Today marks 23 months exactly since we lost our baby girl.
I always knew the lead up to the first anniversary would be difficult and I suspected future years would be less difficult. I was very wrong. This year I have found even more difficult because it is getting further and further away from the last time I got to touch her, hold her, smell her, kiss her and talk to her.
I believe it’s time to write our story once and for all, so here it is.
Part One … Turning 30
In May 2010 we had just moved into our brand new home that we had waited over a year for. Our beautiful daughter Indiana had just turned one and our gorgeous son Orlando had started pre-school. Life was great and I was turning 30 in a few weeks.
My actual birthday fell on Friday 13th May but my party was scheduled for the Saturday. I didn’t fancy spending the Friday alone so I invited about ten of my girlfriends over for a “quiet” wine and cheese night.
Our quiet evening turned into pretty much everyone that attended leaving in the early hours of the next morning with a full belly of alcohol. I had drunk so much I couldn’t even put words together and I was happy when my beautiful husband carried me upstairs to bed ……..
The next day was painful and I had to make myself beautiful for my birthday party dinner. Thankfully I was in better shape in the evening and had a fabulous night.
A month later I took Indiana up to her room for her evening breastfeed before bedtime. She had a suckle and then pulled herself away from the breast rather abruptly. I sat her up and she had a very scrunched up look on her face. I put her back to the breast and once again she had a suckle and then pulled away – this time though she actually pushed me away with her hand.
I thought this was quite unusual and tried numerous times but to no avail. It was like she really wanted it but didn’t like the taste of it. After a few days of trying I accepted the fact that I had breastfed for the last time. My baby girls was thirteen months old.
We had decided that we had two beautiful children and after many surgeries, years of IVF and high risk pregnancies we were blessed and our family was complete (which was why I was on the mini pill).
It seems the universe had other plans for us. …. Note to the ladies – the “mini pill” and alcohol don’t mix that’s why it is called the mini pill.
In mid June I was preparing to return to work after sixteen months maternity leave. I started feeling a little unwell and was concerned that my unwell feeling may stay around for a while so I purchased a pregnancy test.
I went upstairs on this particular evening to have a shower. I peed on the stick and placed it next to the shower. I had a lengthy relaxing shower and forgot all about the test. I got dressed, dried my hair and went to pick up my dirty clothes when I saw two very bright blue lines staring back at me.
I did what any normal woman would do – I called my best friend and cried and then laughed and then decided that I wouldn’t panic my husband until I knew for sure, anyway I was on the mini pill so this was probably not right.
WRONG – the Dr confirmed the very next day that not only was the test very right it was a very strong reading when the blood tests came back.
Again, I thought I’d have an ultrasound before I told my husband … the next day I had an ultrasound and my obstetrician laughed as he confirmed I had a very strong five week pregnancy growing in my belly. After the IVF battle we had and the surgeries and I was on the mini pill until I realised I was pregnant, neither of us could believe I was pregnant. I asked him if he wanted to tell my husband – he laughed!
The next evening I cooked my husband’s favourite meal for dinner and put the kids to bed early. He hadn’t even had his second mouthful of food before he said “Spill, something is going on so tell me what it is”
Me: “I’m pregnant”
Him: Total silence for three hours where he laid down on our tiles and didn’t speak.
I was concerned he had stopped breathing but realised it was shock……….
That was Friday evening and I was only five weeks pregnant.
On Sunday I was out with my best friend and I started feeling unwell. I made it back home and had a massive bleed. I called my obstetrician who advised me to lie down and rest and he would see me the following day for an ultrasound.
The following day was my first day back at work with a new boss. In my lunch break I headed to the drs and had an ultrasound which confirmed I had a massive haemorrhage. It was much bigger than the actual sac and he said it was unlikely the pregnancy would be viable but I had to wait two weeks to see if there was a heartbeat.
The next two weeks were awful. The bleeding had stopped as quickly as it started and my nausea continued but I was a mess.
Finally, one Friday at the end of June I made my way to my obstetrician’s office once again. I was lying on the bed waiting for him to scan my belly and give me the verdict. I still felt unwell so I was hoping that meant I had a heartbeat. I was squirming so much that he told me to keep still so he could get a good look. I remember saying to him “Peter, I just want you to tell me there is at least one beating heart in there”
He looked at me strangely and said “Why would you say at least one”
Instantly I realised what I had said and I asked “There’s two in there isn’t there”
Sure enough there were two little beating hearts but Peter wasn’t smiling any longer. He told me that I had identical twins that shared a placenta but he was concerned that they also shared a sac and that I would need to get another specialised scan and consider terminating the pregnancy due to the severe risk of the babies not getting to a viable stage. I was devastated.
I made my way to the car and burst into tears. I called my husband who thought I had miscarried and I sobbed my way through what had happened.
We decided to educate ourselves as quickly as possible. I had a specialist who looked after me at Royal North Shore Hospital for my cancer and so I called him. He told me who to contact at the hospital and within a few days I was getting the best second opinion I’ve ever had.
The Dr’s at RNSH (Royal North Shore Hospital) confirmed that our twins were actually identical twins but they were mono chorionic di amniotic (Mo-Di). This means they had one placenta but two sacs. Their risk factor was still high but not what my previous Dr had expected. We were also advised that even if they were Mo-Mo twins as originally thought they don’t terminate but monitor very frequently. The concern with Mo-Mo twins is because they share a sac they can get tangled in their umbilical cords which of course can be fatal.
We were given information about our risk factors. We knew that because our babies shared a placenta they were at risk of a condition called Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS). This in a basic sense is where one baby receives too many nutrients and the other twin doesn’t get enough. You have a donor twin and a recipient twin and this can be fatal very quickly. We were told what to look for and advised we would be monitored very closely.
For the first time in about three weeks I feel like I could breathe a little. My husband’s shock had subsided and we saw our two little babies hearts beating on the screen together for the first time and we got excited. I was feeling unwell like I had in all my pregnancies but I was coping. At 8.5 weeks my pregnancy was already obvious and I decided after only a few weeks back at work to tell my boss. He was very understanding and actually happy for me. This was a great relief. He actually had four children himself so was able to shed some light on what to expect.
My parents during this time were absolutely amazing. Both Mum and Dad found out as much as they could about TTTS as my Dad’s cousin had identical twin boy’s years before me and they had TTTS and lost one of their little boys. This was always at the front of my mind.
At ten weeks I had another ultrasound and was excited to see tiny little people forming. Even from this early stage I was amazed at how close the babies were they didn’t like to be separated from each other. If one moved to the right the other followed.
Twelve weeks was upon me quickly and I had my blood tests and ultrasound to check for chromosomal defects as was routine. Just after these tests I became very unwell with a cold and suddenly I was finding it hard to breathe with pain in my chest.
I drove myself to our local hospital who did a couple of ECG’s and told me it’s normal in pregnancy to feel like this at times and 85% of chest pain was usually unexplained. They were very excited to have a look at the twins and sent me on my way. Two days later I was at RNSH for my regular check up and the pain was still around and I felt awful. I was rushed up to maternity and after many tests it was found that the virus I had had gone to my heart.
I was admitted for a week to rest and was lucky enough on this week to share a room with a lady who is now a very close friend.
I told her to never drink at your birthday or you’ll end up pregnant with twins. She laughed and laughed and on our first night together the nurses came in to tell us that other patients had complained that we were too noisy as you could hear us giggling from the next room.
A few days later this wonderful lady named Francine woke up not looking so well. She told me she had a sore belly and I told her she was having her baby today. She disagreed with me so I buzzed for the nurse and two hours later Francine’s premature baby boy was born. He is a healthy, happy adorable little boy today.