Time for Another

the diary of our quest for baby number 2

The homestretch Monday 9 June 2008

It could be any day although the reality is more likely 4-8wks. We are ok for a home waterbirth from 37 wks (I’ll be 34 wks tomorrow) so I hope he hangs on until then. We have a small amount of decorating to finish before we finally get the flat on the market – I’m determined to have it for sale before we have this little fellow, because once he arrives, life will be manic and we’ll never get around to it.

Healthwise, I’m ok – we had a small scare a couple of weeks ago when I had a terrible headache and felt nauseous all day so we ended up paying a trip to the labour ward for monitoring. Thankfully pre-eclampsia was ruled out and we think it was probably just a migraine or virus. I’m now having fortnightly midwife appointments and last time we discussed what might be done with the placenta – I’ve been thinking more and more about this as the time comes to give birth. Initially I thought keeping the placenta was a bit gross, but the more time goes on, I think it would be nice to bury it with the twins’ cherry tree. It won’t be *just* the placenta but the twins will be part of it, along with their placenta – it’s some sort of closure for me to bury them together and have a resting place for them. Even though it’s still a bit freaky to think too hard about.  I’ve also had a call from the GPs counsellor who can fit me in for at least one session before my due date. I had wondered if I needed it, but now that it’s been offered, I feel it’s a good thing to go along. I’m definitely not over my grief and guilt of the reduction and in fact as I near the due date, the more it’s on my mind and I’ve had a few weepy moments. Interestingly over the weekend I ended up talking at length to a friend who initially I had thought would have reason to judge (she’s Catholic). However she was a great listener and seemed to understand that we’d been through hell and back and had considered every option possible before coming to the dreadful decision that we did. She told me of a quote from Richard E Grant about grief which goes something like this: ‘You never get over grief, but you do learn to walk around it’. That makes a lot of sense. 

And so as we reach those last few weeks, I’ve got my TENS machine ordered, hospital bag packed for me, baby’s one is prepared and needs putting in a bag (just in case of course!), vague plan of what to do with dd when things kick off, website bookmarked for the birth pool. Birth plan needs to be written up ready, a firmer plan for dd needs to be settled. The decorating needs to be finished and the flat on the market. But we’ll get there!

Other news: DD has potty trained successfully day and night – she’s taken to it like a duck to water, clearly it was the right thing to do to wait until she was ready. We attended our friends’ wedding over the weekend and it was great – beautiful weather, great service, lovely reception. I felt glamourous next to my handsome husband and dd looked so cute it was unbelievable!

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Breathing a sigh of relief Tuesday 15 January 2008

Filed under: 2nd child,bleeding,hospital,midwife,scan — timeforanother @ 12:57 pm

After a fretful weekend where the fluid loss continued with the browny coloured blood, we tried calling our local hospital and King’s to no avail. Our local hospital were very sweet but explained that because they don’t do the procedure or see the after results very often, they couldn’t advise if the fluid loss was normal. The number we had for King’s rang out – presumably it’s an office hours number.

I called King’s yesterday afternoon – I’d been putting it off in case I heard the worst, but a nice midwife told me it was hard to say what was normal, the best thing to do was to arrange a scan at our local hospital to check the fluid wasn’t coming from our remaining baby’s sac. K the amazing midwife arranged an appt for me for 10am today so it was just one night to get through. I’ve started to not want to go to bed and sleep as it’s usually in the middle of the night that the fluid loss happens.

So a tiny loss in the middle of the night, followed by hours of inability to sleep again. Shaking like a leaf and feeling sick, we get to the hospital and wait for 5 minutes. The sonographers are so lovely as we explain what we can. Almost immediately they find our baby and its heart is beating, arms and legs waving, bouncing around just like our dd did. Plenty of fluid around it and it’s grown another cm since Thurs. It looks like the fluid loss is from the other two – there is minimal liquid surrounding them now, and their placenta is quite close to my cervix which may explain the brown bleeding. It may also cause problems with delivery if it remains there, but it’s early days and may move or disappear in the coming months. At this point that’s the least of our worries. We hope to have a homebirth, but honestly if they have to cut my legs off to get this baby out, I wouldn’t care.

We are still seeing the consultant on Monday where he’ll scan again to make sure he’s happy with how things are progressing, and then we’ll discuss how to proceed with antenatal care. I still can’t quite get over how amazingly supportive they have been to us. We also have our 21wk scan booked for 14th March. So strange to think that will be our 6th scan when usually it would be our 2nd.

We have 4 beautiful pictures of our bouncing bean – the profile is so like our daughter – the exact same nose. I had been thinking it’s a girl but today I’m not so sure. Again, I don’t give a monkeys – funny how when I started writing this blog, it was partially to document whether we could actively try for a boy. How things change.

 

Thursday 10th January Monday 14 January 2008

I have to get this down, and as I’m as honest here as I am for real, it will not make the most pleasant reading. However it is what happened.

My MIL looked after our dd whilst I faffed around most of the morning before deciding to go for a swim. I managed about 3 lengths before becoming breathless – that’ll be the triplets then, sapping my energy and oxygen!! I took time to float in the blue and talk inwardly to my three babies. Nothing really specific but as much love as any mother feels for her children and sincere apologies about what was to happen. As I was swimming, the blue of the pool became out of focus so I couldn’t distinguish the bottom and it’s something which remained with me all day – ‘into the blue’ – that’s where my babies were going, into the blue, swimming and floating endlessly, happy and safe.

After a tearful phone conversation with my mum I got home to wash the chlorine out of my hair and put on some smarter clothes. Why the need to look smart I don’t know but it felt right. I realised when I got home that I had subconciously dressed all in black. I packed my bag with some fruit, my notes and a book then ordered a cab to get to the station. On the train, I wrote up our list of questions – one page for decision making, lots of ‘if this, then ???’ and a page for afterwards.

My husband met me at Victoria and we travelled the final stretch to Denmark Hill together. A grim, grey windy day – I couldn’t decide if it was apt or if I’d have felt more miserable if the sun had been shining.

We arrive at King’s College Hospital and find our way to Suite 9 of the Jubilee Wing. We wait. It’s hot and busy – lots of excited looking mums – some probably at the same stage as me, here for their nuchal scans, others much further down the line. We get called through for them to take my bloods, although because I’m expecting triplets, blood results are no use for diagnostic testing for Down’s etc. I told the guy this but he insisted that he had to take it. I’m phobic about needles and blood so blood taking is like pure torture for me and already stressed by the day ahead of me, I didn’t cope very well. It hurt like hell and I could feel him prodding the needle around – probably not helped by me wailing like a baby. He managed to get a tiny amount of blood but the lab needed more. So he began butchering my other arm instead. Thankfully not quite so painful but unpleasant nonetheless.

We then were called straight over to have the scan done. Before I even got to lie down on the couch, it became apparent that they thought I was having twins and when we explained, no it’s triplets (we’ve had 2 scans already) they told us that we’d have to go to another waiting area to wait for the better scanning equipment. He also said (as I thought) they needn’t have taken bloods. I burst into tears again- already the day was filled with small mistakes, how could it get any worse?

We headed down to the other waiting area where there were 2 other couples. They were called and seen and we were joined by others. They were called and seen. We waited. We were near the offices of the consultants and midwives so there was much to-ing and fro-ing from them. At one point a woman (doctor?) came out of one room and spoke to a man in scrubs “do you want to watch a baby being killed later?” she said to him. There was much joshing around about this, but we were appalled. How insensitive can you get? Not least for us who were considering the reduction but for any pregnant woman. I was furious and resolved to complain later.

After 2hrs waiting, we finally got called in. The sonographer was pleasant enough but kept asking “what do you want to do?” all we could say was we can’t keep three. The scan took time as they had to measure each one and use all the diagnostic tests available because they couldn’t combine with blood tests. Each of my babies was perfect. Everything in order, low nuchal fold measurements, heart beats, all limbs, stomach, brain, spine etc etc. Perfect. How can such good news be so crucifying? We were sort of hoping that the results would show a problem which might make deciding easier. But no.

We then wait for the Professor to come in. He arrives with an entourage of about 7-8 doctors (who we presume are research fellows). He puts things bluntly and tells us to put our questions away. Why can’t we keep 3? I feel like I’m being questioned for a crime, my mind goes blank and yet I know we’ve been over and over the how’s and how nots in the last week and a half. I feel scrutinised. He writes on a bit of paper the chances of miscarriage for keeping one, two or 3 of the babies – 15% for all between now and 23wks. Then a second set of percentages for risk of premature birth/disability/death for each ‘option’. 20-30% for 3, 10% for 2, 5% for 1. That’s it he says, that’s all you need to know.

We go and sit in a quiet room for 10 mins (we could leave our decision until next Tues but I don’t think you’d have got me back there – it’s now or never). I desperately want to keep the twins – it seems natural to want to keep as many as possible, but my husband ever the practical minded says the best outcome is to keep one and isn’t that what we decided? I guess it is but I’m blinded by my heart again. Despite this, we have to decide now. Against my every fibre we tell the doctor we ‘want’ (never has a word been so inadequate) to keep the singleton. I swear I get given a look that says ‘what? you’re getting rid of 2 out of 3 babies? do you know how rare it is for you to have even conceived them naturally?!’ My husband tells me that isn’t how it is, but already I’m judging myself and assume everyone else is too.

We go to another room and are told, the Professor is finishing another procedure so we’ll have to wait for him. They scan me again, give us the calculated risks of Down’s etc for each ‘fetus’. Typically, the twins have the lowest risk scores but the singleton is not anywhere near high risk. We try to ask about what is to be expected afterwards but keep getting dismissed with “if you get lots of heavy bleeding and pain, you are miscarrying, go to your local hospital” no mention of any ‘normal’ symptoms in the coming days. We wait some more. I ask about antibiotics to minimise the risk of infection. And yes, they will be doing that shortly. It takes me a moment to realise these aren’t goint to be oral, oh no, they want to stick it in my arm. Once again they attempt to use my left arm as it’s the one which at the time hurts the least, however there is pain and immense discomfort (more wailing and crying from me) – they decide that the veins in that arm are no use for injecting and so go for the right arm again. It hurts less but I am in a panic now and can’t stop sobbing. It takes an age for the stuff to be pushed in but finally it’s over. We continue to wait for the Prof.

He arrives and after a terse question about if we are certain, I’m told to lie down and stop crying, grip his arm and look away from the monitor. I’m vaguely aware that the entourage are surrounding the couch, silently filing in. My darling husband grips my other hand tightly and wipes tears from his eyes. It’s 7.45pm The needle? is pushed into my abdomen and through my uterus. It’s an unusual sensation, not painful but strange. My only analogy is threading raw chicken onto skewers. There is one moment where the feeling is really unpleasant and a moan out loud a little. I hear the Prof asking his assistant to put 2ml into the end – I guess this is the potassium chloride. Another couple of jabs and that’s it. About 10 mins in all. The Prof tells us, you have one baby. The entourage have silently filed out again, leaving me and my husband with one or two others. I sob uncontrollably and feel like the worst mother in the world and immediately filled with regret and remorse, that we have made the wrong decision. The doctor assisting gives me a big hug and tells me “you have made the best decision for you and your family”. By the time we come to a little (3mins?) the room is almost empty, the Prof has long gone. Again, we try to ask about the coming days and what to expect – any bleeding or fluid loss etc? but are again told about the miscarriage scenario. We go and sit in the quiet room again. The sofa in there is so old and saggy that to sit in it is really uncomfortable so I sit in the hard chair instead. There is an empty box of tissues on the side which just about sums up the place. We cry some more then try and get a grip, it’s done after all and there’s no going back.

After 30mins or so, we go back into the scan room where the check that our remaining baby is doing ok. We see it briefly and it is moving and it’s heart is beating. Already I miss seeing all three of them and I become aware that I can’t feel them move any more. They’d been going like crazy up until the reduction, and quite obviously they weren’t now. 12 wks is ususally far to early to feel movements so it’s going to be a few weeks yet before I can feel our little bean moving on it’s own. I’m overwhelmed with sadness once again. Once the 2 min scan has confirmed all is ok, we’re off. That’s it. Over.

It’s 8.30pm – we have been there 6hrs, mostly waiting. Physically it’s my arms which are hurting the most (not something I expected from the day!), mentally we are both drained. We get home at 10.30pm exhausted, all cried out. My tummy aches but I can’t bear to touch it. I just want to get through the coming days.

Now, nearly 4 days on, I’ve had 5 fluid leaks and continue to feel achey. Some days are ok, some I want to curl up and stay there. MIL took our daughter back with her for the weekend to give us some time together alone which was good, we missed her like crazy but we needed to take time for both of us. I’m desperately hoping that the remaining bean is a sticky one. We have been unable to find about what is normal after a reduction – the fluid loss bothers me although I know I’m not miscarrying. I’m surprised and disgusted that King’s didn’t give us any information about what to expect – my local hospital were lovely but didn’t have any ideas about what is normal as they don’t see reductions. Even if you have a tooth extracted at the dentist you usually come out with a checklist of what to expect and when to be concerned. But no, we’re left to our own devices, feeling as if what we’ve done is a dirty little secret.

Thank god for our fantastically supportive families and friends, and also the Yahoo support group Selective Reduction Loss Support group (invitation only). The staff at the Royal Sussex hospital have been amazing too, unlike their counterparts at King’s college hospital, who were at best capable of performing the reduction quickly, at worst, ineffecient, uncaring, crass.

To my darling twins, I hope you are safe in the blue. I love you so much and will never forget you. To my little bean, stay with us little one, you are very much loved. At least you’ll have a little more space to stretch your legs now.

 

An eventful Christmas, to say the least Tuesday 1 January 2008

Filed under: blood tests,christmas,hospital,MIL,miscarriage,morning sickness,nausea,triplets — timeforanother @ 1:59 pm

First off, Happy 2008!

And so to begin – it’s a long story with a very very unexpected ending.

To continue from my last post, the ‘morning’ sickness continues, although less heaving, just a general feeling of nausea almost constantly. Food is not very appealing, but once I start to eat, it usually goes down ok. Still no obvious cravings or dislikes (other than wine, which tastes incredibly sour). Still really tired all the time. Whilst shopping for last minute christmas presents, I felt really dizzy and lightheaded, to the point I thought I was going to pass out. Thankfully I didn’t, and went home by taxi, despite it only being a 5-6 minute walk – my legs had gone to jelly!

Christmas day was lovely and quiet with just the 3 of us. Great turkey dinner, great presents and one excited little girl. The next two days were spent with my MIL which was good, apart from sleeping on a very uncomfortable bed. Then it was a quick pitstop back to ours, then off on Saturday to my folks. We spent a lovely afternoon unwrapping more presents, playing with DDs Playmobil park and generally nattering about this and that. Apart from the usual tiredness and slight queasiness, nothing to report on the pregnancy side of things.

Woke on Sunday morning about 6am thinking, oh that feels a bit sticky. It took a few minutes to properly register this in my not-quite-awake state. Then I looked and there was blood over the sheet, and a reasonable amount of it. Immediate panic set in for me and darling husband. Mum has suffered 2 miscarriages so of course we think the worst and I go to tell her what’s happening. I have bad cramps in my lower abdomen which doesn’t fill me with confidence that this is just a common early pregnancy bleed. So, we’re away from home, my notes are not with me and we’re panicking. After a short time it’s decided that we go to the local A&E dept, so we do just that, driving in almost silence as we both try not to imagine what may or may not be happening.

A&E at 7am is very quiet, although they tell us it’s been crazy all night. The triage nurse is lovely and tells me she’s putting me at the top of the list (despite there being no-one else there!). We wait. Finally we see a doctor who looks shattered – it must have been coming up to the end of her shift. She isn’t terribly reassuring – bleeding quite possibly indicates a miscarriage but to be certain she will refer me to the local Early Pregnancy Unit around the corner in the Maternity Hospital where they will scan me to see what’s going on. “Be prepared to just go home and get on with it” is the general gist if I am miscarrying. She takes a blood sample “in case you need a transfusion” and I freak out as soon as she’s finished (I’m a complete baby when it comes to needles and blood), and the shock of what may be happening really kicks in. I don’t think I’d really realised how much I felt for this baby despite only being 10wks+5days pg. The thought of losing it fills me with a raw anguish and a desire to howl – primal noises seem appropriate when words cannot begin to describe the feelings going on. I try to keep it together a bit. My husband looks like a ghost and I don’t want to wonder what’s going on in his head – I feel guilty that the baby is in me and I might be losing it, even though I know it’s nothing I have done. Horrible.

More waiting. We finally get told that we can go along to the EPU drop-in clinic which runs from 10am-12 – get there around 9.30am to get seen quickly. So we drive back to Mum & Dad’s, have a coffee and a shower, then turn around and head back to the hospital. We follow a lady and her daughter all the way through the corridors to the waiting area – she’s literally 2 seconds in front of us! Much more waiting, staff arrive around 10.20am and begin setting up for us. We eventually go in and see a nurse who takes details and pretty much tells us the same thing. Bleeds are common but if it’s a miscarriage, you go home and get on with it. The scan will determine if there are any reasons for the bleed. More waiting, then we go in to the scan room. There are two females – one doing the scanning and one sitting in the corner at a PC. They both seem nice and friendly. I lie down, jeans unbuttoned and jelly rubbed on to my tummy – I’m shaking again, worried sick of the impending news.

They press quite hard with the scanning equipment, and the screen is facing away from me so I have no idea what they are seeing. We are told, “well the good news is there is nothing wrong” ie I’m not miscarrying, and there is no obvious reason to be bleeding. However, she says “Don’t worry” and calls over her colleague and they whisper and prod the screen and nod at each other. Darling husband, is still white and is staring at the scan monitor (I’m sure in reality this happened really quickly, but it seemed like hours lieing there). The next bit is a little unclear on the actual wording, but it went something like this:

Sonographer: OK, so do you want the news?
Darling Husband: It’s twins?
Me: Twins? No…
Sonographer: No not twins… Triplets
DH & Me: What? Fuck, shit etc etc
Sonographer: Look, here’s one, here’s the other and then here’s the third one.

I couldn’t see the screen very easily cos of the angle we were both at, but I saw 3 little beans all wriggling away. We’ve gone from preparing to be told we were losing (or had already lost) one baby, to discovering that in fact all was well and we have 3 babies.

They all measure CTR (crown to rump) 39mm which puts them at exactly 10wks +6days (one day older than my dates), all have steady heartbeats and are moving. Two appear to be in one sac with a thin membrane seperating them, and another is in it’s own sac. The sonographer was unable to tell us if that meant one identical set and one fraternal, but to know they are all ok was enough. We were given the scan pics which they don’t usually do so had to hide them from the other waiting ladies, and were also given a scan report. At the bottom of the report is says: Triplet pregnancy determined. There was another long wait to see the doctor before we could go home. I’m surprised the words didn’t burn off the page we stared at it so hard. Still shaking, slightly hysterical, laughing but utterly panicked for different reasons. What a morning.

Got home and told my parents and sister, Mum almost cried and generally had the same reaction as us – making terrible jokes but also thinking “OMG! How on earth do you begin to cope with 3 babies, with a toddler too?”

2 days later and we’re still in shock but getting to grips with it. We see a consultant at the local hospital on Monday and then have our 12 wk nuchal fold scan in London on Wednesday. Hopefully we’ll be given lots more information and we can decide what on earth we’re going to do. The internet has little information on this subject, but then again, with only 159 triplet births in the UK last year (there were over 10,000 twin births), I suppose it’s not a surprise.

So there you are. We’re having triplets. 3 babies. In one go. We had only wanted one more to make our family complete – what is it they say? The best laid plans…