Monthly Archives: August 2015

The ever-so-elusive baby shower

And I’m out of hospital just in time for my baby shower! The following weekend, when I’m 31 weeks and 2 days pregnant, is the long held date for the event we really weren’t sure we’d ever come to see.   I’m shocked that I’m actually pregnant and am having a baby shower of my own after heart-breakingly attending so many others over the years, and I’m doubly shocked that I’ve managed to stay out of hospital and stay pregnant with the boys long enough to make it to the big day.

Two of my dearest friends have organised the event and I know nothing except that I’m to turn up at a lovely restaurant on the waterfront at 3pm for high tea. Turns out I’m one of the first to arrive (so unlike me!) and it looks amazing! We have a semi-private room in an enclosed balcony; a long table in the sunshine with a view out over the harbour. The table is decorated with ribbons, little blue prams, blue baby shower ornaments, and two giant bottles – one filled with jube lollies for my husband and one filled with Pineapple Lumps for me (and if you don’t know what Pineapple Lumps are you need to find out and get some in your life!)

There’s already a pile of presents in the corner and this grows and grows (both with baby shower presents and with hand-me-downs) as the guests trickle in. It’s a really nice group of people – much of my family, and some of my oldest friends. We order tea and are bought out tiered trays of delectable food. It’s totally surreal and I find myself in a bit of a daze for the first 45 minutes or so as I just can’t believe this is ours – a party to celebrate the gorgeous boys that are finally in my tummy.

Of course, being a baby shower, there must be games. Firstly a sock game where you need to pair and fold as many baby socks as you can within the 20 second time frame. While this is occurring there are two ‘twin’ quizzes – match each celebrity with the names of their twins, and tick who of another list of celebrities is a twin and who isn’t. We’re in teams of two and the quizzes are hard! I’m not much one for gossipy magazines or anything so I have next to no clue. My brother-in-law and I take a guess at most of them and I’m pleased to say we take out the prize. I also take out the sock game with 10 socks paired and folded…yep, I’m totally ready for kids, hahaha!

The next few hours are spent eating, drinking (many with champagne but not me), and chatting. The food is fantastic and the company even better. I’m told I have to open the presents there and then which makes me a little nervous as I hate being the centre of attention. We’ve been utterly and ridiculously spoiled by our amazing friends and family, and I feel so grateful to have them all in our lives. I surprise myself by not crying, despite coming close a couple of times, but truth be told I do only skim over the cards as I know they’ll set me off. I settle down later at home where I can remove my makeup, and am free to bawl, to reread them properly.

Around 6pm people start to leave, kids to get home to etc. My husband and his Dad come into the restaurant to join us for a drink then we head home too. It’s been an absolutely amazing (and surreal) day and I just can’t put into words how much it has truly meant to me. CI and CB, thank you so much for organising it. And to all our friends and family who could make it, thank you so much! You all mean the world to us and I wish I could properly express how lucky we are that you are part of our lives. We love you all dearly.


30 weeks, 2 days

Wow! What a great mother I am…first I can’t get pregnant, now it seems I’ll struggle to stay pregnant. Just like that our dream of making it to 37 weeks is dashed as another bleed lands me in hospital yet again.

Lying on the couch after a busy but not overly strenuous day, I feel a couple of small trickles creep onto my panty liner. It doesn’t feel right so I get up and head to the toilet. Yep, sure enough there’s blood and this time it’s bright red rather than the old brown blood of my 26-week bleed. I panic and call out to my husband “looks like we’ll be off to the hospital again” I say, just when I’d been about to go to bed too.

Hubby picks up the panic vibe and rushes around trying to find the obstetricians phone number (of course us idiots hadn’t saved it to our phones after last time), while I begin to sob hysterically on the loo, this can’t be happening. I plead with the boys to hang in there and stay put. “It’s online!” I cry as he’s still flustering. It’s so stressful and neither of us can really think straight.

Eventually hubs gets through to the after hours service and explains the situation, then dashes around packing me a bag for the hospital. In a fashion typical to us, I’d started packing my hospital bag during the week intending to finish the packing in the weekend but never quite got around to it, and what do you know, Sunday night we need it.

The OB on call phones back and tells us to head on in to the Women’s Assessment Unit, yes we know where that is. Despite being a little scared to leave the toilet we make it out the door for what seems like the longest car journey ever. We clutch each other’s hands, me trying not to cry and willing our now silent boys to move, and hubby trying to reassure me that things will be ok. I still can’t help feeling like a failure as a mother, why can’t I keep our boys safe?!?

We arrive and minutes later so does the OB who is on call from our usual OB’s practice. We’re given a private room (yay!) then taken through for a quick scan to make sure the boys are ok. They are (phew) but are still in odd positions – one breach, one tranverse. The OB can’t see any reason for the bleeding but is going to book me in for a proper scan with the sonographers tomorrow just to be sure. We then head back to the private room for an internal exam.

This is even worse than the last time we were here. Our usual OB uses a speculum so it’s somewhat like a smear test only a bit more painful. This one uses his hand (something I suppose I should get used to in case I happen to go into labour naturally). Boy is it uncomfortable! What’s worse is that his glove comes out absolutely covered in bright red blood. “Ooo, there is quite a bit of blood,” he says, then “it feels like your cervix is shortening so there’s a chance you could go into labour and/or need a c-section tonight. It’s quite possible you won’t be leaving hospital without having your babies.” Eek, that freaks me out but as long as the boys are ok I’m ok, so I’m less worried and stressed than the last time we were here. They’re 30 weeks gestation now so it’s less daunting than the threat we had of delivering them at 26 weeks. Perhaps I won’t be making it to my baby shower next weekend after all!

They pop me on a monitor and, despite the boys wriggling around a little requiring me to angle the sensors, we actually manage to get a decent heartbeat reading this time – something we struggled to get at 26 weeks. Unfortunately the machine is showing that I’m having contractions, of which I only feel the odd one here and there, which will mean a c-section tonight for sure if things don’t settle down. They think the boys will definitely come early regardless, I just hope we can hold them in at least a few more weeks.

Unsure as to what may happen they decide to keep me in the Women’s Assessment Unit overnight rather than transfer me to a ward. It’s not something that happens often – they usually try to clear you out of WAU pretty quickly – but it’s great as it means I get a private room for the night. I’m hoping I’ll get a decent sleep but the booster shot of steroids I’m given lays rest to that. Not only do those shots blimmin hurt and give you muscle cramps, they also give you insomnia, awesome! Oh well, at least I can lie awake without the worry of disturbing someone else.

After about an hour the monitor shows the contractions easing, and I’ve had no further gushes of blood, so the midwife decides it safe to leave me be for the night with the understanding I’ll buzz her immediately if anything happens. My hubby heads home for a much needed rest and I start my long night of wishing I could sleep.

In my wide awake state I start writing. First a note to my husband about my wishes should a c-section occur (regardless of whether this happens tonight or not) and something goes horribly wrong. I realise this may seem very morbid but I’ve had more than one friend go through a traumatic caesarian section, and two friends nearly die on the table, I feel like I need to be prepared and I need to get my thoughts down in writing to ease my mind. I can’t write that one without tears, a lot of tears, but despite being a horrible note to write, it’s a nice release of pent up emotion and energy. When I finally finish that, I start this blog post, then eventually stop writing for the time being and grab a fitful couple of hours sleep.

Come morning my condition has improved further and the team decides it’s safe to transfer me to a ward. I’m booked for a proper scan with the ultrasound team at 1pm so hang around in WAU until then as it’s just across the hall, unlike the wards which are a wee walk away. The scan shows both boys are doing well. They’ve moved so much (from both being breech and perfectly parallel down either side of my belly to one breech and one tranverse top and bottom) that both the sonographer and the obstetrician struggle to work out which twin has historically been labeled Twin 1. Essentially they’ve switched places so that Twin 1 should now really be labeled Twin 2 and vice versa, but because they need to be able to plot the same twin on the same growth line each time they scan, the boys labels can’t be changed.

Both Bumble and Bee are still on the small side, measuring a week to a week and a half behind, but at least they’re growing appropriately and are both around the same size. There’s still no obvious sign of where the bleeding is coming from so the assumption is made that it’s probably a bit of placental edge bleeding and to continue monitoring to make sure everything’s calming down. I’m moved to a ward.

It’s not quite as warm a reception this time around – I tell you the Orange Team are the best! – but at least I get to specify dietary requirements (I’m still struggling to eat dairy which is so weird for someone who rarely has trouble with any food) and am asked if I’d like a tour of the place. I’m one ward over from where I was last time (and share facilities with my old ward) so I know the layout and where to find everything, a tour is unnecessary. I settle down to the nothingness that is hospital ward-time. I don’t bother telling too many people I’m here as I don’t want to worry people, but after much debate I let my family know (feeling bad as my Mum, Step-dad, and sister have just flown back into the country this morning after a holiday).

The rest of the day is broken up by obs and baby monitoring, and thankfully my husband comes in for the day (and brings me real food!) to keep me entertained. The ward is pretty busy so one of the midwives is borrowed from my old ward to help out. She’s the one who took care of me during the days for most of my previous hospital stay and recognizes me almost straight away which is kind of nice. “I know you!” she says, I reply that I was in here a month ago, and she manages to rattle of most of the details of my previous stay – that I was on the other ward, the bleeding, both hubby and my reactions and feelings the last time we were in, comments we made etc etc. Enough to make me realise she’s not just read my notes again and truly does remember me. The ward obstetrician had recognized me too (although not to the same extent, purely a “you look very familiar, have we met before?”) and both make me realise how good the staff here can be.

The CTG (cardiotocography) monitoring shows the boys are doing well. Bee is a little rascal and moves so much during every monitoring session that the midwives often struggle to find his heartbeat and, when they do, he’s often only there for a short time before darting off the monitor, necessitating another ‘come find me’ session. Nevertheless we manage to get decent readings from both twins and they’re looking good on all sessions. Likewise my obs are consistently normal, and the bleeding is still easing, so hopefully I won’t be in hospital much longer. The trouble is I know exactly what I need to say to be set free so I constantly have to monitor myself to ensure I’m reporting accurately rather than saying what I know needs to be said to be discharged.

Everything seems to be coming right a bit faster this time and it looks like I’ll only be in the ward for one more night before being sent home. I know what to look out for now and what I need to do (more rest!) so can easily monitor my condition myself from home. Lucky for me as my hospital roommate is so sick with a cold, on top of her pregnancy problems, that she snores like a freight train all night and I once again struggle to sleep. I make a comment to my husband that I’m probably not leaving hospital without a cold she’s that ill, apparently it’s been doing the rounds of the wards and everyone there is sick. Fun times.

My regular obstetrician is back on duty again the next morning and seems pleased with how things are progressing, so after two nights in hospital I’m released. Woohoo! I head home for more rest as, same as the last time I was in hospital, I come out feeling worse than when I went in. I don’t know if it’s the food, the lack of natural light, the stress of being there, the lack of sleep, or all of the above but I’m absolutely shattered and it takes a few days of decent eating and relaxation to come right. Unfortunately after two bleeding episodes the likelihood of another occurrence happening is pretty high so it’s entirely possible I’ll be back in hospital sometime soon. It’s also more likely that the boys will come early so resting and taking care of both myself and them is even more important now. I’ll do my very best!

 

Postscript – my comment regarding the cold turns out to be prophetic…or maybe a self-fulfilling prophecy…..either way I end up with the worst cold I’ve had in at least six years and am snuffling and coughing for the next two weeks. Grrr.

 


The drive to ‘true’ viability

It’s the day after I leave the hospital and as previously mentioned I’ve been resting and napping for the last day and a bit. Work have been great and told me to stay home for a few days to put my feet up and recover. My bosses are being so lovely and so flexible and basically allowing me to guide them on what needs to happen.

The hospital midwife told me I shouldn’t be going back to work at all, my GP mother-in-law thinks this is probably a good idea, and the obstetricians (both the hospital and my own one) didn’t advise against going back to work but they didn’t recommend it either. My obstetrician is very pro-choice (and I don’t mean in an abortion/anti-abortion way) who likes to present the options and allow us to make the decision. This is not always what we want, sometimes you just need someone to tell you what to do, but it is nice to be presented with a largely unbiased fact-based view the majority of the time.

So, aiming to head back to work towards the end of the week and just try to take things easy once there, I turn up to my acupuncturist appointment on the Tuesday afternoon. My acupuncturist used to be a midwife so has been great at offering advice from that perspective, and filling me in on things that obstetricians tend to overlook (you know, the more womanly details of being pregnant and having children). She’s horrified at the thought of me returning to work (much as I suspect the hospital midwife had been, only she wasn’t close enough to me to say), highlighting the fact that the twins safety should come first and that with the bleeding and fatigue, my body is obviously trying to tell me something.

I know this of course but I just don’t feel ready yet to give up on the work front. Mentally I’m not prepared for it for another 4 weeks, work-wise I’m not prepared for it at all (with projects I’d hoped to finish still in full swing and my handover notes only partially completed), and emotionally I feel a bit of a failure not making it to my 30 week end date. It’s a lot to take on board and I struggle not to cry throughout my session. As always my appointment ends in a hug, and my acupuncturist tells me to take it easy.

I make it to the car before I burst into tears and totally lose the plot. I know I need to give up work now. I couldn’t live with myself if my determination to see work through to the 30 week mark had a detrimental effect on our boys – we’ve been through so much to get here it should be an easy decision – but I’m just not ready to make it.

Through a bit of bad timing, one of my bosses phones mid-meltdown just as I’m driving away from my acupuncturist’s. I make myself pull it together enough to be able me to talk to him, with fair warning to him that I’m emotional and there are no guarantees I won’t lose it again mid-conversation. He gets me to talk him through how I’m feeling and the advice I’ve been given, and very wisely says if all that advice doesn’t sway my decision to give up work then I should think about how they (my bosses and team at work) would feel if something bad happened while I was working and they hadn’t made me leave now when I should have.

It seems weird but this is the thing that finally pushes me over the edge into the decision that I need to end it, that it’s time to admit defeat and realise that work is just too much for me right now on top of everything else. I guess it added another perspective on how selfish it would be to persevere through to 30 weeks potentially putting our boys at risk (why the thought of putting our boys at risk didn’t do that by itself I don’t know – perhaps hearing it come from someone I see face-to-face on an almost daily basis just made it more real).

So, still an emotional wreck, the choice is made. My GP is contacted for a medical certificate and when her locum (my usual GP is away) phones me later in the day her response only cements my choice. She TOTALLY agrees that I should be giving up work now and can’t believe my obstetrician didn’t just come right out and say that. So that’s two GP’s and two midwives telling me it’s time, with two obstetricians recommending but not enforcing it. It’s definitely time. (Funnily enough, when I tell my OB at our next appointment that I’ve given up work he’s really pleased and says that that’s what he really thought I should do – see what I mean about presenting the options but not telling us what to do! I think this was one time I just needed him to say it).

So I spend the rest of the week trying to take it easy while also covering the vitals of my job – monitoring emails from my bed etc. I pop into work on the Thursday to try and tidy things up a bit and this only further reinforces the fact that I’m doing the right thing. After a couple of hours I’m shattered, and I actually don’t get as much done as I intend to. I do clean out my desk though, taking all my personal items home and leaving a bare shell. Man that feels weird! Lucky for me my replacement can start straight away so she’s able to move her stuff in Friday and set about getting her head around my job and what I do.

Monday morning I spend a few hours in bed typing up some handover notes. Monday afternoon I head in for a face-to face handover. Tuesday I do another. And then she’s away. I feels so strange to hand over a large part of my life to someone else but it also feels so right, my heads just not in it anymore…amazing how quickly one’s mindset can change. I’ll go in for another session or two over the next couple of weeks if required but by in large I’ve surrendered my job. Now time to rest and grow our boys in an effort to get them as close to full term as I can.

Easier said than done however. It seems I’m not so good at sitting around doing nothing. I’m just not that type of person who can spend hours on the couch watching TV or playing games. I am normally a big fan of reading but at the moment I find I just can’t concentrate enough to focus on whatever it is I’ve attempted to read. So what do I do? I set about organising the house of course. The nesting has begun! I buy some bits and pieces (including a hospital/breastfeeding nightie – which seems like an ENORMOUS step for me in admitting that this pregnancy is actually real), I clean out cupboards, start washing stuff, paint a bookcase, organise different areas so that they make more sense or are more child-friendly, I start organising photos to allow us to create albums for the boys, I basically do not spend enough time resting.

Now fortunately for me nothing horrific happens, all that occurs is I get really tired and am forced into early nights and quieter days. Two and a half weeks into my sick leave, with just under two weeks to go until my annual leave then maternity leaves starts, and I think I’ve finally managed to find a good balance between sorting and resting. The countless sleepless nights (restless legs, multiple toilet trips, pregnancy insomnia) have definitely helped with this and I find I need to nap/rest during the day just to make it to dinnertime.

Four days ago we hit the 28 week milestone, a goal I was so relieved to hit as the boys now have a 90%+ survival rate were they to be born today. I remember our OB saying to us months ago that 24 weeks was viability but most OBs aim for the 28 week mark as the viability indicator as then they can “really do something” should unexpected delivery occur. So we’re there, and I’m stoked.

At 28 weeks we have another scan – something we’ll be doing pretty much fortnightly from now on to monitor the boys growth and, possibly more importantly for us, their growth differential. The outcome is better than we could have hoped for. Bumble has caught up to Bee and the boys are now almost identically the same size. What’s more, although on the small side, they both sit nicely in the normal range. We’re so relieved. Seems the rest (yes I know I should have more), no-work, iron supplements and/or SOMETHING is making a difference. Phew! Our obstetrician is pleased and is back to a target of a 37-38 week delivery, something that seemed completely unobtainable a fortnight ago when 32-34 weeks seemed our best goal. Of course anything could happen still but we’ll take that win for now.

28 weeks is also the time that our antenatal class kicks off so on the Saturday we head along to our specialised “Childbirth & Parenting Preparation Course for Multiple Birth.” Most of the stuff we cover in our first three-hour session (they run for 3 hours a day for 5 Saturdays in a row) are things my husband and I have already thought about and/or researched (having been on the journey we’ve been on, and just being the type of people we are, we tend to do a lot of reading and research – in fact it always comes as a bit of a surprise that other people don’t) but future sessions look like they will be of great interest and assistance…next week “the birth”, eek!

It’s a large group of 13 couples and they all seem really lovely. We know one other couple there as I used to work with the guy, and there are also quite a few who live in the surrounding suburbs to ours which is really great and makes a coffee group from this seem more likely. Most are roughly around the same due date (there’s only one multiple-specific antenatal class so you end up with a bit of a range of due dates and living locations) but it seems we’re pretty much the only ones who have had trouble conceiving, although we don’t blatantly mention our struggle (something I feel a little uneasy about with my desire to make infertility less of a taboo topic) so perhaps there are others in the class who have done the same. Hopefully in time we’ll all (assuming there is more than just us) feel more comfortable about sharing our stories.

So here we are at today, 28 weeks and 4 days gestation. The last week or so has been really positive with a lot of good news and great events that I’m hoping will continue. Physically I’m still knackered – too many sleepless nights – and am becoming a little uncomfortable (at 28 weeks I’m carrying the equivalent of a 34 week singleton), and of course as sometimes happens in the third trimester (can you believe we’re third trimester!), that good old nausea has been creeping back in – not to the point of wanting/needing to vomit but enough to make me feel pretty gross all day – but otherwise we’re doing well. The boys are back to moving a lot, mostly at night in their 4am dance parties, and are hopefully continuing to grow as they should. Fingers crossed our next scan shows this and fingers crossed they’ve moved enough to get a decent 4D shot of their faces – something we haven’t quite managed to do yet due to them wanting to cuddle each other so much!

28 weeks and 4 days. Here’s hoping there’s at least 8 weeks and 3 days to go!

 

 

 

 

 

 


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