It is currently 3.34am. I have just fed my baby and she is falling back to sleep. And while I am sat with nothing else to occupy my mind I end up thinking a lot. And thinking about things I have learnt since becoming a mum. Being a new mum is tough. You’ve just gone through the best part of a year not really knowing what is going on inside your own body. Oh sure, they can tell you what to expect. They can tell you the scientific reasons why. But can anybody really prepare you for the feeling of a baby’s head ramming into your rib cage? Or how worried every cramp or twitch makes you? Or how out of control I’m sure you can feel if someone else is doing the carrying for you. And then once that part is over and you can hold and see your miracles in your arms the really hard part starts.
I knew about Post Natal Depression (read more about it, including symptoms and what to look out for, here) and I knew about baby blues (a short lived period of feeling weepy or moody). But I expected my hormones to level out once the babies were here. That did not happen. While I was still in hospital it was all such a rush and so much to do and I was so ill that I never had time to stop and think or feel anything except exhausted and in pain. As soon as we got the babies home I sat on the sofa and cried. It was out of relief that we had finally gotten them home safe and sound and that they were healthy and didn’t have to stay in hospital, even though they were born early and Bebe was so small. People had been coming and going all the time in the hospital. Family members visiting, medical staff coming to check on mine and the twin’s vitals every two hours and hospital workers cleaning or bringing food. While I knew that all these people meant well I just wanted to go home, close the door and not have anybody knocking for anything and just enjoy my new babies to myself at last. Not to mention I had just had major surgery and I was in pain, bleeding heavily and exhausted. Family members came round the same day we bought the girls home but I just lay upstairs on my own bed until they had gone. I didn’t want company. I was sick of being surrounded by people. I just wanted to be home.
A couple of days later I was still feeling emotional and cried for no reason. Well it seemed like no reason. It had a cause but it just came out of nowhere. I suddenly had the feeling that I wouldn’t be me anymore. That all of a sudden, I would disappear as a person and all that would be left would be the twins’ mum. I had this thought that I wouldn’t be able to just go and randomly stay at my own mum’s house and go shopping for hours with her anymore. It was things that I didn’t even think of that would change when I had the babies. And it made me feel like I would never do these things again and I would never be me. Four months in and I know that that isn’t true. That I can still be Becky, just with babies. Yes, it’s harder to do some things and yes, it does take several hours to even leave the house but it is worth each and every tiny sacrifice I make to have them here.
Now that they are here it is hard to remember what being pregnant felt like. I know that I was in pain and sick and sore and complained more or less every single day. But I can’t really remember what it felt like. The other day I was lying on the sofa and felt that sudden movement like being on a train. Your body jerks against your will and your belly goes a tiny bit and I suddenly remembered what the girls kicking felt like. Like your insides moving but your body stays still. I wish I could wrap every single moment and feeling up in a box because once you’ve had the baby you may not recall the experience so well. While I was pregnant I swore never again. Because two is enough, because it was horrendous, because more twins would be a beautiful but scary risk to take. But now it is over I can see why women have the longing to do it again. I can see why you want to redo what your body is made to do. I miss having them kicking and moving around. I miss the excitement of not knowing what they’ll look like or be like. I miss having them all to myself and being part of a secret gang of three that nobody else could be a part of. Although they are still mine and it’s lovely to have them here, I do miss it. I also miss the silence!
When it’s a long, crazy night and someone is colicky or someone’s gums are hurting, me and my partner look at each other in despair. Sometimes we snap at each other because ‘your twin woke my twin up after it took an hour to settle her’ and sometimes in the midst of all the crying we just fall asleep on bad terms. But without fail in the light of the next day we apologise and say ‘another night down’ and laugh and joke and get on with the day. And I think that’s important. That you can bite each other’s heads off and think ‘God, why did I do this?’, but that when the sun rises the next day and the babies are all cute and glowing and smiling again that we always go back to the relationship we had before. I expected things to change dramatically and, maybe from his point of view they have, but from where I’m standing not much has. Apart from tiredness giving me a serious sass problem…so, sorry about that!
So I guess what I have learnt is that if somebody has a newborn, give them some space. I know babies are cute and you want to see them, especially if they are your family, but chances are Mum has just gone through some kind of childbirth so maybe let her take a moment before you go round. If Mum hasn’t gone through childbirth m, then bringing a baby home is still a massive life event. Unless she asks you too, maybe don’t rush round just get. And if you are Mum, don’t be afraid to say no! Tell people that you want some space. I wish I had. I’ve learnt that having babies doesn’t change who you are. It just adds to it. My life CV still has my name at the top of it, it just has Mother added now under my job history. Yes, some things may not be practical anymore and things you never even thought of will change but that’s nothing compared to what you will gain. I’ve learnt not to take an experience for granted, especially one so precious that I may never repeat or that many will never get to experience at all. It’s hard to not complain when you’re in pain and sick and tired, it’s human nature, but try and remember what every moment felt like. Take photos of your bump every day, take time to sing to it and read to it if you can. There is nothing like the bond you will feel with your bump. It is different to the bond you have when they are born. Cherish it. And love your loved ones. When I am tired and ratty and want to poke my partner in the eye I know he is feeling the same. He probably wants to poke me in the eye too. But he is also struggling, just like me and trying his best, just like me. He is my team mate and I couldn’t do it for a second without him. So I guess I should try and lower that sass!
Enjoy your babies ladies. They are each and every one a tiny little miracle that you, chances are, grew all by yourself. If you didn’t grow your own, enjoy your little miracle all the more. They are a gift. And every single screaming, pacing and nappy changing second is one you won’t get back!