Monthly Archives: September 2015
Well boys, this is it, the big day. We’re both super nervous but also excited as we drive into the hospital. Kings of Leon “Sex on Fire” is playing on the radio and I sing along to distract myself from the momentous event that is set to occur later today. It’s been touch and go as last night there was only one bed available in the NICU nursery so there wasn’t space for us. Things are looking more positive this morning and despite nothing being available just yet we’re told to come in anyway so that we’re there and ready to go should space open up. Our obstetrician says not to rush, it’s looking more like a 1pm slot now rather than the 10:30am one we were booked in for.
I’ve been on a “no eating” order since midnight last night and have only been allowed to drink water up until 10am today. On top of that I’ve had to take two Ranitidine tablets (one last night and one this morning) to reduce stomach acid. I’m hungry by 8:30am….oh dear, hopefully the adrenalin keeps the hangry at bay.
We arrive at the hospital at 9:30am and head into ORDA, the day surgery unit. We’re met by very friendly staff and told that NICU can guarantee us beds after 1pm so we’re definitely all go for today, woohoo! They’ll try and fit us in sooner if they can. I’m given approximately 2cm of water in a styrofoam cup (the maximum I’m allowed to drink) and we’re told to head of for a walk, have a tea or coffee (for my husband only) and to come back to unit at 11:30am.
We pop downstairs where hubby grabs a coffee and we settle in at a table by the window. Suddenly it hits me that today is the day we meet our boys and I can’t stop crying. I can’t believe this is actually happening after so many years of trying to get here. There goes that tiny amount of water I was allowed!
We hang around the couch areas of the hospital until 11:30 then make our way back over to ORDA to get prepped. We run through the questions on the pre-op questionnaire, and I have my pulse, temperature and blood pressure taken (funnily enough it’s high). I’m so nervous. I change into gowns, and my husband into scrubs, and we sit to wait anxiously on the chairs provided. We laugh and joke and I try my hardest not to think about what is about to occur in order to restrain my nervousness.
Our obstetrician turns up, runs through the last little bits and pieces, and we sign consent forms. He mentions that the op will most likely occur around 2 or 3pm as an emergency caesarian has come through from ED that needs to be completed first. Then he’s off again. The next time we see him he’ll be dressed in greens and designer white gumboots.
Eventually we’re moved from the waiting room to a pre-op bed. I’m getting nervous and am still desperately trying not to think about things. We meet our anaesthetist who is absolutely lovely. She tries to get my IV line in but because of our operation being delayed I’m extremely dehydrated and my veins just don’t want to cooperate. She tries my right hand and falls, instead causing a massive swelling of my vein that looks like a tiger slug bulging out of my hand, it’s pretty cool but then I’m into mildly gruesome things like that. Next we try the left and again no luck, I spurt blood in a big gush as she removes the lure though so we’re close! My hands get wrapped up in warm saline bags to try and encourage the veins and she leaves us for a few minutes. Back again she manages to get a line in and not long after we’re walking through to theatre. Here we go!
I slip off my shoes, the one thing of mine I’m allowed to wear into the operating room and perch on the side of the bed ready for my spinal. Just as we get in position the anaesthetist is called away to an emergency, apparently one of her earlier patients is having difficulties. Off she runs to tend to them and we wait another five to ten minutes or so as she sorts them out and returns to be re-sterilised. What a drama, but on with the spinal.
I’d managed the perfect position in my practice run at my pre-op assessment earlier in the week but now one of the boys has moved further up under my ribs so is making the “hunch” is near impossible. I keep being told off for looking up and am being instructed to hunch more, but it’s so hard when a) I’m propped up with pillows and b) I’m so frickin uncomfortable like this. Eventually they remove some pillows and if I hold my breath I manage to hunch a little more. After three attempts the spinal is in, thank god as I was terrified that they were going to have to put me under general anaesthetic meaning, not only would I be totally knocked out for the operation, but my husband wouldn’t be allowed in theatre either. The thought of neither of us being there/conscious for the birth is too much.
My legs start to tingle as they’re lifted by others on to the bed. They feel warm and weird and then I can’t move them at all. Such a bizarre feeling. The anesthetist is running an ice cube up each leg to determine whether I can feel cold or just a slight pressure. I’m just telling her I can only feel a pressure up to my armpits where the cold suddenly kicks in, when in walks our obstetrician in his designer white gumboots. We’re ready to go.
Our obstetrician is great and talks us through each step as he’s doing it. Making incisions, what layer he’s up to, what he can see. And then all of a sudden he’s pulling out our baby number one, bum first into the world. The anaesthetist and nurse have lowered the curtain that divides my head & shoulders from the rest of my body but I desperately wish I could see more. N (our obstetrician) is holding up our first little boy, his arms spread as if to hug us, for me to see. He’s gorgeous and I smile at him as they whisk him away for his check-up. In the background I hear his little cry and my body relaxes in relief that he’s ok as N starts on our second child.
I’m loathe to call them Bumble and Bee at this stage as they’re both the Bumble for whom we were waiting, neither more important than the other, but for the sake of this blog I will. With Bee safely getting the once-over all our attention is on Bumble, and he’s proving a little harder to catch than his older brother. He’s wedged himself right up under my ribs and despite our OB trying to keep a poker face for the sake of everyone’s wellbeing, I can see him getting a little more stressed as time ticks on. “It’s like trying to get a crayfish [lobster for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere] out from under a rock” he jokes, but I hear the room get a little quieter as he slowly wrangles Bumble out, and I start to worry. Bumble is the reason we’re in theatre right now as his growth had slowed enough to warrant an early operation.
I find out later that Bumble was extremely difficult to remove (that would explain my painful ribs in the days to come) and that his cord was wrapped around his neck, thank god we didn’t try for a vaginal birth! He’s initially deemed to be ok and is held up for me to see, again arms wide and looking both smaller and paler than his brother did, but otherwise perfect. Like his brother he’s whisked away to be weighed and checked, and we hear him briefly cry before he gets into respiratory difficulty and they treat him with CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) – basically a machine that keeps Bumble’s airways open, not breathing for him but allowing him the opportunity to breath for himself by using positive pressure to keep his airway free.
While Bumble is being worked on Bee is bought over to my head, wrapped up warm & with a little hat, and I pat his cheek and kiss his forehead as we pose for our first photos together with my husband. Meanwhile my poor little Bumble is put into an incubator and positioned briefly by my head for introductions before he’s ferried away to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), no time for photos with him. It’s distressing watching him go but I know it’s for the best. Looking back at the photos with Bee now I feel sad, knowing that one of our family members is missing from them. The photos themselves are lovely but for me they’re bittersweet.
My husband has a quick cuddle with Bee before leaving with Bumble (both of us desperate for him to have family company in this strange new world) and I’m slowly stitched back together layer by layer. Before I know it I’m being transferred to a ward bed (1,2, 3, lift – just like on TV) and wheeled into the recovery room. The operation’s over in a flash, and just like that, we’re parents. My Mum, who’s been waiting outside with my brother and his partner, is called into Recovery so that I have some company, and my little Bee is placed in my arms before being encouraged to latch onto my breast for a feed. It’s so surreal. I still can’t feel my legs, and won’t for a wee while yet, and here is one of my darlings in my arms and feeding from me! After all these years I’m finally a mum.
A while later my husband pops in, assuring me that our little Bumble is doing ok. He’s in level two NICU – medium risk – but is doing fine. Another photo then it’s time for me to head to the ward. Mum pops out to find my brother and I’m wheeled off holding my baby, my husband alongside. We get smiles from onlookers as we’re wheeled through the hospital corridors, and I’m all smiles myself despite feeling a gaping hole where my other baby should be.
As I’m placed in to the Ward (96, room 7 – a nice private room to myself), the midwife on ward duty pops in to introduce herself. “I know you!” she says, and my face lights up. It’s H, the wonderful midwife who first checked me into the ward way back at 26 weeks when I had my first bleeding scare. She is the most amazing person and was already my favourite midwife in the place. I’m amazed that she remembers me but of course, being the person she is, it really shouldn’t surprise me in the least – I can’t emphasise how amazing she is…something she somehow manages to build upon over the week I’m in there.
After the midwife’s visit my Mum, brother, and his partner come in bearing presents (including two helium bumble bee balloons), and a mountain of food. Along with the salmon sushi my husband has bought, it’s most of the things I’ve been missing while pregnant, and I gorge myself on soft cheese, deli meat, and a tiny glass of champagne, all of which I manage to bring back up again an hour or so later. I’d been warned by the medical team to take it easy with food as my gut had taken a bit of a bashing during the c-section, but I was so excited to eat real food, and even more ecstatic to not feel nauseous (believe it or not the food nausea stopped pretty much the second I gave birth) that I didn’t listen, and hence following the meal filled two massive containers with puke. Still, it was totally worth it! My parents-in-law also stop by and we get a little telling off from the midwife for having so many people in the room. Everyone begins to head home for the night and I settle into my first night as a mother. Let the first night alone begin!
And the roller coaster never ends. Monday we get given our C-section date and my blood pressure is high. Wednesday I have a Doppler scan to check the umbilical cord blood flow. Thursday we get the not so good news. And Friday I’m back in hospital. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s start at the beginning.
As mentioned in my last post, on Monday the 7th, we had an appointment with our obstetrician and he surprises us with our C-section date mere minutes before taking my blood pressure. It’s high which then puts us on pre-eclampsia symptom watch. Obviously this is not so fun, especially when my first cankles experience shows up later that night adding to the worry and nervousness around symptoms. Personally I think it’s just the timing of having my blood pressure taken and spending too much time on my feet that has caused the symptoms but after going through so much to get where we are I can’t help but worry.
Roll on Wednesday and the cankles have pretty much gone (I’ve been trying my best to rest and keep my feet up). I head in for my Doppler scan praying I have a different sonographer to last time. Alas, it seems that no one is listening to my prayers today as the same lady comes out and calls my name. Doh! She seems slightly more competent this time but still flusters at the beginning and just can’t seem to get her head around the simple fact that our twins have swapped places, so the one who is now our leading twin (the one nearest the birth canal) is actually titled “twin 2” while “twin 1” who USED to be leading has now taken a backseat. Again it takes a while to get what we need but at least we don’t have to do growth measurements this time. The Doppler readings look ok to me, and the amniotic fluid, although borderline for our leading twin, is acceptable so off I trundle home again.
Thursday. On getting back to my car after lunch with a friend there’s a voice message from our obstetrician on my phone. “Not too urgent but can you give me a call back.” Oh-o this can’t be good. I return his call and am transferred straight through to him. That never happens so now my heart is racing. Turns out it’s not so bad (I must have just caught him between patients) but it’s not good either. Apparently the Doppler scans show the blood flow to at least one baby is becoming compromised. While not urgent at the moment, this will require much closer monitoring so I’m booked in for twice-weekly visits to the Day Assessment Unit at the hospital. Not so convenient unfortunately as it’s 20 minutes drive away (rather than the 5 minutes to our usual scan place) AND I’ll have to pay for parking (exorbitant prices versus free). None of this matters though, as long as our boys are safe.
At each visit they’ll do a CTG to check out the boys heartbeats, a Doppler ultrasound to check blood flow, my Obs to keep an eye on blood pressure, and every fortnight (although realistically this probably means only one more) a growth scan ultrasound to measure the boys growth. Theoretically this should all fit into roughly an hour, yikes! Our obstetrician has booked me in at the Day Assessment Unit the following Tuesday (for CTG and fluid/blood flow check) and the next Friday (for CTG and a growth scan) – it’s all go and I cancel my pre-booked growth scan at our private radiology clinic (yay, no more useless sonographer!).
Friday. I’m not sure if it was the events of the previous day but one of our twins has decided not to really move for a good 24 hours. I’m sure everything is ok but it’s hard not to worry, especially with the ups and downs we’ve had lately, so eventually we call our obstetrician and head back to the Women’s Assessment Unit for some monitoring. I arrive pretty promptly and am hooked up to the CTG. Bee has still been quiet so I’m still stressing but of course within 10 minutes of the sensors going on he’s wriggling around like a fish. Typical. I feel bad for wasting everyone’s time but it’s better to be safe then sorry. My blood pressure etc. also look good so I’m out of there again just over an hour later. Talk about dramas!
The weekend is pretty uneventful and we truck through a few more of the things on the list in order to get the house ready. On Tuesday I head into the Day Assessment Unit for my first monitoring session. The fluid around each baby looks ok, still a little marginal for Bee but better than the scan we last had at our private clinic. The CTG is eventually fine too although it takes a while to find the two boys as the midwife (who I later find out is just helping out due to a busy day) is a bit hopeless…she actually blames her incompetence on me a little saying “it helps when the mother knows where the babies are” – um, you try having twins, especially ones who have already swapped places, and then let me know if you can tell me which way they’re lying! Anyway, the good midwife who usually runs the clinic manages to get the monitor to pick them up and after about 45 minutes (someone wouldn’t stop wriggling!) we have a reading. Although the scan report hasn’t come through yet I’m allowed to go knowing that our obstetrician will call later in the day with the results.
He does eventually call, the scan report took AGES to come through, and the rollercoaster hits a dip again. The fluid is marginal as we knew but it’s also looking like the blood flow to the babies might be becoming further compromised. I’m advised to skip breakfast on Friday and take my hospital bag in with me when I attend Friday’s monitoring session, just in case they need to do an emergency caesarian on Friday afternoon. Oh my god I’m not ready! I mean my hospital bag is pretty much ready to go but mentally I’m not prepared for the boys to arrive that early. At 35 weeks on that day I know they’ll be in reasonable shape but I have my heart set on getting them just a little bit further.
Turns out I needn’t have worried as Friday’s scan and CTG results are great. The boys are still measuring a little small for their gestational age, with one at approximately 1800g and the other around the 2kg mark (3lb 15oz and 4lb 6oz) instead of the recommended 2250g (4lb 15oz) but they’re not too far off. I ask our OB about the weight difference between the two but he’s not concerned. They only worry about a difference of 20% or more and that’s ours is only 10% so we’re ok. The fluid looks good – the boys have moved a bit allowing better fluid measurement (Bumble, although not the leading twin anymore, is head down, and Bee is breach, bum first) – and the blood flow looks fine too. The CTG takes only 15 minutes, it seems everyone is behaving today, and my obs are fine too. All in all a great result and a good day! Up goes the rollercoaster again.
And then it plummets once more when on Saturday evening I notice some tinting when I go to the bathroom and by Sunday morning I’m spotting again. Will this drama never end?!? It’s old looking and there’s not too much of it but my hubby suggests we call our obstetrician just in case, so we do. He’s not too concerned and thinks it’s probably just left-over from my last bleed 5 weeks ago. He’s happy for me to stay at home and keep an eye on it, especially given our latest monitoring results were good. I’m happy with that, I’ve spent enough time in that hospital lately and it won’t be too much longer before I’m back in there for the big event with just over two weeks to go until our scheduled c-section.
It turns out that time is actually much shorter than we anticipated. We have friends around for a Sunday afternoon tea and my husband’s phone goes with “No caller ID” displayed on the screen. He silences the call and goes to put the phone back in his pocket. “It might be N” (our obstetrician) I say so he ends up taking the call. I hear our obstetrician on the other end of the line confirming that it’s indeed him but then I hear no more. It’s torture to only hear half the conversation and I feel my skin prickle and my hands and feet sweat with nervousness. Our poor friends having to sit through me anxiously waiting to see what he has to say, I feel a bit rude but I can’t think straight until I know what’s up.
My hubby gets off the line and says “Friday.” My heart races. WTH?!? Apparently our OB has been reviewing our notes and with the spotting occurring this weekend he thinks it’s a good idea to pull our c-section forward to the next available elective slot this coming Friday. While I think that’s true I also think it has something to do with him being out of town on holiday the following week, secretly wanting to be the one to deliver our children (seeing as we’re his freakishly young USA donor egg patients – he’s never had anyone like us before) and not wanting to chance me needing a c-section from one of his off-siders while he’s away. He’s going to be on holiday the following week too but being back in the city was going to pop in to do our caesar on the 5th….see what I mean by I think he wants to deliver our babies!
Oh my gosh, I’m seriously sweating now and have gone into shock. Our friends think it’s funny and I guess it is. All that comes our of my mouth for the next wee while is “Oh my god” and various swear words, before I finally pull it together enough to return to a normal conversation. Our mates depart and I return to my panic. There’s still so much I want to get done before the boys arrive…not much that HAS to be done but definitely things I wanted to have crossed off my list purely for my piece of mind and satisfaction.
I start to work through the plan for the rest of the week and we let our parents and siblings know what’s going on. We decide not to tell our friends for the moment (other than the ones who were there when the news broke obviously, as there was no avoiding that), partially because it’s not guaranteed that the operation will go ahead on Friday – it depends on whether my scans continue to look good, on whether all the necessary staff line up, and whether there are spare beds for the boys in the hospital nursery (all things that will be confirmed later in the week), and partially because we want it to be a surprise for them. There hasn’t been much we’ve been able to surprise them with over this journey so it will be nice to be able to make the phone call/texts/emails that other ‘normal’ new parents get to make after the boys arrival.
Keeping it secret proves harder than I thought. Honesty is a value I hold dearly so feeling like I’m lying to my friends really grates me. I make a point of not outright lying to anyone as I just couldn’t handle that, but more skirt the tricky questions and answer in more general terms. “Next monitoring session on Friday?” gets a reply of “The Day Assessment Units monitoring days are Tuesday and Friday”, “Any chance they’d let you go longer if things are still really good a week from now?” gets “No, not a chance, our OB doesn’t want to risk anything.”, “Want to catch up next week?” = “Sure!” (I just won’t tell you it will be a catch up in hospital! I still feel bad doing this but for some reason I just need this to be a surprise.
I guess it’s a little to do with wanting to feel ‘normal’ and a little to do with buying ourselves some extra time to bond with the boys. I know how excited everyone is, how desperately many of them want to meet the twins, and understanding this (as well as being excited for them to meet the boys too) I know I would be hopeless at trying to delay people coming in. It’s a momentous occasion that hubby and I need to fully experience and accept without anyone else around. We’ve waited years for this.
The monitoring session on Tuesday goes well again; even more fluid around the boys (they’re obviously moving around), good blood flow, and a great CTG; and I think our obstetrician is slightly second guessing his decision to pull the c-section forward. In the end he decides it’s still the right call, we’re trading off a little extra prematurity (not too much at 36 weeks) for the boys arriving safely, and I tend to agree. The spotting isn’t really letting up, although it isn’t getting worse either, and I don’t want to risk anything going wrong at this late stage.
Following the monitoring session I’m booked into a pre-op admission session at the hospital across town so make the mad dash there for that. I meet with a nurse who measures my blood pressure (a little high from my dash across town), weight and height, and takes me through what I need to do the evening before and morning of my operation. Take a Ranitidine tablet (to reduce stomach acid) Thursday evening, nothing to eat after midnight, another Ranitidine on Friday morning, water only until I arrive at hospital, and be at the hospital day surgery unit (ORDA) at 8:30am. I can handle that.
Next I see the anesthetist. She’s not the one who will be there for my c-section but she performs all the checks and writes copious notes for the one who will be there on the day. She’s really lovely and walks me step-by-step through the operation including the people who will be there, how and when they’ll administer the anesthetic, what to expect in the operating theatre, and what will happen afterwards. She demonstrates how they find the correct place for the epidural/spinal and makes me feel better by commenting on how good my back is for finding the right spot. She details post-op pain relief, possible side effects, and likely length of hospital stay, and I leave feeling pretty comfortable about everything.
Blood tests on Thursday to check that I’m ready to go and to identify the details they’ll need should I require a blood transfusion in theatre, and all that’s left is to await the confirmation call from my obstetrician to let us know that it’s full steam ahead. My husband and I head out for a nice yum cha lunch (probably our last for a while) and to check out a part of our local museum that they’re closing down and was always my favourite when I was a child (on a sidenote for Aucklanders – can you believe they’re actually closing the Colonial Auckland exhibit?!? Especially after all these years!)
The call from our OB comes around 2:45pm and we’re still all up in the air. There’s one spare bed in the nursery but not two. This could of course change overnight, for better or for worse, so he’s going to call again tomorrow and give me an update then. So the ideal plan is no food after midnight and it all goes ahead as we hope but, failing that, he’ll admit me to hospital for daily monitoring and we’ll take the first slot we can once beds are free. Plan B is far from ideal but I guess it’s a matter of whatever’s best for the boys (lucky we didn’t tell everyone it was tomorrow!). I’m disappointed. I like the 25th of September as a date, and I’d really like our OB to deliver the boys before he goes on holiday, but whatever will be will be and I just have to roll with it. The rollercoaster’s not quite done with us yet.
I’m totally freaking out. We’ve just arrived home from an appointment with our obstetrician and, assuming we make it that far without me going into labour first, we have a birthday for our boys. I feel like I’ve taken some kind of illicit substance. My heart is pounding, my blood is pulsating, my head is running at a million miles an hour. I’m excited and nervous and completely overwhelmed all at the same time. Ok, I’m TOTALLY shitting myself and all of a sudden have cold feet.
Am I fit to be a parent? How can I be trusted with these two little people’s wellbeing? I don’t even feel old enough to look after myself sometimes! Am I too selfish to be a mum? What if I can’t do it? Will I be able to breastfeed? And how in the hell do you even pick up two babies at once?!?!
We’d received our pre-admission appointment paperwork in the mail last week (basically an appointment to meet the anesthetist and talk through any pre-op questions we may have) so we knew something was in the pipeline, but I still wasn’t entirely prepared for getting a birth date today. Our obstetrician has been so chilled out I guess I just thought it was still a while away….or maybe I didn’t, I guess I just hadn’t really thought at all.
So, after having that bombshell dropped on us at the beginning of the session he proceeded to take my blood pressure, which of course was sky high – Um hello! You’ve just told me when our babies will definitely be here by, of course my blood pressure’s going crazy! He waits a minute then takes it again and it’s dropped at little (145/87) but is still not ideal. I’m sure it’s just because I was excited (read ‘freaking out’) but it’s enough to switch me from a fortnightly to a weekly check-up.
Next he has a look at the boys. As previously mentioned, our scan last week was a bit of a concern with both boys growth rate having dropped off a fair bit. We talk him through some of the things our sonographer had said at the scan and mention that we didn’t have much faith in her. That seems to relieve him a little and when he measures the leading twin (who has actually been twin 2, or Bee, up until recently) he relaxes further as his measurements put Bee around 1900g rather than the 1400g the sonographer had measured. 1400g means only a 50g per week growth rate whereas 1900g is much closer to the 200g per week expectation. Unfortunately our other little munchkin was hiding up under my ribs so too hard to measure given the short timeframe of our appointment.
Our obstetrician gives us a quick run down of the c-section process – with one breech baby and one transverse baby it’s still a c-section regardless at this stage – and gives me forms for scans and blood tests. We’ll continue our fortnightly growth scans but are now adding in a weekly Doppler check to assess the blood flow/placental function and make sure the boys are still being nourished.
And then we’re done. We book in for a longer appointment with him next week to discuss our birth plan – something that will be somewhat different to a normal person’s given our current situation, but will give us an opportunity to chat through a c-section in greater detail and note down our preferences on the few things we DO have control over.
As we hop into the car to head home the reality begins to sink in and my ‘high on drugs’ and ‘totally shitting myself’ feelings explode. I need to get a grip or I’ll be sending myself into premature labour! Oh, and the magical date that’s caused this tailspin? Monday the 5th of October. In non-American date format that’s 5/10/15 which appeals nicely to my organisational (read OCD) tendencies. Ignore your mum’s freak-out boys, I really can’t wait to meet you…..but please not until the 5th of October.