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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Breastfeeding - what a journey, what a lesson

I've been wanting to write this post for the longest time ever since I delivered the twins but I just haven't had the time in between diapering, feeding, burping and pumping. My day starts at between 5.30 to 7.30am daily depending on whether I've managed to get out of bed to pump at 3am, and ends about 10pm, a far cry from those days when I could not crawl out of bed earlier than 8am (pre-pregnancy) and could sleep about 2-3am.

So, about pumping (breast-milk). When I delivered the twins, it was assumed that I would be breastfeeding and the nurses pushed in Twin A into my room the morning I delivered. I had been examining my breasts and they looked the same as they did pre-delivery and I wondered where in the world would the breast-milk come from, especially when I didn't go through the hours of labor which would send a signal to my body to produce milk. Nonetheless, I duly lifted up the little one from her bassinet and latched her on with the lactation consultant's instructions on how to position the baby (body to chest) and how to ensure that her mouth would suckle properly. Well, my little Twin A started suckling well enough which gave me a happiness I have never experienced but my joy lasted only about 1min because she realized there was nothing and turned her little face away.

The lactation consultant (LC) then taught me to how to power massage my breasts which would open up the pores in the nipples, express the colostrum (liquid gold) and encourage milk flow. Then, the LC massaged my breasts each and the pain, oh, the pain was blinding. I kid you not when I compare the pain to having someone use a clothes peg to pinch each nipple and twist. Twist. I could not breathe, could not think - all I felt was pure agony. The pain from the 10cm c-section wound at my lower belly (which I was on painkillers on but did nothing for the breasts' pain) paled in comparison to this pain.

I am not ashamed to mention that I did moan out loud and tear as the LC massaged my breasts. I swore that this was the final straw (that broke the camel's back) and I bemoaned my being born a woman once again. First the horrible pregnancy to bear the twins and now the agony I had to go through to feed the twins. And I was told by the LC that if I wanted to have my breast milk kick in, I had to massage my breasts like I was taught every 3 hours.

Now, my mother had repeatedly told me that I had to breastfeed no matter what - she said that not everything could be bought with money, and unfortunately like my pregnancy, having my body produce breastmilk is one thing that money can't purchase. My CEB and I also knew from reading and the pre-natal sessions that breastmilk was best (full of antibodies). So to me, giving up because of pain wasn't an option. In fact, I even asked my CEB to rent the hospital Medela breast pump for the 4 days I was there as I heard the suction was more powerful than the Medela PISA model I had bought.

So, I started the 3 hour massage. The first 2 massages on my own yielded nothing and I asked for the LC who massaged my breasts again for me. She told me that if I didn't apply enough pressure - i.e. too soft on myself and not pressing hard enough despite the blinding pain, I would not have breast milk. She stood over me and rolled, rubbed, pressed until I had to bite my lips to prevent myself from asking her to stop. I wanted her to stop so the pain would stop yet what I needed overrode what I wanted so I just allowed myself to be lost in the waves of pain.

After what seemed like forever, the LC told me that there was colostrum emerging from each breast and she used a syringe to collect the yellow stuff seeping out of each nipple. I think I could only watch open-mouthed - I was in too much in pain to feel any joy. But But BUT, I was inspired. I figured that since the massages were yielding results, I should just keep at the massaging despite the crazy clothes-peg-on-nipples pain. So from then, I set my alarm to wake up every 3 hours to massage my breasts and grit my teeth through the pain. That, with the hobbling bent in half to the toilet because of the c-section wound was a new lesson in pain for me. Thank goodness my CEB stayed with me throughout. Honestly, I could not have managed on my own - I'm so grateful he booked me an A class ward so he could be there every single hour with me and the twins, to experience this one-in-a-lifetime experience and to help in all the ways he could from supporting me to the toilet to managing visitors to learning how to diaper and feed the twins (he was very hands-on!).

Anyway, back to the breastfeeding story. My mother watched in fascination as I massaged each breast futilely and collected the little colostrum each time in a syringe. Whatever was in the syringe (about 5-10ml after 4-5 rounds of painful massaging) went into each twin's mouth.

I remember on my second night about 2am after I had woken up to massage and pump my breasts (no milk still), I made my way to the nursery to pass the syringe to the nurse to give one of the twins. I remember waiting outside the nursery while they wheeled out one of the little ones (Twin B I think), I remember the satisfaction I got when I pressed the syringe into her mouth to fill it with the precious colostrum (20 mins of pain each massage). I remember wishing I had more so I could give each of the twins some, instead of that pathetic amount which only 1 twin could have every 3 hours, and I told the nurse how I felt like such a lousy mother because I had no milk and so little colostrum.

The next morning, I heard the night shift nurses briefing the day shift nurses outside my room on what I had said. Within an hour, the LC was at my bedside massaging my breasts and squeezing out even more colostrum. At her angle standing over me, I think she was able to exert more force and open more pores (the pain was unforgettable!). Again, I was told to massage like she had taught me every 3 hours which I diligently and desperately did regardless of visitors.

My mother-in-law (MIL), while watching me massage and seeing the pain I was in with so little yield, told me to just give up and give formula milk which she herself had done when she could not stand the pain of engorgement (no breast pump during her era). I told her I wanted to try to get breast milk, and if really after 10 days of massaging and pain there was no yield, I would reconcile myself to the fact that I had no breast milk. I didn't want to take the easy way out and deprive my twins of the best milk possible merely because I as the mother did not want to suffer for them. And what about the colostrum full of antibodies that at least my body was producing? No, giving up at that point was not an option. And to his credit, my CEB never said a single word to discourage me from my efforts - he just held his tongue, helped me with the hospital breast pump and supported my efforts to get the breastmilk in. We even brought the PISA I bought to the hospital as well as the bottles (But of course, we went back with these untouched as there was not enough milk to even cover the base of the bottles).

So after the 4th day in the hospital, we went home and I continued with the 3 hours pumping. My breastmilk only came in on the 5th day and this was the amount yielded by both breasts after 20 mins of pumping - less than 50ml. And the color was not pure white but yellow. Still, my confinement lady (CL) deemed it suitable for the twins who were drinking about 30ml each per feed

On the 14th day, I was confident enough to pump with both pumps at the same time. The yield was only  20-30ml per breast and that was enough to dissuade me from using 2 pumps when evidently it was going to be a waste of time cleaning 2 bottles, 2 shields and 2 membranes. Still, I stuck to the 3 hours routine telling myself that it was all about effort and commitment. Although I had plenty of support from my CEB, my mum, my in-laws, my maid especially and of course the invaluable but very expensive CL, the sleep deprivation (waking up every 3 hours to pump for 1/2 an hour is seriously very tiring, especially when you do that 24/7) was enough to exhaust me and make me one very grouchy mama.

But because I am a mama, I have to do what I have to do for the twins, no matter my feelings. I only had time to look at their hospital cards 2 weeks after I got home and it may be hormones, but I teared when I saw the yellow sticker on each of their cards. The sticker said "I am breast fed". And I could not stop crying when I thought back on the journey, on finding the strength and determination to sit with and bear pain I never thought I could, on waking up every 3 hours when previously I had such a good relaxed life waking at 8-9am and sleeping uninterrupted at whatever hour I liked.

By the third week with religious constant pumping 3 hourly and plenty of fluids intake, as well as lots of threadfin and cod fish, my supply was up to 130ml for both breasts every pump.

And after 3-4 days, the output increased even further to 200ml. And that's where the tender care lanolin which I purchased from the USA (and my boss kindly brought down) came in useful. All the pumping had resulted in very very sore nipples and I was (and am) deathly afraid of pumping strawberry milk  (milk mixed with blood from cracked nipples) which the twins would not be able to drink.

As the twins' one month approaches, my milk supply has stabilized to 220ml every 3/4hourly pump. This is just enough for their day feeds but we still need to rely on formula milk for their night feeds - as of now, their intake has increased to 110ml per baby every 2-3 hours.

I have read about some mothers breastfeeding for more than 1 year and I take my hats off to them, especially if they are exclusive pumping. I would latch my twins on more often but suckling would take one hour plus each and I would not know how much they are drinking. I'm also not sure how I could possibly hold one to each breast at the same time or when holding on, latch the other one. So, exclusive pumping it has to be - I spend my days in a blur between pumping, helping with the feeding and diapering.

When asked how long I wanted to continue being tied to the pump, my answer would be 4-6 months but the truth is that I recently even ordered more spare parts for the pump from the US which my colleague kindly helped me bring back to SG. I guess this shows that I am not really ready to stop pumping BM for the twins despite the soreness of my nipples and the sleep deprivation. At minimum, I'm going to be at this for 4 months and maximum would be 1 year.

Breastfeeding has been and is a memorable journey, and I am thankful as always, to the good Lord for providing me with such a decent supply of milk (average of 1.2 litres a day), for enabling the twins to accept without difficulty both BM and FM (for now at least), and for the lesson that I have learnt - one indeed reaps what one sows. My friend, the Slug was right about one thing - giving up is always the easiest route but if one can sit through the pain no matter how bad it gets, and hold true to one's commitment to persevere, there will, God willing, be results.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

On being a mother...

"You think that true love is the only thing that can crush your heart; that will take your life and light it up or destroy it. Then you become a mother... ~ Grey's Anatomy"

I lifted that quote off a post from a blog I had been following while I was pregnant. The mother lost her child to hydrops at 31weeks while I have been blessed with two living children (we were pregnant at the same time).

My firstborn.

And my baby.

If a bird with a brain the size if a pea would defend its young to the death from its enemies, tell me what a human mother wouldn't do to protect her young.

I have never known a love so fierce, so consuming, so unconditional until I birthed my children. I have never known what I could be capable of until I held my babies in my arms. I have never suffered such agony as I did the days after they were born (breastfeeding story up next) - the degree of pain I can put up with for them amazes even myself. Each time I could have chosen the easy way out but it would be at their expense and so I grit my teeth, moan with the pain (can't think when experiencing waves of our pain) and do what I have to do. I ask for nothing in return - for this is what a mother should do.

My twins have given me strength, have taught me humility and have pushed me beyond what I thought I was capable of. I am so terrified of anything bad happening to them that I have to calm myself down by telling myself repeatedly that all this is in God's hands. HE will hold them, HE holds their lives in HIS hands. I can only do the best I can as their mother - because if not me, who will? The rest of the stuff I can't control, I have to leave it to God. 

Whatever the case, as long as I believe in God, and make the best decisions I can live with (best decision at that point and not hindsight), I should have no regrets. 

My first duty is to the twins and I am no stranger to pain when it comes to suffering their behalf so I have to do what I have to do for them, always them first.

Oh motherhood, such a privilege, such a joy, such a challenge. My ex-fiancé may have hit the nail on the head when, about 4 years ago as we were calling it quits, he said to me most sadly that he wished he had been born to be my child, instead of a partner (to-be). His words struck me deeply but it was his tone that has remained imprinted in my mind - such a tone of wishful longing.

But he was right - a mother will love the child who was placed in her arms after carrying the child in her womb for 9 months, no matter what, for however long. I am so blessed to have known this degree of love for another. 

Twin A and Twin B at Week 3

I'm in the middle of the third week since the twins arrived and I am still filled with awe and happiness whenever I hold them in my arms or just look at them. They have completed my life in a way that I never thought possible and motherhood thus far has brought me the deepest joy that I have ever known.

Each of the twins exhibit almost the same behavior as they did when they were in my womb.

Twin A is a night owl just like mummy and stays awake almost all the time. I often catch her snuggled in the arms of the confinement lady (CL) when I wake up to check on them in the night (I wake up every 3 hours to pump milk which is a story in itself). She simply refuses to sleep through the night and demands far more attention (wanting to be held) than Twin B. It's almost as if she is trying to make up for the lack of attention she received when in the womb (because she was lying so low). She loves being held against the chest and looking up with her large wide eyes at the person holding her. With her beautiful double eyelids, pointy chin and wide smile, Twin A is a joy to behold but Lordy, taking care of her is a real challenge. The poor baby has diaper rash that's bad enough for the CL to switch to cloth nappies for her. My heart about broke when I heard that the reason she cries out sometimes in her sleep is because it hurts when she pees. Honestly, my stress levels are off the charts because of Twin A - nothing breaks a mother's heart more than to see her daughter hurting.

I about snapped in half when someone suggested bathing my poor baby girl in alcohol - I wanted to strip that person's top layer of skin off at the person's most sensitive area with my nails and pour alcohol all over the raw flesh to give that person a feel of the pain (too bad my nails are too short as I am terrified of scratching the babies)! Even though I had major abdominal surgery just 2 weeks ago, I spend as much time with my babies as I can instead of lolling around the bed being a bum (though I should be as it is confinement period) so I  understand and know my babies best. I will not stand for anyone that does not spend half the time I do with my daughters, deciding what is to be done with my girls - I change their diapers, seen the rawness of Twin A's little bum (which the CL herself said was so pitiful), have they? Do they? Need I explain my frustration and fury when that persons insisted on subjecting my much loved firstborn to such inhumane torture in the name of some old myth that has no place in science or modern medicine? Alcohol on raw flesh, a baby's raw flesh , MY daughter's flesh -  my mind can't accept this, my heart can never forgive.

There is no tolerance or room for any mistakes when it comes to my babies - if anything bad happens to them, let it be my mistake, not because I stood by and watched. I can live with a wrong decision I made if on hindsight it turned out to be wrong, but I can't live with being that mother who gave in to others knowing in her heart it was the wrong but easy choice to make - as my sister rightly put it, shame on me if I did! I could never live with myself....

Now, Twin B - Twin B is the delight of my heart and is able to sleep and feed well. She moves her head about quite a bit which reminds me of the sweet feeling I had carrying her high in my womb and feeling her head pushing out. The only time Twin B cries is for food and she can sleep through a soiled diaper. The first time my CEB caught me crying back home after delivery was when I recounted to him how guilty I felt to find my baby girl lying in a poo and pee filled diaper...simply because her older sister requires so much of everyone's time and energy that it is almost as if my little Twin B is punished by being neglected for being a good baby. This is yet another stress factor and source of tears for me. I feel immeasurably guilty and no matter how tired I am, I will make sure I feed her and change her every day. How can I possibly listen to those insisting I rest and recover in bed?

As I said, Twin B is a mini me and now has a double chin to boot (though I must say I am at my thinnest in years now thanks to breastfeeding). She rarely smiles unlike Twin A but I have caught her twice thus far and like a shooting star, those fleeting moments are forever imprinted in my heart. She is very expressive and I have heaps of fun and laughter when I am feeding her. The way she purses her lips, sticks her tongue up to the roof of her mouth and vigorously shakes her head from side to side when she rejects the bottle has me and the CL laughing till we are in stitches!

At this age, babies are learning to recognize faces and voices and though a well-meaning colleague once advised me that babies won't remember who changed their nappies or fed them, I still do all that happily. Not so much for them to remember, but for me. For I want to do all I can for them - why suffer so much the entire pregnancy and birth them if I cannot do the least for them such as to make sure their basic needs are met? Why miss a single moment of their growing up, their development by spending time away from them instead of  holding them to feed, burping them or even changing their diapers?

I swore during my pregnancy days when I was suffering so much that whatever money could buy, could solve, I would spend, And I have held true to my word - these are premium babies whom I have hired a confinement lady to take care of for the first 3 months of their lives when they are most fragile and delicate. I cannot and will not stand for having 1 twin wail her lungs out pitifully while I am holding the other wailing too and the maid is busy preparing their feeds. That expenditure alone for the maid and CL is in the 5 digits. Necessary? Yes. Will die without? No, one can always make do somehow. So why?

Other than the fact that I cannot split myself in two so as to give both all the time and attention they deserve, I have traveled to my heart's content - to South America, London, USA and South Africa all on SQ business class to and fro in the past two years alone (not to mention my other trips around Asia such as Japan, HongKong etc), I have pampered myself and have being pampered with my fill of branded goods and jewels - diamonds, Chanel/Ferragamo/Burburry/Miumiu/LV bags, Dior shoes, Boss suits and clothes - nowhere as lavish as my sister's collection but the point is that I do not crave or want anything material for myself anymore. So whatever I have now to spend,  I will spare no expense on the twins (instead of myself as before) to give them no less than what I can afford. Esp physical matters and education wise.

And it isn't just money I would spend on the twins. I would do anything to make sure their needs are met, to secure their health, future and well being. Give up my life for them? I couldn't put a gun to my head fast enough. Sever relationships that would harm them? I couldn't close the doors fast enough. Do without? I could, but not my babies. Get up every three hours around the clock to pump milk? I do. Wake up at 6am instead of  my past 9am/11am waking hours? I do. Despite my CEB telling me I never would be able to as I have always enjoyed staying in bed as late as possible. Put myself through a C-section instead of insisting on a natural delivery despite my terror of being sliced open and having a needle jabbed into my spinal column? The 10cm cut across my skin, tissue, muscle and organ is evidence that I would do whatever it takes for the twins to be born safely. Suffer the agony of breastfeeding? I have and I would do it all over again for them.

I know this in my heart: If I have to fight tooth and nail for them to be safe, I will rip apart anyone who dares threaten their well being in any way, even if the person that threatens them is someone close to me. For my twins are my everything, they are the now, the future, and I will do everything in and for their best interest, no matter what my own feelings or needs are. And sometimes, it isn't always outright fighting for them that will secure the best for them, but sometimes, swallowing a bitter pill and suffering for them.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Twin A - First Laughter

UI'd stumbled out of bed at 330am for my nightly pumping session because for some reason my alarm set for 2am hadn't gone off.

Was done by 4.30am where I pumped a record of 170ml and went in to check on the twins. Changed diapers for Twin B while watching Twin A being cuddled by the Confinement Lady (CL) in her bed. Twin B started fussing for milk so the CL went to prepare formula milk (FM) for both twins. I then did diaper duty for Twin A while the CL returned to start Twin B's feeding.

So it was up to me to feed Twin A which as usual I did a half-blotched job. That girl won't drink a whole bottle at a go unlike Twin B so I usually have to pass her over to the CL for the CL to finish coaxing her to finish all.

So, I burped Twin A while waiting for the CL to finish with Twin B. After some serious neck twisting by Twin A to indicate she was done with the burping session, I laid her back in the crook of my arms and tried to get her to feed again. No success. So I looked at her beautiful little sleepy face and just enjoyed the moment. 

Then she started breathing v quickly, sort of hyperventilating and just as I was getting worried, she broke out into a widest gaping smile (which had me marveling at her beauty) and to the CL and my amazement, chuckled loudly - some what like hehehe. 

Oh my lovely sweet Twin A - I feel so fortunate to have been there to hear, see and witness your first chuckle! Even though you sent your mama scurrying all the way to town yesterday to get cloth diapers, inserts and diaper covers because of your diaper rash, mummy still loves you so much!

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Birth Story - Who did it (broke the waterbag)?

(**Writing this only 2 weeks later due to severe sleep deprivation from 3 hourly pumping)

My CEB and I had put much thought and effort into choosing a birth date and time for the twins but they decided to give us a surprise by arriving earlier unexpectedly.

The day started like any Sunday, except with a small exception - for some reason, I listened to my mother to seek a special blessing from the priest after mass (my original intent was to visit the church a day before the scheduled C section) and it was one of the rare times that my CEB was present at church and he witnessed personally the priest praying over me and my big belly for a safe delivery.

My mother had some vouchers for lunch and we went over to China Sq for a hearty meal of Bak Kut Teh and where I bought back Don's black pepper chicken pie. As usual, my father came over on Sunday evening for dinner but I was feeling too tired to join them so I stayed at home and munched on the pie while reading the instruction manual on how to use the breast pump that my boss had kindly brought down on his visit from the US.

After dinner, I cleared up and was again thinking about the things we needed to do still as well as planning (a) a trip to the bank the next day and (b) washing and sterilizing the milk bottles I had and put on the table. Occupied with these thoughts, I made my way to the toilet to release my bladder and when I stood up, I felt a warm gush of water from my privates. First reaction? Denial? How could this be when I was so close to full term?! I sat back down with a pounding heart and tried to convince myself it was just pee. Then when I stood up again, there was yet another warm gush of water. Again, I told myself it was just pee and sat back down. The third time I stood up, there was no denying the truth, there was so much warm liquid flowing out of me that there was absolutely no way that the water could be pee.

So I made my way to the bedroom, stuffed the thickest towel I could find between my legs and called my CEB to inform him my waterbag had burst. He was buying tonic soup packets for me at EuYanSeng at the airport after dinner and he told me that he and his dad made straight for the car right after. In the meantime while waiting, I put both my phone chargers in my handbag, took off my gold chain&watch and went to the hall to wait with the already packed hospital bag. My CEB took some time to come back so I googled how long I had after the waterbag had burst and since Dr Google told me a few hours, I wasn't panicked. My CEB quickly threw some personal items together and his dad drove and dropped us both off at the hospital 24hrs clinic where I was helped into a wheelchair and sent straight up to labor and delivery.

We presented the pre-admission documents to the counter and I was wheeled into the labor room while my CEB attended to the administrative/financial matters. After a quick discussion, we decided to stick to our original choice of choosing an A class ward since we were not too far off from the scheduled delivery date and I prayed that there would be no complications and the twins would be fine (their fees are pegged to my ward status). In any case, I wanted my CEB to stay with me the nights I would be in hospital and only patients in A class wards are allowed to have their spouses do so.

I got changed out of my clothing into a hospital robe and the nurses tried to start an IV on the back of my left hand to no avail. They also called my OB to inform him of my admission and while waiting, the doctor on call examined me vaginally and pronounced me 3 cm dilated already and partially effaced with Twin A's head positioned to deliver. The nurses had difficulty locating Twin A's heartbeat with the doppler because of the way she was positioned and an ultrasound machine was wheeled in. I was so terrified during those moments because I feared the worst that Twin A was gone. With the machine, the doctor located Twin A and said she wasn't engaged but still breech so there was no chance of a natural delivery. What was in my cervix was possibly her little bum. Because I had eaten dinner, they could not do a C-section right away - there was a chance of my choking and dying on my half digested dinner.

So we waited for my OB to come and while waiting, I was prepped (shaved down there and nail polish removed) for the C section. When it was time, I was wheeled into the op room alone where the doctor administering the epidural assured me that I would not feel a thing (I'm terrified of feeling the pain of being sliced open) and I was asked to sign some consent forms. My CEB had to wait outside and why this waa so was the first question I asked my OB because the plan was for my CEB to be present. The doctor explained that this was because this was not an elective C section any more but an emergency C section without the full team. Fine. The doctor started an IV in my right hand successfully and I had to sit up and bend in half for the epidural to be administered into my spinal cord. Soon, I started to lose all feeling in the lower half of the body and could not feel the ice cooler block that the nurse placed 
against my legs (as compared to my upper half).  My arms were spread open wide in a crucifix position and a curtain was put up to block off my lower half. The doctor and nurses assured me that they would administer a "Test" cut first to see if I had any feeling left before starting the operation proper. I started shivering and my teeth chattered uncontrollably as a result of the epidural but other than that I was fine.

So I was all tensed up for this test cut when I felt a very strong pulling and pushing sensation (human hands pushing very very hard on my stomach) and I decided to keep silent instead of protesting for fear of distracting the team. Then the room was filled with loud wails (Twin A had an apgar score of 9) and I was expecting to see my twin A but instead there was even more pushing and tugging and I figured that it was imperative to get Twin B out too so I kept silent again and waited patiently. The room was quiet this time and again my heart was filled with fear. Then after a few minutes, I was presented quickly with a reddish small baby whom I was told was Twin A and when I asked after Twin B, they said she was being examined (Twin B turned out to have an apgar score of 9 too).

After that, the doctor told me he was going to sew me back up and since I could not feel a thing, I lay there and worried about Twin B (though the nurses assured me later she was fine but was being sent to the special care nursery (SCN) to monitor her breathing.

Then I was wheeled into the post operative room for about half an hour where the nurses checked on me every few minutes before I was wheeled to my hospital room. As I was wheeled (in a hospital bed) to the room, my CEB met me along the corridor and told me that he had seen the twins and they were fine. I was then transferred onto my hospital bed with the nurses buzzing about to settle me in while my CEB unpacked the hospital bag before collapsing on the sofa bed to rest.

The next morning, the nurses wheeled Twin A into the room and called the lactation consultant in who encouraged me to latch her. In the meantime, they transferred her from the bassinet into my arms and it was then tears filled my eyes as I beheld the little person who had been going bump bump near my nether regions for tall these months. I looked at her beautiful large eyes, sharp high nose and sweet little mouth and cried. I cried because I had been so blessed with such perfection. So blessed to be the mother of this miraculous creation. I marveled over her little pointed face, her sweetness and breathed in the freshness and baby smell of Twin A - a feeling that only a mother who has birthed a child knows.

When the lactation consultant encouraged skin to skin in the next few days (photo below) to encourage breastmilk flow, I again wept with the overwhelming joy of feeling my Twin A - she's really here, in my arms, breathing, alive, beautiful. Our firstborn.

My CEB and I remained worried about Twin B too being in the SCN but by noon, we were told she could be discharged and put in the normal nursery as Twin A and it was all I could do to wait for her with a pounding heart. While I was filled with peace and joy at having Twin A, I could not help but worry about Twin B whom I had not seen even after she had been pulled from my belly into this world. So when the nurse finally wheeled her in in the bassinet in the afternoon, it was all I could do to not reach over and grab the bassinet and take her out and hold her.

And sweet Lord, she was so adorable - I wanted a mini-me and this, this baby is my mini-me. She looked exactly as I looked in my baby photos with a head full of hair. The nurse placed her in my arms and at that moment, my life was complete. I thought that if the Lord would smite me dead that instant, I would die content - having this feeling of completion, of being so utterly truly blessed with 2 living, normal baby girls... Again, I held Twin B to me and examined each detail of her little body, her full head of hair, her beautiful eyes, button nose and small rosebud mouth. So beautiful, so perfect. This, this is my little twin who has been pushing out under my breastbone, who has accompanied me these long months with her hiccuping, kicking, sticking out, squirming. How do I even describe that feeling of seeing such beauty, of seeing my dreams realized in this world outside my body.

And of course, I grabbed at the chance to do skin to skin with my little Twin B but I could not remove her little garment on my own in the hospital room as she was so small and delicately built. Still, looking down at her sleeping against my bare chest brought me happiness in its purest form. Our baby of our small complete family.

We decided to extend our hospital stay (The package was for 3 days 2 Nites) by another day so I could get more rest to recover from the C section, learn how to feed and burp the twins and give them more time in the hands of professionals. And then they were ready to be brought home in the Mothercare sleeper outfits we had bought for them from the hospital's Mothercare. This is a picture of them all swaddled up in the A&A swaddles I had packed along too, all ready to come home.

I am grateful. I am grateful to God for his blessings. I am humbled and grateful for being blessed with these two babies, grateful to my CEB for being a generous and fantastic husband and father (he picked up the entire bill for my (and the twins') 4 days' A class hospital stay which was extended at cost for another day, and during the stay, he was there to learn to feed and then burp the twins which he did as a hands-on father), grateful for the support given by my in-laws and my mum and sister, grateful for all the very many relatives and friends who took the effort to come from far and near (Even during lunch hour) to visit and gift me and the twins' with so many wonderful gifts (esp the gift of time), for the fantastic nurses and lactation consultants, for the doctor who delivered the twins and sewed me up so well the scar is just a faint line after 2 weeks, for a great domestic helper who joined us 2 days after the twins' were born.

I am grateful for experiencing motherhood, for the twins' taking very well to the Philips Avent Gold series bottles and teats the day they got home, for the Medela PISA breast pump not crapping out on me, for being able to feed both twins every single drop of colostrum painstakingly expressed and collected in a syringe (that stuff is liquid gold), for the healthy breast milk flow that has kicked in, for experiencing each twin latching on and suckling at my breasts - the most glorious and wonderful feeling.

Truly, my CEB and I have been so richly blessed, and we are  most thankful.