Hospital ship

It takes much more skill as  a husband/nurse than previously realised to look after a post-operative, post-natally-depressed mother of newborn twins. Poor Ursula has been struggling for the last few days, partly due to wildly fluctuating hormone levels, partly due to general exhaustion owing to the combination of getting over a major operation and dealing with two babies who require feeding every three hours, and partly due to the enormous shock of coming to terms with being the parents of four children. It turns out that the best treatment for her condition is sleep and lots of it, a treatment plan not entirely compatible with the aforementioned greedy little piggies otherwise known as Zach and Jonah. So it falls to the shared teamwork of saintly husband/nurse and saintly mother-in-law/nurse (that’s my m-i-l, Ursula’s mum) to take over night feed duties for the time being, allowing Ursula to get as many full nights’ sleep as possible and hopefully aiding in both the physical and emotional recovery process.

The night feeds are not too bad, provided you don’t care about not getting too much sleep. I’m trying to persuade the boys to be on a regular four-hourly feed schedule, which would make things relatively simple. And just as they make you think your masterplan is working, they mess up the whole thing by waking up two and a half hours after the last feed – and given that when you’re feeding them both, a feed takes roughly an hour, that leaves about an hour and a half between feeds to get some sleep.

To add insult to injury, the niggling sore throat I’d had for the last few days decided to turn into full-blown tonsilitis on Wednesday, which also happened to be the worst day so far in terms of Ursula’s emotional wellbeing. Thanks for that. I spent most of the day in denial, claiming that my throat was just hurting because of lack of sleep. But I’ve had tonsilitis a few times in the last few years and I know the warning signs only too well. It seems that flaring up throat so that it feels that I’ve swallowed a sharpened dagger is my body’s de facto response to high stress situations. Thanks for that, too. Ursula persuaded me to go to the local walk-in clinic in the late afternoon, at which I had to wait nearly two hours for someone to take only the briefest of glimpses down my throat before confirming my suspicions. So I commenced my night feed duty armed with a box of penicillin, another of nurofen, another of paracetamol, and another of codeine. I hope Ursula isn’t missing her post-op medication too much. I’m sure if you’d shaken me by the end of the night I’d have rattled more than one of the babies’ many new toys, but I got through it and thankfully Ursula felt a lot better the following morning. Sadly the same could not be said for me, and the tonsilitis took its usual course, which it to cause me to sleep for an entire day. Thank god the m-i-l was around to take over childcare/wifecare duties, or we may have had a bit of a disaster on our hands. 

Thanks, I believe, to Ursula’s foresight in sending me to get my antibiotics before the symptoms got really bad, my throat never got as painful as it usually does, and within 36 hours I was on the mend. I am still dosed up on painkillers tonight, and having rather a lot of difficult regulating my body temperature, but other than that I feel fine now. Or, you could say, foolishly complacent. It’s 1am. If things go to plan, the boys are due another feed at 3:30, and as you may have noticed by the fact that I’m sitting here typing this, I have yet to go to bed. I will surely regret this in the morning. But owing to another bit of grandparental wonder, we only have two small boys to deal with in the morning, since the two big boys are spending the night at my parents, and then going swimming with my dad in the morning. So once we have done the morning feed, we can, and indeed will, be going straight back to bed for a lie in, for as long as the babies will allow us.

As if two sick parents wasn’t enough, poor Zach, at just 11 days old, already has his first cold. The primary symptom is of course a terribly bunged up nose, something I wouldn’t imagine you’d have too much idea how to deal with if you’ve never suffered from it before. I’ll spare the details of all the other consequences of this condition, for anyone who’s reading this who isn’t yet a parent. I don’t want to spoil the fun for you. Suffice it to say that I was feeling a bit sorry for Jonah, tucked up in bed beside the copious body fluids of his brother. So I have put him to sleep in a separate bed for the first time. I hope they don’t miss each other too much.

I suppose I really ought to go and get some sleep, although knowing my luck, the second my head touches the pillow, I’ll hear the familiar wah wah wah through the baby monitor.


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