29 weeks pregnant. My bump was huge. Everything was an effort. Putting on my own socks and shoes was not an option. I was up all night for bathroom trips – sometimes it felt like every 20 minutes. My bladder was just being constantly squeezed. The only comfortable/bearable sleeping position I could find was with my V pillow in between my legs and under my bump and my husband ‘spooning’ (!) my back to support it!! Poor man! Twin pregnancies are not easy on your body.
Our 29 week appointment followed the usual harrowing routine (see Part 3!). My little twin was making very slow progress – his growth seemed to be coming to a standstill. Although at the time the consultant thought that the blood flow to my placenta was still good so he was keen to try and let them grow for as long as possible. We were to be monitored even more closely for the next few weeks and as a precaution I was started on a course of steroid injections that day. If my little twin didn’t makes significant progress pretty quickly, there was a chance that I’d need to deliver the boys very early and the steroid injections would help to mature their little lungs.
I had a second set of steroid injections later that week and about 24 hours later, I was back in the Emergency Obstetric Unit hooked up to a CTG machine to monitor the twins’ heart rates. Over the course of the previous day I had been feeling the babies move less and less – I was trying everything – glasses of ice cold water, sugary food, lying down. But there just wasn’t as much movement as normal. The twins never really had a distinct pattern of movement – I think it’s quite common for some babies to have quite regular awake times but this hadn’t been my experience. This made it harder to tell if there was something wrong when I thought there was reduced movement. The on-call Doctor scanned the babies and she seemed to think that the blood flow to the placenta was compromised. She reckoned that the placenta would only provide adequate nutrition for about the next two weeks. I was admitted to a maternity ward for 3 hourly observations. I spent that next 2 days being regularly scanned and closely monitored.
On Day 3, Mr C and I made our way to the consultant’s room for our regular clinic appointment. The consultant did the mandatory scanning and we sat down to talk next steps. Our little twin was not growing. But his big brother was doing well and growing at a good rate. Delivering the boys at 30 weeks would carry huge risks for both babies as they were still both very tiny. It was a hard call for the consultant. Given the reduced fetal movement, the rapidly deteriorating blood flow in the placenta and the fact that our little boy’s growth had stalled, the decision was taken to deliver the babies that afternoon by emergency caesarean section.
The reality of what was about to happen was terrifying. Our little tiny babies, that were supposed to have another 2.5 months in my tummy, were about to be wheaked out of their little cosy comforting environment and into the sterile, gloved hands of masked up doctors. I wanted to protect my babies but I couldn’t keep them safe anymore.
They put me on a magnesium drip for an hour before the caesarean to help protect the babies’ brains. It made me so hot and so nauseous – maybe that was no bad thing as it took my mind off what was about to happen. Up to that point I’d been so obsessed with the TTTS and how the boys were doing, I hadn’t really thought about the ‘getting them out’ part of the process. Although as soon as they were diagnosed with TTTS, I knew we’d have to have a Caesarean section. Birth plans went out the window!
As the nurse was doing all the not so lovely things to prep me for the surgery, two of the neonatal doctors came to talk about the birth. They were preparing us for the worst and with very grave faces told us that they expected to be dealing with two very sick babies – my heart sank to the floor. They warned us that we may not get to see the boys as soon as they were born. Despite everything I knew could happen, I still wanted to be hopeful, to believe that my babies would be perfectly healthy. Sam held my hand and we prepared to go into the theatre.
I knew there would be quite a few people in the theatre but I don’t think I was prepared to be surrounded by such an audience… There was two anaesthetists, two obstetricians, four theatre nurses, two teams of neonatal doctors and nurses and a handful of student doctors observing!!!! As the spinal injection kicked in and my body numbed, the anaesthetic made me feel really sick. Wretching your guts out in front of about 20 onlookers is not fun. Thankfully the anaesthetist gave me some wonder drug which made the nausea disappear as quickly as it arrived.
Then it all started. I should really get Sam to write this part as all I could see was a green curtain. Unfortunately for him, he saw the entire operation reflected in the huge overhead lights. I don’t think it was pretty. About 5 minutes in, the obstetrician lifted out the first baby – she announced ‘I think it’s the small one.’ Before he could be handed over to the neonatal team he let out the most beautiful little sound I had ever heard. My heart sang. My baby was breathing. And crying. He was ok. Then the obstetrician said ‘actually I think this is the small one’ and handed baby two to the other neonatal team. The next 30 seconds seemed to last forever and then he let out a little cry and I was totally overcome. My littlest baby was here, he was breathing. My beautiful little miracles. I just wanted to see them, to hold them, to cuddle them into their mama.
The doctors were confident that the babies were stable pretty quickly and Sam was able to go and see his beautiful sons. He took some video and lots of photos so that I could see my little miracle boys while the surgeons closed me up. My babies were so beautiful – perfect little boys. They looked so very delicate. Little Harry was 1lb and 14oz and his big brother, Benjamin was a not so hefty 3lbs and 6oz. My little miracle babies were here. They had defied the odds and we were so so thankful.
Linking this post up to Marvellous Mondays