Time for Another

the diary of our quest for baby number 2

30wks tomorrow Monday 12 May 2008

Another milestone about to be reached. Although 8-10wks to go still sounds like a long wait. We must start practicing the Hypnobirthing techniques, particularly as the course was so brilliant this time around. I’ve organised a basic hospital bag (something I didn’t do last time), know which birthing pool to order, have got the carrycot bit for our Xplory, washed all clothes and sheets and all we have to do now is find a name for the Wriggler. We hope that seing him a bit more clearly at the 4D scan on Friday will help a little, although he usually behaves very coyly at scans.

Not sure if it’s the heat but he has barely stopped moving over the last couple of days, which is nice in some ways but also quite tiring. I nearly fainted in the kitchen yesterday – just because it’s hot and the oven was on. DH came to the rescue 🙂 Today my hands and feet feel swollen and tight and all I really want to do is lie in the cool and sleep; the chances of that happening are about as good as odds on pigs doing a fly-by passed the window!

Can’t remember when I last posted or in fact what I posted… so sorry if I repeat myself. I got signed off from my consultant last Tuesday as the pregnancy is all developing as it should. It’s only really in my head where the ‘problem’ lies. I still can’t shake off my feelings of deep guilt and sadness about the twins. There isn’t a day goes by where I don’t think about what we did and whether it was the right choice. There are now at least two ladies on Bounty who have announced triplet pregnancies (and of course, they are going ahead) and I can’t help myself but read their stories. A tiny bit of me wants to hear that things don’t work out which is pretty sick to admit, but if they are successful, it’s just another smack in my face, proving that it can be done, and relatively easily.

We got around to buying a cherry tree the other week, and the recent sunshine has seen it sprouting lots of greenery on an otherwise lifeless looking stick. Signs of spring with bittersweet undertones.

Decorating has been more off than on, but the carpenter and his dad came back today and finished hanging the doors and sorting out of the laminate floor edging (well, some of it). Also, the underfloor heating which we installed at least 3yrs ago, is finally connected to the electricity supply. On the hottest day of the year so far. There must be some irony in that. Our latest plan is to sell up asap, pay off our debts, hopefully keep a chunk of money for a deposit, then rent for 6mths-1yr locally. It doesn’t matter then if prices rise, fall or stay the same – we’ll still be in a better position than when we started out, despite not having the flat as an asset. Initially a little scary, but the more we talk it through, the more appealing it seems. Plus, we’re planning a 3wk holiday over Christmas and New Year, somewhere warm, with a kids club so we can escape the usual shenanigans, and be somewhere far away from the memories that will surely return as the anniversary of discovering the triplets approaches.

Enough for tonight, time to sleep.

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Monday 14 April 2008

Filed under: facts,life sentence,multiples,potty training,reduction,scared,triplets — timeforanother @ 1:54 pm

I came across this (found here) today and it’s probably the first time I’ve actually seen some statistics written anywhere other than in medical papers.

Risks of multiple pregnancies is high

Multiple pregnancies are a greater risk to the mother and the babies. The risk is greater for twins than single babies but rises dramatically with three babies or more. Without selective reduction 13 per cent of multiple pregnancies end with no live babies, and more than 15 per cent end with premature babies.

And this (from here)

CONCLUSION: In trichorionic triplet pregnancies, embryo reduction to twins does not improve the chance of survival but may reduce the rate of handicap. Reduction from triplets to singletons may reduce both the survival rate and the handicap rate among survivors.

I still can’t help but feel we weren’t given enough information about the management of an id twin pregnancy compared with a reduced singleton one. The statistics seem contradictory and confusing the more I find. I probably shouldn’t keep looking, but I really can’t help myself. I guess I’m searching for the elusive ‘that choice was the best one medically’ statistic, which would absolve me somewhat. Although in my heart of hearts, I know that any of our ‘what if…’ options would have me here thinking and researching the others, there is no real peace to be found, only acceptance and a desire to do the best with what we have. I’m usually a great believer in letting the past go, or at least not letting it affect ones future, but maybe it’s too fresh right now to move on just yet. Accepting that bad & horrible things happen sometimes, but having to also accept that it doesn’t mean we are bad & horrible, or that bad & horrible things should continue to happen, or that we should somehow punish ourselves even more for the decisions we made. They have been made and acted upon; we cannot change them. It’s easy to write, say, even think, but much more difficult to believe. I hope to get there someday, but I’m also aware that maybe I never will, and I will just need to live with that.

Back to the here & now – must sign off and change my dd’s nappy. Roll on potty training!

 

Down down down Tuesday 12 February 2008

OMG even writing that has made me cry (it has trhee down’s, one for each triplet). I finished reading Jackie Clune’s book ‘Extreme Motherhood’ today – it’s about how she dealt with having triplets with an 18mth old daughter. I ordered it when we first found out about our triplets as it came highly recommended. I avoided it for a while during the reduction period then came back to it. It’s generally a fun book and had me laughing in many places, it also made me think we couldn’t have done it. But the end has made me weep big fat sobbing tears for what we’ve lost. We didn’t even try. And I feel awful. I haven’t felt like this since the days before the reduction. I’ve failed my twins, the triplets and my four children. How can this get easier? When I signed the consent form, they should have told me I was signing a life sentence of grief and guilt.

 

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.

 

Today triplets, tomorrow… who knows. Wednesday 9 January 2008

The last evening with 3 inside me probably. Tomorrow at 3pm we have the nuchal fold scan at King’s College Hospital, London, x 3. Then an appt with Professor Kypros Nicolaides who will discuss reduction. Then we if we think we have enough, and the right information he’ll do the reduction. It will be based on the results of the nuchal scan as well as statistical evidence on the best outcome. A hard day. I know I shouldn’t beat myself up about it, but it’s so hard not to. How can any mother ‘choose’ to ‘lose’ one or more of her babies, that are growing and wriggling inside her? I just hope that we are able to hold on to at least one and it will make the decision more bearable – that we did it to give that one the best possible chance of a healthy life.

 

Stop the world, I want to get off Sunday 6 January 2008

If only. This has got to be the longest 7 days in the history of man and each day has brought more extreme emotions than the last. I found a great resource in the shape of an online forum called mumsnet – their ‘multiples’ area has brought a wealth of support from twin and triplet mums, and not all doing the ‘congratulations, it’ll be hard but you can do it’ type of support. One pointed me at a blog by a French lady living in America who after IVF was expecting quads, who went on to have a ‘reduction’ (another word for fetocide, or basically eliminating one or more of a multiple pg by means of a potassium chloride injection into the fetus’ heart via your abdomen). This is something which we want to discuss with the consultant – I have no idea if it’s something that will be offered in the UK, or if it only gets offered if there are abnormalities with any of the three.

I can’t tell you how much I hate having to read about this stuff, let alone think about it happening to me, them and us. Many women get through such things by not allowing themselves to think of the babies inside them as babies but I’ve found that impossible. I was so happy to be pregnant and I can’t switch that off now that I know I’m pregnant with three. They are all my babies and I love them all unconditionally already, yet I know we can’t have three – maybe in a perfect world we could, but right now it’s doesn’t seem like an option. And it’s not just down to me, dh really doesn’t think we can do it and is worried (rightly) about the strain it would put on us as a couple, let alone the finances, having to move out of our local area and be miles away from friends and family. So all I can do right now is love them knowing they will only be with me for a short time. I’m determined to ask for a scan picture of them all in one shot – it may be morbid to some, but I don’t want any one of them to be forgotten. And anyway, reduction comes with it’s own risks – it may cause the remaining ones to miscarry so we could end up with no babies at all.

As if these things weren’t enough to overwhelm us, I also started losing ‘old blood’ (it’s brown) which is probably nothing to worry about, but this morning there was quite a lot and accompanied by strong aches/pains in my abdomen. There’s no point in calling anyone, we’re seeing the consultant tomorrow and anyway, I suspect it’s just one of those things. Still, I could really do without it. It’s just another worry on top of the mountain we already have.

Sorry this is a depressing post, but I need to get things down, and whilst my mum and husband are listening, I don’t think they can truly understand how it is for me – the one who is carrying them, who will be the one to have needles poked into her tummy, to feel the effects of hormones racing around her, to deal with the joy of being pregnant to the hell of having to decide how to proceed with the pregnancy. I keep hoping that someone will just tell me what to do, or that the scan will show abnormalities which will make decisions slightly more justified but it’s not going to happen is it? It’s really down to us and that kills me.