Tuesday, 15 December 2015

No Womb For Improvement

Seven and a half years ago I started this blog because I was finding it difficult to get pregnant.

Since then I have documented 3 Intrauterine Inseminations (all failed). Five rounds of IVF starting from scratch and three frozen embryo transfers add that to countless months of inability to procreate the natural way. I've miscarried, I've had three babies, I've moved house.

I always wanted three children, the husband wanted two. Having twins means I won that argument. However we are both agreed we've had enough now. I have one last frozen embryo but we won't transfer that one. My breeding days are over.

This blog was started to help me make sense of why I couldn't get pregnant. It was a way of not feeling so alone amongst my fertile friends, it helped keep my fertile friends aware of what was happening with me without having to repeat myself, it enabled me to remember what treatment I'd had and what drugs I'd taken.

Now, however it is no longer relevant. As I no longer want to get pregnant I might still be physically infertile but that is immaterial.

The majority of the people who started reading this blog did so because they were also trying to get pregnant. Many of those now have also managed to have children, I'm sure that many also have not. I don't want to morph this blog into a parenting one, it feels a betrayal of the very reason I set it up - to get some respite from the seemingly easy breeders I knew in real life.

At the moment I am completely content with my lot.

I have three beautiful girls, who I could not love any more that I do. I am healthy. I am happy.

Using one of my Grandpa's favourite phrases; I can't think of anything to complain about.

There is no room for improvement.

So this seems like a good time to say goodbye.

I'm going to leave this blog up in case it is helpful to others starting IVF but I won't update any more.

Some of you have read this blog for years and I really appreciate all the support you have given me. Even if you have never left a comment seeing the number of visits this blog has had encouraged me to keep writing and reassured me that people were interested in what I had to say and, I hope, found it useful and entertaining.

So thank you, and goodbye.

Liz x

Thursday, 26 November 2015

The Birth

I had the twins at the same hospital I’d had Olive two years ago. It isn’t my closest hospital but it has a great reputation and I’d had such a positive experience there with Olive I didn’t want to go anywhere else.

I was very aware that with twins and an induction things are pretty unpredictable so didn't go into the birth with a very specific birth plan - I didn't want to be so wedded to one option that I'd be disappointed if the plan changed at any point.

My brief was "I'd prefer a vaginal birth with an epidural but just do whatever seems safest for the babies (and me) at the time"

Induction was due to be on the fourth on Nov with a phone call in the morning telling me what time to come in. I ended up ringing three times during the day as I'd heard nothing. I kept being told someone would call me back but no one did. At one point I was asked why I was being induced and I said I was having twins who shared a placenta but this didn't seem to concern anyone.

Eventually at 10:30pm the husband called and was more forceful. He mentioned the sharing a placenta thing and was told that wasn't of concern but they were more interested when he told them I’d had preeclampsia during my previous pregnancy. Suddenly they assured him someone would call first thing the next day.

Which they did at 7am asking me to come in that morning.

The midwife also told him I hadn't been on their initial list - I've no idea why as I was in the room when the midwife added me to the list, maybe he forgot to press ‘save’.

Once I got in at about 9am, we hung around a bit but were put in our own room and at about midday a pesserary (that looked a bit like a tape worm) was shoved up me. I was dreading this bit as when I was induced for Olive the midwife first of all made me doubt her medical credentials by saying she was going to put it up my "frou frou" but also it hurt when it was in, I felt it all night like a badly inserted, fully taxed, tampon. This time the insertion wasn't exactly pleasant but once it was in I couldn't feel a thing.

For the next few hours we just hung out in the room and at about 4pm went for a wander down the local shops, the joy of a hospital in central London. We even found a sofa that we liked so I'll keep an eye out for that in the January sales, but not a lot else happened.

At this point I really regretted not going for an elective caesarean. I kept thinking that if we'd gone for that I would have been done by now and wouldn't have the fear of labour of an unpredictable length looming.

I started having some contractions at about 8 tried some co-codamol which did almost nothing. And don’t get me started on gas and air (is that tautology?) it just made me feel a bit dizzy and sick, I really don’t get it.

By midnight things were very painful but the midwife declared I was only 2cm dilated and they wouldn’t take the pessary out until either I was properly dilated or it had been in 24 hours.

She offered me diamorphine.

I wasn’t about to turn down my first opportunity to try an opiate in a legal, monitored environment so I accepted eagerly.

My daytime midwife, Edna, was brilliant as was the one the following day (Amy). But this night one I didn't warm to, and the fact she didn't tell me her name is indicative of her bedside manner. She spent a lot of time getting annoyed because the twins kept moving so it was hard to get a constant trace on their heart beats (which meant rather than being hooked up to the machine for half an hour at a time I was on it for about 3 hours - not great when you can't move and are contracting).

When she offered me diamorphine she didn't really tell me anything about it. I thought it would ease the pain. I didn't realise until afterwards that a common side effect is it stops contractions completely.

But it did.

I felt really pissed off like the last few hours of contractions had been for nothing and I was going to have to start from scratch again once the drugs had worn off.

Then the diamorphine kicked in.

Paddy knew it had kicked in because I started talking about Marty Pellow from Wet, Wet, Wet being a smack addict and now I understood the inspiration for that line in his song "I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes ..." Because I could feel it in my fingers and toes. Turns out folk are boring on drugs to those who aren't on anything, in whatever circumstances they take them!

It was lovely, I felt really chilled. I didn't sleep because I got an oddly itchy face, but it didn't stress me out I just felt very zonked out and content.

At about 6am the drugs were wearing off and I began to panic that my previously incredibly active babies hadn't moved for ages. I asked the midwife - the same one I hadn't warmed to - to check their heart beats and she was really dismissive of my concerns saying that was I should expect them to stop moving if I’d just taken diamorphine. She did check them but I felt like I was being really paranoid by asking. But hey isn't paranoia a normal part of a opiate come down anyway?

It was now Friday the 6th of November.

The contractions started again at about midday. Thankfully a shift change had also bought the most lovely midwife Amy who was then with me to the end.  

At about 2pm I was 5cm dilated. Things were hurting and the epidural took its time coming as there had been an emergency so anaesthetists were hard to come by. But eventually one was sourced and I got my epidural.


The difference was immense. From being in agony I couldn't feel the contractions and had to be told that they were still happening and when.
At 17:30 I thought my waters had broken. But when I asked the midwife to check she said they hadn’t so offered to break them for me as I was getting very close to actually giving birth. There must have been a lot of pressure building as it burst and I soaked her. To the extent she had to go and change her scrubs. I know they’ve seen it all before but that was quite embarrassing. I mean Amy was brilliant but I’m sure she would have rather I verbally gushed all over her than physically.

Twin one was head down and perfectly poised so on the dot of 8pm, with the midwife telling me exactly when to push, how long for and when to catch my breath I delivered little Iris with just me, Paddy and the midwife in the room.

Twin two wasn’t quite so easy. She was lying length ways and whilst we’d hoped that the birth of the first might encourage her to shift head down. It didn’t.

Suddenly loads of people were in the room checking me and the baby whilst Paddy held Iris. They decided to take me into theatre in case I needed a c-section. I worried a bit as they asked me whether I wanted Paddy to come with me or stay with Iris. I said I wanted him to stay with Iris as I sort of imagined her being left by herself in the room otherwise. But I did also want him with me.

They laughed at me when I said I didn’t want Iris just to be left by herself.

In the end Paddy wheeled Iris into the theatre in her cot whilst everyone else milled around me.

The consultant decided to manually try and turn the baby so manipulated my stomach and managed to get the second baby into a slightly more deliverable position. A bit more pushing, which wasn’t painful thanks to my constant topping up of the epidural but was totally knackering, and Edith came out bum first at 20:47.

I didn’t even register the placenta coming out.

From start to finish the whole process took 35 hours way longer than a c-section would have. However the best thing about it, from a recovery point of view is that I didn’t have any rips, tears or stitches.

The staff were mostly lovely, and even though I was inconsiderate enough to give birth over the 20:30 shift change everyone hung around to see the end result. Throughout the whole birth I didn’t feel worried – even when taken to theatre but like I was in really good hands and safe.

Friday, 13 November 2015

My Girls

Turns out having twins makes you quite busy!

I've been home from hospital since Tuesday and today is the first opportunity I've had to update you all.

The birth story will have to wait.

The names caused us a nightmare. Remember I told you we thought we had the names sorted and then a quick google search showed that the names we'd chosen were a low rent lingerie brand? The names were Iris and Edie. See: http://www.debenhams.com/lingerie/iris-edie

So we tried to find something else.

Iris was the name that we both agreed on. So we struggled to find a name that would work with that (and Olive).

I liked Esme. He didn't.

He was keen on Lily but I didn't want all the girls to have a theme of plant names.

We were very, very close to Ellie before we realised that if Olive's name gets shortened to Ollie (which some of her nursery staff have already started to use) we'd have Ollie and Ellie.

Eventually we decided on Iris and Edith and yes, Edith is already being shortened to Eadie.

I guess I've just got to hope the pants brand is short lived and soon forgotten.

But you don't want to hear about that - here's the money shots of my babies.

 Iris and Edith

Olive and Edith

I can't tell you how happy, content and in love I am. 

Sunday, 8 November 2015

They are here!

The twins arrived on Friday the 6th of November.

Since then time has changed. In some ways flown as I've tried to snatch moments of sleep between their feeds and other needs, and also dragged as I've waited in hospital for help, advice, test results. And desperately missed Olive who is being looked after by the husband's parents.

The twins, my little girls, are genetically identical but at the moment don't look like each other's carbon copy as I'd feared. They look different but it is only now 31 hours in that I'm starting to recognise them as little individuals.

They aren't named yet, though we've got our short list down to three so just one more name to knock off the list and we are sorted.

We are still in hospital because of a few health issues common with early, little babies - low blood sugar, one had a touch of jaundice, both are on antibiotics. I'm confident they'll get the care they need and a clean bill of health soon so we can take them home to start to be a proper family. Even though each little set back has me in tears I know that is as much the tiredness and hormones setting me off than the loss of a wee bit of colostrum or a slight dip in blood sugar levels than it initially appears.

Hopefully I'll be better placed to write more soon, and work out how to add a picture of the little ones.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Remember, remember ...

For months, since my consultant appointment in July, I've had the 29th of October in my mind as my induction date.

This is because he said that he wouldn't let me go beyond 36 weeks pregnant. Every consultant has different ideas about when twins should be born and how. The 36 week deadline for me was based on a few things - mostly that my clones share a placenta and so there is a balance between wanting the babies to stay in long enough to be healthy when they come out and whipping them out before the placenta starts to deteriorate.

Turns out when he said I shouldn't go beyond 36 weeks that means anytime before 37 weeks.

When I went back last week for my final appointment we talked the nuts and bolts of delivery.

Firstly to decide how to give birth.

Much as I admire the women who want a natural childbirth with no pain relief I am not one of those women. And, throughout this pregnancy, conscious that twins can be early/ high risk/ unpredictable I have tried not to be wedded to one mode of delivery.  I want whatever is going to be safest.

The consultant and midwife asked the husband and I how we wanted the babies. We looked at each other. Surely they, the experts should tell us?


So we asked what was safest for the babies.

There is no such thing as a risk free birth but there are two main complications that they'd worry about.

With a c-section the babies lungs don't get the final squeeze as they are pushed through my vag. So some liquid can remain in the lungs. There's a slim risk, but it is a risk.

With a vaginal birth the main issue is the distribution of blood. The worry is when twin one comes out and the umbilical cord is cut there can then be an uneven distribution of blood going to twin two (waiting patiently in the queue). Again, it's a risk but the Consultant was talking about a 5% chance.

So that didn't help our decision.

Next we asked which would be safest for me.

With this the consultant was unequivocal. Vaginal birth.

So that decided us.

"As long as", I asked timidly, "I can have an epidural."

"Absolutely"  the consultant whole heartedly agreed and with that he scribbled a few things in my notes and was off to his next patient, leaving the husband and I with the midwife to finalise the actual date for induction.

That was one of the most bizarre conversations I've had.

"So what day that week."

"Umm... "

The husband whipped out his phone like he was going to slot the birth in between meetings. Not surprisingly his diary was pretty clear that week - given we thought he'd be on paternity leave by then anyway.

So the midwife asked if there was a date we wanted their birthday to be, baring in mind that the birth was likely to happen the day after induction.

In the end we have decided on Wednesday the 4th of November. There are several reasons for this:

1) It pushes the birth back to right at the end of my 36th week giving the babies as much womb time as possible.
2) My in-laws are coming down on Saturday so they'll have a few days to get reacquainted with Olive and learn her routine before the husband and I go off to hospital leaving them in sole charge.
3) If I'm induced on the 4th the chances are they'll arrive on the 5th of November. That is Guy Fawkes night in the UK, which has an accompanying rhyme "`Remember, remember the 5th of November ..." So we figured it'd be easy to remember their birthdays.

So as easy as booking in a haircut (with a not very in demand stylist), I've got my induction date.

A week today.

Assuming the babies don't decide to put in an early appearance...

Thursday, 15 October 2015

A Little Bump And Grind*

Being heavily pregnant invites comment. This doesn't bother me, after years of averting my eyes from pregnant women I find it a bit odd that people want to engage me in conversation about my impending motherhood, but I don't mind it. I mean it is an opportunity to talk about myself and who doesn't enjoy that?

This is how a typical conversation goes:
"You're pregnant" (To be fair I already know this so I don't feign shock but agree that yes I am).

Then I'll inevitably be asked either:
"Is it your first?"
"Do you know if it is a boy or a girl?"

To which I reply either "No it is my second ... and third"
"It is two girls - I'm having twins".

Once they've gone through the normal, "You are blessed, it is going to be hard work" bit I usually get:
"You don't look that big ... for twins"

I'm not exaggerating last week I was told every day that I wasn't do big for twins. This is by people who don't even know whether I'm 20 or 30 weeks pregnant (33 at that point) but I don't really know what folk expect a twin pregnancy to look like - arms and legs poking out of my belly?

I think I look pretty massive:

And the grind? No I'm not talking about sex - you lot are obsessed. I mean work. It has stopped.

I finished two weeks ago and have now had more pre-baby maternity leave that I ever did with Olive thanks to her being induced early due to my pre-ecclampsia. I am ridiculously lucky both living in the UK and working for the public sector that I can take a year off work without it being an issue (not all paid sadly but my job will be kept for me). So I haven't had to wait until the last moment before starting my maternity leave in order to get the most time with my babies.

I stopped work at 32 weeks. I didn't really know when would be best to finish and, in retrospect, maybe 30 weeks would have been more sensible as by the last week just walking the ten minutes from the station to the office was leaving me breathless and reaching my computer over my bump (it really doesn't feel that little) was a struggle.

Since finishing work I've managed to pack my hospital bag and most of the rest of my tasks have remained untouched. I'm mostly sleeping on days that Olive is in nursery and running waddling around after her on days she is not.

I'm also getting a bit forgetful. Call it baby-brain. So I forget to do things like reply to messages. This, it seems can induce panic in some of my friends I didn't reply to a Whatsapp group thing the other day. Panic, it seems, ensued and when I did reply they sent me a screen grab of their text conversation that made me laugh so much it did - almost - induce labour:

I can't promise guys, but should I go in to labour and can't type a response I'll try and send at least a red faced/ puffing emoticon to indicate just why I'm otherwise engaged.

But I am impressed they remembered that yes I should be induced on around the 29th (two weeks today) - I'm just waiting to be sent a letter with the exact date, apparently my hospital is quite booked up that week.

*This title is the first and will, hopefully, be the last time I ever quote R Kelly. But it seemed apt.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

29 Weeks

I keep having to tell my Dad and Step-Mother that no news is good news.

Having scans every two weeks doesn't generate the same level of excitement as two or possibly three precious opportunities to see your growing baby throughout a 'normal' pregnancy. So I keep forgetting to update them on the latest news.

And the latest news is brilliant, but dull. Namely that the babies (now at 29 weeks and three days) are both growing consistently well at at the same rate (there is a 9% difference in size) and my blood pressure - which was a sign of the pre-ecclampsia I had with Olive - is normal.

In many ways this pregnancy has felt easy. I've been tired. Knackered. But that's to be expected and I usually manage to sneak in a quick nap whilst the husband cooks supper once Olive is in bed.

I've also discovered the sick room at work. To anyone else it might look like a starkly lit box with a plastic bench in the corner, to me it is a place of ultimate sanctuary where I can sneak off to for a strategic fifteen minute nap and no one is any the wiser.

With (hopefully) six weeks and four days until the consultant wants the babies out and just three weeks left at work things are feeling manageable.

I'm getting excited about meeting the little blighters.

In fact the thing that is concerning me most is names.


And you know me I can't help but veer towards the names that have a punchline.

We've used the middle-name Frances with Olive which is lucky because otherwise Ivy F would definitely have still been in contention. One of my goddaughters is called Pheobe - which is helping me resist the temptation of using that name for twin two (Free-be, geddit?).

A mate once told me if he had twin girls he'd call them Beatrice and Tabitha. Nice names. But, obviously, Beer and Tabs for short. (If that doesn't translate across the ocean; Tabs are slang for cigarettes).

Naming one child is hard enough but when you need to name two it gets tricky.  I don't want names that match, but equally there has to be some kind of continuity. So I couldn't call, for example, one Clytemnestra and one Helen - because one is so unusual and long whilst the other is short and relatively normal - no offence any Helen's reading this.  (And if you get why I picked those two random names - award yourself an extra geek point).

And then you have to throw Olive into the mix. I'm not going to name these next two after plants/ trees or all three written down together would start to look like the index of a horticultural tome. And my sister made a valid point that all three should have different initials so that letters to Miss O. XXX don't cause confusion.

I thought I'd got it. Names that my husband and I both loved. They were of a similar length and vintage and worked well together without rhyming or being alliterations.

So I googled them.

Just to check.

Turns out an underwear brand stocked in a department store found in every town in the UK had come to the same conclusion. I'd now no sooner use those two names together than Dolce & Gabbana.

As tricky dilemmas go it is a fun one to have, and I can't help but scan the credits of every TV show for ideas. But we've yet to reach any conclusions.

Which is fine.

I've got plenty of time.


Sunday, 9 August 2015

Twin are freaky

Full disclosure: I am a twin. I love being a twin. In general I think twins are great.

However, the thing that has been freaking me out most since I found out I was having twins was that these ones are identical.

I pretend it isn't. I talk to people about how I am going to get any sleep, or leave the house with two babies and a toddler but these are (comparatively) short term problems. That whole sharing DNA thing is going to stay with them forever.

In many ways the family I am about to have will mirror my own. I have a sister who is two years and three weeks older than my twin sister and I. Assuming I make it to my induction day Olive will be two years and 3 months older than her twin sisters.

My sisters and I get on brilliantly. We've always fought but tended to do it in rotation. Two would gang up against one. But not always the same two.

Growing up I was always pleased that my twin and I weren't identical. We were compared enough as it was, despite being markedly different in personalities and looks, if we'd looked the same I knew that people would completely fail to see us as individuals.

I want these little babies to become people in their own right. Not half of a whole.

I don't want Olive to feel left out of the "special bond" that people always claim twins have. (I am as close to my older sister as twin).

That programme, The Secret Life of Twins I mentioned last post, I found quite disturbing just how dependant some of the twins seemed on each other. I am sure many folk watched it and thought it would be brilliant to have their own special friend who will always be there. I just found it sad that the majority of the twins featured seemed unable to form relationships by themselves.

 *Spoiler alert* Look away now if you intend watching it. The most heartening story in the programme was the identical twins where one of the girls first came out as gay before realising it was more than that and realised she, now he, was transgender. The other remained a heterosexual female. Vive la difference.

What will be, will be. My twins might end up with a secret language and live in a cave together requiring no other human intervention. Or they might do their own thing and develop in such a way that they rarely seem identical.

However here are some pledges that I will make to them now:

  • I will not dress you the same. (Except for halloween obviously because that costume is a godsend). When people give you identical outfits, because they will, you will wear them on different days.
  • If you are very similar when born I will dab a bit of nail varnish on one of you (toe) so that I don't get you muddled in the early days.
  • I will not give you the same birthday and Christmas presents.
  • I will encourage you to develop your own hobbies
  • Wherever possible I will get you into different classes at school.
  • I will get to know you as individuals.
  • I won't call you Stacey and Tracey. In fact, all rhyming names are out.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Twins are special

Twins are special.

I assumed that people would be blasé about the idea of twins as everything I read states that they are on the increase. The reason for the surge in the number of twins isn't just IVF. Hyper stimulation followed by Intrauterine Insemination is likely to force more than one egg out of your ovaries and thus more chance of multiple births. Also, intriguingly, as women approach menopause their eggs go all lemming-like jumping off a cliff (or ovary) with gay abandon, so again they are more likely to release two eggs in any given month.

So don't just assume that an older mother with twins has gone down the drugged-up, medicalised route that I've opted for.

Despite all this twins are special.

I know this because of the attention that I receive every time people realise I'm not just pregnant but pregnant with twins.

Even from people I wouldn't expect.

As I queued amongst a plethora of other pregnant women to book my next scan the bored receptionist took my referral without even looking up. He started to type in my details when he suddenly perked up. "Twins clinic?! Congratulations."

Three people sent me a link to this twin photo.

Three different people texted me within minutes of The Secret Life of Twins starting on ITV.

No one ever sent me a link to information about single babies when I was pregnant with Olive (or Doug/ Dymphna as she was known then).

Also, a few weeks ago I met a guy in a park.

Not like that you filthy minded bunch.

He was hanging out by the swings with his adorable nearly three year old twins. We got chatting. On the downside he confirmed what I had feared, I will not sleep for at least two years. But on the plus side he has given (GIVEN!) me their now redundant double buggy. It would have cost about £600 new and approximately half that second hand but in selfless display of twin parent comradeship he has just given it to me knowing that every saving counts.

Yesterday I accosted a woman I had never spoken to before and within moments I had got her phone number. She is a mother of twins at the same nursery as Olive and I grabbed her at drop off and asked if I could have a chat with her sometime about twins. To you Americans this might not seem like a big deal but we Brits know you don't swap phone numbers until you have been on nodding acquaintance for at least three months followed by a good six months of weather conversations.

But twins are special.

So we've already got a playdate planned.

And my twins are doing well. I had a scan on Wednesday they are still a very similar size (one pound, two and three ounces respectively). Apparently if twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome is going to manifest itself it usually does so by 24 weeks. The latest scan being at 22 weeks and six days is therefore incredibly reassuring.

My twins are special.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Non-Bucket List

I turn 39 this week.

A year before the big four-oh (little explanation there for the more mathematically-challenged amongst you).

Traditionally this is the point when people panic and start writing endless lists of everything they want to achieve before they hit forty.

Or before they die.

I've had a good long think about this and decided it is time to be honest about what I am never going to do, either in the next 365 days or however long I have left on this planet.

These were things that I always sort of assumed I would do but have now come to the conclusion I won't, and I am perfectly happy with that.

So here is my non-bucket list:

I will never make it to Glastonbury festival
I won't run a marathon
I'm not going to get a tattoo
I won't grow my hair long (I have done this once before, so I don't know if it technically counts but I have come to the realisation that hair any longer than my chin just doesn't suit me).
I won't do a bungee jump
I will never be fluent in a second language
I am not going to acquire a taste for whisky

But there is one thing I really want to achieve before I turn forty, and now unlike just a few years, or even months, ago it now seems eminently possible.

I want to become a Mother of three.

What's on your non-bucket list?