If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know I had quite an easy pregnancy considering I was carrying identical twins. The exhaustion in the first trimester wasn’t nice but I didn’t suffer with morning sickness, carried very small and still led a very healthy, active lifestyle… until the last three weeks before the girls were born!
Everything had been going so smoothly until just after my baby shower when I started to feel a bit off. I couldn’t put my finger on it but I felt unbelievably tired, heavier, swollen and unwell. The first person I told was my physio – she believed the twins were trapping the blood flow to my legs and at my next appointment, I ended up with crutches because I was struggling to walk. I told my community midwife, our sonographer, and the midwives at my hospital appointments but there was always an air of ‘this is your first pregnancy and it’s twins.’
The first headache I remember, I was in the shower one day and I dropped my shampoo. As I bent down to pick it up, these sparkly glowing orbs appeared in front of my eyes and I felt really dizzy. I had no idea at the time but I was suffering from third stage pre-eclampsia.
We were having a heatwave at the time and everyone kept telling me I was just swollen because I was pregnant and it was hot. I felt so rubbish and napped all the time but I kept trying to stay as positive as I could. I finally cracked the night before I was going into hospital for my first lot of steroids and broke down crying on my bed. I decided when I went in, I wanted fully examining because I knew something wasn’t quite right.
And I almost didn’t… when we got to our appointment the ward was manic, people seemed to be rushing all over, there were people still waiting for scans which was unusual. I’d sat down waiting while someone had gone to look for the steroids but something told me I must get back up and ask to be checked. So I did and again, they brushed it off as hot weather but said to go do a sample.
Five minutes later we were taken to a private room in the pregnancy assessment unit and they explained how serious pre-eclampsia was and told me I wouldn’t be going home again until I had the babies. I got a little upset after they told me this, I didn’t want to stay in, I wanted to go home with Jay and I still had so much to do before the girls arrived.
Call me stupid but when the midwife came back in to tell us we were going to be moved round to a nicer suite in the labour ward – it didn’t click. Once on the ward we were introduced to a new midwife who was amazing and she explained things were going to get pretty busy as they were going to treat my pre-eclampsia and deliver the babies by emergency section that night! Suddenly Doctors and more midwives started appearing and it’s at the this point things start to get fuzzy for me. I remember bits but it’s blurry and I know certain things happened because Jay explained them after. He has photos on his phone of us from this time and I cannot piece it together – I just cannot remember certain things.
They treat my pre-eclampsia with magnesium sulphate, something which I’m highly allergic to. This had been explained but they told Jay that they’d rather risk it and treat me than risk it and lose me to eclampsia. I had cannula’s placed in both arms and given a catheter before they started adding the magnesium sulphate. I have never felt so poorly ever before than when I had this, I felt so sick, dizzy and like my heart was going to explode out of my chest. Then I lost consciousness… it was such a strange experience and obviously terrifying for Jay.
He said the room filled with people and he could hear doctors saying ‘I’m worried about this one.’ I meanwhile didn’t have a clue, I thought I could hear someone asking me if I was ok and so I kept repeating ‘I feel really poorly, please help me.’ Apparently though I was just completely out of it and never said a word. My body felt so heavy and everything just seemed black at one point. The next thing I remember was I was desperate for water but I wasn’t allowed to drink. Jay had a bottle of water for himself and they allowed him to give me the smallest sip just to stop my mouth from been dry.
Various staff from the hospital came in at this point to introduce themselves and to say they’d be in the operating theatre. The shifts were swapping over at 8pm but lots of the day time staff who’d treated me were staying to watch the operation and wanted to see the girls. I vaguely remember Jay appearing in scrubs before been pushed to the operating theatre.
It was busy in there, I do remember that. There was a line of people all in scrubs ready to watch and the surgeon asked me if I was ok with it. I was given a spinal and I remember one of the male nurses telling me to rest my head on his shoulder and to give him a cuddle while it was put in. I can honestly say the section was nothing compared to the magnesium sulphate. I felt nothing from the shoulders down and before I knew it Jay was back by my side and then there was a cry. Though they normally deliver twin one first and then twin 2, we’d been told this sometimes wasn’t the case with sections. So we asked our midwife to make sure we knew which twin was from my left and right side as we already had named who was who. Edie, who was on my left was brought out first at 9.01pm weighing 4.7lbs, shortly followed by Mabel at 9.02pm weighing 4.2lbs.
They were quickly checked over and brought over for Jay to have a cuddle. It was so surreal, they were both so calm and quiet. Our midwife explained the girls would be in transitional care rather than going up to the NICU and it was best for them to feed as soon as possible. Due to the fact I had so many drugs in me, I wasn’t able to breastfeed so Jay and her took the girls to a recovery room next door while I was stitched up.
Despite been an emergency section, the many people who were in the theatre and the fact I’d been so poorly, it was one of the loveliest experiences. It’s still fuzzy but the parts I do remember is everyone coming to congratulate me and telling me how beautiful they were. It didn’t take long till I was in the recovery room with the girls and I got to see them properly. They were so small and quiet. Jay was feeding them with our midwife and we were told we’d stay there for an hour, then be wheeled back to our suite. I remember shivering a lot, although I wasn’t cold at all and I was desperate for water again but wasn’t allowed any.
When we went back through to our suite, they let me have peppermints which I’d packed in my hospital bag – these were like heaven as they made my mouth water and I was allowed 10ml of water every hour. It was like sipping from a thimble. I wasn’t allowed to get up from the bed so the nurses from the NICU came down to help Jay feed and change the girls for the first couple of days. Our private suite was really nice in the labour ward, we had a bathroom, changing unit and even a bed for Jay however after a few days we were sent to the post-natal ward. We were given a private room again directly opposite the nurses station and though it wasn’t quite as nice as the one we’d just been in, it was still lovely for us to just be a family of four.
The girls were on special heat pads still but the only real reason we were been kept in was my blood pressure which just kept going up. Apparently once the babies are delivered pre-eclampsia usually goes away and doesn’t develop into eclampsia… I was one of the unlucky ones.
I spent the next few days been monitored, taking lots of drugs and been given various injections. After a couple of days I started to feel really frustrated and I wanted to come home – in hindsight, I wasn’t ready and I really wish I’d stayed that bit longer. There were some amazing midwives who looked after me and the girls and I picked up so much from them… who knows what I would have learned and how much better I would have felt if I’d just stayed a few more days.
Coming home with Edie and Mabel felt so good though. Having a shower in my own bathroom was blissful and climbing into bed felt amazing. We weren’t exactly left alone though… as I was still very poorly the community midwives came to monitor my blood pressure every day. There was a constant air of ‘you might have to go back into hospital’ looming and this combined with learning how to look after twins was rather stressful. I’m guessing this is why my blood pressure continued to be high.
Thankfully I never had to go back into hospital. My mum brought me lunch and dinner each day so I ate well, rested when I could and made sure I got a bit of fresh air each day by taking the dogs for a slow walk while Jay minded the girls. The first couple of weeks were a bit tricky as we got used to having two little people who needed us constantly. I was so lucky to have my mum close by and Jay who took an extra week off work to help me. Eventually my tablets were reduced, I was discharged from the midwives to my GP and a new kind of normality settled in.
And we’ve been living that new normality since. It is the hardest job I have ever done but I wouldn’t change it for the world.