14 August 2008

About This Blog

I am the only man in a house of 3 females and this blog is here to tell my story….

My Name Is Michael, I am 32 years old and I work in IT for a living. I am a geek at heart and I love gadgets and gizmos.

I am married to Emma and have been for 10 years. We have beautiful twin girls, Amy and Lilly, born in March 2006. They are non identical and they have very different personalities.

I started this blog to document what it is to be a husband and a father to twins. My experience, my stories and anything I find that is either informational or darn right funny about it all. But as work and family matters took priority, I couldn't spare the time to keep up. So this is now the story of how my girls became and their first 2 years of life.

Like every blog, things have to start somewhere, so why not start here. I like to call it back story. This is where it all began for me and Emma when we started trying for children.

I hope you enjoy the ride. Feel free to contact me.

Michael

13 August 2008

The Decision - Back Story - Part 1

It took me ages to come around to the idea of having children. I did want them but this to me was the last step into full mature adulthood. My wife Emma and I had been married for just over eight years and in that time we had had fun, moved into a nice house and had holidays abroad. I thought a few times that we never had enough money to start a family until one day I thought "That’s it if we carry on thinking about money then it will never happen, lets just do it" (pardon the pun).

12 August 2008

The Positive Test - Back Story - Part 2

It was September 2005 and it had been a few weeks after our first try (I’m sure there is a technical term for it). Emma had a feeling she was pregnant. We were at a friend’s house after staying the night and it was a Sunday morning. My friends were still in bed and after about half an hour of getting up we decided to go. We said our good byes and set off the one hundred or so mile trip back home. Almost home and we decided to get a pregnancy test, both of us not really thinking that it would happen this quick.

The village chemist was shut so we went to the nearest town and found a place open. I was shrewd and purchased a three pack of tests thinking about the future, plus they were on offer. We got home and read the instructions, pee here and wait five minutes, best time to test is first thing in the morning. We both wanted to know in five minutes time not in the morning so she went and peed on the stick.

It was a fairly non eventful five minutes we looked at each other every now and then with the “what if” look in our eyes and in our minds just waiting for the clock. Time was up.















I had to take a picture of the event just make sure it was true. I was chuffed and a little proud (of myself for being a man). Emma rang her mum. It didn’t sink in for quite a while, well 13 weeks to be exact because then there would be actual video evidence.

Before the scan would be my 30th birthday but none of that really mattered, I just wanted to get to the scan and see our baby. Little did we know that there would be company in there.

11 August 2008

The 13 Week Scan - Back Story - Part 3

November 2005. We were nervous and excited. Emma was feeling semi okay this afternoon as the morning sickness had worn off a little. When I say morning sickness I realised quite quickly that it meant throwing up any time of the day or night, they don’t tell you that little fact.

We waited as each couple went in and out with their files and folder full of new baby stuff. They called out Emma’s name, my heart did that thing where it seems to move half way up your chest. This was it.

Emma lay on the bed; there was a TV screen above the end of the bed where we both could see the event. The sonographer said some stuff about what was going to happen. The gel went on Emma’s stomach, the sonographer turned out the light and it was show time.

Within about a minute of me staring at stuff on the screen I didn’t really understand, the sonographer came out with “are you seeing what I’m seeing” Emma said “is it twins?” the sonographer nodded her head.

After my first reaction of “Oh My God” I sat there in a daze looking up at the screen in ore with both my hands on my face with I’m sure, a look of complete shock. My mind was going back to conversations with my mum and aunt about there being twins in the family and also conversations with Emma’s mum and dad about the same thing on their side. “It skips a generation you know” after Emma’s mum told me that her mother in law was a twin. At the time I just laughed thinking that it isn’t going to happen!
The sonographer carried on explaining where things were and I could pick out the bodies now with their little hearts beating ten to the dozen. She took all of the measurements of the little beans, it was great. We got three pictures, one of them on their own and one together.


Bean 1

Bean 2

Before she finished, she showed us an empty area where there could have been a third embryo which never developed. At that point I didn’t take in what she said much because I was still in shock. I think about how that would have changed our lives even more with triplets but I don’t think about it too much.

We had to stick around the hospital a lot longer now because everything had just got more complicated. We couldn’t have the usual Down syndrome tests because it didn’t work on twins. They had to do a different test and it had to be done on that day. I didn’t mind though because there were more scans to measure the baby’s heads for water pressure or something but we got a good look at our little beans moving around for about twenty minutes.

We got out of the hospital. We phoned everyone. Emma’s mum just laughed down the phone, I think she was a little in shock too. I went back to work in shock. I don’t remember much about the rest of the day after that.

10 August 2008

The Pregnancy - Back Story - Part 4

We did everything right, Emma took all the pills and vitamins to give them all the good stuff they needed in there and she took it easy. She had all of the checkups regularly and she had a 20 week scan. There were to be at least 2 more scans before the big day. We took a few pictures of Emma’s bump as she got bigger and bigger. We had the usual happy milestones as well, the first movements and the first time I felt them kick.

We attended some antenatal classes with a midwife and a few other people. This was to give us an idea about what was to come in the birth she talked about stuff showed us a video the usual stuff I guess. She also showed us some implements that typically get used in a birth, one of which was, in her words the worst case scenario which were a set of steel forceps that could go around the babies head and pull it out if necessary. She said that this was rarely used though.

We got a heart Doppler from eBay so that we could listen to their heart beats whenever we wanted. Being the geek I am I managed to get a recording of them too.

video
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24 Weeks
- 28 Weeks
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32 Weeks
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Emma stayed at work for as long as she could and she lasted 31 weeks to her credit. In the end though she was uncomfortable and wasn’t sleeping much as they were doing cartwheels in there. She really thought she couldn’t get much bigger. It turns out she was right.

9 August 2008

"Happy 33rd" - Back Story - Part 5

Is what I said to Emma when I woke up that Thursday morning. I was referring to her 33rd week of being pregnant with our so far unsexed twins. I had being saying that for the last couple of Thursdays almost as a countdown. I got ready for work, kissed her good bye (no breakfast, bad boy) and I made the usual 50 mile, 1hour 30 minutes trip to work.

It was only my 3rd week at my new job so I was just finding my feet. I got in early; my first job of the day was to make a cup of tea for myself. I exchanged pleasantries with a couple of people in the kitchen and then headed back to my desk. I logged into my PC and the fancy telephone software on there had told me I had a missed call. It was home and I had missed it by about 30 seconds. I called back straight away, it was engaged. My mind started to race. I left it a minute and called back.

Emma answered I asked whether she was okay, she said “No, my waters have just broke”, “Oh crap” I thought to myself “I’m on my way” I said out loud to her. She explained to me that she had got through to her mum and dad and they were going to pick her up and take her to the hospital and I should meet them there. It was a good plan and made sense as they were closer to her than me. I told my work colleague what was going on and told him to tell my boss when he got in and then I legged it out of there and got back into my car that I had just gotten out of 15 minutes earlier and headed 40 miles to the hospital.

I had to get fuel for my car as well as some credit for my phone. I called my mum and dad to let them know what was going on. I made it to the hospital before Emma and the in-laws did. They finally arrived; Emma’s dad dropped her and her mum off and headed back to work. We checked in and were escorted to an examining room.

After waiting around for a while (I amused myself by playing with a computer screen that was above the bed, it had a phone and everything, I already said that I was a geek), Emma was examined and it was confirmed that her waters had broke. She was strapped to a machine that read both of the babies heart beats as well as read if she was having contractions. She had a steroid injection in her bum. This was for the babies benefit to try and strengthen their lungs before their impending arrival to give them a fighting chance. Things then were quiet for a while.

Eventually she was taken off the machine and wheeled into a ward with other women and there we stayed for a while. I got some credit for the computer over the bed (most beds had them) and we watched TV on it for a while. Emma’s dad came back from work to join us.

After a while Emma started to complain about being in pain on and off and to me it looked like she was having regular contractions. It took an absolute age for a nurse to take notice as she thought that this was very early on and there was nothing to worry about. The nurse put Emma back on the heart / contraction machine and went off again. At this point she was having fairly regular contractions and I wondered if this was going to go on for a while. You do hear about women who are in labour for days (when was I going to get time to pee?). The nurse returned and after some badgering, she examined Emma. To the nurses shock she was already 8 centimetres dilated. Well that was it we were whisked off to another room to prepare for the main event.

8 August 2008

The Preparation - Back Story - Part 6

What Follows is the most surreal 5 Hours of my life. In the preparation room there were all sorts of stuff that I recognised as hospital things but that was it. I don’t remember there being a computer in that room above the bed. That was a statement in itself “This must be the business room, no time to lie around and watch TV here” I thought to myself. A midwife came in; she looked like she had delivered a million children before these because she was very calm and confident. She went through the usual stuff and asked Emma what pain relief she wanted. It looked like she was going to give birth naturally but because of the twins it would be advisable to have an epidural just in case they had to do an emergency C section but we had never really got to the stage of talking about that sort of thing. So she said epidural. Emma was then introduced to gas and air, she was still having contractions but now she could breathe in the gas and air as she was going through them.

A specialist came around to examine Emma, at some points during the exam, he had his tongue out which to me looked as if he was reaching down the back of some sofa looking for something he had dropped earlier. Anyway at about that point she was about 9 centimetres dilated so there was still a while to go.

The midwife came back in with a set of hospital scrubs for me to wear during the main event. I was quite excited about it actually (I’m a fan of the TV show Scrubs) even though I may have looked a bit of an idiot, I felt quite cool and I just wanted to randomly run around and shout “I need 10 milligrams of thorosine STAT”, but I didn’t. In fact I got told off for going in the corridor wearing them trying to find Emma’s mum and dad to tell them what was going on.



Emma’s mum and dad eventually came in the room to tell us that they were going as visiting hours were over so they wished her good luck and off they went home to await news.

Emma continued with the contractions. After some of the contractions when she took the gas and air mask off she looked completely stoned which was confirmed when the anaesthesiologist can in and asked if she knew what was involved in the epidural. She just said “Needle, back, numb”. Short and to the point I suppose but the half shut eyes and the way she said it in a Cheech and Chong way made me laugh.

The anaesthesiologist was ready to do the epidural. Emma had to sit up on the bed; she leaned over putting her hands on my shoulders and we waited for a window where she wasn’t having a contraction. Looking back on this I wouldn’t trust this chap to fix my fridge let alone place a tube between a small space in the lower spinal cord. It took him 3 attempts to get the tube in and during his attempts he was shaking his head in frustration. I could also hear the grinding where the needle brushed against Emma’s back bone and she told me since that she could feel it. Today there are a couple of small scars there and she can still feel a twinge in that area every now and then. Anyway, if I had drawn a bull’s-eye in the right place I think it would have got done quicker.

Emma was examined again and it was time. 10 centimetres dilated, numb from the waist down she was wheeled into the operating room. The older midwife had finished for the night and she was replaced by one that looked 12 years old but she was saying all the right stuff so I wasn’t bothered. The main event was about to start and I had a front row seat.

7 August 2008

The Birth - Back Story - Part 7

I had a seat next to Emma and I held her hand all of the time and quite far enough away from the business end. I don’t think I was the cliché man, I sat there giving her encouraging smiles and not shouting out and breathing with her and actually pretending that I had any idea what she must have been going through.

What followed was about an hour or so of contractions and pushing. I had the machine near me and could see the babies heart beats and the contractions. I figured out when the contractions were coming and I knew when the midwife was going to tell Emma to push. Emma on the other hand had no idea when the contractions were coming because she couldn’t feel a single thing. This was becoming a problem because as much as she was pushing nothing was moving south.

A doctor was called in to do an assisted birth. I recognised her from one of the appointments that we had. She explained that the babies heart beats were starting to become a little slower and it was time to give them some encouragement to get them out. Then the things that were rarely used came out. Yes the steal forceps.

The doctor went in and positioned twin one’s head in the correct position. Emma was then treated to an episiotomy (a small cut to open things up a bit). I saw the forceps go in and at 22:02 on the next contraction the doctor pulled out twin number one, a girl, Lilly. We were given a quick look at her before she was taken away to be taken care of by half a dozen people.

Thirteen minuets later at 22:15 twin number two, also a girl, Amy, was delivered in the same fashion. She looked the same as Lilly did; eyes wide open with a shocked look on her face as if to say “what the hell just happened”. She was whisked away also. I was very relieved to here two screaming babies just before they were taken to the special care baby unit.

I sat there with Emma, while she was being stitched up and no word of a lie, 2 minutes after delivering twin girls she said “well I guess we should try for a boy then”. I laughed and put that down to the drugs talking.

I got changed out of my scrubs while Emma was being tidied up. At this point I was quite ripe. Once she had been wheeled back to the ward and was settled, I was invited to go down to see the girls.

It was quite shocking to see them. They were on CPAP which is basically oxygen fed in through the nose. They both had splints on there arms to hold wires and tubes in place. They were also very battered and bruised around the face where they had been pulled out by the forceps. I was assured though that they were in good hands. I was given a couple of Polaroid’s with them each on. I went back up stairs and showed them to Emma as it would be a couple of hours before she could see them.

Lilly

Amy

I sat with Emma for a while and then made all of the phone calls to the grand parents to give them the happy news. I then went home. I was a father to twin girls “Oh My God”.

6 August 2008

The Reality - Back Story - Part 8

April 2006 and Emma was discharged a few days after popping the girls out and I was already back at work. I planned to take two weeks off when the girls came home.

The Special Care Baby Unit, for me took a while to get used to. It was full of very small, mostly premature babies that needed all the help that they could get in the first few weeks of their lives. There were machines everywhere, to help them breath to monitor them and to feed them. At the start Lilly and Amy were attached to everything. There were nurses and doctors constantly buzzing around taking blood and checking them constantly.

The procedures were simple in there, babies started out at the furthest end of the unit in intensive care. As they got stronger they would move into a communal area then into their own little room and finally into a flat where the babies and parents would stay for a couple of days before going home. All of these rooms were set out so that the better the babies got the closer to the exit you were. I don’t know if was designed that way on purpose but for me it was a good way to gauge how things were getting on.

Amy

Lilly

My girls were in intensive care which meant that they were constantly monitored. The monitoring machines would go off every now and then with an alarm but the nurses would just come along take a quick look and switch it off again. Talk about how to scare a man. They were very yellow for a while with jaundice because of their under developed liver so they would have lights put on them to help them along and then blood tests would be taken. It was like they were having tanning sessions. They even had shades to protect their eyes.
I knew they were in good hands there but I hated it. No one wants to see their children like this and to see them this way for the first time for me was hell. I kept myself together for the most part and just concentrated on the positive and getting them moving ever closer to the Exit.

5 August 2008

Their First Few Days - Back Story - Part 9

Things were moving well. In the first few days there were little accomplishments. Lilly lead the way with Amy very close behind her. They came off CPAP and their jaundice was improving enough that they didn’t need any more tanning sessions. A few days into April and I came to the hospital to find my girls had been moved into the communal area. They had about 30 layers of baby clothing on and they were down 2 wires and 1 tube. One in their nose for feeding, on their skin to monitor their body temperature and one so that if their breathing stopped and alarm would go off. Believe me this was an improvement.

A couple of days after that I finally got to meet my girls in person and hold them for the first time. It was a bit scary as they were handed over to me but looking passed their poor bruised faces and into their eyes the scariness passed and I was euphoric. What they saw was probably just a big blurry shape moving around in front of them but I like to think it was a meeting of minds.


A few days after this, the girls were improving enough to have their own little room. This wasn’t much just a box room just big enough to fit two cots, two chairs and a sink in but at least now we had some privacy.

(From Left to Right) Lilly & Amy