Sunday, 23 November 2014

Introducing the Olive Dragonfly Twins

by Bex

You have probably seen by now that we've had our twins!  Even if you missed the blog announcement, it's been hard to miss my tweets and instagram pictures of our gorgeous little bundles.  Sorry if you're not into babies, I might calm down a bit but I just can't get enough of them and am constantly taking photos of their sweet wee faces.  Life has changed so much and I couldn't be happier!

Anyway, here is a little introduction into how they came into this world.  It's not really a birth story as such since it was all pretty straightforward being an elective caesarean section.  There's not much to tell about the birth part, no going into labour, rushing to the hospital, etc. but I will briefly describe my experience of theatre and the surgery as I hope people might find it reassuring as well as knowing to make it clear what is important to you.  I wish we'd made more of a fuss about skin to skin asap, knowing the hospital encourage this we hadn't worried about it but I didn't get my babies for ages which was quite frustrating.

I wasn't overly worried about having a section as I know so many lovely ladies on Twitter who have had one, all of whom willing to talk about their experiences and many of the comments left on Rebecca's post about her section also reassured me.  I was mostly worried about the spinal anaesthetic as I have quite an arched back and Nik (who has done an anesthetics rotation before) had been getting me to practice curving over to the correct position and I was struggling to manage which had me worried they might have to resort to a general anaesthetic.  I would have been completely gutted if that were the case as I would not only miss it but they wouldn't let Nik into theatre if I was asleep so we'd both miss the birth AND we'd have no photos of the event.  I secretly hoped they might let him stay regardless since he is a surgeon and used to a theatre environment but luckily we never had to find out.

Our section was booked for Monday the 10th November.  We were given the option of anytime that week between 37 and 38 weeks and we chose the Monday as Nik already had that week booked as annual leave so we'd have the maximum time all together.  (Although I have to admit I was tempted to ask for the Friday so their date of birth would be 14/11/14.)  It was very strange knowing when the babies would be born but it definitely appealed to the planner in me!  I'm so glad they made it to full term and gave us the maximum amount of time to prepare for them in the new house as well as ensuring they were fit & healthy when they were born of course!  I also had a lovely meal before fasting on the last night - crispy duck pancakes from our local Chinese :)

Anyway, although the babies behaved and stayed inside, things didn't quite go to plan as we were bumped from first on the list due to medical reasons of another mother and by the time they were ready for us (which did seem quite delayed) there had been a huge amount of labouring women admitted, some of whom were more urgent than us.  Therefore, after being told we were about to go down in 5 minutes, we were then told that unfortunately they weren't able to carry out our elective section that day due to a shortage of staff to deal with the added influx of more complicated cases.  This was obviously quite tough having been so worked up with anticipation as well as having fasted from 2am and hanging out in the hospital for 5 hours by this point but we both understand that these things happen and some cases are definitely more of a priority.

They obviously brought me some food straight away and apologised and assured us that we'd be first on the list the next day unless there was another medical reason someone else needed to be.  So we went back home, took some more 'last day of the bump' photos and a boring dinner (as we didn't have much in since we thought we'd be in hospital for 3 nights) before bed and more fasting.

So take two back in the hospital and we were quite happy as we ended up with a bigger room this time (I think I mentioned before that all the rooms are private at Pembury with en suite bathrooms and Nik was allowed to stay over with me on our single airbed we took with us).  We also felt happier about our obstetric team on day two as the previous day we had asked about taking photos hoping we might get a better opportunity for good photos if they knew how important that was to us.  We knew we weren't allowed to include members of staff in the photos but explained how important photos are to us (and if I could have had my way I'd have liked to see the whole thing!) and would it be OK for Nik to take some of the babies coming out.  The registrar was not happy with this and said we could only take photos at the resuscitaire when the babies were taken to be cleaned and weighed as it's 'policy' that no pictures are allowed of the surgical site (for legal reasons we suspect).  So we weren't even going to be able to take photos as they were lifted up.  :(

As has become clear over many hundreds of posts on this blog, I am obsessed with photos.  I love documenting everything and especially something as special and longed for as this moment.  I really treasure pictures and had made it clear to Nik that I didn't care about him worrying about me and being by my head - I wanted him to concentrate on capturing the birth of the twins as best as possible.  We were really disappointed but there was nothing we could do although the lovely nurse who'd been looking after us said she would mention to them that Nik was a surgeon and would stay out of the way and respect the theatre staff.  When the consultant came to see us, she did say they would hold the babies up for one photo before they were taken to be cleaned up and then we could take as many as we wanted.

On day two however, we had an entirely different team and when we asked again about photos - they didn't care at all and said we could take any photos we wanted once the drapes were dropped!  Yay!!!  We later found out that the nurse (the same lovely one as the day before) also had a word with the consultant anaesthetist about how important this was for us and he was SO helpful in the theatre asking for us when the drapes could go down (as he could see what was happening) and he sorted them himself ensuring we had a good view and telling Nik as soon as he could stand for photos.  You can see the results below - I am THRILLED with them!  I'm so grateful to our chilled out team on the day and to Nik for taking such great shots - exactly what I hoped for!  My absolute favourite of the birth has to be this one of Priya making herself known to the world.  She was quiet as she was born but definitely had a 'TA-DA, I'M HERE' moment with arms and legs akimbo - quite the entrance I think!


As for the spinal - the positioning wasn't a problem.  The anaesthetic registrar did it and it was nothing like I expected, even when they said I'd feel pressure - it was minimal and before I knew it I felt the warmth spreading as they said it should, easy.  I obviously managed to get into the curved position they needed as they didn't seem to have any trouble and we were soon getting underway.  It was so friendly in theatre with everyone being very smiley and introducing themselves and what they did.  I imagine elective sections are a fun list to do with happy parents and cute babies without any drama.

The surgery itself was again absolutely fine, I felt less than I'd thought I would as I know the spinal just takes the pain away, not all sensations but I barely felt any pushing, pulling or movement as they got to work.  It wasn't long before Kalyan was born and he was whisked away to be checked - I'd hardly had a glimpse so again, the fantastic anaesthetist stepped in and asked for Mum (me, oh my gosh!) to get to see him properly before they took him away.  We had two paediatricians in the room as we were having twins so I wasn't able to get them handed to me first.

The hospital has just completed a trial in kangaroo care for sections and now offer wraps to everyone to wear under the hospital gown to encourage early skin to skin.  Being very keen for this to happen I had one on under my gown but we didn't actually get to have them skin to skin until we were in recovery.  I'd thought they would be passed back to me asap but despite me asking while they stitched me back up, I was only brought one of them completely bundled up in towels to have on my chest.  I'd hoped to get the babies back much quicker than I did and this was the only bit I was disappointed with about the whole event.  I mean, you can see below just how bundled they were when I had them both to be wheeled out of theatre - no chance of any skin contact there, we could hardly see their faces!

I had also thought Nik didn't get to cut the cords either as we forgot to ask about this in advance and no one asked him as far as I could hear.  I wasn't sure whether he could still do it without being scrubbed as they obviously need to keep the surgical field sterile.  As it turned out, although he didn't get to cut the cord to separate them from me and the placentas, he did get to cut them short later when they were being sorted out behind me.  While I was waiting for the babies to finally be passed to me I was trying to crane my neck to see them and watch what was happening but it was right behind my head so I just had to lie patiently waiting before they finally brought me Kalyan and Nik came over to join us while we waited on Priya and the anaesthetic reg took some photos of us.  Again, Nik took lots of photos though so I have now been able to get a glimpse of what was going on.

Whenever I felt remotely strange or nauseous, one word to the anaesthetics reg and she sorted me out.  The obstetrics reg apologised for her stitching job as she couldn't stop my scar pulling up a bit on the right apparently but I didn't care.  She said she had OCD (a good trait in a surgeon I reckon!) and felt pressure knowing Nik was a facial surgeon (we didn't tell her but someone did as she joked with me that I didn't warn her what he did when she'd popped in to introduce herself on the ward) so wanted to do a very neat job but I think it looks great and the midwife who took my dressing off on day 5 was very impressed with it!

Once I did have the babies safely snuggled into my chest in the recovery room it was just amazing, watching their instinct (well just his really as she was content just squishing her adorable chubby cheeks into me for a while) to headbob over and find a nipple to feed was just fascinating.  I was feeling fine after the surgery and just on cloud nine looking at our babies and marvelling at this moment I never thought would come.  I have never in my life felt so happy and full of awe.

This is back in my room after recovery, I just love how happy I look to have my two babies nestled in.

So here are the rest of my very favourite pictures from the birth and immediately after, I've been strict with myself here and may share more in another post.  There are some surgical type pictures so if you're squeamish you might not want to look.

Excitedly waiting to meet the twins!

And waiting (this was the Monday).

In theatre, ready for babies

Kalyan being born

They didn't hold him up so this is the best picture we have of his birth.

Priya making her grand entrance!

She was soon making noise.

Getting her checks done and all cleaned up.

Me finally getting to cuddle Kalyan.

Extremely well packaged babies!

Finally getting skin to skin with my babes!

Priya's little cubby hand.

And her smooshy wee face!

Peeking at Daddy and the camera.

Snuggling with my babies ready to go back to our room.

I took this one from my bed as Nik held Kalyan.

When I have time, I will write about the first few days after the birth which was unfortunately not quite as straightforward or fun!

Friday, 14 November 2014

DIY cloud shelf for nursery

by Bex

I somehow came across a cloud shelf on Etsy and fell in love with it.  It's perfect for that little space between the sun clock and bookshelf in the nursery that I was wondering how to fill.  Unfortunately I wasn't willing to spend £66 for a small one including postage from America and I couldn't find one for sale in the UK.  Also, Nik agreed it was a good idea but thought the budget should be £15-18.

In the end I decided it actually wouldn't be too difficult to make my own!

Initially I taped 3 sheets to paper together and drew the large cloud, then a smaller one for the front.  I planned to cut these out of MDF (well not me as the dust isn't good for the babies).  As the front one is smaller and I planned to keep them thin, I decided the front cloud could be stuck on with some super tough glue (like the No More Nails I used to attach hooks to my ceramic coasters a while back).  As a result of this, I changed my design of the front cloud to have a fluffy bottom as well since it doesn't have to line up along the straight line of the shelf.

As I hadn't measured anything, I then took my cloud cutouts up to the nursery to see how they'd look on that wall and it was pretty perfect!


I bought the bits I needed in B&Q, they were extremely helpful when I was choosing the thickness of the MDF as well as a piece of wood for the shelf, the man helping me put everything in my trolley and another even pushed it out to my car and loaded the boot for me too (I also bought a lot of cans of paint!).

I wasn't sure of the best way to attach it to the wall without having to screw through the big cloud (you can see on the Etsy listing for the medium cloud shelf they have done this and added covers to hide the screws) or have unsightly brackets coming down underneath.  It's not huge (mine measures 48cm x 28cm x 15.5cm, just 12cm narrower than the large cloud shelf) so I thought hooking it onto screws might work but it wouldn't sit perfectly flush and things might fall off the shelf.  I then came up with the plan of getting L-shaped plates and screwing them to the wall before sitting the shelf on and screwing up from the bottom to hold it securely in place (basically brackets in reverse).  As it's not a heavy duty shelf and won't be holding anything overly heavy, a couple of good sized brackets should hold it comfortably depending how big you make the shelf.

Next I had to wait until Nik had the time to help Mum when it wasn't dark outside.  They're both great DIYers luckily so had no problems cutting my MDF clouds ready for me to build and paint.  In the end, it was dark outside but we have a good security light and it was the best time to get it done.  ;)  The old, musty garden table we found in the garden behind the oil tank has come in useful a couple of times as they also used it for sawing when sorting out Nik's built in cupboard in our bedroom.


So if you fancy making your own cloud shelf, here's my amateur guide:

What you'll need:

A pencil
Some paper
A piece of MDF (I bought 6mm thick MDF sheet for £9.18 from B&Q and have plenty left over)
A small plank of wood (I bought a piece of Spruce board for £7.32 from B&Q and have enough left for another smaller shelf)
A jigsaw and someone who's comfortable/able to use it
A stable table & handy helper or a workmate to hold the MDF while it's cut (I've just found one here at less than half price!)
A drill
A few screws
Paint brush
Primer
White woodwork paint
No More Nails or similar strong glue
Spirit level
2 or 3 Corner/angle brackets (I bought 76.5mm corner braces, £1.99 for 10 from Screwfix)
Rawl plugs

I had all the other bits already so spent £18.49 - pretty much right on budget ;)

Method:

Draw your template according to whatever size you want it to be.  Mine ended up 48cm wide and 27cm high at the tallest point of the cloud, the little cloud was 19cm x 14cm.  I also decided to to add a bit more shape to the bottom of the small cloud rather than just a straight bottom as this one sits on the front anyway.  Copy around the template onto your MDF and cut out the cloud shapes.


Cut the plank of wood to the same length as the big cloud.  I also asked Nik to trim the Spruce as the shelf was a bit deeper than I would like so he took one edge off to make the depth 15cm.

Then sand the edges and paint all the pieces with primer.

Drill small holes through the back of the base of the big cloud where the shelf will sit and match the edges up so it's sitting level.  Mark where these holes meet the shelf then make more small holes in the back of the shelf edge.  Match them up and screw through the holes to join the big cloud to the shelf.  We used 5 screws.


Paint the shelf/big cloud and small cloud separately with white wood paint.  I also painted the bottom of the brackets so they are more camouflaged if viewed from below (as we may well be crawling around on the floor with the twins).  Leave to dry.

I planned to stick the small cloud on the front with 'no more nails' glue but we decided to make it a bit more secure with 3 tacks which we sunk and covered with wood filler before painting over another coat of white paint.

To attach to the wall, use a spirit level to draw a straight line where you want the shelf to sit.  Using your drill, rawl plugs and screws, attach the brackets to the wall, spaced evenly apart along the line and ensure they don't correspond to the existing screws in the shelf.

Sit the shelf on top of the brackets and screw up into the base of the shelf to secure.  Ta da....


It fills that space perfectly and of course had to be finished off with some kind of mythical cloud dwelling creature - a unicorn or pegasus I thought would be perfect.  I picked one up in M&S for £8 which would of course be kept well away from the twins until they are old enough not to stab themselves/each other in the eye/other body part with the horn!  Nik thought it was a bit creepy though and wasn't keen on my back up plan of pegasus either so in the end I found the least creepy unicorn I could - a My Little Pony unicorn beanie!  I'm still waiting for it to arrive (along with some back up dragon beanies as they would also make good cloud dwellers.

In the meantime, I've put one of my old teddies up there with a few books...



Thursday, 13 November 2014

Felt Heart Garland - Pin It Do It

by Bex

This little project was so much fun to do and really relaxing, perfect for the last couple of weeks pre-babies!


The idea came from one of the very first nursery idea pictures I pinned when we decided on a rainbow colour scheme.  It's a fab heart garland from Etsy for £40.42.  I knew I could make this myself and would enjoy it.  I already had most of the colours of embroidery thread and some felt.

Image Source via Pinterest

Luckily for me I have a very crafty Mum (who's also on Pinterest) with lots of awesome craft tools and machines and while she was still in Saudi, before I even asked, she had cut out loads of colours of felt hearts in two sizes for me!  As she used her die-cutter, they were all perfectly uniform so they matched up easily for sewing.  Obviously you could just make or find a template to cut out the hearts by hand if you don't have a die-cutter or super crafty Mum!

I finally got around to doing something with them recently and spent many a happy evening on the sofa watching TV while hand-stitching the hearts together.  I used a simple blanket stitch (after a quick reminder from Mum how to do it!) and stuffed each one with some stuffing out of an old misshapen pillow.



I finished them off by tying a knot in the pointy end and burying it inside before bringing the end of the thread through the stuffing and cutting off before straightening out the point again.


Then I simply threaded them onto a pale grey piece of embroidery thread (the same colour as the wall I planned to hang them on) and tied a loop in each end.  They're just hung on pins above the Hemnes Daybed (I'd have preferred them to be higher on the wall but wanted them flush against it and the slope starts too low unfortunately) and I spaced them out properly after they were hung.



I still think they look great though and it's another thing I can proudly say I made for the twins' room.
:)

If you fancy making one yourself, you'll need:

Your choice of colours of felt (50p per sheet in Hobbycraft and more than enough for multiple hearts from each sheet).
Heart template (drawn on paper or greaseproof paper would work well)
Tailor's chalk or a pen which will mark the felt
Scissors
Embroidery threads in matching colours (90p each from Hobbycraft) plus white or grey to thread onto.
Needle
Stuffing (mine was from an old pillow but you can get it in Hobbycraft for £3)

If you choose the 7 standard rainbow colours and repeat them, and assuming you have a basic sewing kit, you could make this for around £13.70.  If you sew them like the one in the Pinterest example which looks to be sewn with just white edges on each coloured heart and on a white thread, or like me already have most of the felt and threads in the right colours, it would only cost around £8.30.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

My little Turtle Tot!

by Roz

How exciting that the twins have arrived, welcome to the world Kalyan and Priya!  Bex I could not be happier for you and your gorgeous family, I cannot wait to meet your beautiful son and daughter and neither can Aaron xxx

With so much squishy baby love in the air, I thought I would finish this post and share it with you all.  One of the things I couldn't wait to do with Aaron was take him swimming.  I can't remember not being able to swim, my dad took me swimming from a very young age and I apparently loved it from the beginning. So when A was only a few days old I signed him up to a course of swimming lessons with Turtle Tots and could not recommend it more!

Doesn't Aaron look funny without his hair all over the place?!

I'm so happy to report that A loves being in the water, from the very beginning it has chilled him out and he just loves splashing about and all the different things we do in the class. B and I alternate who goes in the pool with him as it's just too much fun too be sitting at the side.  The class tutor is lovely and the half hour class flies in all too quickly. Underwater swimming is part of the class and it's amazing to watch. You build up to a full swim underwater and use commands so that your baby knows what's coming. A is so used to it now that in his bath when we say the command he closes his eyes as he knows the water is going over his head - this is very handy for washing his hair!

Just chilling on my back with daddy :)


I know this picture is a bit blurry but I love it anyway!


And here's a little video of one of A's early on mini underwater swims - I really hope the video works as it's the first one I've put on the blog and it looks a bit funny in blogger.  Let me know if you can see it.


video


As a result of all that swimming A totally loves his baths!  Unfortunately we don't have a bath in the rented one bedroom flat we are staying in at the moment - another reason we are desperate to get in to the Forever House, I cannot wait to have a bath with my boy again! - so behold the duck bath of wonder!  It is supposed to be used inside a bath, to reduce the amount of water used for your baby's bath but also as it's perfect for them to lean against and enjoy splashing about without you having to hold on to them before they can sit up properly.  A adores it and it was only £7.99 from Boots.

Chilling



That wee face!

I just realised that neither of these pictures show the actual duck....so her she is!  Sadly A is getting too big for her already.


Bex I hope you enjoy taking your gorgeous babies swimming as much as we love taking Aaron!

Roz x


Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The Olive Dragonfly Twins have arrived!

by Bex

Meet baby boy Kalyan and baby girl Priya, 6lbs 8oz and 5lbs 11oz.


Born 11/11/14 at 9:24 & 9:25.  We are utterly in love!


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