Māmā Muse Interview: Elle Chrisp On Fertility,Twins, C-Sections, Breast Feeding With Implants & More
Twin māmā, business owner, and YouTuber, Elle Chrisp, otherwise known as Elle Herself, tells us about her journey to motherhood, tandem breastfeeding (with breast implants), and why she doesn’t let ‘well meaning’ advice scare her – and why you shouldn’t either!
Kia ora Elle,
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions! First, can you please tell us a bit about yourself, your whānau and what you do for mahi / work?
My name is Elle, I’m 33 and I live in Christchurch with my husband Dave, our cavoodle (Charlie) and our 5 month old twins Reverie (who we nicknamed Revie) and Reuel (who we nicknamed Roo)!
I have a healthy lifestyle and low carb keto recipe app called Welle Club, and a healthy supplement line called Welle Essentials! I’m also a YouTuber and I share my day-to-day life and recipes on Instagram!
You’ve shared your birth story on your vlog, but for those who haven’t yet seen it, can you please give as an overview of your pregnancy, and birth?
My pregnancy was a bit of a wild ride! We were blessed with twins, and a multiple pregnancy was no joke. My symptoms were so intense right from the beginning, and they only got more and more intense as the months went on. I never had crazy sickness, just constant nausea, but I did experience a full body rash from my surging hormones. It felt like my body was on fire! And it got SO bad at night time and in the early hours of the morning. I would wake up feeling like my body was on fire, and have to jump into a freezing cold shower to cool off. It was TORTURE!
My bump also grew really fast which was challenging at times! Especially because the weight of my bump on my legs meant that towards the end of my pregnancy I couldn’t walk or stand for long. Simple tasks like going grocery shopping, or cooking dinner were so painful and uncomfortable. My feet were so swollen that no shoes would fit! But despite how tiring pregnancy was I knew that it would be worth it to one day meet our babies so I tried my best to stay positive and as cheesy as it sounds… on the especially tough days I would practice gratitude and remind myself of how lucky we were to soon be welcoming our precious babies!
Our twins were DCDA, which is the least complicated and high risk of twin pregnancies. But we were still classified as high risk, which resulted in a lot of checks and scans. Having DCDA twins meant that our babies were not identical, they had their own sac and own placentas. Revie is a girl, and Roo is a boy – so they are definitely not identical!
Both of the babies were head down and engaged from early on – so the decision was made to try for a vaginal delivery, but it was strongly recommended that I opt for an epidural. The reason an epidural was suggested was because once Baby A (our girl) was out Baby B (our boy) would have lots of room and could turn himself to be in a different position. So it was a possibility that they would need to turn him either internally or externally (ouch!) or that he might need to be removed via c-section! I tried to just keep an open mind and go along for the ride.
Throughout my pregnancy we were told that it would be most likely that the twins would come early, because statistically twins come early! So we had our hospital bags packed and ready to go… but (spoiler alert!!) our twins didn’t come early! They both stayed in place! Once I hit 38 weeks I had made it to “term” and it was time for me to be induced.
We chose to have a private obstetrician (OB) and I went into the hospital to meet with them and get the induction started. My induction went for 24 hours, and there was still no sign of the twins, or my body going into labour. After talking with our OB we decided that it was best to move ahead with a c-section because it was difficult for them to track both babies and ensure that they weren’t in any distress.
When I heard that the induction didn’t work I burst into tears. I somehow felt like I’d failed and the past 24 hours were for nothing. My incredible husband helped me snap out of that and I was able to then get excited for the c-section and count down the final moments before we would meet our babies in person!
When the time came I was taken into theatre while my husband Dave waited outside. I was asked to sit on the bed and wiggle myself back so that they could administer the spinal. At that time I was measuring something ridiculous, (like 50 weeks pregnant if it was a singleton… I am NOT joking!) so that was really hard to move myself back. That was honestly the most uncomfortable part of the entire experience for me! The injections were totally fine and I didn’t really feel a thing. Then it was time to lie down and Dave was able to come in to be with me.
It felt like time flew by, and all of a sudden they were saying that Baby A was coming out… our little girl! She was held up and I couldn’t believe it! Our first baby was here! They did delayed cord clamping and then Revie was placed on my chest and seeing her for the first time, smelling her… Oh it was just magical! Two minutes later Baby B was coming out… our little boy! Roo let out a scream and then was taken away. I didn’t know it at the time, but Roo wasn’t breathing.
We had two NICU teams in the theatre with us, one for each baby if they needed it. Roo’s team worked on him and his lungs. Dave was taken over to see him, but everyone in the room stayed so calm that I had no idea what was going on.
Then it was time to go to recovery. I asked where Roo was and Dave said that he just needed a bit more time and that he might be taken to NICU. I was prepared for NICU as we were told that it was most likely we would end up there with both babies.
Revie and I went into recovery and very soon after Roo joined us! I felt like I’d won the lottery. Both of our babies were happy, healthy, and we got to all be together going straight to the ward… we had luckily avoided NICU.
We filmed the delivery for my YouTube channel, so if you do want to see a positive birth vlog make sure you check it out!
You speak openly about the fact that your journey to pregnancy wasn’t an easy one, can you tell us a bit about that?
When Dave and I decided to start a family, we naively thought that it would happen easily for us. We were both healthy and in the best shape of our lives, but our fertility journey didn’t go smoothly for us.
When we found out we were pregnant for the first time we were so excited, but we lost that pregnancy at 8 weeks with a missed miscarriage. We then continued to try to conceive for 6 months with no luck each month until (after what felt like forever) I saw two lines on a pregnancy test!
We lost the second pregnancy at exactly 5 weeks. We were devastated.
After the second pregnancy we started working with a naturopath who specialises in women’s health and fertility, and we went to our GPs to ask for support. Dave did a sperm test and it was discovered that he had low sperm morphology (Dave had 2%, and a normal range is 4% or 5%) which meant that despite having the volume of sperm they would expect in someone his age, he only had 2% of sperm that could get the job done – the rest had two heads, two tails, no head, no tail, etc. Because of this low sperm morphology we were told that we could be referred to Fertility Associates. So we did that, and I started grief counselling to help work through the trauma of our recurrent pregnancy losses.
With our naturopath’s guidance we started making major lifestyle changes. She believed that Dave’s low sperm morphology may have been a reason for the miscarriages as his sperm quality was so poor. I documented all of these on my YouTube too! After 3 months Dave’s sperm morphology increased from 2% to 9%!!!!!!!!!!! And we got pregnant for a third time, this time, with TWINS!
How was your fourth trimester experience with Reverie and Reuel?
It was full on! We didn’t know what to expect with Revie and Roo being our only babies, but the routine was gruelling. I would be up most nights cluster feeding one baby, and then the next, so I didn’t get a chance to sleep much. Somehow you survive. You do whatever you need to do to survive! For us that meant ordering premade meals and working together as a team to get through! I couldn’t have done it without Dave there with me!
How has your breastfeeding journey been? Do you have any products, tips or tricks that might help other māmā out?
I have breast implants which are inserted under the muscle. My surgeon advised me that I would be able to breastfeed one day (when the time came!) but weirdly in the hospital all of the nurses were trying to convince me that I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed TWINS with a BOOB JOB… How wrong they were! I wanted to give it a go, and if it didn’t work, then it didn’t work. I decided that for me tandem feeding was the best option, just to get it done as quickly as possible.
I hired a lactation consultant which helped me so much with my confidence. She saw my technique and confirmed that I was doing the right thing, and suggested some products for me to help with my supply. I still use these products to this day which include a hospital grade breast pump (Bellema Euphoria Plus), and a milk supplement (I love the Two Islands Milk Maker)! I never had any cracked nipples, I was very lucky! I also love the Haakaa Gen 2 pump to wear on one side (if I’m nursing one baby) to catch the letdown. And the Haakaa Lady Bug milk catchers are an awesome alternative to breastpads to catch milk too!
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How did you find the adjustment to motherhood emotionally and mentally? Who or what was your saving grace during that time?
I feel so much gratitude to be a mum. It is the BEST feeling in the world! But it’s a big adjustment and it is okay to not feel great. If you don’t feel like your usual self, make sure you speak with your midwife or GP because postnatal depression, baby blues, or whatever you are experiencing is so common – and help exists if you need it.
Not every day as a new mum is easy. It is extremely full on and hectic… especially at the beginning. We were told that it gets easier, and now at 6 months (I know that feels like forever away when you have a newborn), it really is, so hang in there!
The most difficult emotional adjustment for me was breastfeeding and getting my head around everything. In the beginning it was a lot of work making sure that I was wearing the right bra, had the right clothing on, was drinking enough water and electrolytes to stay hydrated, and also trying to find the time to pump. It took me a good 8 weeks to get into the swing of things there, so if you are planning on breastfeeding I would encourage you to give yourself a lot of grace!
What advice would you give to other māmā who are expecting twins?
I am always so excited for twin mums to be! Yes, there is a lot of work ahead of you, but you’ll take that in your stride and find your rhythm. People will say to you “I don’t know how you do it with two” but you won’t know any different, it will just become natural to you!
The hardest part of being a twin māmā for me is that I can’t always be everywhere at once. It is hard if one baby is crying, and once you’re comforting the crying baby, the other twin starts to cry and really needs you. In those moments you wish you could clone yourself, but you can’t. Instead you just have to do your best every day to triage what is most urgent in that moment. You love your babies and they know that too!
What does self-care look like for you now that you’re a māmā?
Self-care for me is going to bed at a reasonable hour even though I have a voice inside my head telling me that the house is messy, that there is laundry to be washed, bottles to put away! It’s also taking 5 minutes to jump in the shower, put on fresh clothes, and a little BB cream even though I’m not leaving the house!
You’re the founder of Welle Essentials and Welle Club! How has your outlook on work changed or evolved since having Reverie and Reuel?
I have always had a passion for helping others which is why I created my healthy lifestyle app Welle Club and supplement range Welle Essentials! Now as a new mum I am even more passionate about helping those who are pregnant, or about to go through labour and/or postpartum!
Our Welle Essentials Electrolytes absolutely saved me throughout my pregnancy and recovery – 6 months on and I can’t live without them every day. And I’m so excited to be back following a low carb keto lifestyle making recipes from my app Welle Club. It has been so incredible connecting with other new mums who have also joined Welle Club and seeing how good they feel now that they’re getting back into a healthy routine. It makes me so happy seeing others succeed in their goals!
What do you have a new appreciation for now that you’re a mum?
I absolutely LOVE a good-sized carpark. One that’s big enough to actually open my door wide enough to get a capsule out of. Things I never thought about before the twins came along!
What has motherhood taught you about yourself?
I’ve learned not to let people scare you. You are likely going to hear things like “your days of going out for brunch are over” or “you won’t travel with the babies until they’re much older”. If you don’t want to go out to brunch or travel with your baby or babies then that is absolutely fine, but if you do, you still can.
My husband and I were terrified taking our twins out because of all of the horror stories we’d heard and all of the what ifs. What if they have a blow out, what if they won’t stop screaming, what if they all of a sudden both want to be tandem fed, what if, what if, what if?! We figured the worst that could happen is that it all falls to custard, in which case we come home and we regroup.
I’ve tried to embrace that attitude myself when I have taken the babies somewhere by myself. I try to stay flexible, go with the flow, and if things aren’t working, then I head home. It all works out!
Tell us about a māmā who is your muse.
My best friend Anna is māmā to her two year old daughter Harper, and is currently pregnant with a little boy due in October.
I am in awe of her balancing mum life, being a wife, working as a lawyer, and she even showed up when we were sick to help fold laundry and cuddle the babies so we could rest up.
She has also been incredible always sharing her māmā knowledge with me, letting me vent, cry, whatever I needed to do! I am so grateful to have such a wonderful māmā friend.