Category Archives: Pregnancy

For my Bees

We waited for Bumble and along Bumble came,
Bringing a friend to mop up the pain.
The days and the nights of heartache and tears,
Of treatments and theories and unspoken fears.
Like tipped dominoes we watched them all fall,
As others were taken to the pregnancy ball.
How desperately we wanted to join in that group,
To be smothered in cuddles and goobies and poop.
My sweet Bumble Bees if only you knew,
How grateful we are to finally have you.
Ignore all the hormones, they’re only here for a while,
They’ll all disappear first sign of your smiles.
I know we’re the lucky ones, far from the front line,
Holding these babies who are finally mine.
Can’t wait for the future to see how you grow,
And come back to us smiling grandbabies in tow.
Don’t hurry to get there it’ll happen too soon,
But I’ll never forget how we’re now over the moon.
It was worth all the struggle, the heartbreak and pain,
We waited for Bumble and along you both came.

The day we’ve all been waiting for…

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!


The final countdown

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.


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!

 

 

 

 

 

 


Give us a break!

So I’m bawling again. Damn whoremones. I’ve just finished watching a BBC piece on IVF, on Louise Brown (the first ever IVF baby), and on future children born through this process. It’s really hit a nerve. I’m just so grateful that this treatment was developed, that it’s become common place, that technology has continued to develop, and that we’re fortunate enough to now be expecting our little miracles, all because of science.

I’ll forever be thankful to everyone involved in our treatment and to everyone who has gone before, paving the way for the multitude of infertiles desperate for a family.

At one point in the piece they work through comments from viewers and of course there’s a good old negative nelly amongst them. “IVF is selfish when so many kids need adopting.” It’s hard not to get angry or upset with views like this but I find the further through our process we’ve come the better I’ve got at dealing with it. I now feel a little sorry for people holding an anti-IVF view, especially when it comes to the adoption piece. They’re just uneducated on the topic, it’s really not their fault, and I need to remember that.

The majority of the time it’s not a personal attack and if many of them knew the facts around IVF and around adoption, they wouldn’t hold this view. Of course there’s always some for whom it’s “unnatural” or whatever but hey, you can’t win ‘em all.

Personally IVF saved me and saved my sanity. I honestly cannot imagine a life without children – I know for some the childfree life is their dream, but not for me. At multiple times throughout our journey the thought of staring down the hole of a lifetime of childlessness has almost been too much, and the fact that I now have the chance to have a family, through utilising the IVF process, is a total mindsaver.

Of course we considered other options, a genetic relation to our child or children wasn’t a deal-breaker for us. We looked seriously into adoption and were working our way through the adoption process when we had our successful IVF treatment but with only roughly a 5%-10% chance of being able to take home a child through adoption here, the chances of this happening for us were pretty slim.

It also always baffles me that people call us IVFers selfish for trying IVF instead of adoption. Why aren’t they saying that to every pregnant or parenting person out there? Surely if IVF is selfish then so is a “normal” conception! Why are you creating another child when there are supposedly (although not in reality) so many children out there needing homes?!? Surely what holds true for one should hold true for all in this sense.

The other major argument that gets bandied about a lot is that it’s not natural but really, what’s not natural about it? All it is is sperm and egg meeting, just as it would in a human body when all parties involved have ‘normally’ functioning body parts. All that changes is the setting that this meeting of sperm & egg occurs in. Of course there are variations on this, just as there are variations on the types of infertility, but if you boil it down to pure basics it’s sperm and egg meeting, bonding and implanting in a woman’s uterus. There’s nothing unnatural about that.

“But it’s not what [insert name of religious/spiritual being here] intended.” Now personally I’m not a religious person so I can’t identify with this statement, not that I would be able to even if I was religious, but if that’s what you truly believe then:

If it’s not [insert name of religious/spiritual being here]’s desire for us infertiles to be able to have children via IVF then why did he/she/it allow IVF to develop?

If this scientific development that allows couples to have children is against [insert name of religious/spiritual being here]’s will then surely this theory must hold true for all illnesses/diseases/accidents. Cancer patients shouldn’t get chemotherapy or other life-saving treatments, people in accidents shouldn’t be given medical care to enable them to survive, in fact any person requiring medical treatment shouldn’t be able to receive it – if it’s [insert name of religious/spiritual being here]’s desire that these people have these issues and can’t recover or live normally without medical assistance then why should they be given that medical assistance.

But infertility is not life-threatening? Neither are a high percentage of things that people go to the doctor for. Should people be refused antibiotics or other medications because their illness isn’t life-threatening and their body might recover on it’s own? If your answer to this is “No” then how can you possibly answer “Yes” to the same question applied to infertility? Infertility is almost always caused by a medical condition or issue which stops a couple from able to conceive (and I say “almost always” here because in a very VERY small percentage of cases it’s just bad luck and a couple will go on to conceive if they just keep trying. But that is by far the minority.)

Now of course there will be some people who answer “Yes” to the above questions and it’s ok that you hold a totally different opinion to my own but please, PLEASE, do not force your opinions onto me or call me names. Just as I’m happy for people to believe in whatever religion they choose, the second that these beliefs start negatively impacting on others who don’t share the same ideals those opinions become harmful, and intentionally harming others just isn’t cool. No one’s making you do IVF if you don’t believe in it but please don’t condemn others who feel it’s the path they need to follow. By all means express your opinion but don’t degrade, name-call, or try to force other people to conform to your beliefs. I’m expressing my opinion here on this blog but I’m not forcing you to read it and I’m not forcing you to change your beliefs, merely asking you to give a break to others who hold differing views.

IVF is allowing me to have a family, one I would more than likely not be able to have through other means, and for that I am truly grateful regardless of anyone else’s opinion.


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