So we went to the wedding and it was HOT! Everyone was very kind about how big I was but I think it freaked more than a few people out (I think my sister-in-law may have worried that I was going to go into labour and steal the show J). We had booked months in advance to stay over in the beautiful hotel but sadly the splendor was lost on me once the exhaustion and worry took over.
The following morning we left early but within a short time I began to experience pains in my chest and had difficulty breathing. I spent the entire 3 hour journey with both arms stretched out and above my head to try and relieve some of the pressure.
Dr Mac and Gill were waiting for us in the sonography suite (a new machine had been installed as well so there was a lot of excitement) and we were ushered straight past the waiting area and into the room. Within seconds it became obvious that the amount of fluid had increased significantly overnight which Dr Mac confirmed with some measurements. Twin 1 (recipient) fluid had increased from 12cm’s to 15cm’s and twin 2’s (donor) fluid had decreased to below 1cm.
Dr Mac sat us down to explain our options. Essentially we had to decide whether we were going the old fashioned route (amnio to remove the fluid) or the modern route (laser treatment). The latter would have had to be done at a different hospital and by a different doctor so after only a little deliberation, we decided to stick with Dr Mac and the amnio.
The process took around 2 hours and in total they removed nearly 3 litres of fluid. Once they finished however I began to cramp (they expected some pain but the cramps could have signified early labour) so Dr Mac decided to book me into the hospital for the week-end to keep an eye on me.
I was finally discharged on the Monday morning but was then notified that I was to go straight home and that I would not be returning to work. I think that they deliberately underplayed the severity of the problem but the fact that I was required to return every second day for a scan belied their assurances.
Over the course of 4 weeks I was closely monitored and on a couple of occasions the fluid increased to within the dangerous range only to diminish before any further action could be taken. At 30 weeks Dr Mac informed us that he wanted to deliver the boys by c-section at 31 weeks. I informed my family and so my mum flew over to be there for the birth. The day before I was scheduled for c-section I returned for a final scan and to all of our surprise, both boys had improved significantly and enough that Dr Mac decided to postpone the delivery for a week.
4 weeks and 4 days after diagnosis, I arrived at the hospital bright and early ready to say good-bye to pregnancy and hello to motherhood, mistakenly thinking that things would get easier J
The c-section itself was a breeze. Sure I was (mildly) disappointed that I didn’t even get a choice but it wasn’t nearly as traumatic as the media had led me to expect. I did lose a fair amount of blood and had to be monitored very closely for several hours afterwards but the morphine helped to numb the pain. Nathan (Twin 1) was born first and weighed just less than 3 pounds. Thomas came second and was just less than 4 pounds. Although bigger in size, Thomas was the one who needed help to breathe and he was on CPAP for a few hours after he was born. Both boys were whisked off to the NICU unit and I was wheeled out to recovery.
Perhaps the hardest part of that day was being wheeled up to the maternity unit afterwards. The policy is that if a mother has had a c-section that she is put on a general ward for the first night (a good idea in practice as this ensures that there is someone in the room at all times). The downside to this is that I had only briefly glimpsed my babies and I was surrounded by woman who had theirs with them all the time.
The first night was terrible; I was given a second dose of morphine just before I went to sleep but woke up several times to the sound of babies crying. At around 4am I asked if I could go down to the NICU to visit the boys but there wasn’t anyone to wheel me down. I came to realise that being wheelchair bound was going to mean that I had to rely on others so early on morning 2 I forced myself to get up and shower and stopped the morphine (although that stuff does linger on doesn’t it?) so that I could regain my mobility. I was also moved into a private room so that the other poor mums didn’t have to feel guilty.Later that morning I finally made it down to the NICU unit and was able to get my first proper look at my sons. I fully expected to feel an immediate rush of love and affection for them so imagine my disappointment and guilt when the overriding emotion was fear and numb detachment.
Looking back and loving them as I do now, I find it hard to remember these feelings of bewilderment – but I wish that someone somewhere had mentioned that it isn’t always instantaneous. That love is something that grows over time.