My next few days followed a routine of expressing, visiting and feeding T1 and T3, and resting. I wanted to get maximum milk so would express a lot, probably every three hours. I would put my alarm on to wake me up so I could express in the night and then wash all my pump bits and sterilise them ready for the next session (I had my own bottles, steriliser and pump in my room, brought from home). I would call the nurses who would take the milk down to the fridge in SCBU for me. The more often you express, the more milk you will get. It did take a good few days to get what I would call proper breast milk out so don’t be put off by this and think nothing is coming. Everything that comes out is brilliant for your baby.
I would visit T1 and T3 and sit with them, and if they were awake I would put them to my breast to see if they would latch on and sometimes they would and have a good feed, other times they were just too tired. I would telephone SCBU from my room in the night to see if they were awake and wanted me to feed them but often they were sleeping so the nurses would tube feed them. The nurses were feeding them every two hours. This was to progress to every three hours, then every four hours. They noted on their individual charts who had how much milk when, whether it was formula or breast milk, nappy changes (complete with content detail) and temperatures. They had their routines for dealing with the babies and I soon learned this and got involved when I could. (A later post will give you an overview of the levels of neo-natal units and what you can get involved with if your baby/babies has time in one). My husband would visit T2 in the morning, taking my freshly expressed milk with him, and then call to see me and the other babies in the afternoon.
And not only was I yearning for my new babies, I was also missing my first born. On my third day in hospital, my husband brought him in to visit me. We had decided he wouldn’t see his brothers until they were all together and in better working order. It was wonderful to see him and he suddenly looked HUGE. I had gifts and activities prepared for him (Thomas engines, Thomas magazine and sweets) and it was lovely to see him exploring my room. I missed him dearly but knew my other boys needed me here at the moment. He was fine anyway with his daddy and was having a great time when Nanny was looking after him.
As for my health, although I knew the process of a c-section and was prepared for this, I was honestly not prepared for feeling how I felt afterwards. With my natural labour, I was a bit uncomfortable for a few days, in the areas where you pretty much expect it to hurt. After my c-section it took me days to even be able to stand up straight. I had terrible trapped wind which made it very difficult to stand up and move. I shuffled around the ward, bent over, holding onto the wall. My scar was healing well (and I was told on several occasions that it was ‘beautifully done’) and I do think my mesh pants (from NCT) which allowed my scar to ‘breathe’ helped this. But what really hurt was the weight of all the skin on top of it as I had stretched so much. (For weeks later as my tummy shrunk back, I remember having to hold my skin as I turned over in bed as the weight of it on my scar was so painful). I honestly remember feeling like I had been hit by a bus and my eyes lit up when I heard the jingle of the medicine trolley do its rounds so I could stock up on pain killers. I didn’t expect to feel like that.
I also had a particularly bad night the first night on my own, when T2 had been transferred to another hospital. I don’t really remember much about it, but I do remember hearing screams and nurses rushing around trying to find out what was happening. As I woke, I knocked my phone and water on the floor so pulled my alarm for assistance. It then dawned on me and the nurses that it had been me screaming. I was having one of those dreams where someone was trying to ‘get me’, and in this dream, I had actually been ‘got’. (I still remember the dream clearly now…I was scrambling around the utility room trying to get away….maybe it was a sign of how much time I was to spend in the utility room in the future, desperately trying to get out…).
Anyway, I know there were so many emotions in there, which just couldn’t come out because there were things to be doing – babies to feed, toddler boy to think about, milk to express, body to get better and in working order. And on top of all of this, I didn’t have one of my babies with me. I had not spent that much time with him since the day of his birth, not held him since the time he just howled at me and I was on the operating table with a screen under my armpits, and now he was in a different hospital. I still struggle with this. If I had had just one baby, which was taken away from me to another hospital for an operational procedure, it would have been so different, and I am sure I would have reacted differently. And you could expect a mother to crumble. But I had another two babies and a toddler to think about too. So I didn’t crumble. Because I couldn’t. Because I had the others who needed me to do things. And it has always been like that. What I have said at the beginning, and have always said, and is that I just got on with it. Because that is what I had to do, and what we all do. And I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Because I am so thankful that I had it all to get on with.