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!