Well it is true what people say, every pregnancy is different and I can attest to that. My pregnancy with Taylor was vastly different from my pregnancy with Brian and Jean. Here’s my story of my IVF pregnancies.
Being pregnant with a singleton as opposed to multiples is much less complicated.
My singleton pregnancy with Taylor was confirmed ten days after the embryo transfer when I received the HCG level results from my blood test. At six weeks pregnant, I saw his heart beat on the monitor at the clinic during my ultra sound. My symptoms were quite standard; my breasts were noticeably increasing in size, I was tired, slight nausea but not to the point of vomiting and later on in the pregnancy I needed antacids regularly. Part of my uterine lining or part of the placenta caused a pretty severe bleed at about eleven weeks pregnant (which I talked about in more detail in episode 5 about my support network). I thought I had miscarried and it was quite a dramatic event. I lay on bed rest at home for three weeks to be sure there were no further complications.
Taylor was born healthy and at full term on a hot sunny day at 37 weeks 3 days gestation weighing 7 lbs 1 oz.
My multiple pregnancy with Brian and Jean was much more eventful. Though my pregnancy was confirmed through a blood test ten days after the embryos were transferred, I felt I was pregnant from the night after the transfer. I had the transfer on a Friday afternoon but by Saturday night I could already feel my breasts were changing. My breast changes were the first indication I was pregnant to many people because they grew from a B cup to D cup within weeks. My symptoms were also more pronounced than when I was pregnant with Taylor. I was extremely exhausted; on many occasions I had to have a nap after work. On weekends, I had to ask my family to take Taylor out so I could just relax because I felt so exhausted. I did have nausea but never vomited; I almost did a couple of times and felt that I was going to but never did. As with Taylor, I had gas and had to take antacids regularly. I also ate all the time; I don’t think I was ever full. I was very large with Brian and Jean. I looked pregnant within a month and was the size I was at full term with Taylor at just over four months. I had a difficult time just walking a couple of blocks by this time.
I found out I was having multiples at six weeks pregnant and by the twentieth; with a boy and a girl.
I had planned to work full time until the babies were born. My students were great with my pregnancy; if they had questions, they would come to me as opposed to me having to walk around the class. Instead of standing giving a lecture, I got a stool and sat down in front of the class. In the computer lab, I walked around the class with a chair to sit down on at all times.
Because I was having a multiple birth, I had regularly scheduled ultrasounds from twenty weeks gestation until they were born.At my 24 week ultra sound the technician discovered that my cervix was already reduced to only a couple of millimetres. It was supposed to be at 3 to 4 cm at this stage. I had to be checked by the on call doctor and he admitted me into the hospital immediately.
Well this was quite a shock.
I was with my son Taylor, was planning on going to work the next day and now I was going into the hospital. Luckily, I had asked my brother to come with me to the appointment and he took care of Taylor. Taylor had just turned three and was not one to sit still for long on his own. Not only did I have to get admitted to the hospital but I had to stay there until the babies were born and on strict bed rest. Furthermore, I had to have the bed in a reclined position to take the weight of the babies off of my cervix and I was to only get out of bed when I had to go to the bathroom or have a quick seated shower.
The next week was very stressful for me as I had to prepare my lesson plans for my substitute teachers, work out my leave with human resources and organize the life of my then three year old son.
Meanwhile, I had to adjust to the life of living in a hospital while reclined upside down.
It was quite frightening when the neonatal doctor came to visit me the very next day and explained to me the situation I was in. He sat on my bed side and told me that if I were to give birth now (at 24 weeks); my twins would only have a 50% chance of survival and if they survived at this stage; they would have a 60% chance of having a special need (mild to severe level). I knew it was going to be difficult as a single mom to manage three children but to have two with special needs would be very challenging. Not only that but if the babies were born prior to 26 weeks gestation, it was my decision whether to use all means possible to keep them alive. So if I went into labour in the first two weeks of my hospital stay, I would have had to make the call of whether to keep my babies alive no matter their condition. What a traumatic event that would be. At and beyond 26 weeks gestation, the hospital is legally obligated to keep the baby alive in whatever condition they are born. Well this was absolutely frightening for me to hear. I was committed to staying on bed rest as long as I could to keep the babies growing in me as long as possible. As difficult as it was to separate from my son Taylor, I knew that I had to do what was best for the babies and Taylor was being well cared for.
I stayed in that room in the hospital for over four weeks before the babies were born at 28 weeks 5 days gestation.
I remember another neonatal doctor came to visit a week later and explained the birth process to me. The only surprise was that they would wrap the babies in plastic bags immediately after birth to keep them warm. One of the babies was breach and the other had their head down. Because I had a previous caesarean section with Taylor, I opted for a caesarean section for the twins.
At about three weeks into my hospital stay I had an ultra sound that revealed one of the babies was pushing on the umbilical cord which was lodged between the baby and the cervix. This was not a good thing. My nurse told me that if the umbilical cord came out I was to hit the emergency button immediately. She said that the nurse would use her hand to put the cord back up toward my uterus and I would be rushed to an emergency cesarean section. The nurse would have to keep her hand up holding the umbilical cord in me until the babies were out via cesarean. She said she only had to do it once before and it isn`t the most comfortable thing having your hand up someone, going down the elevator then into the emergency operating room.
Thank goodness this was not necessary.
The nurses and doctors were all very nice in the hospital. Every day the on call doctor would come and visit and introduce themself to me. At the beginning of every shift, the nurses would come and greet me. Every morning and every night the nurse would check the babies’ heart beats and check my blood pressure. Once or twice a week a massage therapy school student would come in to practice their massage techniques. It was amazing how sore my muscles were. Being on bed rest was very difficult for my body. I was extremely limited to the exercises I was allowed to do as they did not want anything to induce my pregnancy. I was not allowed to do any leg lifts or pelvic exercises.
I don’t know if I could have managed without the massages, I cherished them!
Once a week there was a lady that did crafts and she always came in and asked if I would join them. I didn`t want to leave the room until I reached 28 weeks. That was a big milestone according to the doctors. Every day counted for the growth of the twins but to make 28 weeks the babies had over 85% chance of being healthy and would most likely survive. Every day and every week I was in there was a blessing.
The chances of survival and condition of the babies increased exponentially from the 24 weeks when I was first admitted into the hospital.
From the beginning the doctors and nurses offered to take me down to the neonatal intensive care unit where the babies would most likely end up once they were born. I opted out of this tour because I didn`t want to move or get out of bed unless necessary. After I reached the 28 week mark I did join the group of pregnant women doing crafts. I was the only one who got wheeled in bed into the room. I was happy I went because I was able to make a Christmas stocking for my son Taylor and he was so thrilled that I did something for him while in the hospital.
The most difficult part of the hospital stay was worrying about my son Taylor.
He was only three years old and didn’t quite understand why I left him. He still struggles with a little anxiety today. He gets it when we visit my brother`s house or when my brother takes him out. My brother is Taylor`s godfather and he has developed a close relationship with him by coming over for dinner once a week since he was born. Taylor stayed with my brother and his girlfriend for most of the month and a half I was in the hospital. They brought him to visit me but there was a ten day period when he got sick and wasn’t able to come and that was very difficult for me.
He was also too young to have telephone conversations with so my connection with him became very limited.
My coworkers were also very supportive. When I first got admitted, they all made me food and brought it to the hospital. The counsellor from the school spent the first day with me in the hospital and that was very comforting because she helped me with human resources and was there when the neonatal doctors came in and told me the grim news. My son Taylor had been going to a daycare for the past two years and she overnighted him on the weekdays so my brother could go to work. She has become a wonderful friend. I also had a constant flow of friends, family and coworkers visit me to make my four and a half week hospital experience as pleasant as it could possibly be.
I was fortunate they caught my reduced cervix in time for me to go on bed rest and now my children are all very healthy and happy individuals.
Thanks so much for listening, I hope you join me on my next episode on “How were the deliveries?”