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.


Not so hospitable

After a fitful, anxiety-ridden sleep (can I even call it sleep?!?) I’m officially awake and it’s time for obs again before starting on my breakfast….it’s not that bad, toast and cereal, but with a bit of a dairy intolerance at the moment chowing down on cornflakes and milk is far from ideal. I’m super hungry though so I do….boy will I regret that later! Halfway through breakfast I’m told I’m supposed to be in a scan, they’re sorry but they’ve only just found out. I throw on my slippers and head down the hospital to the ultrasound area.

It’s very weird sitting there in my scabby tights and jumper that I’ve slept in, with slippers on my feet, while ‘normal’ people come and go in their day-clothes for their 12 and 20 week scans. I feel revolting. At least there’s one other lady in wheelchair and hospital gown in the waiting room, so I’m not the only one there looking out of place. Weird that that should be the case in a hospital but it is, at least in the time I’m waiting.

Eventually I’m called through, not sure why I needed to rush, and I get an earlier than planned growth scan on the boys. The sonographer is lovely (thank goodness because I’m a little emotional) and so is the trainee she has working with her. They start on twin one and the first thing I see is his heartbeat, I let out a massive breath that I don’t even realise I’ve been holding. Every time I go in to a scan I fear that one day we won’t see that little beating heart, a constant terror that this could all be taken away from us, especially when it feels like we’re getting so close.

They work through his measurements and it makes me feel a little sick to the stomach when I see 24w3d pop up down the bottom. That’s too small, he should be 26 weeks now. After being bang on track at the last scan he’s dropped behind. I swallow my fears and wait as they work through the rest of his scan. Other than his measurements being smaller than they should be everything looks ok, blood flow looks good, and there’s no obvious source of bleeding from this side. Onto twin two.

Again the anxious wait for heartbeat (it seems so silly when I’ve been feeling both of them move, just another one of those irrational fears I guess) and there it is, twin two is alive and kicking (so to speak) too. I breathe another sigh of relief. They start on his measurements and again he’s measuring a bit behind. Not quite as much as twin one, twin two is at 25w2d but still behind. That good old feeling of failing as a mother begins to creep in again, better get used to it, it won’t be the last time. On the plus side, everything else looks fine here too – blood flow, fluid quantity, and no obvious sign of a cause for bleeding – phew! At least both our boys are ok.

The sonographer tries to get some 3D pics of the boys faces but, same as last time, there’s not enough fluid around that area, so we settle for a couple of 2D ones instead. She then leaves the room to process everything and lets her trainee have a play. It’s the first time this woman has ever scanned a pregnancy and she’s scared. “I’m so nervous” she says. It’s cute. I tell her that she can’t do anything wrong and to just “go wild”, I’ll tell her if she’s pressing to hard or anything. She’s super gentle and I can see her getting excited when she manages to capture each section. “I could do this all day” she says, “I could watch this all day” I reply. Anything to see my wee boys wiggling around! Eventually the scan is over and I head back to my room clutching my two precious images tightly.

After reviewing my scan the docs decide that I’m definitely to stay for the weekend. If all goes well I should be allowed to go home on Monday but they want to keep a close eye on me and the boys to make sure the bleeding stops and that everything is ok. I’m gutted to be missing my weekend but I’m glad to be here where I know the boys are getting well looked after.

The next few days pass in a blur of obs, dopplers, interrupted sleep, and bad food – which seems to get progressively worse over the three days. Sunday night’s dinner which I thought would be the best of the bunch, being vegetable frittata, gourmet potatoes (basically meaning they’re whole baby potatoes rather than reconstituted mash), roasted kumara (sweet potato), and Asian vegetables, turns out to be so inedible (potatoes and kumara raw in the middle, Asian veges so overcooked they’re grey on the plate – and I don’t know where the ‘Asian’ comes in as it’s just boiled carrot, celery, and beans with no sauce or anything – and a square of jelly-looking powdered egg with a couple of chunks of carrot in) that after a few mouthfuls I make hubs go and buy us burgers. I have no idea how people actually managed to get well in hospital eating this rubbish non-nutritious food. Note to self: bring own food in if ever admitted again.

My obs constantly come back perfect, the boys (despite being rascals at times and hiding from the machine) Doppler results are spot on, and the bleeding eases back to old-blood spotting. I’m still scared the boys are going to come early but our prognosis moves from “they may come tonight/this weekend” to “they shouldn’t come in the next 10 days” to “A realistic aim is 32 weeks” to “I’m confident we can get you to 34 weeks” so I begin to feel better. Honestly, I’d be happy with anything over 30 but obviously, if I can, I’d love to get them all the way to 37. Baby steps. My next goal is 28 weeks.

Monday morning rolls around and I’m given the all clear to go. Thank goodness. While I had plenty to do I hospital (all that reading and blogging I’d planned on doing never really eventuated what with all the visitors etc.) and I never got bored, I’m ready to go home. My obstetrician is back on duty at the hospital Monday so I have a chat to him. He reassures me that things aren’t as bad as initially thought and we just need to monitor the difference in the boys growth as well as their small size. He books me in for another growth scan at my regular radiology centre and tells me I can leave as soon as the hospital docs give the all clear (officially I’m under their care so they’re the ones who have to check me out and let me go).

Next I get a visit from the midwife who says the ward docs will be around soon but that I should be good to go and to call my husband to collect me. The ward docs never show – this new team on duty is REALLY disorganised and nowhere near the well-oiled machine that looked after me over the weekend (go Team Orange! Boo Team Green!) Eventually the midwife returns and tells me they don’t want to see me as my obstetrician already has, and to just leave. I remind her again that I need a prescription for iron tablets, which she brings me, and I make a run for it. I’m totally exhausted, having barely slept a wink the night before and gladly spend the next day and a half in bed resting and napping. Please stay put my little monkeys!


25 weeks, 6 days

It’s been a good week. As previously mentioned, work is busy but at least that’s keeping me occupied, our house is slowly getting back into a somewhat tidy state which is nice, I also had a great pregnancy yoga class on Tuesday, followed by a great dinner out with my in-laws on Wednesday. A busy week but a good week.

Thursday rolls round and I’ve got another dinner planned with the girls from work for Thursday night. I can’t wait! For once we can all make it (something that is highly unusual for the group of six) and we’re going to a fab restaurant after drinks (non-alc for me of course) in the work bar. And then disaster strikes. I head down to the bar to meet the girls just before 6pm. Nip to the loo before settling down, and there’s a bit of blood in my underwear. Not a huge amount but enough to give me a bit of a fright and dash into one of the meeting rooms to call my hubby.

OK, I admit it, I’m starting to freak out a little. We’ve come so far, surely it can’t all turn to shit now can it? Of course it can, but I’m trying hard not to dwell on that. My hubs tries to call his Mum (a GP), no luck, then finds me the number for our obstetrician so I can call them. Of course it’s only just outside office hours and I end up with the after hours service, on the phone to some poor clueless call centre person who asks me how to spell “spotting”, I mean really?!?! And can’t give me any indication of when I can expect a call back from my OB…..I don’t want an exact time, just a will it be tonight or am I waiting anxiously until morning, that kind of thing.

I’ve let slip a few tears, I’m so so nervous. I need our boys to be ok, I already love them so so soooooo much! Luckily my OB phones back almost straight away. He’s thankfully back from holiday and is on duty at the public hospital tonight. He asks me what’s been going on, what the bleeding is like, and other symptoms. He says just to keep an eye on it, bleeding is reasonably common with twins, and to call back straight away if anything else happens. Phew. He doesn’t sound too concerned so I try to relax a bit and look forward to dinner out.

I stop quickly by my bag (which is sitting with the girls in the bar), trying to hide my tear-stained face, and head back to the bathroom to try and clean myself up. I don’t make it there unnoticed and one of my buddies knocks on the door of the bathroom soon after I enter to make sure I’m ok. I let her know what’s going on, trying unsuccessfully not to shed a tear. We chat for a bit and I promise I’m ok, but halfway through our conversation I feel that horrible sensation of something leaking out of me (sorry TMI). “I’ll just go pee,” I say “and then I’ll be out to join you.” She leaves and I hurriedly close the door, quickly pulling down my pants to have a look. There’s a heap of blood.

It’s dark and old looking but I’m totally freaking. I put myself back together and rush back to the meeting room to call after-hours again. I don’t mess around this time “I just called before for Dr W, can you please get him to call me urgently.” I can’t believe this is happening. Hang in there my darling boys, you have no idea how much I want you, how much I need you, just not in the outside world right now….in fact, ideally not for another 11-12 weeks!

Dr W returns my call and I’m told to come in to hospital to be checked out. A quick chat to my hubby and he’s on his way to collect me, there’s no way in hell I’m driving myself there. I return to the girls to wait for hubs, let them know what’s going on, and try to remain upbeat. Looks like we’re not all going to make it to dinner tonight after all.

Hubs arrives just before 7pm and I wish the girls a great dinner, making them promise to order my favs, before heading off. It’s an anxious, but luckily not too long a drive to the hospital. We’re not quite sure what to say to each other, too scared to discuss what this could (but hopefully doesn’t) mean. We make our way to the Women’s Assessment Unit and I spot our OB sitting out back behind the reception desk. Someone’s just given our room away (first in first served) so we’re whisked into a shared room with visiting family and children before being redirected to a different, rarely used room around the corner. It looks like it’s almost set up for deliveries which, although I know isn’t intended for us, is a little freaky.

I’m glad they’ve found us this other room, despite being overflowing tonight, as the check-up isn’t pleasant. First we get a scan of the boys, which is great. They seem fine regardless of my bleeding. I’m then switched to the next bed over where Dr W performs an internal exam on my cervix. Ouch. “It’s a little like a smear test,” he says “only there’s more discomfort when you’re pregnant.” He’s not wrong. Initially it’s just a little uncomfortable but then, as he examines further inside it gets down-right painful and starts to remind me a little of my hysteroscopy. Admittedly it’s not as excruciating as that was but it does hurt and in a similar way. At least that hopefully means I’ve still got a tight cervix. Yep, it’s still closed. Phew! That means the twins aren’t on their way immediately.

So what DOES it mean? Well, there’s no obvious cause of the bleed, but they think it’s either a little blood coming from the cervix or the placental edge. It’s mostly old blood so that’s a good sign too. What’s not a good sign is that it’s happened at all. Although bleeding IS common amongst twin pregnancies, having bleeding at 26 weeks could be a sign that our twins will come earlier than we’d like. There’s initially talk that they could potentially arrive this weekend but post-exam this is scaled back to “they shouldn’t show up in the next 10 days or so” and “we just need to keep an eye on it over the weekend and see how we go”. And just like that I’m admitted into hospital.

While waiting for a bed on a ward I’m given a steroid injection in my butt (ouch that stuff is thick!) to try and boost the boys lungs, and therefore their chances, just in case they do make an early appearance. I’m knackered and after shedding a few tears (still absolutely terrified for our gorgeous boys) I close my eyes for a while. And then an orderly turns up and I’m wheeled over to Ward 96. It feels very odd being in a wheelchair but with the tightening in my stomach at that point in time even the walk to the chair is difficult.

It’s somewhere approaching 9pm by this stage and I’m ravenous. I’m also shivering and exhausted. Too much stress and anxiety in too short a time period. It’s almost like I’m in shock, and I guess I am. A lovely midwife, H, gets me checked into the ward, shows me around, takes my weight and gets me settled into a bed. Next she does my obs and we finally get to hear our babies heartbeats for the first time ever (our obstetrician’s machine never has any batteries in it). It’s beautiful, our little boys are in there and going strong. It’s amazing how every extra little piece of information, each little experience along this pregnancy road, makes them so much more real, so much more human, and so much more ours. I can’t even begin to express how much I love them already, it makes me well up just thinking about it.

Once all the necessary procedures are done and dusted my hubby heads of home to grab me some things and to nab something for me to eat. I rest my head and try not to worry about things that won’t necessarily come to be. It’s hard though, I’ve been so determined to get these boys to 37 weeks (or anything mid-thirties onward) I’m not mentally prepared for them to arrive now at 26 weeks. I know if they were to show up now they’ve got a good chance of survival and a normal life – my niece was born around this time and she is now a lively, boisterous, and beautiful seven year old – but I’m really not ready for them to enter the world just yet. I’ve only just had the chance to start enjoying this pregnancy, I LOVE feeling them move inside me, bonding with them, and I don’t want to give that up yet, not when it’s potentially at a detriment to their quality of life.

Hubs is back with my things and some burgers, which we scoff before he heads home again, and I’m left alone with my thoughts and a very broken and anxious sleep until morning. What a never-ending rollercoaster this is turning out to be.


Time for an update

Wow! Time is flying so fast! I can’t believe it’s a month since my last blog post. Things have been super busy both at work and at home and, with me feeling like bed around 8pm every night, there hasn’t been much time for writing. It’s definitely time for an update!

I’m back to eating most foods…well, not quite most – I still struggle a lot with any form of dairy, and raw food isn’t so good either, but as long as I’m avoiding the lactose and eating warm foods I’m doing really well on the eating front and am putting on weight (finally). I have to say I actually look forward to dinner-time now!

We’ve made it to (and past) the 24 week viability milestone – YAY! So at least I can relax a little knowing if the boys decide to arrive now, they have a pretty good chance at surviving and living a ‘normal’ life. Another bit of the massive weight on my shoulders falls away. People laugh when I say “I just need to get to/past x and I’ll relax” – “you’ll never relax” they say – but I find as we pass each little milestone I chill out just that little bit more, knowing that we’re one step closer to our long-held dream being realised.

We’ve also started setting up our nursery which, being an infertile in denial that this is actually happening to us, is a massive deal! We finally, after much drama, have two cots that we like; we purchased one second hand then tried to buy another from the same site to match, only it was sold under the wrong model name so didn’t match at all….something we would normally complain about, only the second cot was the style I’d really wanted right from the beginning of our TTC journey so we decided to sell the first cot and buy another to match the second cot. We tried to find one on the same buy-and-sell website but couldn’t, so made the decision to just buy it new as I’d found a good deal at one of our local shops.

Very excitedly we purchased our new cot and took it home, only to find that the company had decided to change the design of the model, so despite the fact that it still had the same model name, it now looked different and our cots STILL didn’t match! Tired and emotional (hey! I’m pregnant I’m allowed!) I threw in the towel and told my husband to just go and buy another new one and we’d sell BOTH the second hand cots. We’ve managed to get rid of one and are still in the process of selling the other. What a stressful, expensive, and time-consuming exercise that turned out to be. I wish I’d just bought them new to start with!

Our nursery also now contains a change-table (bought with a voucher my husband was given upon leaving his job of 11 years to start another and which luckily matches our cots, woohoo!), a bouncer (gifted from a friend who no longer needs it), a cool little canvas toy bag (bought from a local baby market), books, our stroller, one of our car capsules (one is still on order from the supplier), and various other bits and pieces lovingly donated by friends. We also plan to pop an armchair in there for the night-time feeds and/or story-time as they grow. Everything is slowly coming together….now to get onto the truckload of washing I have to do for them and load up the wardrobe!

As I mentioned at the start of this post, work has been really busy, so much so that I haven’t really had any time to work on/complete my handover notes. At least I’ve started them though so that’s something, and they’ve appointed someone to take over from me for 13 months which is great! I need to get cracking on the notes as my handover officially starts in two and a half weeks, with me finishing up work in four and a half, EEK!

The hectic nature of work at the moment, while great from a mental perspective, is becoming quite challenging physically. I find I’m getting really tired by early- to mid-afternoon, and am absolutely exhausted by the time I get home at night. This isn’t helping much on getting stuff done around the house as I basically arrive home, collapse on the couch for an hour while my hubby makes dinner (yep, I’m one of those lucky girls who doesn’t have to cook), eat, then hop into bed somewhere around 8pm. It’s crazy. The guys at work have been really understanding though and are letting me work more flexible hours. This means I can come in a bit later in the morning or leave a little earlier in the day without too much bother. I still need to get my work done though so I can’t do that all the time!

The last thing worth mentioning from the last 4 weeks or so is that I’ve really started loving my body. Not that I didn’t before, it’s just that being someone who’s conscious of their weight, I was always a little worried as to how I’d react as my tummy grew bigger. After our long journey to get pregnant I knew I be happy regardless, but what’s surprised me in a positive way is just how insanely happy I am to watch my tummy grow and how excited I am that this weight gain and expanding middle is our lovely wee boys growing away inside me. Not to mention feeling their little kicks and movements getting stronger all the time! It’s way more exhilarating than I could ever have imagined and I LOVE IT!!!

So that’s pretty much it, weeks 22 to 26 (well, 26 in two days time). Things are slowly beginning to feel more real, we’re slowly starting to get more organised, and I’m loving life! After 4 years of heartbreak and failure, this is one of the best feelings ever.


Progress

22 weeks now and the morning sickness has nearly entirely gone. There are still certain foods and drinks that will set me off, and certain things I’m averse to eating (still no cravings yet), but on the whole I’m feeling a million times better than I was even two weeks ago.   I’ve started exercising again, with my first pregnancy yoga class (TOTALLY different to the yoga I’m used to doing) last week, and I’ve purchased a flutter/kick board so I can take up swimming too.

My belly has well and truly started to show now and seems to increase by the day, which is just awesome! The boys are also reasonably active and I’m absolutely loving feeling them move inside me. In fact, I can almost say I’m enjoying being pregnant at the moment. It’s amazing what getting rid of nausea and vomiting will do! Combined with the reassurance of a growing belly and movement of course. If I could just kick the last of the food/drink issues this would be fantastic!

After four years of TTC failure I’m still battling with the emotional side of being pregnant. I’m almost constantly terrified things will go wrong, and still get upset by other people’s ease of conception…don’t even get me started on pregnancy announcements. It’s not that I’m not happy for others, and I’m certainly grateful for the position we’re currently in, but the wounds of infertility run deep and it will take a long long time to get to the point where my scar tissue is thick enough to withstand the pain of witnessing something that theoretically should have come easily for us.

I’ve started actively listening to music again and after months of not singing at all, I’ve resumed my habit of singing along to songs (mostly as I drive around). I’ve been playing a fair few songs off my ‘infertility soundtrack’ and funnily enough they still make me cry – like I said, the wounds run deep. What has surprised me is that other songs (such as Netsky’s remix of Skream’s ‘Anticipate’), which I thought would make me smile, now also make me cry. Bloody whoremones.

On the home front we’ve started getting things organised (albeit very slowly) for the boys arrival. Clearing out cupboards and other storage areas to make room for the copious amounts of baby paraphernalia that seems to accompany having children, and sorting other household things into more logical areas to not only make more space but to get a head start on making the house safer for young children – yes, I know we’re a wee way off having to worry about that but I figure we won’t have a lot of time on our hands once the boys arrive.

We’ve 95% decided on first names. They both start with the same letter, which was something we were trying to avoid, but after completing the name battle (writing all our name options down, selecting two names at random out of a hat, and each voicing an opinion on the name we liked better – if we both agreed the losing name was thrown out, if we disagreed the names went back into the hat to do battle with another name) these were the two names we both liked best. Even better, they’re still our preference nearly a month down the track – as someone who gets bored easily, finding names we’d continue to like was always a worry…hopefully they keep on lasting!

We’ve joined the local Multiples Club, attended a new parents evening to learn what they do, and been matched with a ‘multiples buddy’ (another member of the club with older twins who can help support us through both pregnancy and the early days) through them. It was on our buddies advice to “get that nursery ready!” that we’ve started buying some more of the things we’ll need for our bubbas arrival. We’ve got two cots (friends are lending us Moses baskets for the early days), a change table, a double stroller, and various other bits and pieces.

We’ve opted for a mixture of new and second hand, and have HEAPS of hand-me-downs from friends and family too. After test-driving a friend’s in San Diego, I’d decided on our stroller before we’d even got pregnant, so that was the one thing I didn’t want to compromise on. Unfortunately for us you can’t get them in New Zealand so after a bit of plotting, planning and some well timed luck in the form of a work conference in Australia, I managed to get one delivered to our office in Sydney and collected it when I went over for work. After trying to wrestle three large boxes from the storage area to the lifts, I eventually admitted defeat, set the thing up in the middle of the office, then commenced my “crazy lady” act by wheeling an empty stroller through half a kilometre of Sydney’s CBD to my hotel.

Another thing we did was sign up and go along to a workshop on sustainable parenting, which was absolutely fantastic! The environment and sustainability are things we give a shit about and, although we’re not total greenies, we do try to do our bit (reusing, recycling, composting etc.) to help out. Anyway, this workshop was right up my alley. The first half focused on cloth nappies, something I’m determined to try and use at least a little bit despite most of the people I know laughing at and attempting to discourage me. Even if I just use a few a week it’s still less disposables that end up in a landfill.

It’s been interesting all the people who have poo-pooed the idea of us using cloth nappies, especially with twins. I’m under no delusions, I know it will be tricky at times and will require extra washing etc. but you know what? If people actually read the instructions of disposable nappies they’d realised they’re supposed to empty out their contents before throwing them away (yes, you’re supposed to flush that poop down the toilet before those nappies go in the bin, because honestly, human excrement in a rubbish bin? Would you take a dump in your trash can?!?). And if you’re going to do that then there’s not much difference between chucking the diapers in your garbage and popping them in a bucket for one extra load in the washing machine.

Anyway, we learned all about landfills and how they work (and funnily enough it’s not the pretty 1970’s idea of the dump that most people have in theirs head – you know, where it’s safe to stroll around and drop stuff off, or maybe pick stuff up if you’re that way inclined. Real landfills are toxic wastelands where nothing ever discomposes). We were then taught about the different types of cloth nappy there are, how they evolved, and the pros and cons of each. And finally, the last half of the seminar focused on the various ways we can reduce our waste production and packaging consumption, and a few different products that are available to help us do that.

The nice thing was that the workshop wasn’t sponsored by anyone (other than our local council – supporting their goal to be waste free by 2040) so there was no pushing of products or brands, it was just a display of, and interaction with, the things that the presenter (The Nappy Lady) had come across in her day-to-day life that had personally helped her reduce waste. And on top of all the stuff we learned, we were given packs of cloth nappies (three different types) to keep. It was a great session and I’d recommend it to anyone who has a chance to go, parents or otherwise. You can check the sessions out at www.thenappylady.co.nz.

Waste reduction, organisation, connections, decisions, and expansions. 22 weeks now and things are looking up. 2 weeks left until “viability”. Hang in there boys, we got this.

 

A snippet of the ‘Anticipate’ lyrics that have been making me cry recently:

I can’t wait to meet you
And I know and I know
I’ll have to learn how to teach you
I need to let the fool in me go
I’m gonna work like crazy
Give you everything you need
Build the world that you will see
I will see you soon
I will be waiting at the other end
Take your time coming through
You will never have to do this again
I will show you all
Lessons I´ve learned will have to guide
I’ll come running when you call
But for now, just stay inside

 

 

 


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