Pet projects

Project One: A night on the town
One of the things I was most afraid of about having children was extricating myself from my ‘other’ life and losing touch, not only with my friends, but with the person that I am when I’m not a mother. I have a friend who practically dropped off the face of the earth when she had her daughter and then she became bitter when she saw us going on with our lives which were passing her by. I don’t want to become that person.

Everywhere I go, people comment on the fact that it must be rare for me to get out of the house. Not true. I make sure I go out at least once a day. That might just be a walk in the park or it might be coffee with a friend. I think that the longer you leave it, the harder it becomes. True, it takes a fair bit of logistical organisation and coordination, but that’s life now.

The one thing I hadn’t done was get out of the house for a night out without the twins. That’s not surprising, considering they are only 6 weeks old. So it was with huge excitement that I looked forward to last Friday evening. It was the hen’s party of one of my best friends and it was shaping up to be a boomer.

I had expressed milk so that I could have a bit of a bender without contaminating my children and wreaking the kind of havoc on their tiny livers that booze wreaks on ours. I had organised my mother to help Shaun out so that he wouldn’t suffer too much doing the night feeds. And I managed to squeeze myself back into my old jeans, much to my surprise and delight.

I had a year’s worth of showing off cooped up inside and I was ready to let loose.

So I did. For about 4 hours. I hit the town and then I hit the wall. I was home in bed by midnight, in time to sleep off the bubbly and make it up for the 2am feed.

Boy how life has changed.

Project Two: Operation Cat Integration
One thing that you hear people go on about a lot when you are pregnant is how your once placid house cats are about to become deadly killers. If the rumours are to be believed, cats smother children to death on a daily basis. And that’s between the jealous fits they are throwing because they are no longer the centre of attention.

Many months ago I filled the cots (cribs) with balloons in order to scare the hell out of any unsuspecting cat that happened to jump on one. It worked. Each cat jumped in the cot. Once.

I wasn’t particularly concerned about jealous behaviour but then again, I don’t claim to be a cat whisperer. (Well, to be honest, I have once or twice, but that was just a fabrication.) The best advice I was given was by the vet, who said to introduce the cats and the babies. Let them touch each other. Get them comfortable. By trying to keep them seperate you create the kind of curiosity that killed more than the cat.

And so far so good.

You can judge for yourselves.

Life, but not as you know it

Life sure is very different these days. For many years I fantasised about these days – hot, sunny summer days when I would have nothing to do but walk my baby through the park. We’d park up under a tree and I’d read my book while s/he slept. We’d come home and I’d get some jobs done around the house that I had been meaning to do for years, while the baby slept. Then we’d go out for coffee or a wine with the girls. Life was going to be cruisy. Getting up a few times in the night wouldn’t bother me – it’s not like I’d have to wake up to go to work.

Hahahahahahahahaha.

Everyone talks about the sleep deprivation and that’s about it. You know what? The sleep deprivation doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Most nights I get 3 or 4 hours. Occasionally I get 6 and occasionally I get 1. I don’t need much anyway, so it’s all good.

No one talks about the fact that you have to fit every single activity into a 1.5 hour period while the baby is sleeping. And that’s if you have one baby. My life now consists of snatched moments. The second I get both babies sleeping in synch, I start off on my mad dash to get things done. I have to carefully prioritise. First I go to the bathroom. Then I grab some food. There is no such thing as a meal any more – I now live off muesli bars, bowls of cereal and pieces of fruit and cheese – anything that I can grab fast. After that I do jobs in order of urgency. Sterilise the bottles. Make sure the cats are fed. Put the washing on. And so it goes.

We have managed one walk in the park so far. I didn’t take into account the fact that it would be a while before I could actually make it to the park after surgery. I have to take a carefully planned route that means I don’t have to push the buggy up any hills. Hunter screamed the whole way. I put them under a tree and read my book for 2 minutes before I decided that the screaming wasn’t going to stop, and there was no way I was pulling my rack out in public. When you have two babies to feed, there is no subtle way of doing it.

That’s the other thing that no one really talks about. The fact that you turn into a milking machine. I’ve reached the stage now where I reckon I spend more time with my boobs out than in. I’ve started having this recurring dream. I’ll be out somewhere – sometimes it’s the mall, sometimes it’s at my old job, sometimes it’s at the gym, and I’ll wonder why everyone is staring at me. Then I look down and realise that yup, sure enough – the boobs are out.

Things reached a new low the other day when I found myself hooked up to the expressing machine, literally milking myself, whilst having a conversation with a friend. Milking myself. WTF?

So yup, life is very different these days, but not in the way I thought it would be. But still, I wouldn’t trade a second.

Well, maybe a couple of seconds. Just the ones when I get sprayed with human waste.

Collateral Damage

I think I’ve posted under this title before, but I can assure you it wasn’t about the same subject. This time I’m going to have a bit of a whinge, but before I begin I have to stress the fact that the outcome is worth every bit of pain and inconvenience that I’m currently suffering.

As a result of my pregnancy and the fact that the babies were so large (I was carrying over 13lb of baby by the end), I have seperated my abdominal wall (a condition known as Diastasis Recti). There are degrees of seperation, with many women developing a gap of 1-2cm between the two rows of abdominal muscles (imagine your 6 pack split into two 3 packs). Unfortunately my seperation is more like 25cm. My two rows of abs have basically become obliques.

I first suspected that something was wrong whilst I was lying in my hospital bed and I could see bubbles of gas moving under my skin. I wondered if my good friend Pain Pump (see previous post) was messing with my head again, but it turns out that there is nothing between my skin and my intestines. As gross as that is, it turns out that it is the lesser of the related problems. The main issue when you have no abdominal strength is that you have no core strength, and therefore nothing supporting your back.

As a boxer I have always had incredible core strength and have always just taken it for granted. Turns out that the boxing was my downfall. The more developed your abdominal wall, the more likely it is to become seperated when stretched – or so they tell me now. My surgeon became aware of the issue very early on but didn’t say anything. I actually respect him for that – telling me while I was pregnant would only have served to distress me – and in turn my babies.

So now I am dealing with the consequences. I have to wear full abdominal strapping from my thighs to my chest in order to protect both my gut and support my back. I am not allowed to carry anything heavier than a baby (so I can’t carry the babies in their capsules, both babies at once, the groceries, the baby bath when it’s full etc etc), I can lift my arms over my head (so I can’t hang out washing), I can’t bend over to pick things up, I can’t push the buggy up hills and I can’t do any exercise other than walking. All this for 3 months.

[Insert multiple expletives here.]

As the mother of new twins, I find these restrictions INCREDIBLY frustrating.

The good thing is that it isn’t painful as such. My hips and my back are a constantly nagging source of pain, but I can’t feel anything in my abs. That is frustrating in a way, because I don’t know if they are getting better.

In order to rectify the problem I have a program of physio exercises (but nothing that uses my abs!). If that doesn’t work, I’ll have to have them stitched back together. As if that wasn’t gross enough, the extra ass kicker is that although the surgery is deemed necessary in extreme cases, it is considered cosmetic so isn’t covered by insurance. It is also considered a complication of pregnancy, rather than an accident so isn’t covered by our ACC system. Basically I’m screwed.

So I’m crossing my fingers and doing my exercises.

Every now and then I feel ridiculously frustrated by the whole thing, but then I remind myself what an incredibly small price it is to pay for Israel and Hunter, who have become the axis of my universe.

I’m the luckiest (broken) new mother in the world.

The whole crazy procedure

Part 2 – The Pain Pump

After the delivery of the twins, we spent 5 nights in hospital, which is standard here after a c-section. It’s funny – it’s such a common operation that you tend to forget that it’s major abdominal surgery. I took for granted how debilitating it would be. Things were made slightly better by my good friend, the pain pump.

The pain pump and I had a love/hate relationship. When I pressed the button it would deliver a dose of morphine via an epidural line in my back. I could count to 5 and feel it warm my whole body and make everything furry and warm. It’s hard to say no to that. I would spend hours just staring out the window at the elevators going up and down. So that’s the love.

The hate made itself felt in a couple of ways. The first was the fact that every time I left my bed I had to cart the whole damn machine anf all its tubes around. No so easy to administer to two babies…

The second hate factor was that whilst floating on cloud morphine I was rather dumbed down. Confusion reigned. Again, not so good for baby watching. The nurse would come in and ask me when I last fed the babies. I’d say 2 o’clock. She’d say “Oooooo-k, so 10 hours ago?” Holy hell, I guess I’m getting my times muddled…

The ‘pain team’ (sounds like a wrestling team, rather than a group of anaethetists) would come around each day to evaluate me. On the third day they asked how many times I had used the pump. I said 4. They messed around with my machine for a while and said “4? or 33?” Whoops…

So on Day 4 I voluntarily let the pain pump go. It wasn’t him, it was me. I decided that for the sake of my babies we had to go our seperate ways. It was hard, but I know it was the right decision.

Perhaps we’ll meet again some day under different circumstances.

Relentless

Holy mother of god and every other expression of complete shock that you can think of. I knew this was going to be hard and amazing and mindblowing and exhausting all at once, but nothing like it actually is. I think if I had to put it all together in one word, that word would be relentless.

I feel a bit like I’m stuck in groundhog day, only it’s more like groundhog 2 hours. The twins and I are currently working to a two hourly schedule. At least, I am – they haven’t grasped it yet. The idea is that they eat for 40 minutes (in tandem), we have activity time for 20 minutes and then they sleep for an hour and we start all over again. In reality that has happened twice. For one cycle they will eat for an hour, yell for an hour and lie in their beds for 10 minutes. For the next they will eat for 10 minutes, chirrup for an hour and then sleep for 30 minutes. No two cycles are the same. Sometimes I think they are good babies and sometimes I think they are naughty babies. In actuality, they are just babies. They will be 4 weeks old tomorrow, and I suspect that is a bit young to be manipulative. They are just doing what they need to do. And I’m good with that.

Yesterday was an exciting milestone. They hit the 4kg mark (at least Hunter did, Israel has a few grams to go) which means they can come out of their prem clothes and go into newborn clothes. A whole new wardrobe! Fair to say, they couldn’t care less, but I’m loving it. It’s like having two dolls. I didn’t much like dolls as a kid, so I’m making up for it now. People have given us so many presents that they have more clothes than they will be able to wear in the small window of time before they hit 5kgs and move up to the next size. So we do a couple of changes a day. Shaun does the washing of course.

I am snatching this window of time during a rare moment when they are both sleeping. The hardest thing with twins is keeping them in synch. If you don’t, you literally spend all your time feeding. For someone that doesn’t like sitting around, I find that excrutiatingly difficult. I have done more reading in the last month than I think I have in my whole life. But that’s provided I remember to put my book within arms reach before I sit down. If I don’t, it’s an exceptionally boring 40 minutes or so.

Before the babies were born I knew this was going to be hard but I figured I would approach it in the same way that I have approached any job and I’d do it to the best of my ability. That hasn’t changed, but no other job has had the emotional factor. The pragmatic side of me dictates the fact that there are times when one or both babies are just going to have to wait. That means screaming. It’s very hard to listen to someone you love in pain, and when that person is very very tiny and completely reliant on you, it’s even harder. But if you don’t allow that to happen, you never get anything else done. And that includes going to the bathroom.

So for the most part we’re enjoying this new adventure and finding our way together. There are good days and bad days, but at the end of all of them I still look down in wonder at the miniature people that I have made and remember how unbelievably blessed I am.

Life is very, very different, but boy is it good.