The Gallery: Love

I love the way they greet me every morning with the 2 most beautiful loving smiles I’ve ever seen

I love making them smile

I love Ellie’s “Eh!” verbal hug

I love hugging them

I love it when they reach up for a hug

I love Jake’s ecstatic, delirious, tonsil-exposing laugh

I love Ellie’s squeals of delight

I love making them laugh

I love carrying Ellie on my head, & so does she

I love bench-pressing Jake, & so does he

I love watching them play

I love watching them play together

I love playing with them

I love the games we invent together

I love it that when you play with one the other laughs too

I love singing to them

I love dancing with them

I love that they seem to have a new facial expression, noise or gesture every day

I love watching them grow & develop: gripping, clapping, waving, sitting, crawling, standing

I love the way they try to talk

I love the way they try to talk to me

I love their determination

I love that they were born only 2 minutes apart yet are so different

I love their apparent intelligence

I love it that they smile when I  make a joke even when if they don’t get it

I love sharing in their joy of discovery

I love seeing everything as fresh, new & exciting as if through their eyes

I love their love of company, of both children & adults

I love it that others love them

I love it when I can stop them from crying

I love that I can feed them when they’re hungry

I love that when they want to sleep but can’t that I can give them the sleep they want

I love that when they need to sleep but won’t that I can give them the sleep they need

I love how beautiful they are, inside & out

I love them, they love each other, & they love me

I love that

click to enlarge

For Tara Cain’s Gallery at Sticky Fingers

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We Can See Your Halo

This song was playing in the Operating Theatre as Jacob & Eleanor entered the world. We chose it deliberately as it seemed appropriate & we both love it. It wasn’t until afterwards when we really heard the words that we realised how nearly perfect it was. A few tears may have been shed with this one…

For Jake & Ellie:

Remember those walls I built?
Well, baby they are tumbling down
And they didn’t even put up a fight
They didn’t even make a sound
I found a way to let you in
But, I never really had a doubt
Standing in the light of your halo
I got my angel now

It’s like I’ve been awakened
Every rule I had, you break it
It’s the risk that I’m taking
I ain’t never gonna shut you out!

Everywhere I’m looking now
I’m surrounded by your embrace
Baby, I can see your halo
You know you’re my saving grace
You’re everything I need and more
It’s written all over your face
Baby, I can feel your halo
Pray it won’t fade away

I can feel your halo
I can see your halo
I can feel your halo
I can see your halo
Halo, ooh ooh…..

Hit me like a ray of sun
Burning through my darkest night
You’re the only one that I want
Think I’m addicted to your light
I swore I’d never fall again
But this don’t even feel like falling
Gravity can’t forget
To pull me back to the ground again

It’s like I’ve been awakened
Every rule I had, you break it
It’s the risk that I’m taking
I’m never gonna shut you out!

Everywhere I’m looking now
I’m surrounded by your embrace
Baby, I can see your halo
You know you’re my saving grace
You’re everything I need and more
It’s written all over your face
Baby, I can feel your halo
I pray it won’t fade away

I can feel your halo
I can see your halo…

“Halo” written by Beyonce Knowles, Ryan Todder,  E. Kidd Bogart; C & P Sony / Columbia

 

What a Day! continued

The rest of the day is a bit of a blur now.

As my wife was being patched up in the theatre I was ushered off to a side room with my gorgeous new twin babies. In hindsight I probably should have been more worried; I was more just overwhelmed by the 2 utterly helpless but utterly beautiful tiny little sleeping people I suddenly found myself alone with & responsible for. We had already developed a huge admiration for the expertise, professionalism, humanity & compassion of the lead Obstetrician so I trusted & was reassured by her & her team. It couldn’t stop the unease fighting with the elation as I found myself alone with my 2 new helpless children while my wife was still in the operating theatre.

The main thing I remember is their frequently waking up & crying & my efforts to get them back to sleep. I wheeled them around the room in their cot; the motion seemed to soothe them. Then I kept having running battles with staff who came in, opened the curtains & turned on all the lights, then ran out again. Result: immediate crying. So I’d go around  closing the curtains & switching off the lights, resulting in peaceful sleeping babies: until the next 1 came in. Some staff did actually come in & do apparently important things, so I let them keep the lights on 🙂

I also soon found that sticking a finger in Jake’s mouth sent him back off to sleep as well.  That boy has got 1 powerful suck: he can actually hurt my fingers! Then my little Ellie grabbed my finger with her hand, wrapped her tiny little fingers around it & wouldn’t let go…

"It's like I've been awakened... I've got my angel now"

It was a moment where it felt like that up until then I hadn’t really lived.

Eventually my wife was wheeled in & we were all led off to the HDU: High Dependency Unit.  What happened there? Not really sure! I seem to remember lots of people coming & going, doing tests, asking questions, giving us bits of paper to read or sign.  At 1 point a Paediatrician tried to take blood from both babies for tests: by pricking a heel then shaking & squeezing. She seemed to take forever, & the babies seemed really distressed. After a bit she came back & told us she still didn’t have enough blood & needed to do it again. We couldn’t stand to see our helpless newborns so distressed! After finding out why they wanted the blood, & deciding it wasn’t urgent we asked them to postpone: which they did.

My lovely wife has always been keen to get them breast-feeding as soon as possible. In hindsight this was very ambitious. It’s especially difficult with twins apparently & a lot of mothers don’t even try, after her worse than expected C-Section she wasn’t really in a fit state for it.

We did seem to have some success, & their different personalities, even though newborn, were already emerging. Jake was & is never happier than when on his mother’s breast: the suction in that mouth is incredible! Ellie on the other hand mostly just wanted to sleep, & didn’t seem to want to feed much at all.  Jake’s a little trier too: he seemed determined to get his food at all costs, & my wife – although loving every second – was finding it quite painful. No photos: I value my testicles & I’d like to keep them where they are please.

I left them (my wife & babies, not my testicles) in the capable hands of the midwives & other staff to head home at around 8.30pm, very tired, very hungry & very happy.

What a day!

On Friday, in just a few hours ‘we’ went from this: To this:

We’d had a rough night the night before. For a while lovely wife had been uncomfortable, sore from internal bumping, bloated, with a constantly upset tummy, etc. She’d had even more trouble sleeping than usual though: we think she’d started going into labour, so even though it  was technically still  a week early her C-Section was timed perfectly.

At our prelim. they’d told us to be there for 730 but that they didn’t know when the op. would start. We got there fashionably late. We were  expecting the usual long NHS wait: I’d brought several books, food, drinks, a tent, a moonshine still & my guitar.  (Some of those might be made up: Ed.). When we got there though it was all go: lovely wife was whisked straight into pre-op. Before we knew it she was off somewhere being poked,  prodded & injected & I was dressed in scrubs grabbing some shut-eye outside the operating theatre.

We eventually got going at around 930. We were amazed to see a small army in the theatre: 3 anaesthetists, at least 2 paediatricians, 2 Ob & Gynae consultant/ surgeons + ‘assistants’ , a DJ, ushers, parking attendants, a PR co-ordinator, a photographer from ‘Heat’ & a man selling ice-creams.  (See previous note: Ed.). Seriously: I counted at least 12 staff there.

She had a local anaesthetic: a spinal (like an epidural), so was conscious but groggy. I was protected from the gory details by a big screen, which is just as well as I’m a little squeamish; I can never eat dinner while watching House or CSI. There were paediatric carts with all sorts of machines attached off to the left, & a very friendly anaesthetist on hand letting us know what was happening & checking if we needed anything. He’d brought his MP3 player & was taking requests, although for artists A-H only. I wasn’t lying about having a DJ! We requested Beyonce, & luckily he had her entire last album there: which we both love.

We were told that the first baby would emerge at around 10. When the time came & went it was clear things weren’t going smoothly. Without going into detail, there was a recurrence of problems for which she had had previous surgery, & both babies were awkwardly positioned; 1 in particular was down very low.

After a few minutes we heard “I have a leg”. At 1012 we had a baby boy! (I’m pretty sure ‘Halo‘ was playing at the time).

We had been told that they would lower the screen &  hold them up for us  to see when they came out.

They didn’t.

He was whisked straight onto the cart with great speed &  immedaitely surrounded by a swarm of people who seemed to emerge from nowhere, working frantically.

He wasn’t crying.

There was just a surreal silence. I can’t tell you what I was feeling: I was elated that after so long we finally had a baby delivered, but scared to death that there was something wrong. To say I was worried would be the world’s greatest understatement, although I always stayed positive; I was confident that these wonderful professionals would get the job done.

First view of our baby boy

His airways were blocked with fluid, not uncommon in C-Sections but made worse with the complications of the surgery. He was put straight onto suction & possibly ventilation, I don’t know & didn’t care: ‘cos after what seemed like forever he was being picked up, crying his little heart out & being given to me to hold.

Crying & getting cleaned up ready for Daddy

Lovely wife was still being operated on while this going on so I got to ‘skin-to-skin’ bond with him. He was put on me under my scrubs, the warmth & body smells comforting him & my heartbeat reminding him of where he’d just come from,  easing the shock of the big bad confusing world he’s just entered. After only seconds he had stopped crying & was sleeping peacefully on my chest. In his excitement he managed to wee on me, as his way of saying “hello”.

Happiest moment of my life.

Father & Son

In the meantime the surgeons were working hard to deliver twin no. 2, & while I was bonding with my son she had been brought out, treated on the 2nd cart & given to my very groggy but very happy wife for skin-to-skinning.

Happy Family

They then had to stitch her up  – usually the most time-consuming part of a C-Section – so I got to hold them both, first our girl:

Gurning like a happy idiot with my new girl

then both of them together:

Hi kids!

In the meantime, unknown to me, the surgeons were continuing to have problems. Because of its awkward postion they’d had to cut through a placenta; as that acts as conduit between baby & mother my wife had a lost a lot of blood & had to have a big transfusion.

I’m sitting there holding my beautiful new twin babies feeling like the luckiest man alive, & I’m becoming aware that there’s a problem with their mother, my lovely wife.

Babies in my arms, I watched her lose consciousness, while noticing that the floor had become very red.

I never lost hope, but for a second I was thinking “Oh my god: I’ve gained 2 gorgeous babies & I’m going to lose my wife!” This may sound melodramatic, but it was serious: the head consultant told me afterwards it was “touch & go”.

The team was incredible: they fixed her up & she pulled through. The NHS has its problems, & I’ve been critical myself at times, but these people are heroes & we owe them a huge debt of gratitude.

While she was being patched up, we were ushered out of the way into a side room, where I made the most of the time getting to know my new family.

More later: I’m heading back off to the hospital to be with them all.

Welcome to the world Jacob & Eleanor! You are adorable & adored.

Alive and Kicking

We’ve just come back from our 33-week scan: only about 3 weeks til Launch Day now! (Gestation is generally about a month less with twins).

Have I mentioned that my wife is pregnant? With twins?

We love the scans: we get to see our babies moving & living. Every time they seem more & more human, separated from us seeing & interacting fully with them just by skin & tissue. Of more practical importance is that the hospital staff are able to take size & weight measurements & give us feedback on their growth.

Well, we’re amazed: they are now 5lb 8oz, & 4lb 12 oz! They’re already above average for singletons, & twins are meant to be smaller! I’m thinking “rugby player(s)” already. They’ve grown enormously in the 2 weeks since our last scan: my dear wife must be doing something right. And hopefully I’m contributing by doing my job of looking after her & preparing for their arrival.

They’ve gained one & one & a half pounds in just 2 weeks: they’re exploding. My wife is almost constantly complaining about feeling sore & bloated & is now having trouble just moving around. No wonder! She decided to go for a marathon waddle in the park on the weekend: I had to go & rescue her when she ran out of steam. Getting out of chairs, putting on tights, bending over has also become difficult.  I’m happy to do anything I can for her, but I’ve made it clear that I am *not* wiping her arse for her: that’s a job for the robot butler.

She’s also being kicked. A lot. And elbowed. And pushed. And scraped. Then there’s the twists & turns, the jostling. Shaun White & his Tomahawk has got nothing on these 2! Every scan seems to have them in different positions. They seem to be using her bladder as a trampoline, her lungs as punchbags. What they’re doing to her perineum we don’t want to know.

Despite the discomfort, indigestion & breathlessness: she loves it. I of course even more so, as I get the benefit without the cost. We’ve recently felt (& possibly heard) them hiccupping. I’ve put my hand on her belly & watched my fingers bump up & down.  She can lie back & watch her belly undulating, like that scene in “Alien” (which of course has an underlying  theme of family & motherhood).  We are already playing with them: if we feel ‘a bit of baby’ sticking out & give it a poke, they’ll poke back. It’s like facebook with skin! Of course they might just be saying “Oi! Stop poking me, you big oaf!”.

One evening last week I decided it would be fun to hold her belly & jiggle it up & down while going “Weeeee!”. The response I got was amazing: they were in a frenzy of movement for several hours afterwards! They seemed to enjoy it, & I know I did, but I don’t think my wife did; &  I probably woke them up. I haven’t done that again.  I’d like to though 🙂

I don’t think there’s any way I could have prepared myself for how this feels. You read & hear about it so I knew the theory, but the feeling of touching my unborn children through my wife’s belly & having them respond to my touch, feeling that we’re playing together, is indescribable: a joy I never could have imagined.  Whatever happens in our futures these are moments that the both of us will remember &  treasure for the rest of our lives.

title courtesy of Simple Minds

What’s in a Name?

“A rose by any other name…”

“I’ve got a cousin called Rose”

“No, I meant…. Actually I like Rose. And stop interrupting”

“Sorry. Yeah, she’s nice. She’s a twin too.”

“No, I meant I like the name. Is she?”

“Yeah, her brother’s Peter”

“Peter?”

“Yeah, Peter. My best man. You’ve forgotten already?”

“It’s allowed: I’m pregnant. With twins. Did I  mention that?””

“Oh yeah, sorry. It makes you do a lot of strange things doesn’t it? Like how you explained to me that you have to have the remote all the time or the babies get upset & start kicking you. And how I have to watch Glee with you”

“That’s right, very good.  Anyway, you said you like Glee! Actually, Peter’s a nice name”

“No I didn’t.  (OK, but don’t tell anyone: not good for my image)”

“Another Rose & Peter though, & twins? That would be a bit weird”

“What? Oh, OK. So…Paul then?”

“No, don’t like that. I work with a Paul & he’s horrible”

“Adam?”

“Mmm, maybe. He’d probably get given lots of apples”

“Larry?”

“Definately No! Wait: you’re just going through the names of U2, aren’t you?”

“It was worth a try. What’s the Edge’s first name. anyway?”

“‘The’?”

“You think you’re funny don’t you? At least I didn’t suggest Bono”

“You were about to weren’t you?”

“Yeah I was. Thom? My Dad’s name was Tom”

“Yeah, maybe: that’s a good name”

“Jonny?”

“OK, but a bit too public school. O god – you’re doing Radiohead now, aren’t you?!”

“What’s the name of the bald bloke on the drums? I like him”

“We are not naming our son after the bald bloke from Radiohead!”

“Are you shouting ‘cos of you being pregnant & all? With twins?”

“Yes, dear, that’s right.”

The debate continues…

Disclaimer: Although this is the kind of chat we often have, my wife would like to have it made clear that she’s not actually this stroppy most of the time, & that I am allowed the remote sometimes. And that if I don’t write this the babies will be upset & start kicking her.

title courtesy of William Shakespeare