I’m one of those….

….bloggers who disappear once their babies arrive. Yep, that’s me. If it makes you feel any better I haven’t been able to spend more than 3 minutes in the bathroom for the last  37 days though, and I currently have baby sick in my hair, on my jeans and on my shoulder. So yes..this blog has suffered accordingly.

I’m going to write a proper post soon. The twins are lovely, healthy and growing. Me on the other hand – well, I’ve been a bit of a wreck. The ‘baby blues’ hit me pretty hard in the first few weeks and I’ve been struggling with depression since the babies arrived. I’ve been to the doctor and am now on the loony pills – they are helping. Looking after twins is incredibly hard and it took me a while to work out that I was suffering from something more serious than tiredness. Anyway, things are improving and I’m doing ok. Crazy. Years of trying to conceive and now I’m like….WTF. Life, eh?! More to follow. In the meantime, a couple of pics.

Welcome to the world…

Heading home

Just born

Ready for action

Alice Tui (5lb 2) and Cecilia Kiri (5lb 12), born Monday 15 August by c section at 37 weeks.

They are perfect and we are completely in love. More to follow later – we’ve just made it home from the hospital. Happy days X

35+4 weeks – the Cautious Countdown Commences

image2

So here I am….amazingly still pregnant. If all goes to plan these babies will arrive by C-section on 15th August, just 10 days from now. I’m nervous, grateful and excited all rolled into one. It has been a long, long road to get here.

There’s something about an IVF pregnancy that makes you doubly, trebly, quadrupully anxious. I’m scared of the ‘jinx’. I’ve avoided talking about these babies too much – at least in real life, not on this blog. I’ve been waiting for the next thing to go wrong. I’ve been expecting a big ‘yahh boo’ from the universe in return for getting my hopes up. And yet here we are, nearly at the end. And I’m still worried something will go awry.

I read sad news from fellow blogger The EcoFeminist this morning. I’ve been in her shoes and it is a hateful, angry, lonely place. There’s really nothing anyone can say or do to make it better. ‘Don’t give up’ is not good advice. Quite frankly many people do give up and it’s the right thing to do. Infertility is all consuming; it’s like a black hole of relationships, hope and money. Sometimes there is a happy ending – oftentimes there is not. Obviously I’m glad  we decided to keep trying but I’m not sure how I would have coped with another loss. You put your mental health and happiness on the line every time you have another spin on the wheel of fortune.

So, in a nutshell, this incredible twin pregnancy is a result of:

  • 2 years of ‘trying naturally’ with OPKs
  • 5 back to back cycles of own-egg IVF
  • 1 frozen egg cycle
  • 2 miscarriages
  • 1 donor egg cycle in Spain
  • 1 hideous first trimester of heavy bleeding
  • 1 very short cervix and 1 magical rubber pessary
  • Thousands of £ sterling
  • Many, many hours of tears, terror and hopefulness

And we’re almost there. I will say no more! I don’t want to jinx it (even though ‘jinx’ is a silly, childish concept). I just can’t wait to see these much-wished for babies in my husband’s arms on 15th August. Wish us luck.

 

 

 

 

 

32+ 4 weeks bumpity bumpe

Can’t quite believe we’ve made it to 32 weeks but here we are…all three of us squeezed inside one body. Isn’t nature amazing?

Baby one (formerly known as Richie McCaw) is currently feet down, head up in the bottom left hand section of my bump. Baby two (Big Val) is lying horizontally under my right boob, wedged against my poor diaphragm. So….one breech baby, one ‘transverse’. It’s a good thing they are both coming out the sunroof as neither is in the right position for a ‘regular’ birth and they are unlikely to move now. Not much room left in there. Both are around 3lbs 11oz.

So anyway – I’m still feeling pretty good! I’m enjoying life, I’m enjoying the bump and I’m even enjoying work. Our C section is scheduled for 15 August and I’m  planning to work until the 8th or thereabouts. That gives me a few days to relax (ie, furiously clean the flat like a mad woman) before the babies arrive. Not that our flat needs cleaning…I’ve just heard that’s what you do when babies are imminent. We’ll see.

There’s a very good chance they may arrive early of course. Our doctor is very vague. He keeps mentioning that he doesn’t think we’ll make it to week 37. Why? I don’t really know. Possibly my mediocre cervix. Possibly because it’s twins and they are heavy. He’s told us to be vigilant and watch out for labour signs, then call him straight away. Rather exciting! I think he means proper labour signs though. Not my current minor ailments, which include sausage feet and cankles. ALL HAIL THE BIRKENSTOCK SANDAL.

A total stranger touched my bump today – a lady on the checkout at Marks and Spencer (middle class British food store – nice biscuits). It’s the first time anyone has asked, and I was so surprised that when she held out her hands and said ‘may I?’I just nodded yes. Rather bizarre. She’d already asked when I was due, and what I was expecting. She then said she had never ‘felt twins’ before and asked me exactly where they were so she could feel. Mad, right?! She was really happy. I just felt….weird. And happy that I’d made her happy. And then I walked away and couldn’t believe that I’d just let a random woman rub my belly like a lucky Buddha. Pregnancy hormones,ladies….makes you do some funny things.

‘Fitmom’ versus ‘slummy mummy’

I found out this week that hashtag ‘#fitmom’ is a thing. Far and wide across Instagram you can find photos of mini bumps, six packs, women working out the morning they give birth, and post pregnancy snaps of ‘bikini ready’ bodies.

#slummymummy is also a thing. You’ll find photos of women shopping in their pyjama bottoms, women drinking wine  and women 6 months post-partum who weigh exactly the same as they did 40 weeks pregnant.

These hashtags offer the world a chance to critique pregnant bodies of all shapes and sizes. Behind the anonymity of a computer screen people can comment on women’s lifestyle choices and body shapes. ‘Fitmoms’ are deemed vapid show offs. Slummy mummies are fat slobs with no self control. It’s all part of the same modern shame culture which aims to define how women should look, act and think.

Pregnant bodies come in all shapes and sizes. Isn’t body shaming utterly depressing? The internet makes it so easy.  I can’t remember ever feeling concerned about my shape and size  growing up in the 80s and early 90s. I wonder how girls these days cope with it all. My single mum brought me up to be confident and strong – I didn’t have anyone telling me I was too fat/too thin/too lazy/too fit.Photographs were few and far between and likely to be a group shot of me and my friends in baggy Soundgarden t shirts. I wasn’t photographing my ‘thigh gap’, ‘muffin top’ or ‘hot dog legs’ and inviting the world to comment. I worry about the 2 girls I’m currently growing. Will they be Youtubing their hair straightening adventures in 15 years time?

So, there’s no escape  during pregnancy. I hereby declare that whatever women decide to do with their pregnant bodies is their own choice. If you want to sit around and eat doughnuts, fine. If you want to go to the gym and use your babies as handweights, that’s also fine. Let’s just stop judging one another’s choices.

Time to be Honest with your Employer?

Nice article on The Pool yesterday (which is an excellent website, by the way), on new research that shows it ‘pays to be honest’ about what we want with potential employers – particularly related to flexible working and childcare.

Earlier this year, a CEO from Deloitte admitted they were losing talent because they were not giving young women what they needed. A chat with my fellow blogger The Eco Feminist highlighted the rather pathetic situation in the US related to mandated maternity leave, described in this New Yorker article as ‘America’s Family Leave Disgrace‘. Despite our own issues we’re still pretty lucky in Europe compared to the US – that’s for sure.

The Pool article links to an interesting campaign called ‘Hire me My Way‘ , which has been launched to ‘offer candidates visibility on who the UK’s best flexible employers’ are. This is good news not just for parents, but also for employees who look after relatives, are disabled or who have mobility issues. Most new jobs are not advertised with part time or flexible options – perhaps this campaign will help fill the gap.

 

25 weeks – Monster Trucks R Us

I completed my last work trip PB (pre babies) yesterday – 36 hours in Germany, done! Boom, yay, Ka-ching etc

Very pleased not to be doing any more flights. I’m not worried about flying; I’m just getting big and lazy and not in the mood for faffing around at airports. My tolerance levels have plummeted to an all time low. I got irrationally angry with a man eating soup in airport lounge last night. It went like this:

  • SLURP soup
  • DUNK bread
  • CHEW wet bread with mouth open
  • REPEAT

I was fuming. I stared at him but he didn’t care. He was in a soup stupor.

Anger management issues.

We had a scan last week and both babies are doing fine. They don’t really like to be photographed but this pic of twin 1 is a good’un:

baby

You can see lips! And a hand waving! She looks pretty crammed in there. Whenever I look at this picture I can hear Adele singing ‘HELLO FROM THE OTHER SIDE’. Aww. Not long now, squashed little baby.

We haven’t really bought much for the babies yet but we have chosen a pram. We don’t have a car and we use legs, two wheels and the bus as our transport so it was a tough decision. Most twin prams are enormous side by side monster trucks.

What is the least annoying pram available? How can we take up the smallest amount of room on the pavement and on the bus? How the bloody hell are we going to get an enormous twin pram up the Victorian stair cases of London tube stations? How…in fact…are we going to fit a twin pram through our front door?!

I introduce you to the Peach Blossom 3:

Peach3-Bloosom-Azure

Yes, one of the twins (our least favourite one?!) will have a rubbish view. That’s ok…they can take it in turns. We’re buying it in a darker colour of course, to hide the inevitable stains. Prams are ridiculously expensive, this one costs about as much as a second hand car.

However no need to feel down. Just imagine the alternative! We could be expecting quads! No way you could get this bad boy on the 137 bus without attracting some very British tuts and eyerolls….

quad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Captain Megaboobs and the Quest for the Perfect Boulder Holder

Today I am 16 weeks and 5 days still-pregnant! Can’t quite believe we’ve made it this far. I am starting to resemble a pregnant woman and I’m pleased to say the last couple of weeks have been quite uneventful. So, what’s been going on?….

Boobs

I’ve always been a winner in the boob department with a generous-but-manageable 32DD pair. Well, things have changed quite rapidly over the past few weeks and my normal bras were struggling to cope. Where the hell does all this extra boob come from?! I decided to visit John Lewis for some bra advice. John Lewis is a classic no-nonsense British department store frequented by middle class Timothys  and Jemimas. 

Well, the rude woman on the lingerie counter assured me it would be AT LEAST 40 minutes before anyone could measure me properly, said in the world’s loudest voice. ‘HOW BIG ARE YOU NORMALLY?’, she boomed. ’32DD’, I squeaked in front of the interested group of husbands/boyfriends waiting outside the changing room. ‘LET’S HAVE A QUICK LOOK’….she stared intently at my boobs through my clothes….’THEY DON’T LOOK MUCH BIGGER THAN THAT TO ME. TAKE IN SOME 34DDs’. So, I shamefacedly wandered over to the maternity bra rack whilst everyone in the vicinity made their own judgement as to whether I’m a 32DD or a 34DD.

Is there anything worse than trying on bras in a harshly lit changing room? Maybe bikinis. Bikinis are probably worse. Anyway 40 bras later I still had side boob popping out all over the place and I had stopped looking at myself in the mirror as I was in danger of permanently losing my mojo. There’s no way I am a 34DD. A kindly shop assistant took pity on me away from the prying eyes of Ms Foghorn from the front desk. She couldn’t  officially measure me (why? Who knows) but she could see that I needed a much bigger size. She brought me a selection of non-underwired enormous granny bras in a 34F. Two whole cup sizes bigger than my usual bra! Anyway, one fitted perfectly. It fits like a massive glove. Here’s what it looks like…it’s so comfy and yet so matronly. I can also use it to carry groceries home from the supermarket if I don’t have a bag with me.

‘SEE YOU IN A FEW WEEKS’ boomed the bra nazi as I left. Eh?! ‘OUR PREGNANT LADIES COME BACK FOR BIGGER AND BIGGER BRAS ALL THE TIME’. Great! Something to look forward to. 

  
Babies

I’ve had 2 quick scans over the last 2 weeks and I’m pleased to report that both babies are doing fine. Both are the size they should be. One of them – we call her ‘Big Val’ – apparently looks like a girl. She seems to have loads of room down there and is always the first one on view, doing spins and waving ‘hello!’ as soon as the U/S wand hits my belly. The other baby is tucked away behind her and he looks squashed and a bit pissed off. We call him ‘Richie McCaw’ after the All Blacks rugby captain. Richie may well be a girl – it’s hard to see the lower part of his body. He’s rather mysterious and I’m sure Big Val must be getting on his nerves by now.

We will have a ‘proper’ scan at 20 weeks so we’ll know more then. In the meantime our doc wants to keep an eye on my cervix which is currently 37mm long…anything under 35mm is a bit of a worry. I’ve decided to take a ‘glass half full/cervix 2 mms bigger’ approach to this and NOT worry yet. Fed up of worrying about everything! I keep reminding myself that millions of women have babies every single day without the benefit of multiple scans and visits with world class obstetricians. Chill out Winston – as my 12 year old self would have said.

Bump

I haven’t posted (or taken) any bump photos so far so here’s one for your viewing pleasure, see below. We went on a nice day trip to Broadstairs in Kent yesterday. As you don’t know what I looked like before I was pregnant please just imagine the same woman with smaller boobs and no bump. Ta  dah! I’m still in the ‘she ate all the pies’ phase rather than the ‘blooming pregnancy’ phase. I’m also still wearing my normal jeans…with an elastic hair bobble doing up the button. No mu-mus for me yet.

   

  

10+5 wks – Ladies and Gentlemen we are Floating in Space

   
 
….the name of one of my favourite 90s albums and also what occurred to me when I saw these little dudes bobbing about on Thursday. Twin 1 (top) was doing karate kicks, waving and spinning around like he’s on the International Space Station. Twin 2 appears to have a bit less room and was sulking – didn’t move much until the sonographer poked him and he did the fetus equivalent of a ‘FFS!!!’ and started kicking and waving.

We went to a snazzy new place on Harley Street to get a Harmony Test done (blood test looking for chromosomal abnormalities) and they did a quick scan to make sure everything was OK beforehand. It was lovely to see. Both twins are measuring at exactly the right size and we heard their hearts pounding. We even saw their tiny little hands and feet – amazing! Nature is incredible. Two miniature human beings.

I’ve been bleeding on and off this week but nothing too bad. I like being back at work – I don’t like being an invalid. My boss has been great and agreed to cover a couple of European trips I had planned last week. She also encouraged me to work from home as much as I need to. Her support has really helped reduce my stress levels and I am very grateful. I like to think that I would do the same for anyone in my team who found themselves in the same boat. Girl power.

9+5 weeks pregnant – to move or not to move

We met our new obstetrician yesterday and he is  – NICE! Of course he’s nice. I think I had a progestodream* that he’d be bossy/arrogant/dismissive but I was completely wrong. He’s lovely and inspires complete confidence. Within a matter of minutes I was oversharing about my brown bleeding and constipation. Must be love.

Here are some of the things we learnt:

  • It’s very likely that I’ll need a C section – mainly due to twins, ongoing bleeding and my previous bowel surgeries
  • My official 40 week due date is 5th September, but most twins are born at 38 weeks or even before….so probably early/mid August in my case
  • As this is classed as a ‘high risk’ pregnancy I’ll need scans every couple of weeks and regular checks for pre-eclampsia and other nasties
  • The bowel surgery I’ve had for Crohn’s Disease means I’ll most likely need B12 injections and checks to make sure the twins are getting enough nutrients
  • As I have B negative blood, and my husband and the donor both have RhD positive blood, I’ll probably need an ‘Anti D’ injection soon. Especially because of the bleeding.

He did a quick ultrasound scan (my first abdominal one) and the babies are both looking good with strong heartbeats. Unfortunately the frigging SCH (sub-chorionic hemorrhage) is also still there. It’s like a pantomime villain – it pops up in every single scan. ‘It’s behind you!’ etc etc.

Anyway, he seemed relatively unconcerned with the SCH. The settee rest has certainly helped – when I’m doing nothing around the house the bleeding goes away. However it pops up again as soon as I walk anywhere….in the hospital yesterday, to the corner shop this morning. It’s brown blood but more than just spotting. Ladies who bleed – what did you do? Did you go back to work and try to get on with your life? Or did you ‘rest’ for weeks and weeks?

Our obstetrician says there is no evidence that bed rest helps. I’ve found people online who think it’s best to let the SCH ‘bleed out’, and there are others who think that rest is best. I have an understanding employer but I need to get back to work sooner or later. I have an office job so I think I’ll be ok….I’m planning to go back to work on Monday and just stay off my feet as much as possible. Obviously I’ll call him if the bleeding becomes red/heavy. Any advice welcome here. The bleeding is terrifying but it seems unavoidable.

Here’s the best thing of all….the icing on the cake….the cherry on top. He sympathised about the bleeding and we explained that it has certainly sucked, and we’re just desperate to make it to 12 weeks. He said ‘of course you’ll get past 12 weeks’. What? Nobody has said this to us thus far. A small comment but it gives us massive hope. Everything – apart from the bleeding – is looking good. For the first time I’m allowing myself to feel a bit optimistic about this pregnancy.

*Progestodream – weird, vivid, psychedelic dreams caused by progesterone supplements.