· By Tiny Hearts Education
Meeting Elke & Oliver
Sunday night, I had intense contractions for 2.5 hours and started to get swelling in my ankles and feet. I took some Panadol, heated a wheat pack, and finally dozed off to sleep.
When I woke, I still had contractions, but nowhere near as intense. I called my obstetricians office around 9 am. However, Lyndal, my obstetrician, was in theatre today, so they told me to call the maternity ward. I called the maternity ward and told them my pain and that I was pregnant with twins and had gestational diabetes. The midwife spoke to Lyndal, and she wanted to see me in the birthing suite ASAP.
Mum came over to look after Remy. I put him to bed, and off we went to the hospital. Silly me was said, "We will see you this afternoon, Mum. Shouldn't be long". Whilst Simon is carrying out my suitcase. We arrived around 1 pm and went straight into the birthing suite. I was hooked up to the CTG machine to see what was going on. Lyndal came and saw us later on, and she wanted to give me the steroid injection to help develop the twin's lungs in case of preterm labour. We happily went ahead with this, and I was to stay two nights. Due to having gestational diabetes, the steroid injection would make my sugar levels very high. I needed insulin to bring it back down to a normal reading. Before this, my GD was diagnosed at 26 weeks and managed by a diet that kept the glucose levels down, and thankfully I didn't require insulin.
They checked my cervix and did a swab to see if any preterm labour was occurring. The % came back super low, very unlikely to deliver in the next week, so they were happy with that. That evening Simon left to go home to Remy. I started having contractions again, really intense, and you could see this on the CTG; however, they weren't consistent. They administrated tablets to stop preterm labour. I had to be monitored every two hours overnight for the first two nights to check the insulin and do my blood tests to see my sugar levels. My blood was taken as a precaution as I was due to get my blood taken around 34 weeks anyway. Still, I had major swelling in my ankles, so they wanted to make sure it wasn't pre-eclampsia.
Lyndal saw me the next day and said that my blood came back abnormal. So, for clinical reasons, she wanted to keep me admitted till the following Monday when I was at least 34+1 to monitor me closely. The aim was to get over 34 weeks.
Otherwise, if I were to go into preterm labour, I would need to be transferred to the John Hunter Hospital, which wasn't ideal. Lyndal could still deliver over there. It was ideal to stay where we were at Newcastle Private Hospital. I agreed with Lyndal that it was in the best interest that the nurses should take blood every two days to monitor the abnormalities happening within my blood.
I was taken up to the maternity ward the Wednesday afternoon into a shared room which I wasn't super keen on sharing. I met a lovely Mum, Kate, who was pregnant with identical twin girls! Kate and I started chatting, and we got along quite well. Thursday rolled around, and it was much of a blur this day. But I do remember Friday! Friday, I was feeling fine all day, watched Netflix, had a nap and slept.
Friday evening approached. I was filling up our waters in the kitchenette, and my heart started pounding like heart palpitations. I walked back to the room and continued to have a quick shower as I was going to bed. Thinking it will pass. It was still pounding, making me feel unwell. I got out of the shower and back into bed and pressed the buzzer. The lovely young midwife Abbey came in, and I explained to her she checked my BP, and it was 148/120, so very high, and my heart rate was 168 beats per minute. She quickly spoke with other Midwives, and a MET call was required. A MET is a team of specialised doctors and nurses who respond immediately to urgent medical help. She explained that she would press this red button, and about 15 people would come running in. And my goodness, she was right. They hooked the CTG up, ECG, blood taken and came back even more abnormal, pumped two litres of IV fluids through me quickly. The ICU Doctor was asking several questions, and I required medication to get my blood pressure down.
I told them this happened around 20 weeks pregnant. Still, when I presented myself to Singleton Hospital, it was at 120bpm. They didn't do anything about it. It wouldn't last for long, usually only ten or so minutes, but it didn't make me feel well and was happening every day, if not more than once a day. I started to feel a tiny bit scared as my heart rate lasted at this rate for close to an hour, but once it dropped back to 105bpm, I started to feel much better.
I thought maybe these babies would need to be delivered at one stage because of my health, and my body was giving up. I wasn't worried about the babies because the CTG was coming back perfect. You could see my breast pounding crazy and the pulse in my neck going a hundred miles an hour.
A midwife asked if there was anyone I should call. I was like, oh yes, my husband. I said I would call him off my phone, but can you talk to him because I was unsure how to explain what just happened. Let's say Simon didn't sleep well that night, and he was on day shift the next day. I had to be monitored closely, every two hours again overnight.
It was mid-Saturday morning, and the on-call OB, Susan Winspear, was on. She came and explained that I might be delivering early. But Lyndal will discuss it with me when she's back Monday. In the meantime, Lyndal knew what had happened. She hadn't handed over to the on-call OB yet for the weekend. Friday, when Lyndal saw me, she said behave until Monday. Please. Haha, that obviously couldn't be done! Mum visited later in the morning with Remy, and we played in the courtyard. Brief visit as he wasn't happy. Mum said he spewed twice in the car. Poor little man wasn't feeling well.
I had visitors throughout my stay. Simon would visit with Remy. Mum called in with Remy, my brother in law, niece, sister in law, nephew, Abbey, Jade, Arna & Dan.
Monday was here already. At this stage, I knew I was probably not going home today after the episode on Friday. And I was right. Lyndal wasn't taking any chances, and I don't blame her. My body was doing all sorts of crazy things. I was in the best of hands and care, so I was happy to stay, even though I was missing Remy and Simon. It was the longest I had ever been away from Remy and probably Simon in the last few years. I spoke to Simon to let him know that I wouldn't be coming home until the babies were delivered (he was in disbelief). At this stage, it was looking at delivering at 37 weeks instead of 38 now. The week between Christmas and New Year, and Lyndal was due to be on holiday then 😭.
Simon went to night shift that Monday, and he had Tuesday night off so he could come to see me Wednesday with Remy. His stay was short-lived. I forgot to mention Remy wasn't a fan of me in hospital. He wouldn't give me a hug or kiss. He would cry at me and cling to Simon. It broke my heart that my baby didn't want me. But I was happy in a way he wasn't clinging to me, and not wanting to let go that would have been even harder. But poor Simon couldn't even put Remy down without him crying.
Remy was cutting about six teeth at once (thank goodness I was in the hospital, lol). His normal routine was out of whack as he was being looked after by multiple family members. I kissed them both goodbye, and Simon was going to come down tomorrow by himself while Remy was at daycare.
Mum got sick with the gastro bug as it was going through everyone lately, but she thinks Remy gave it to her. Remy never had the runs. He was constipated as I told Simon to get some prune juice or make some pear purée to help it pass. Dan visited that afternoon, and that was a delight to see and chat with her. I got a tiny bit sunburnt on my legs and feet as my body was half in the shade/sun. That evening I was feeling tired, and I had my last CTG done about 9 pm.
It wrapped up, but then I suddenly had this intense pain near my groin, and then the pain went to my back. The midwife said to keep an eye on it. I went to the bathroom and started to vomit, and I filled one of those plastic spew bags up to the brim. So gross! The reason I went to the bathroom as I didn't want to lay in bed and have Kate hear me vomit when she would probably vomit herself.
So like me, I was thinking of her, when probably I should have just been laying down, typical me. I love caring for others. I opened the door and asked Kate to press the buzzer, and she said she already did! They came back and gave me some nausea tablets as I had already vomited again.
They agreed they would give me an endone after speaking to Lyndal once the nausea tablets kicked in. They administered that pain relief, except the pain was still there and intense.
At this stage, giving birth wasn't even in my head. I was transferred down to the birthing suite at about 1030pm. I messaged Simon to say I was going down, but I would let him know when we knew more of what would be happening. They monitored me closely, and the contractions just got more and more intense, and you could see them on the CTG. They administrated the drug to stop early labour three times, one tablet every half hour and for an hour and a half, but it wasn't working. I was very sick and started vomiting so much.
They called Lyndal, and she asked the midwives to check if I was dilating, and in fact, I was 2cm and looked like my mucus plug. That's when I was like, yep, it's happening. I'm having these babies! They said we had called Lyndal again we are going to theatre.
Shortly after, my waters broke not fully, but enough to feel grossed out.
I quickly called Simon. It was now around midnight. I said we were having the babies within the next hour. Hurry, you need to leave. He was so upset I could tell in his voice. He said he had been vomiting and on the toilet with the runs for the last hour. I thought fuck; this can't be happening, worse possible timing. And I said to Simon, I have to make phone calls. I'll call you back. Do not get in the car and drive down. He kept saying he would sit in the car park to be as close as possible, even knowing he could not enter the hospital. My goodness, he is the man of my dreams.
But I did say, "Bub, don't get it the car, there is absolutely no point, and to be honest, you'll probably shit yourself and vomit in the car, lol." His response was, so what if I do? I want to be close. It's the only option I have".
I had a midwife saying he can't come if he is sick sounds like it's gastro he cannot come. I was like, yes, I get that. Pipe down over there and let me fucking think of what I am to do. Because let me tell you, I never thought Simon would miss the twins' birth.
The midwife goes can you get your Mum to come? I firmly said no. She has been sick with gastro these last few days. The midwife laughed and said, this is such a crazy situation. I gave her the dagger eyes, and in my head, I thought bitch you did not just laugh at the most inappropriate time. Look, I look back now and laugh, but I was about to lose my shit that timing of her doing that. I kept it cool, though, because I had phone calls to make and more important shit to worry about than her laughing.
I quickly called my Mum. Knowing she would not be able to come but to let her know what was happening. She didn't answer anyway! I quickly called my sister in law, and she was half asleep and said, is everything okay I responded, are you still sick? She kept asking if everything was okay. I said no, no, Simon can't make it to the birth. I'm having the babies now like within the hour, she said, I still have a cold I can't, but Frank (my brother) is all healthy. I'll send him now, she said.
I had to go because my Mum was calling. I answered, and she was trying to calm me, saying everything was okay. I was like, well it's not Mum Simon can't make it! But I did say I know everything is okay, but I never pictured this to happen. Mum told me she loved me very much and that it would all be okay. I let her know Frank was coming, and I didn't have to give birth to these babies by myself. My current fear of going to theatre by myself, which I could not agree with, and I would not let that happen.
Because if my family couldn't have made it, Jade or Arna only live around the corner. I feel as though Mum was in disbelief because she would be here in a heartbeat if she weren't sick.
Simon sent me a message again, saying he was packing the car and would sit outside the hospital because he just wanted to be close. I was like, you can't come in, and you'll probably shit yourself in the car. He wasn't listening to me. He decided to drive down anyway.
In the meantime, Frank called me saying he was on his way. I said I couldn't talk at the moment. I'm signing paperwork and getting my blood done and a thousand questions asked. I'll see you in 30 minutes. The anesthetist was asking lots of questions, my mind running overload. I asked about Face-Timing, and she responded with, after they are born, and if they are okay, yes, we can Face-Time. I was thinking, well, that's not what I was asking. I'm asking for him to see the delivery of his fucking babies.
Now I wish I had the anesthetist Gary. He was so funny, laid back, and that's who I gel with people that don't take everything so goddam seriously and can have a laugh.
They changed me into the theatre gown and changed me again. As soon as the fresh one was on, I vomited all over myself that quickly missed the spew bag they grabbed, clearly not fast enough. Away we went down to theatre in the wheelchair. I was incredibly sick and anxious as I did not want to give birth alone. They were organising everything, waiting for Lyndal to arrive and my brother.
I tried calling Frank eight times and went straight to voicemail; he was on the phone with his wife. He finally called me, and he was 4 minutes away. I said, park out the front and hurry, these babies are coming! Next minute he is in front of me in his scrubs, saying, how you are feeling, Lil? I'm like, oh thank goodness you are here, yeah, I'm fine whilst laughing and putting my legs over the bench to get the spinal block. As I did that, my waters gushed out everywhere! I was like, eww, so gross.
Typical me I started saying I'm so sorry they are like, don't apologise. I can't help it. It's in my nature to apologise. It just feels so gross, and it was not stopping either.
They started to prepare me; there weren't as many people for the delivery as initially thought due to it being 1 am. If it were normal hours, it would have doubled, as they like to have two of everyone. Lyndal came in, and she was very confused because she realised that it wasn't my husband that I had been seeing her with and then soon realised it was my brother. She had delivered both of his babies. I was so relieved to see Lyndal; she asked how I was and that everything would be okay.
I asked if we could FaceTime Simon, and the nurses had already filled her in, and she said, of course, due to such circumstances. I was like, call Simon, his like I'm driving. I'm like, pullover, we are having the babies; he quickly pulled over on the side of the road. Frank was one side FaceTiming with Simon so he could see everything. I was so sick, vomiting the whole time.
My sweet Elke girl came out first, screaming.
She was twin b the whole pregnancy, but whoever is delivered first becomes twin a. It was such a magical moment. And within a minute, Oliver was here, not looking impressed at coming out. They whisked them both over.
Elke was already checked by the Paed and on oxygen, and so was Oliver. The Paed said as soon as their oxygen drops down and they don't require as much, we will pop them on your chest. A few minutes later, whilst I was still getting my stomach sewn back together, the paediatrician said they would have to take them to Special Care Nursey now as they are okay. Still, the oxygen levels hadn't gone down as much as they liked.
I sent my brother with the babies as they took me to recovery. In recovery, the spinal block was wearing off. I was so cold and could not stop gagging, heaving and spewing. I had the cold shakes, intense cold shakes. I was so drugged up yet alert with everything.
My brother came back down shortly and showed me some beautiful photos. I told him to go back up and be with the twins that I was okay.
Soon after, they transferred me back to the maternity ward into a private room. Frank came back and showed me so many photos, and we just chatted in such a blur. I sent him home around 4ish; I was so tired, and so was he. I couldn't have done it without him. I messaged Simon, and the poor thing had to call an ambulance after the birth as he said his body felt like it was shutting down and blacking out.
The ambulance refused to take him back to Singleton as they said Maitland was closer to Branxton (incorrect). He's like my wife has just had twins, and my 15month old is at home with my parents. I live right next to Singleton Hospital. He ended up having to drive himself home. He called Singleton hospital, but they said they wouldn't take him and to go home.
I woke up at 6 am by the nurses checking everything and remembering a nurse saying, you have been incontinent. And I was like, huh, sorry what?! And she's like you have pooped yourself. I was like, dear god must have to go, but then they were like, we will have to wipe you down its diarrhea honey. Wow, 😳 I was like, I am so sorry! I couldn't feel it as the spinal block was still wearing off. They cleaned me up, and I dozed back to sleep till 8 am, and I woke and had a feeling I had shat myself again!!!
And I pressed the buzzer, and one of my fav nurses came in. Kath and I said, and she's like, oh yes you have 😂 she's like we will have to get you up and wash you. I was also vomiting. After they showered and washed me, the nurse said, we have to get your stool tested. It's a pretty black and strong scent to see what's going on.
I was like, Kath, I don't think I could shit anymore; someone managed to get a tiny sample. I was curled up well, not really because I just had a C-section. But comfy as possible on my side, feeling so sick. Later they came in to say I have c-diff. A severe gastro bug can last weeks etc. the sad part was I was unable to see the twins until I was better, and that started after doing a solid poo 48hrs after. We had them at 1.09 am and 1.10 am Thursday, and I didn't get to see them till 830am Sunday morning.
And yes, this meant Simon was unable to see them either. My brother wasn't allowed back as he was in contact with me. I was upbeat, though! The SCN called to say they were doing fabulous. They sent so many pictures and videos and the same with the midwives. They would FaceTime me and show me my beautiful, healthy bubbas. They came off CPAP 15minutes after being born and were being tube-fed. I was unable to do colostrum as I was infected. It was so lucky I count my lucky stars that I never touched them after birth because it would have been life-threatening for them to have contracted c-diff.
Sunday came surprisingly quick. I mean, I was watching bulk Netflix and sleeping so much as I was in isolation and still on painkillers. I was counting down the hours to see them and hold my beautiful babies.
Sunday morning, a management nurse called to say we could bring the babies to your room. I was like, no, the plan was to go to SCN as I want this room fully cleaned before bringing them into it. I was so far away from the SCN, and walking there felt like it took forever.
The moment I walked in there and my beautiful babies were side by side in their crib with their cards above their names. I was holding their little fingers and the lovely SCN nurse brought them both over to me so I could hold them at the same time.
Up until this, I hadn't cried much at all, but dear lord, my emotions. My eyes were dripping when she placed them both in my arms. It felt so surreal that I gave birth to these two little cherubs, and yet I still couldn't believe we had twins. My husband was only 30minutes away. When he arrived, it was such a bittersweet moment to see him and for him to see our beautiful babies. We were able to spend as much time with our babies, and eventually, they were able to come back to our room for a short period before going back to SCN.
The following day Monday, the head management came in to discuss discharge day and that there was no room for me to stay as there were so many babies being delivered, and they were at full capacity. I already knew the possibility of staying for as long as the twins staying was a rare chance, and I had already prepared myself for this. We agreed on Wednesday as I only first got to see my babies yesterday.
The following day rolled around, and we were soaking up all the cuddles, bath time with the twins. Simon was coming back and forth to the hospital. I was due to go around to SCN in the afternoon to feed the twins. However, I started to have severe sharp pains in my right abdominal and also back pain.
I remember I buzzed the nurse, and she's like, this is unlike you asking for pain relief. I was like something isn't right. It was soo painful. The midwife checked my uterus to make sure it had contracted and which it was, but I was in extreme pain when she was checking it. She spoke to my OB and loaded up the pain relief as it was becoming unbearable. My OB came in later that afternoon and sat down on my bed. She's like, "Honey. We are going to do a scan on your appendix as I think you may have appendicitis". I was like, wow, what are the chances.
I needed to get wheeled over to my appointment as walking was incredibly painful. I remember the sonographer was like, "mm, I can't seem to find it. They are hard little buggers to find". She found it, and the pain of her pressing down was unbearable. I was nearly in tears clenching Simons hand about to break. It was only measuring about 8mm, so it was still within the normal range of what your appendix can be. Later that afternoon, my OB said she would get into contact with her friend, that was a Gastrosurgical Dr and get her opinion.
The Dr came to see me, and she stated they were very hesitant about doing surgery to remove my appendix but also concerned as if they were to put me on antibiotics, it could cause c-diff again. Factors of not being about to visit my premature twin babies and also isolate from my husband and 15m old son. I was like, that really isn't an option and run the risk of it flaring up a few weeks down the track and then having to come in for surgery when I have three babies at home. I was like, or do surgery now?
They were hesitant as I had just had major surgery and as well as c-diff.
They kept me under observation closely, and then we decided surgery was the best option, and it was scheduled for Friday, and I would be discharged Saturday morning. I ended up having appendicectomy and laparoscopic surgery. The result was my appendix looked fine, but they weren't taking the risk, a bit of blood pooling and enlarged lymph nodes but should all settle well.
Saturday morning, I had all my stuff packed, ready to go home. I was told my beautiful babies were ready to room on Sunday for two nights before they got discharged. They were all done having tube feeds and were able to be fully bottle-fed. I was so torn. I had my 15m old son and husband that I just wanted to be home. But I wanted my babies home as well. I was going to go home for one night and come back, but due to the maternity ward being so busy, the chances of a shared room were very high, and if someone had to share with me, that meant my husband would have to leave and go home.
I wasn't taking that risk because I wanted the privacy of finally having my twins with me, and in no way, shape or form would my husband be leaving my side after a whirlwind of a first week after giving birth.
Safe to say, Elke, Oliver & I got discharged on Monday 21st December 2020 after being an inpatient for three weeks and the twins being in SCN for 11 days.
I had the most caring, amazing OB, Dr Lyndal Harborne and all the lovely Midwives at Newcastle Private Hospital. I can't thank them all enough for making me feel strong, supported and loved through such a different and unexpected journey.
And of course, my amazing husband was there in person and FaceTime whenever I needed him. The best Christmas gift was bringing Elke & Oliver home to their brother Remy.
Nearly a year on, I look back and wonder where the time has gone?
I also get much more emotional as time goes by that I went through this. Sometimes I grieve that I didn't get to hold my babies for days and what unfolded. But I do know it was the best possible outcome of having healthy premature twin babies.
I am not alone when I say I grieve what happened. I know my husband is still saddened by missing the birth and what unfolded. But on happier news, we have two perfectly healthy babies about to turn one! This year has been challenging, and some people truly don't understand. Some people can empathise, but unless you have 15 month age gap between your firstborn and a set of twins, you will truly never understand.