35+4 weeks – the Cautious Countdown Commences

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

30+4 week update


Well, it’s been rather an eventful week here in the country formerly known as the United Kingdom. Every time you think things can’t get any worse….they do. Today Boris Johnson, one of the chief engineers of this mess, decided he didn’t want to be PM after all and would rather stick to his day job as a bumbling toff comedy baby. Michael Gove (aka the Prince of Darkness), is positioning himself for top job instead. Who knows what will happen tomorrow. Nobody has a plan. It’s like Game of Thrones on acid. I’ve officially retired from reading the news…it’s bad for my blood pressure.

Anyway, the local news (ie, news from my uterus) is pretty good. Twins are merrily kicking away – both are now in a head up, feet down position and unlikely to move much. This would not be good news if I were planning a vaginal birth but it’s fine as they will both be coming out of the sun roof. One is wedged under my ribs a bit, giving me heart burn/acid reflux. Never had this before….it’s nasty and causing me to burp in a rather unladylike manner. Any tips?

My trusty cervical rubber ring is doing its thing. My cervix is still short – between 19mm and 21mm – but appears to be stable and my FFN (fetal fibronectin number) is low. I’m having a scan every couple of weeks to keep an eye on things but the docs are relatively happy. They don’t really believe in bed rest so I’m going about my normal life, which mainly involves walking rather a lot interspersed by sitting behind a desk.  My cervix and I are both staying positive.

What else? Well – I’m still determined to make it to 37 weeks. Our doc is pretty sure they’ll arrive before then (mainly due to cervix situation). Not yet please! Ive got things to do – husband and I created a pre-baby ‘bucket’ list. We’ve been making the most of our British Museum membership. We went to the IMAX cinema for the first time ever (16 years in London…!). We’re going out for a fancy dinner tomorrow night. I’m booking tickets for the theatre and a concert. We’re seeing friends. And…I’ve got loads of work stuff to sort out. Please stay put for a while kiddos.

28 + 5 weeks – smile for the camera


Got a lovely surprise at the 28 week scan this week – the sonographer flicked the switch to 4D and got a great pic of twin 2 (‘Big Val’) smiling for the camera! Isn’t technology amazing? Isn’t nature amazing for that matter….I have somehow managed to grow this little person inside me for the last 7 months. Anyway, there she is – nose, smile and all. She’s currently horizontal under my ribcage which is apparently a good place for pics.

Twin 1 remains shy and mysterious – we got a blurry pic of her too, see below. She’s head up, bum down, somewhere where my uterus used to be before it got massive:


Anyway it’s very exciting and getting ‘real’ now. 28 weeks is the viability point for twins so Im starting to feel a bit more relaxed about my vertically challenged (ie short) cervix. Hopefully I can keep them cooking until week 37 or thereabouts.

What else is going on? Well, I look like I’m smuggling a national supply of tea and scones for the queen’s birthday under my dress:


I’m still feeling pretty good really. Having spoken with a few other mums to be I’ve decided that I am either A. having it quite easy or B. not a hypochondriac. Maybe a combination of the two. Sleep is a bit of a ball ache (can’t get comfortable and need to pee all the time) and by around 6pm, when leaving the office, I have cankles and sausage feet. Aside from that though – nada. 10 more weeks? Bring it on!

‘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:

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

23 weeks – big foot

I’m learning a few things about pregnancy they don’t tell you in the movies:

  • My feet have got bigger. Why? Who knows but I am developing sausage feet. Birkenstocks are my new friend – I have decided they are appropriate for work, home, weekends, shopping, going out, staying in, basically all aspects of life.
  • ‘Restless leg syndrome’ is a thing. Unfortunately I have that thing and it is keeping me awake at night like a mad, twitching lunatic.
  • I have dropped a few IQ points. Today I panicked at the cash point because I realised I had lost my bank card. Guess where it was? Inside the cash machine. Where I had put it 5 seconds beforehand.
  • Having a massive belly and humungaboobs hurts your back.

Anyway aside from all of the above I am feeling good. Had another cervical scan this week and my rubber ring/pessary is doing its job. Cervix is still 27mm which is short, but it’s not getting any worse. Ha! In your face, cervix! You cannot defeat my giant bright blue rubber friend.

Speaking of enormous, check me out. The horizontal stripes probably don’t help.


I still can’t quite believe we’ve made it to 23 weeks. This is really happening. The doc says we need to get to 28 weeks which is ONLY 5 MORE WEEKS. Obviously I’m determined to get to 37 weeks or thereabouts but I guess it’s time to get serious and buy a pram and stuff. There will be no Pinterest nursery mood boards from this blogger – our twins will be sharing a cot in the corner of our room until they are 16 or something. Space is at a premium in London, folks 😐

On the non-baby front my husband and I spent a fantastic weekend in Amsterdam last week. The weather was fab (27c) and we had a lovely time wandering around the canals and eating great food. Unfortunately we had to forgo bikes due to my dodgy centre of gravity but it was still nice. Check it out:

19+3 weeks – Hungry and Cervical Helmets

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Here’s a 19 week update from twin pregnancy towers – London branch.

I’m growing. I’m growing BIG. Some of this is related  to the two 6 inch humans resident inside me and some is related the amount of food I am eating (or thinking about eating….all….day…..long). It’s ridiculous. I’ve never been so hungry in my life. When I’m eating I’m thinking about what to eat next. There is nothing I will not eat. Nothing! Mmm, now I’m thinking about food again. Some toast would be nice. Lovely, lovely hot buttered toast. Yay for food.

I haven’t weighed myself so I have no idea how much I’ve stacked on but I can tell you that my waist was 27 inches in December. That waist has now completely disappeared and been replaced by a 38 inch road bump.

In the words of Mike Myers, GET IN MAH BELLY!

What else is happening? Well, my cervix is a bit short. It was 35mm two weeks ago and it was 32mm on Monday. That’s not a great number, particularly for a relatively small person who is only 19 weeks pregnant. Anything under 35mm is worrisome and can point towards pre-term delivery. However the good news is that my fibronectin number is very low, only 1/500. This is a very good sign, despite the shortening cervix.

So… my doctor decided to err on the side of caution and insert an ‘arabin pessary’ to help keep my cervix closed. Sounds exotic doesn’t it? It isn’t. He described it as a ‘lot like an old fashioned diaphragm’. I nodded wisely, picturing (for some reason) a rolled up condom. Fact is, I’m a 38 year old modern-day person living in 2016 so I have no idea what a diaphragm looks like. So, I was a little shocked when he produced a bright blue rubber ring that looked like the end of a plunger –  about 10cm across and 5cm deep. Yeah…not really like a rolled up condom.

Anyway he kindly let me know that he would ‘fold it in half’ before ‘popping it up there’, which I thought was nice.

He popped it up there and it was fine. I can’t feel it. It needs to stay in until I deliver the babies. The magic number is 28 weeks (when early babies have the best chance of survival), but I am determined to bake them until 37 weeks. Come on cervix, you can do it!! Especially now you have your arabin hard hat on!!

pessary 3

2 free hours in Amsterdam – in pictures

I’m in Amsterdam on a business trip.  I had a couple of hours spare this afternoon so what did I do? Well I…. ate chips, saw some tulips, checked out Nintjie (aka Miffy), blew some Euros on unnecessary but cute baby stuff and put my feet up for 10 minutes. I’m getting cankles by the way.

Tomorrow – Munich!

  
    
   

  

Gebärmutterhals!

….is the German word for ‘cervix’. I learned this in a Frankfurt hospital last night,  whilst waiting for a doctor to check if my ‘Gebärmutterhals’ was still ‘abgeschlossen’ (closed).

Yes, it has been another eventful 24 hours in pregnancy-land. Probably my own fault this time. TMI alert but I’ve been having rather a lot of watery discharge for the last few days. Nothing to worry about, I thought. Perhaps I’ll just email our obstetrician to let him know, I thought. So I did just that – on a train en-route from Zurich to Frankfurt

Anyway I didn’t quite get the reaction I was hoping for. Mr K (our obstetrician) requested that I come to see him immediately. Eh? I told him I was in Germany. He requested that I go to a ObGyn clinic, in Germany, immediately. WTF? He was concerned that I might be leaking amniotic fluid. No messing.

Well, obviously I started to panic. This hadn’t even occurred to me and it had actually been going on for a few days. I thought I was doing a little ‘FYI’ email when in actual fact I probably should have got this checked out much earlier….and in London, not blimming Frankfurt. I panicked even more when a quick Google search revealed:

  • Most Frankfurt ObGyn clinics are only open in the morning (WHY? WHO KNOWS).
  • Leaking amniotic fluid is very bad.
  • My rudimentary German does not include gynecological terminology

Big shout out to  Felix at the Frankfurt Hilton check in desk. By the time I arrived at the hotel I was in a massive flap. This lovely 18 year old work experience kid made a few calls and managed to get hold of a gynecologist, who advised me (via him) to go to the hospital. It was somewhat awkward explaining to Felix what was going on (using words like discharge, vagina, examination, cervix and so on) but I didn’t care at that point.

Anyway fast forward 30 minutes and there I was at the hospital using my mediocre German (and Google translate tool) to explain to a nurse what was going on. Basically I needed a doctor to check if my ‘gebärmutterhals’ is’abgeschlossen’ ASAP. It wasn’t a great experience but we got there in the end. She was lovely, she stroked my hand throughout the ridiculous translation experience.

I had to lie down on a bed with my legs in the air whilst waiting for a doctor. Luckily – he spoke pretty good English (apart from calling my tights ‘trousers’ which I thought was quite cute, like ‘please take off your trousers’ when I wasn’t wearing any). He did a swab test, an examination and a quick ultrasound. Big relief – everything is fine. Totally, utterly, fine. Both babies swimming around in plenty of amniotic fluid. Nothing to worry about. Just good old, umm, ‘regular’ discharge then. He did say that my doctor was right to tell me to come to the hospital straight away.

So, the moral of this story is – please call or email your doctor straight away if you’d like to inform them of something. Don’t leave it three days. Don’t do it from a train in Germany. And never leave home without a crib sheet of gynecological terms in various languages, just in case.