“I didn’t realize how important the little things were until I was missing them. My twins were born the day before the start of the official pandemic in Australia. Everyone told me how great a thing this was, that I could truly appreciate my newest little editions to our family as the world around us stopped. But I remember listening nervously to the nurses as they discussed the world’s situation, how testing for the COVID virus was taking place at the hospital we were in, and how the lockdown would change the world around us. Anxiety set in and all I wanted to do was get my babies back to the safety and comfort of our home.
Expecting twins also comes greater risks and after a not-so-smooth pregnancy, my birth and recovery were unfortunately not any different. I felt like a first-time mom again entering into twin mom life, even though I’d already been blessed as a mom twice before.
Three attempts to have my required epidural in, I saw myself inflicted with a Post Dural Puncture Headache. The pain was excruciating, like someone had poured molten steel on the back of my head. I’d never been so sick in all my life. I couldn’t even sit or stand, lying down flat in a dark room and high doses of caffeine were the only thing that gave me some relief. Trying to breastfeed was a nightmare, and I even spewed on poor Lyric while attempting to sit up long enough to change her nappy. Eventually, I needed to have an epidural blood patch procedure to help restore normal pressure in my spinal fluid. I thought all my worries were behind me when I finally got the all-clear to go home. ‘Rest when the twins sleep,’ my husband would tell me, but I couldn’t.
The high doses of caffeine had meant I’d gone days without any sleep. My headaches had returned and I felt faint. My husband said I looked green and the next thing I remember is having paramedics all around me, and my older two children screaming with fear as my mom tried to console them in the next room. I’ll never forget the traumatized look on my then 3-year-old’s face as I was taken away in the ambulance. Having my 1-week-old twins in my local hospital’s Emergency department with only a curtain between us and potential COVID patients was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of my life.
My blood pressure was through the roof due to Postpartum Preeclampsia. I’d felt like I’d hit the ‘unlucky’ jackpot with two rare conditions in the one pregnancy. This was a far cry from how I’d imagined bringing our littlest loves home. I was exhausted, and I cringed every time I had to do a feed or change a nappy. While I had plenty of supply, I just didn’t enjoy breastfeeding in the beginning. I felt detached from my babies. I remember walking out into the foyer with an empty baby bottle my husband had brought up for me, and crying and pleading that I couldn’t do this anymore… could they please just let me formula feed. The blank shocked expressions on the nurses’ faces made me quickly turn around and run red-faced with embarrassment back into my room.
I couldn’t wait to get home again and have some normalcy and get into our own little routine. Once home, instead of feeling great, I felt more lost and alone than ever.
I remember getting so many compliments on this picture on how ‘glowing’ I looked… but in reality, I was hurting, exhausted, and falling apart. Juggling my other two littles with little to no sleep and hardly any support from family or friends due to the lockdown was hard. Posting photos and updates to social media just didn’t feel the same. I didn’t get the visits from loved ones like I longed for. I gained a new and profound appreciation for teachers after attempting to home school our oldest son amongst it all. Still recovering from a traumatic birth and ongoing health issues, I knew my mental health was taking a great hit. I was struggling, sitting in my dark cloud and feeling like my cup was overflowing. It all seemed so overwhelming and was all too much. Post-natal Depression hit me hard. I knew as the world was being turned upside down around me that there were people much worse off. I felt saddened so many had been impacted, even losing loved ones due to the pandemic.
Though still awful here, it felt like we were ‘one of the lucky countries’ in comparison to others. I knew I wasn’t alone, that so many were going through the same, if not worse, but I just couldn’t stop how I was feeling. ANGER as I felt like I couldn’t enjoy my newborn stage. I felt like it had been taken off me even having our newborn photoshoot canceled. LONELINESS as I didn’t have the support of ‘my village.’ ANXIETY as I had so many hospital appointments to attend alone. I was constantly feeling deflated. I couldn’t shake the mom guilt. I was the mom who feeds her older two children leftover popcorn chicken from the previous night for breakfast. The mom who couldn’t remember the last time she cooked a meal. The mom who was sleeping her entire family on two mattresses on the floor as it was easier to do night feeds and tend to the older children. I made my husband pull apart our bed and we slept on two mattresses on the floor for a few months.
The mom who was trying not to put too much pressure on herself, but felt like every time she took one step forward; she would take two steps back. The mom who was constantly crying in her messy house with overflowing dishes and dirty laundry as she allowed her 3-year-old to have more screen time so she could have a minute to herself. The mom who was still trying to navigate her new twin mom gig and still hadn’t got her sh*t together after 8 weeks of trying so hard.
My oldest daughter thought she’d ‘help me out’ on one of my down days by tucking me in and putting a ‘cold washer’ on my head for me. I was literally laying in my bed feeling sorry for myself with a cloth nappy on my head. Thanks love! I eventually got the courage and told my loved ones how I was feeling. I felt truly blessed when they rallied the support and love around me that I needed to get through. They helped me with my housework, joined me on daily walks, and my beautiful friends even cooked my family meals for over a week. I love seeing my daughter Kirra enjoying one of our daily walks.
You know out of all this though, what I did realize… it’s perfectly okay to admit you’re not okay. Accepting or asking for help doesn’t make you weak… it makes you brave! Be sad, have your moment… your day… your week, even your month. Be kind to yourself, we are all human. But then get back up! Don’t let your dark cloud and its negative energy trigger you into waging war upon yourself like I did. Don’t let your dark cloud win! Take back the control! Because the dark cloud eventually passed and the sunshine is great!”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Ally Cashen from Queensland, Australia. Follow Ally’s journey on Instagram and Facebook. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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