is cool and comfortable, we put them into their ‘Love to Dream’ swaddle bags and turn on a soft lullaby as a cue that it is time to sleep.

We try and repeat this wipe down – change pyjamas – put on swaddle – lullabye routine every evening as all baby literature out there says that babies love routines. With Elliott, we had absolutely no routine which made it very tough on us. With twins, we have to set down a routine or else we’d really collapse in exhaustion.

8.30 pm to 9.30 pm – Elliott is very good with playing on his own so this is the time he plays with his (million) toy cars, Lego, etc. Sometimes, he potters around with his sticker book and colouring books. We feel very thankful that he is pretty independent and does not insist that we accompany him to play.

At some point, we try to get him to shower and change into pyjamas. There is usually quite a bit of negotiation that goes on because TODDLERS. By this time, the husband gets home (hooray), takes a shower in 20 seconds and gobble down his dinner. My MIL/mum will usually take their leave once the husband gets home. I take my second shower of the day. Helper prepares Elliott’s school bag for the next day.

9.30 pm to 10.00 pm – We get Elliott to pack away his toys and I head to bed with him. We will usually read a book of his choice (or two) then it’s lights out. He loves to chat before we fall asleep and he’d tell me about his day or topic of the day (dinosaurs, his friends, etc) but on many nights, I manage about 10 minutes of conversation before my brain shuts down without warning (oops).

These days, he’d usually ask for Daddy to put him to bed and tells me to ‘go sleep with the babies‘ (sniff) but after a bit of explaining and cuddles, he’d be ok. The husband will take the first night shift until I take over later in the night. Helper goes to bed at 10pm after the last round of washing/sterilising to prepare for the (long) night ahead.

10.00 pm to 2.00 am – The husband is on his own with the babies. He will give them their milk feeds and try to sleep in between.

2.00 am to 6.30 am – Despite not setting an alarm, I will automatically wake at about 2am for the second night shift. I will usually do another pumping session before nudging the husband to go to bed in the master bedroom. I will then accompany the twins in their room until day break and the cycle repeats again.

Between 2 to 6.30 am, the twins do not usually wake to feed. I have tried feeding them but they’d usually be too sleepy to drink.

However, Edith is a very noisy sleeper. She grunts a lot (and loudly) in her sleep which means that I end up not sleeping much because I wake at every slight noise.

Everett’s magic hour is 5-6 am where he will fuss and cry frantically, jolting me awake. I used to think that he was hungry but he’d refused to drink. I’ve since found out that he’s usually got a full or very slightly soiled diaper and needs a change so I’d have to get up to do that.

For the 2-3 night feeds, we feed the twins with Karihome infant formula instead of warming up breastmilk because HUNGRY BABIES AT 2 AM WILL NOT WAIT FOR MILK TO BE WARMED UP. Once day breaks, it is back to breast milk. Currently, Edith drinks 4-5 oz (120-150 ml) while Everett is pretty consistent at 4 oz (120 ml).

If you are wondering why I do not direct latch the babies, I find it easier to express the milk and have someone else to feed them via a bottle. If they need a top-up or comfort feeding, I will then latch them directly.

This way, I do not feel like I am their sole food provider and it causes me less stress. Besides, as long as they are getting the goodness of breast milk, I am not too fussed about how they are getting it. I abide by the mantra that a happy mummy equates to happy babies.

So there you go, a typical week day in our life. Weekends are slightly different but we try to stick to the night routine for the twins. The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” – in our case, 3 children – definitely rings true in this household!

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PS. For those wondering where I find the time to blog, let me share that most blog entries you see after the birth of the twins are done in stages and typed out on my phone. Sometimes, I write in the dead of the night (like, 3.30 am) when inspiration hits and for some odd reason, I can’t get to sleep. Essentially, I do not finish an entry in one seating. That’s pretty darn impossible. 

 

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the twins · thoughts

5 things to note when hiring a confinement nanny

When we found out that we were expecting twins, one of the first things I did was to source for and book a confinement nanny. I will use the term ‘nanny’ for the purpose of this entry. Good nannies are booked up way in advance and to find one that can manage twins is twice as difficult.

With Elliott, we did not have a nanny. We were staying with my parents and my mum was helping me with the confinement food, etc. However, even though she offered, I did all the night feeds on my own as I did not want to tire her out. It was brutal, to say the least. And I was constantly exhausted. This is also the reason why I knew that we had to have a nanny for the twins for sanity’s sake.

I remember that I started my search for one the moment we cleared the first trimester and I must have spoken to no less than 6-7 nannies. They were either booked for the period that I needed their service, or were unwilling to care for twins. For the record, I chose not to engage a nanny through a confinement nanny centre even though they exist because there were a ton of negative reviews.

Finally, I found my nanny through a friend of a friend. Let’s call her Aunty P.

As with most (if not all) nannies, Aunty P is from Malaysia. She sounded affable and pretty normal over the phone. After a quick discussion with the boy, I bit the bullet and transferred a deposit of S$300 to secure our date.

Aunty P did share that she has never cared for twins before but because time was running out, I wasn’t left with much choice. I knew that we’d be pretty hands-on in the caring of the babies so I didn’t think it would be much of a problem.

We ended up having Aunty P for 56 days (28 days x 2). Having experienced the services of a nanny, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts:

1. Book your nanny early. As early as possible!

This is a no-brainer. I know of ladies who booked a nanny the moment their pregnancy test strips turn positive. Somehow, getting a good nanny is not easy and the good ones get booked up way in advance. And if you are expecting twins/multiples, the search becomes doubly difficult because not all nannies are keen to care for them.

2. Be prepared to pay, especially for multiples 

Aunty P was considered “cheap” as it was her first time caring for twins. She charged us S$3XXX as compared to “experienced” nannies. A friend recommended her nanny who cared for her twins and it was going to cost us S$4XXX! And this price is for 28 days. If you wish to extend their stay, just multiply accordingly. That is A LOT of money.

Also, you have to remember that other than this ‘service’ cost, you have to remember that your household will have 1 more person. Your food and utilities bill (aircon, water, electricity) will go up when the nanny is staying with you.

It is also customary to give the nanny an ang pow when she arrives and when she leaves. There is no ‘set amount’ to give but I remember reading that some nannies expect a minimum amount of S$50 per ang pow!

3. Stranger in the home

Having a nanny means that you will have a virtual stranger live in your home for a period of time. This stranger will come into contact with your babies and will also see you at your rawest state.

I sit in the living room to pump milk which meant that I was in a state of undress in front of Aunty P (and our helper) most of the time. With Elliott, I was more conscious of covering up when I nursed or pumped but when you have twins and you’re exhausted pretty much all the time, modesty goes out of the window.

4. Different habits and standards

Even though Aunty P is Chinese and from Malaysia, we had pretty different habits and standards.

Example 1 – Our household rarely snacks. At least I don’t. We eat 3 square meals a day and we are done with it. However, Aunty P eats small meals throughout the day which meant that on usual days, she would have eaten at least 3 times before noon. She would also snack (a few times) between lunch and dinner.

This meant that the food supply in our home depleted really quickly which honestly, was a bit of a shock to my system. The boy would buy bread from the bakery (5-6 pieces each time) and in less than 3 days, our bread basket would be empty again. Wow.

Example 2 – Because we told Aunty P to ‘treat our home as her own’ and to ‘help herself’ if she needed anything (e.g. food), she took it literally. We buy kiwis for Elliott but before we could get to them, she would have eaten 2. Food was disappearing from my fridge faster than I expected because she’d help herself to them without asking. That is because she took our word literally to ‘help herself’ even though we said it out of politeness and thought that she would ask before taking (nope).

Example 3 – I happened to walk into the kitchen one afternoon and saw that Aunty P was slicing raw pork to prepare for dinner. After she was done, she rinsed the knife with running water and placed it back on the knife rack. To say that I was horrified is an understatement. I quickly told her that we must always wash used utensils with detergent. To prevent such incidents throughout her stay, I told her to leave all the washing up to our helper who have been briefed thoroughly on her first day that hygiene and cleanliness is of utmost importance in our household.

On hindsight, to prevent misunderstandings and unhappiness, I should have listed down all my expectations at the start. Aunty P shared that some households expected  her to sanitise her hand after washing while some others expected her to take a shower every single time she held the babies (which can be up to 6 times a day). So yep, good to make your expectations clear from Day 1.

5. Got helper or not?

One of the first questions Aunty P asked was whether we have a domestic helper. From my understanding after many chats with nannies, they need a helper if they are going to be taking care of twins. This is because the nanny can concentrate on caring for the twins and leave all the washing-up to the helper.

Usually, a nanny will do the cooking, washing (because new mothers cannot come into contact with water), etc. However, caring for the twins (feeding, burping, changing, cleaning) is literally a full time job. At any one point, someone will need to get his soiled diaper changed, or a milk feed.

I can also assure you that with twins, there is A LOT of washing to do – clothes, swaddles, milk bottles…multiplied by 2. I’m not even talking about hand washing the clothes. Even if you use the washing machine, there is still loads to wash!

This is not counting washing up after cooking and general household chores like mopping the floor, changing bedsheets, etc. Even with our helper, Aunty P rarely gets time to rest and can only get small snatches of sleep in the day when the twins nap.

All said and done, Aunty P did a good job of caring for the twins. She genuinely cared for them and showed concern if they were uncomfortable. She always ensured that they had clean and dry diapers – she was religious about changing wet/soiled diapers, as well as applying anti-rash cream at each change.

She was also systematic when she gave them their baths, ensuring that they wouldn’t catch a cold and that they are clean and fresh before noon each day.

Speaking of systematic, because she is old school, she religiously recorded all the milk intake and timings in an exercise book. She also took note of how often they pee and pooped. This simple but effective way of record-keeping was very helpful as this meant that we did not have to rely on pure memory power (which is sorely lacking in my head these days).

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What I really appreciated was how she was encouraging and listened to how we wanted things to be done, instead of insisting that things be on her terms or taking the ‘easy way out’. She did not insist that we feed the twins with formula milk at night ‘so that they will sleep longer’ or make careless remarks about breastfeeding.

At the start, before breastfeeding was properly established, she painstakingly used a syringe to feed the twins, as per our request. This takes up a lot of time but she did it because we said so.

In the beginning, as this was her first time with twins, she would wake me for the night feeds if both twins cried at the same time. As time went by, she became more confident and on most nights, she managed the twins on her own and that allowed me to sleep undisturbed for a couple of hours (i.e. 4-5 hours) – at least until I had to wake to pump milk. That, to me, was the most important thing about having a nanny. Because when I do not get enough sleep, I go quite mad and cannot function.

In case you’re wondering, we made sure that our helper had her full 8 hours of undisturbed sleep so that she is able to handle the chores, as well as to help with the babies in the day when required.

Since we spent so much time together in the house, we would chat and Aunty P  would share ‘best practices’. I learnt quite a bit about baby-caring from her even though I wasn’t a first-time mum. For example, I learnt that when a baby’s forehead is cold to the touch, this meant that he is having tummy problems. I also learnt to place a piece of tissue over a very soiled diaper before cleaning their dirty bum bums so that our hands don’t get dirty accidentally.

She was also patient with the babies (and me). Throughout her stint with us, I never saw her lose her temper at the babies. Can’t say the same about myself!

Aunty P was with us for 56 days (28 days x 2) and we are immensely grateful for her help. She will be leaving on Wednesday – 9 August (National Day!) so please wish us A LOT OF LUCK! 🍀

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the twins

The hospital bag

It has been 3 years since Elliott was born so when it was time to pack the hospital bag for the twins, I had clean forgotten what goes into it. Thankfully, fellow mama to twins, Adeline, shared with me her hospital packing list which helped me tremendously in getting started.

After my own experience, I thought I’d share what I found really useful to have in the hospital bag. I ended up not using quite a lot of the stuff in the bag so I hope you find my list useful. For the record, we birthed the twins at Mount Alvernia Hospital (MAH) and different hospitals do provide different items.

None of these items are sponsored. This entry is purely based on my own personal experience and all opinions expressed are my own. Please feel free to use it as a guide but do remember that each individual is different and we all have different likes/dislikes.

Here goes:

  • Nursing gowns

For Elliott’s birth, I had to pack my own nursing gowns to wear during my stay at the hospital as they are not provided. This is no longer necessary for MAH as they now provide nursing-access gowns. Granted, they’re not particularly stylish (they’re purple – see picture below) but if you just went through childbirth (natural or c-sect), I don’t think being fashionable will rank too high on your list. At least it wasn’t for me. I just wanted to be comfortable.

Also, wearing the hospital gown also meant that when it got soiled (blood, sweat, etc), you can simply throw it into the hospital-provided laundry basket. Keep your pretty nursing gowns for home use, I say.

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  • Disposable underwear

This is very important as post-birth, there is a lot of bleeding down there. I used to think that there will be less bleeding with a c-sect but nooooooo, I thought wrongly.  For the first few days following birth, just buy any maternity disposable underwear (Mothercare probably carries them) but if you are petite in size, the travel ones from Watsons/Guardian work too. Yes, they are huge and totally unflattering but again, post-birth, comfort will be your number #1 priority. Once soiled, you can simply chuck them into the bin. Keep your nice ‘proper’ underwear for later use or you’d end up doing alot of heavy-duty washing.

What I discovered from the MAH pharmacy (ground level) are these Tena Fix underwear. These were about $12 for 5 pieces but they are washable (re-usable). Again, they are not the most attractive things but trust me when I say that they were really comfortable and snug. I highly recommend it, especially for ladies who undergo a c-sections birth.

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Note: I did not bother with nursing bras nor nursing pads because in the first few days, you will not be producing so much milk that it’d come gushing out. At least it did not happen for me. I guess you can pack 1-2 if you feel like you need them but honestly, I ended up not using any during my 4-day stay at MAH.

  • Sanitary pads

The hospital will provide you with one bag of sanitary pads (charged to your hospital bill) and they will use it for the first few days of heavy bleeding. If you intend to get your own, I found these comfortable. I have very sensitive skin and can’t deal with synthetic-type sanitary pads. These Pureen Madame maternity pads were soft and cottony and comes with adhesive backing, just like normal sanitary pads.

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The bleeding will taper off after about a week so you don’t really need such heavy-duty pads. After staring at the sanitary section and doing all sorts of comparison between the different brands, I’ve found a pretty decent sanitary pad.

I used the Sofy Extra Dry Skin Comfort (23cm) for ‘lighter’ bleeding days. It was still good enough for night-time use as it is meant for heavy flow. I also liked that it was soft and did not have a synthetic feel.

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If this is your first pregnancy, do note that you will still be bleeding for quite a few weeks after (especially if you breastfeed because it helps to contract the uterus which leads to blood being shed). However, it will be very light and periodic bleeding so you’d just need panty-liners so stock up on that.

  • Feminine wipes

This was one item I really wished I packed into my hospital bag but did not. As I mentioned above, you will be bleeding quite a bit post-birth. These wipes are basically wet wipes for your nether regions and it will make you feel fresh(er) after each sanitary pad change. You can get them at any pharmacy or supermarket.

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  • Comfortable flat footwear

I wore my cannot-go-wrong Birkenstocks throughout the hospital stay, from admission to discharge. I had grand plans to pack a pretty pair of bedroom slippers in the hospital bag but I realised that this wasn’t very practical as the floor of the hospital ward isn’t the cleanest. Keep your pretty bedroom slippers at home and wear something practical throughout your hospital stay.

  • Your own pillow

This may sound really odd but the pillows at the hospital aren’t the most comfortable. I got the boy to bring me my own pillow and it made the stay that bit more comfortable. At the very least, I could sleep better on it.

  • Going home clothes (for you and baby)

This is the fun bit and what I actually packed first. I packed the Rose Sydney Nursing Dress from Jump Eat Cry as it is 100% cotton and I like that the red is cheery.

Fun fact: I also wore a red dress when we left the hospital with Elliott.

For the babies, I picked out 2 tiny newborn onesies, 2 new swaddle blankets from Bebe au Lait and a pair of mittens. For the record, even the tiniest of mittens were too huge on the twins so we ended up using surgical tape to hold them in place. This was a trick I learnt from the nursery nurses.

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  • Mittens and booties/socks

Pack lots and lots of mittens for your baby. MAH provided clothes, swaddles and blankets for the twins’s stay at the hospital but not mittens and booties/socks. I found the mittens more important as it ensured that they did not scratch their own faces with their long fingernails. Booties/socks weren’t that important as they were tightly swaddled anyway.

  • Toiletries

I packed my own toiletries, i.e. shampoo, shower gel, face wash, face moisturiser, hair brush, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc because it felt so good to use something familiar in the hospital environment. Of course, if you are not fussed, you can use the toiletries provided by the hospital. I just preferred to smell like…myself.

If you have long hair like me, bring hair scrunchies/hair ties and a hairband (optional) to keep hair out of face. You’d probably be trying to breastfeed your child and having hair all over their little face is no good.

I also packed light make-up (eyeliner and concealer) because I’m vain I wanted to look decent when we got discharged. I had grand plans to apply make-up when friends/family came to visit but honestly, it took too much effort and in the end, they just had to look at bare-faced me.

  • Mobile phone and power bank/charger

If you are like me and cannot live without your mobile phone, don’t forget to pack the phone charger. I found the power bank very useful because the wire on the phone charger will not be long enough to reach the hospital bed from the wall plug. As such, I found the power bank more useful for charging the mobile phone. Of course, you can leave your phone to charge, away from your bed but I found that most wall plugs were placed opposite your bed or right behind you (unreachable).

  • Camera

You can, of course, use your mobile phone but nothing beats having nice camera-quality photos of the milestone event eh? Just remember to charge the battery (bring extras if you have) and a memory card that can store a million pictures and videos.

  • Important documents

What I found useful: We bought and used a clear file – the sort that has plastic pockets and you can simply slot documents into it. You can get it from any bookstore. We used the file to keep all pregnancy-related paperwork. When it was time for delivery, we simply brought along the entire file. We did the same for Elliott and found it very useful because along the way, you will be asked for blood test reports, receipts, etc.

Hospital admission letter from your gynae

This is very very important. The nurses at my gynae repeatedly told us to ‘please bring this along’ because apparently, many parents forget to do so despite repeated reminders. We placed it in the clear file so that we wouldn’t forget. This was also the first thing the admissions counter asked for when we got to MAH on the day of our elective c-sect.

Identity cards

Please pack your identity cards, both yours and the husband’s. The hospital will require this at admission.

Marriage certificate (original)

If you intend to register the baby’s birth at the hospital (most hospitals in Singapore provide this service), bring along your original-copy marriage certificate as well.

Fun fact: Did you know that to register for your baby’s birth certificate at MAH will cost you $42 but it only costs $18 to do the same at ICA?

We ended up heading to ICA to register the twins’ birth because we couldn’t decide on their chinese names during the 4-day hospital stay. Such things shouldn’t be rushed eh? For the record, according to MAH’s website, ‘birth registration can be done within 42 days from the date of birth. However it is strongly encouraged that you register within 14 days.’

Receipts (originals)

Please also bring along any receipts that add up to $900 for pre-delivery expenses. More details here from MOH website. As per the website:

“Medisave may be used at both public and private hospitals. To claim pre-delivery charges from Medisave, parents need to present the bills incurred for pre-delivery medical care to the hospital where baby was delivered. The hospital will submit these bills, together with the delivery expenses, for Medisave claims under the Medisave Maternity Package.”

If you stumbled upon this entry when you searched for hospital packing list, I hope you find my list useful! The bottom line is, try not to over pack because if you forget anything, our hospital pharmacies are very well stocked 😉

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the twins

The birth story of our twins

This photo may not look like much but it is our last photo as a family of 3. We snapped this quick picture at bedtime, the night before the twins were born 🙂

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Did you know that full-term for twins is 37 weeks instead of 40? I did not know that. I also learnt that as long as each twin crossed the 2 kg mark, it is considered the “safe” zone. Having said that, I also learnt that weight is not the only criteria for twins to be declared healthy and in the clear. They’d have to be able to breathe on their own, i.e. their lungs have to be strong enough once they are out of the womb.

The official due date for the twins fell on an easy-to-remember date: 4 July 2017 (Independence Day!). Elliott was delivered at Mount Alvernia Hospital and I really hoped to do the same for the twins. My gynae, Dr C, told us early in the pregnancy that if the twins arrive early, we’d have to deliver at KKH as they’d be the best equipped to manage pre-term babies.

However, if we manage to cross 1 June, we can then deliver at Mount A. As Elliott was delivered via emergency c-sect, we opted for an elective c-sect for the twins. To cut a long story short(er), THE DATE was eventually fixed on 12 June 2017 which makes it 37 weeks. I was glad that we managed to hold on till the appointed date and that the pregnancy was progressing well.

We had it all planned: The boy and I would drop Elliott at school together on THE day (where I’d try not to cry), then head to Mount A for admission. He will stay the night at the in-laws and they’d drop him at school as usual the next day. My mum will then pick him from school and take him to visit me and his new siblings at the hospital.

Well.

Things didn’t quite go as planned. The evening before the big day, Elliott came down with a high fever of 39.8 degrees. AGAIN. It sent me into a bit of a tailspin as the timing couldn’t be worst. Oddly, the fever went away at night and we all sat around on the couch to watch Transformers.

Obviously, we couldn’t send him to school the next day and I did not want to catch whatever bug he had because it is no good to get sick before a big op?!

The night, instead of my big plan to cuddle him properly as an only child, I had to sleep in the other room so as not to risk getting sick. Sigh. I slept surprisingly well from 2.30 am till 6 am and did not even need to get up to pee?! BIG WIN.

The elective c-sect operation was fixed at 1 pm, hence I had to fast from 7am.  Woke at 6am and had a BBQ bun and a cup of hot Milo as the day broke. It was my “light breakfast” before the life-changing op and would be my last meal until the next day. I remember it being utterly quiet, save for the sound of chirping birds. It was…peaceful.

We arranged for my mum to come over to our place instead to care for Elliott. We then left the house quietly and made our way to the hospital.

The ride was surprising quick despite morning traffic. We were lucky – we secured a nice parking lot near the lift so I didn’t need to waddle too far. It was getting ridiculously awkward to walk more than a few steps and I couldn’t wait to “offload”.

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The boy took this picture of me for posterity’s sake. Yes, I know I don’t look that big to be carrying twins but please be assured that by this time, my entire back was aching, my feet were swollen, suffered from pregnancy sinusitis and had carpal tunnel syndrome on my right hand. It was just really…uncomfortable.

As we pre-registered, the hospital was expecting us. After the usual paperwork and registration, we were shown to the ward. It turned out to be the same ward I stayed at when birthing Elliott – Our Lady’s Ward on level 3 at the main block.

We were assigned to a room that was at the end of the corridor. As I’d be staying overnight on my own (I prefer that the boy go home to be with Elliott), I asked the kind nurse if there was another room closer to the nurses’ counter so that it wouldn’t be too…isolated. Eventually, we were allocated Room 338 – St Simon. Trivia: We were previously in Room 330 when I birthed Elliott. I felt a wave of nostalgia when we walked past it.

Each baby was gifted with one of these bags and because we had twins, we received two! Can you tell that the backpacks are “inspired” by the Anello backpacks? Each backpack contained loads of freebies and samples, ranging from breastpads, diapers, storage bottle, changing mat, nursing cover to all sorts of baby cream, baby onesie and even bedroom slippers (which proved very useful during confinement).

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Close to noon, a kind and friendly nurse came by to prepare me for the operation. She also tagged my right wrist with two tags because yep, twins. We chatted for a bit and when it was almost 1 pm, I was placed in a wheelchair and pushed to the operating theatre waiting area. Ok, I have no idea what the area is called but it’s basically where you wait before you are pushed in for your operation.

I ended up waiting for almost an hour in a lying-down position because Dr C was held up by the operation before mine (I knew she had another operation at 12.30 pm at the same hospital). At first, I wasn’t nervous at all as I knew what to expect. However, as time ticked by, I started to get a little nervous. I guess this is what happens when you are just lying there and waiting for something to happen.

I tried to keep myself occupied by glancing at the various medical personnel flitting past me, trying to figure out if they were nurses or doctors. I tried to nap but it was impossible as it was so uncomfortable lying on my back. What made it worst? As it turns out, the boy was waiting close by but he also had no idea what was happening and was getting worried.  Throughout the wait, I had various people come round to talk to me – the midwives (2 of them, one for each twin), the anesthetist, etc.

Finally, at almost 2 pm, I was wheeled into the operating theatre and the boy appeared behind me decked in scrubs. Dr C also appeared in her surgery gear, apologising profusely as her op ran into some complications. Everything kicked into high gear and I was prepped to be cut up operated on.

The anesthetist came by to administer the epidural. I knew that I had to “curl up like a shrimp” from last experience and so I tried my best to. As best as I could with a giant belly, that is. He asked me to try moving my legs and it just wouldn’t move despite my best efforts.

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Check out this picture that boy snapped of me as I WAS BEING CUT UP behind that blue screen. I honestly wasn’t feeling any pain, except for tugging and pulling which is somewhat…strange. With Elliott’s birth, I was pretty out of it as I was exhausted and drugged up. This time round, I was 100% awake and…sober. In fact, I was having a casual chat with Dr C who was operating on me and asking if we have decided on names, etc. If you listened in, you’d think that we were sitting at a cafe sipping tea and having a chat.

At one point, a nurse came close to the left side of my head and started to push my belly forward. It occurred to me that this is it – they were getting Twin 1 (girl) out. The boy also whispered: I think they just burst your water bag.

I whispered back: How do you know?
The boy: I just saw a huge gush of water. Must be lah.
Me: Ooh, cool.

Suddenly, I heard what is best described as…ducks squawking. It was hard to register in my head that Twin 1 was out and that was her cry. It just did not sound like a baby’s wail! I guess that’s because she still had all sorts of fluids covering her because soon after, a proper baby’s wail could be heard, loud and clear. Ah, she’s out!

Almost immediately, after yet more tugging and pulling, another series of duck squawks could be heard. That must be Twin 2, I thought. I had no idea what was happening but thanks to photos the boy snapped, they were being cleaned up quickly.

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Soon after, Twin 1 was placed in my arms. “Hello!“, I said with a beam, while stroking her left cheek gently. Soon after, Twin 2 was brought to us as well and I remember asking: Hmm, how do we do this? I don’t think I can balance two of them at the same time!

The anesthetist (I think) offered to help us with photos. I also remember the boy forgetting to remove his mask and was asked to do so. Hur hur. Oddly, our camera ran out of memory space at this very moment (which shouldn’t happen because the memory card has like, a bazillion amount of storage space on it – odd!) so the boy passed him his phone for our first picture together.

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Twin 1 weighed in at 2.6 kg and Twin 2 at 2.43 kg. Coincidentally, both were 46 cm in length and both had a head circumference of 33 cm. How cute! They both scored 10 on the Apgar newborn test and we were very very relieved that they did not require special medical care of any kind.

After the obligatory pictures, the twins were whisked away and the boy also left my side to accompany them. This is also when I was sewn up and I swear, it felt like FOREVER. I don’t remember them taking this long with Elliott but I think that’s because I was really out of it so I had no concept of time. This time round, I could feel every pull, push and tug.

At one point, my uterus felt like it was being squeezed and I felt period-like pain. Dr C said that it was the uterus contracting (so fast!) and wow, it was pretty uncomfortable. I have a vivid imagination so even though I couldn’t see what was going on, I was imagining my tummy and other bits of my insides being thrown back in and sewn up. I also remembered thinking that you need to have a very strong stomach to be a gynae. Imagine all that blood and internal bits. Sheesh.

When I was finally done, I was wheeled back to the same ‘waiting’ area. It was probably about 3pm+. I ended up staying there for quite a while, almost an hour (I think) as I was feeling the after-effects of the epidural. I was shivering uncontrollably and the kind nurse kept giving me blankets to try and keep me warm. The thing is, the shivers were coming from internally so no amount of blankets was helping. I also developed rashes (hives)?! I also felt the urge to throw up and when I finally did, it was pure gastric juices because I haven’t eaten anything since 6.30 am. I’ve always had reactions to certain drugs and medication so the gamut of side effects from the epidural wasn’t unexpected. 

I was finally moved to the ward to rest at about 4 pm+ and the boy was there waiting. He was starting to wonder what happened to his wife. I requested for skin-to-skin with the babies and the midwife suggested we do it in the ward instead of the operating theatre as it is very cold in there and everyone is in a big rush to clean up and vacate for the next operation.

I agreed and at about 4.45 pm, the twins were wheeled in and placed on me, one at a time. I only remember the time because the boy snapped this picture. You can still see the red marks on my forehead and chest from the rashes. Thankfully, the shivering and rashes subsided in a couple of hours and I was good as gold again.

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So there you go, the birth story of Twin 1 and Twin 2 who eventually became known as Edith and Everett.

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So very close.

As the date draws near, people have been asking, “So how? Excited or not?” And my answer is always, “I feel prepared, yet not quite prepared“. Yes, prepared because we’ve done it before with Elliott. Not quite prepared because we will be handling two newborns at the same time and I honestly cannot imagine how much chaos that would bring.

I am also not sure if this is typical of second (and subsequent) pregnancies but somehow, I find myself having a rather – for lack of a better word – laidback attitude? With Elliott, I remember packing my hospital bag pretty early on but this time round, I took the bag out and it sat untouched collecting dust until one day, the boy asked, rather uncharacteristically, “You still don’t want to pack ah?!

So I finally got down to it. I’ve learnt from the first experience that you really don’t need to bring a lot of stuff as the hospital provides for it. Also, Singapore is really not too big. If I really do forget anything, I can get the boy to get it from home.

I was glad I did (somewhat) pack the hospital bag because on Friday early morning (2 June), I felt a consistent dull period-like cramp. It woke me up and I laid still in bed, willing it to go away. I kinda remember that contractions felt like that.

Uh oh.

When daylight broke, I quickly popped the anti-contraction pills and was in 2 minds about heading to KKH. The boy decided that I should go for peace of mind, and so we trooped to KKH.

Again.

I knew exactly where to go this time round, having been there just last month. This time round, I was ushered to the triage ward where the babies’ heartbeats were monitored. I was told to stay put for 45 minutes to an hour for monitoring so I told the boy to head to the office first since he had to work to do. No point hanging around anyway as he wasn’t allowed into the triage ward.

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I spent about an hour lying on my back which was really uncomfortable. Thankfully, with the anti-contraction meds that I took, the contractions were spaced far apart. The doctor came by to check on me and after looking at the graph result (above), declared that I was safe to return home to rest.

To be brutally honest, I was quite ready to give birth last Friday because it is getting really uncomfortable. I spend most of my time pottering around the house because even a short walk to the bathroom is exhausting. NO KIDDING. I’m also feeling ridiculously hot all the time. I take 3 cold showers a day but once I walk out of the bathroom, sweat trickles down my back. URGH. Doesn’t help that the weather’s been sweltering.

Also, the (literal) pressure of carrying 2 babies who have crossed the 2kg mark each is pretty intense. I feel like every part of my body is either aching or in pain. I am detailing all these so that when the twins are old enough, I can regale them with stories of how exhausting it was to carry them in-utero.

In case anyone’s wondering, we are doing an elective c-section for the twins’ birth. Elliott had a rather dramatic birth and personally, I am not big on birth plans because honestly, I’ve learnt through many life experiences that many a times, plans don’t go as…planned! Decided that doing an elective c-section means that everything is booked in advance and we go in prepared and ready.

Well, I use the phrase ‘prepared and ready’ very loosely here because I don’t think I’d ever be fully prepared/ready to be cut up again. And in case anyone forgets, a c-section is a pretty big operation. I’m not sure if it’s my hormones talking but despite all the happy, healthy births that we see on social media, things can, and do, go wrong at childbirth. Call me paranoid but until the babies are safe in my arms, I don’t think I’d be able to fully relax.

I distinctly remember the deep cut across my body after I birthed Elliott and the huge waterproof bandage placed over it. It’s funny how your brain retains such…memories. But if being cut up is what it takes to get the twins out safely and alive, I say we do it.

How a woman decides to give birth is very personal. Does using drugs (i.e. taking an epidural), having an elective c-section, not choosing a water/natural birth, etc, make you less of a mother? I think not. I do wonder why mothers who do not choose the drug-free, natural way (for whatever reason) is usually given a less-than-subtle judgmental vibe.

Pregnancy is generally hard on a woman’s body (except those glam mums who still look model-like on social media. Not talking about those) so let’s just be kind (and silent). Let mothers have their babies however they like and not give out “Huh? Not natural birth ah?” vibes or your 2.5 cents worth about which is “better”, unless your opinion is asked for.

Anyway, I’m digressing.

After the last gynae visit, it hit me that THE DAY is drawing really close because I was given the hospital admission letter, doctor’s letter, etc. On one hand, I’m looking forward to offloading meeting the babies but on the other, despite it not being our first baby, I am a tad apprehensive at the journey ahead of us.

Please send lots of luck!

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