parenting

Elsie and George

Yesterday we visited Emma and Pete, and met Elsie and George for the first time.  Elsie and George were born three weeks ago, after Emma did a legendary job of almost carrying the two of them to full term (despite being tiny and really not having too much space for to house her enormous bump).

It was so great to see Emma and Pete in action and to realise that, in a few weeks, we’ll be experiencing exactly the same thing.  It was wonderful, in a slightly terrifying and surreal way: it was a glimpse into our future!  They’re doing such an amazing job, so we’re looking forward to calling them with stupid questions when our own babies arrive and we have to deal with it all ourselves.

Here’s what I learned from yesterday’s visit:

Babies are tiny!  It sounds like a stupid thing to say, but I really haven’t been around many newborns, and particularly not newborns that have come before the 40 week mark – even a few weeks short of that full term date, babies are so little!  Elsie and George are in ‘0000’ sized clothing at the moment, and Elsie needs to have her sleeves rolled up to stop her sleepsuit from swamping her!  Too adorable for words.

Twins take up a lot of time.  Emma and Pete have so got their new family under control, but they told us about their three-hourly feeding schedule and how long it can take to get each baby to take a bottle, and how little time it actually leaves the two of them to do other things, like taking a shower or having a nap.  This reinforces my knowledge that I will be doing nothing but baby-related stuff over the summer.  And thank goodness I’ll have parents on hand to help me – without my mother, and later my mother-in-law, I fear that we’ll all go for several months with no dinner being prepared and no clothing being washed.

Hospital is not much fun.  Emma and the babies were in Auckland Central Hospital for ten days or so, because North Shore Hospital didn’t have room for them, and because the babies spent a few days in NICU and Emma spent a few days recovering from hypertension after the birth.  Although the overall level of care sounded great, Emma said that it was pretty frustrating when shift changes meant that she was dealing with different staff members all the time, each of whom had their own opinions about how to handle the babies – and the opinions nearly always contradicted earlier opinions given to her by other staff members!  I guess all you can do is to take everything you’re told with a grain of salt and then decide the best plan of action for yourself, but wouldn’t you think that health professionals working in the same department could probably get their collective act together slightly and agree on the advice that they’ll give new mothers?  Anyway, Emma joined the growing chorus of people urging me to do less and rest more, to increase the chances that we won’t have to spend long in hospital when our time comes.  Wise advice, I know!

Twin caesareans are a big event.  Emma reckons there were at least 20 people in the room – some for her, and some for each of the babies.

The Breastapo is alive and kicking.  Emma and Pete were told that she and the babies wouldn’t be discharged until she’d managed to breastfeed them for at least 48 hours.  She ended up having to get pretty firm with them and tell them that, at the very least, they’d be giving the babies formula top-ups when they finally got home, so the staff might as well just help them in a realistic way.  Sadly, this reinforces a lot of recent press coverage about the pressure put on new mothers to breastfeed in NZ hospitals (and the lack of support and information given to mothers who can’t breastfeed, or who choose not to do so for whatever reason).  As I think I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, my intention is to have a bit of a ‘post birth’ plan, to set out where I might need help and support from Tristan and others (getting access to lactation consultants, for example, or battling with them if breastfeeding doesn’t work out for us).  I’ve also been told that North Shore Hospital’s maternity staff are pretty decent about helping mothers with all sorts of feeding regimes, so hopefully we will be able to have our babies there.

You could definitely while away a whole day just watching babies.  I have never been much of a baby person, but I could sit and watch Elsie and George all day – their little faces are just brilliant.  God only knows how we’ll get anything done when our own babies arrive!  Check out this photo of Tristan holding George and note the way in which George has totally mesmerised Tristan:

Nothing is cuter than the sight of two swaddled babies sharing a cot.  A while ago I talked about our nursery plans, and said that I thought that we’d have the babies in separate cots from the start.  I’d since revised this plan for two reasons: a) loads of people assured me that twins really do settle better in the same cot when they’re tiny, and that moving them into separate cots later won’t pose a problem, and b) it will be much easier to fit just one cot into our spare room while the bed is still set up in there.  Now that I’ve actually seen two little babies snuggled together in one cot, I’m even more convinced that it’s the right move.

It’s pretty tricky to hold a baby when you’ve got a huge comedy bump getting in the way.  As evidence, here’s a photo of me holding Elsie:

We cannot wait for our babies to arrive!  I’ve been growing steadily more excited (as opposed to mostly being terrified) since we found out who we had on board, and as time passes I’m getting so impatient about meeting our babies.  In the meantime, holding Elsie and George was an excellent chance to practise our ‘looking like parents’ skills:

And to think that, one day not that very far away, our babies will be merrily living it up with Elsie and George!  How amazing.  How cool!

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14 thoughts on “Elsie and George

  1. Awwww you two holding the babies brings a little tear to my eye. Thats the expressions of two people who are very ready for their own!
    I have to say the sitting down photos show your bump size so much better than a standing photo. Maybe its holding the baby for scale that does it? I really hope you don’t suffer too much in the heat. The humidity is killing me already.

    1. Hahaha – I know: how clucky are we? I’m sure it helps that Elsie and George are so gorgeous, and were so peaceful while we were visiting!

      And yes, my bump really does look like a beach ball under my dress in those photos! And I’m definitely not looking forward to things getting much warmer before the babies come along – I adore warm, sunny weather (and it’s gorgeous here today), but – at very least – I’d like it to go from ‘mild and sunny’ like it is now to ‘properly warm and sunny’, so I can go swimming at the beach. Will I be brave enough to share a photo in my comedy maternity togs?!

  2. That’s a good old British sofa you’ve got going there Jacq – I spy Yorkshire Tea!
    How cute are those two and how natural you both look holding them, it must make everything seem very real now. Several weeks back now I met a new mum at a birth talk and she said they took ages choosing a name for their baby boy and just spent weeks staring at him feeling madly in love and watching every twitch and flutter on his little face… babies are not daft!

    1. Isn’t that sofa amazing?! It’s Emma and Pete’s – they had two knackered two-seater sofas, and used Emma’s tea towel collecting tendencies to cover them both – they’ve got a Kiwi sofa and a British sofa. Very clever!

      And yes, Mother Nature has definitely figured out how to make sure that we fall madly in love with our babies!

  3. I love reading your updates and hearing about your excitement. It is the most amazing thing. While obviously twins will be more work than 1, I’m sure seeing the two if them together will be the cutest thing ever. Especially when they start to interact. I think it would be awesome. You are lucky the moms are coming to help. I think even just having help with good and laundry will be a big help. The first month is chaos. And yep you are feeding them all the time. Not long to go now!! Oh and it’s the same thing about the hospital info confusion here. Each nurse tells you a different thing about nursing, it can get confusing when you are trying to learn how to do it! Thinking of you guys in this exciting time 🙂 and watch your mail in 4-6 wks time. I sent something by slow boat!

  4. Also, spending hours and days staring at your babies is the best thing in the world. You will be floored by how much you love them. I totally get how a mom could lift a car etc to save her child. And your babies are going to be SO cute, can’t wait to meet them in photos too!!!

  5. You will get sooooo many different opinions from people, especially the midwives in the hospital, and the ones who come to visit you at home after the babies are born. It’s really hard to know what the right thing is to do, but basically choose to do what works for your family – the whole family. I remember being told to just sleep when Gabriella slept, and not get concerned about changing her sleeping patterns, which would have meant I’d be nocturnal, since she had no desire to sleep at night. I found the older midwives were excellent – I like the no-nonsense approach to babies, because it’s not ALL about the babies, there’s also people going off to work and needing regular sleep, appointments to attend etc. The same goes for feeding – choose what works for you. If breastfeeding works better for your family, do that, but if bottle feeding is going to be less stress and time and suit your family, go with that. I think a good tactic is to just nod and smile and tell the midwives what they want to hear, then ignore the lot of them and choose to do what you want!

    1. Heh – yep, that sounds like my approach totally! And it will be fantastic to have Mum here as well, to help me to cut through all the waffle and figure out what advice is actually worth listening to – and the other twin mothers in the neighbour will be super handy as well.

  6. I’m so glad you’re going to put them in the same cot – it’s just really a waste of space to put two tiny babies into two separate cots. Olivia and Jaime topped and tailed until they were eight months old. Putting them in the same end only works for a little while when they’re really little, then they really (I think) are safer topping and tailing – you just apple pie make the beds at each end and place a cloth nappy or muslin under their heads so that when they spit up, you just need to change the cloth rather than changing sheets all the time. The girls quickly got into a rhythm, waking up at the same time, the tough thing with twins is learning that you have to break the ‘never wake a sleeping baby’ rule, because you have to get them both into a routine otherwise they’re like a tag team and you never get a break. I hope breastfeeding does work out for you with them – it was really a quite good breastfeeding the twins, because it’s instant (food on tap) faster and you get both done at once (and it’s therefore more efficient – the let down is much easier). Bottles can actually be a hell of a pain in the ass, preparation and time wise.
    Once the twins were too big to be in one cot – at eight months their feet starting to touch each other – they slept in separate cots, but we had their cots up next to each other in the middle of the room because they were great at comforting each other.
    Funniest thing with them in their cots – I remember when they’re wake up from when they were a couple of months old, rather than both of them crying out they learned, I guess, to cry smart. So Olivia would cry out, and if noone came immediately she would stop and then Jaime would cry out and so on. No point wasting your breath when you have someone to do the crying for you! 😀

    1. Yeah, I’m really keen to breastfeed if I possibly can, for at least the first three months (and ideally for a few months longer than that). It does seem so much more convenient and with far less faffing around. But I think it would be good to have the option of formula top-ups, in case we have any milk supply issues.

      That’s hilarious that the girls would tag team you with their crying! Clever little monkeys – it’s quite scary to think that they can figure out stuff like that so early on!

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