Five Years On … Remembering Charlize & Celebrating Lucia – Part One

Many of you have read our story but it’s funny how five years on I’m remembering things I had previously forgotten. I thought I’d re-post with a few edits of my new memories.

Today I woke up with a twinge in my back. So, I slowly eased my body out of bed, got onto the floor and did the Yoga “childs pose” to stretch out my cold joints and muscles. I was suddenly reminded that five years ago today this was where it all started for the twins journey earth-side.

It was a Monday, the 7th November, 2011. I was 26 weeks and 1 day pregnant. I woke up to my babies pushing and shoving eachother in my very tight belly and my back ached. It ached when I slept, when I stood and when I sat (and I sat most of my day at my desk where I worked as the Executive Assistant to the Managing Director of Sara Lee).

I remember taking my pink donut cushion into work with me. I sat on it in the car and then when I was at my desk to relieve the constant pressure in my lower back. I look back now and realise this was the start. It was probably pre-labour and I didn’t realise.

I called a well regarded maternity massage therapist and was lucky to get a booking for the next day.

I finished my day, drove home, and was delighted when my husband came home and me and our gorgeous nanny Megan were able to go to the beach for a beautiful swim. The weather was warm and I managed to bob in the water with my massive belly and felt instant relief. The feeling was delicious and I wanted to stay like this forever. My babies were moving around in my belly, my back didn’t feel so painful and life was lovely.

I went to bed relaxed.

Tuesday 8th November, 2011 – After work I visited the pregnancy massage therapist. She used a technique called “cupping” to relieve the pain I was experiencing. In all honesty I think all it did was bruise my back.

For a long time after the twins were born I felt terrible guilt that the cupping was the reason I went into premature labour. It was also many years before I actually remembered that this had happened. I no longer feel guilt, I feel relief at realising as I write this time line of events five years on that I was already in labour.

On Wednesday,  I was 26 weeks plus 3 days pregnant with the twins. Our second cot had just been delivered as well as both the capsules. Our home was being prepared for their arrival.

Earlier the previous week at 25.5 weeks I had an ultrasound which confirmed the twins were happy, healthy and their weights were estimated to be around 750 and 770 grams. I had watched my two little miracles touch eachother, play with eachother and ensure they were always close to eachother. I was overwhelmed with love and amazement for these two little wonders growing in my belly.

I went to work on Wednesday preparing for our international VIP’s who were arriving on Thursday. It was a dreadfully hot day and I was extremely busy not only getting things set up for the VIP’s but arranging my hand over as I would be finishing work the following Thursday when I was closing in on 28 weeks pregnant.

As the day went on I realised I hadn’t really felt the babies move around as much as I normally did.

I left the office feeling a bit anxious. When I got home I noticed my ankles were quite swollen so I went for a quick swim at the beach to cool down and as soon as I entered the cool water I felt my little people kicking.

I remember feeling relieved and thinking I had probably imagined the whole thing.

I got home and decided to rest on the lounge and take it easy. Had I known it was the last night I would spend at home in a while I suspect I would’ve spent it a whole different way. I vividly remember myself with my hair wet from my shower and my legs stretched straight the length of the lounge and a cup of tea in my hand.

On the Thursday on my drive into work I again realised the babies were quiet. Most mornings I would wake up and their kicking and stretching would usually be the thing that woke me up. This morning however that was not the case.

I had a 10am meeting with my bosses wife to discuss the plans for the office Christmas party.

By around 11am I called the meeting to end and requested my colleague drive me back to the office as I was pretty sure I was having irregular contractions.

On the drive back to the office I focused on the babies and realised with terror that I was only feeling twin one moving. Twin one (Charlize) was on my left and twin two (Lucia) was on my right.

Why couldn’t I feel twin two move? Why were my contractions now a regular ten minutes apart that were starting to hurt.

As soon as I was in the office I called my Dr (Sarah). Sarah told me to leave the office immediately and come into hospital. Somewhere in my mind I started to panic and realised when I left my office, left my car and entered those hospital doors that I wasn’t coming out until the babies were born.

I tidied my desk up, gave my handover notes to my new replacement and negotiated relentlessly with my boss who wanted to cancel the VIP meetings and drive me to the hospital.

We agreed that I could drive myself as then Saxon would have my car at the hospital and I would call my boss the moment I arrived at the hospital or he would call an ambulance.

It was about 2pm when I got to the hospital and my contractions were now five minutes apart and rather uncomfortable.

I took a very deep breath, held back my tears and walked into the Maternal Feotal Medicine Unit. Sarah was waiting for me and did my ultrasound herself with Ruth, the sonographer by my side holding my hand.

Ruth had done nearly all my ultrasounds and I had a LOT of ultrasounds. The minute Sarah had the babies on the screen my heart dropped. I could tell there was too much fluid around Twin Two. This was the reason I couldn’t feel her move. This is called Polyhydraminos. Twin one had reduced amniotic fluid around her which also made moving difficult. They call it ‘being cling-wrapped’. The medical term however is oligohydraminos.

Without requiring anyone to say the words I knew with a heavy heart this was the dangerous condition called Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS). The condition we hoped would bypass us. The condition had got us.

Today we were 26 weeks and 4 days pregnant and every moment counts. This is how the twins got their first names Polly and Olly.

This was Stage One TTTS.

Saxon arrived in time for Sarah to explain how dangerous this was and that I was now on bed rest and not leaving the hospital until the twins were born. The plan was to keep baking our babies until 28-29 weeks and then get them out.

The reason I was having contractions was because the excessive fluid around Polly was irritating the uterus. I would be given drugs to try and calm the uterus and steroids for the babies lungs in case they had to get them out earlier. The drugs just made me sleepy until they wore off and a new wave of contractions would start until a nurse came in to give me an injection again.

I was monitored very closely to ensure the babies were doing okay in my belly.

Five years on I can see all these events taking place like it was happening today. I remember the dress I wore to work that day, (a pretty flowing black dress),  the morning tea I had at my bosses house (it was a lemon yoghurt cake), the worry on my Dr Sarah’s face when she saw the ultrasound screen, my beautiful babies playing in my belly totally unaware of the chaos that was happening in the placenta that is vital for their survival and which let them down in the end. I remember the fear I was pretending wasn’t going to get me. I remember holding my belly and praying (because I did pray every day back then) that God would protect my babies and that they would make it to 28/29 weeks because right now was much too early. I remember already missing Orlando who was only just five years old and Indiana who was 18 months old and knowing this was going to be a tough ride. I remember taking a very deep breath and then realised the tears had already started streaming.

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