March 31, 2016

Life with Twins + 1: Long Overdue Update

So I don't know whether this blog continues to get any traffic, but it suddenly occurred to me that there should be an update of sorts.

Our twin boys Quinn and Liam were born at 30 weeks and 4 days (10 weeks early) on December 29th, 2014 after a very complicated pregnancy. I had TAPS (Twin Anemia-Polycythemia Sequence), which is a rare subset of Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome. This started developing at the 16 week mark of my twin pregnancy, and I was monitored fortnightly with ultrasounds until 24 weeks, then it was weekly, several times a week and DAILY by the end. I wasn't admitted early to hospital on bedrest purely because of 3 year-old Rowan at home. But I did spend half of my day at the hospital by the end of it.

Being a mother to premature twins was confronting and our boys spent 6 weeks (Quinn) and 10 weeks (Liam) in the NICU, followed by Special Care Nursery. Liam was diagnosed with Neonatal Chronic Lung Disease and spent eight months on home oxygen before being weaned from it in August 2015. Quinn suffered a minor brain bleed (IVH)  in the early days after birth but scans have showed that there is no longer any evidence of a bleed... phew!

Both boys are now 15 months old (12.5 months adjusted age) and are currently walking, learning to talk and being extremely cheeky to 5 year-old brother Rowan, who continues to adjust to his life being turned upside down by twin toddlers on a daily basis.

4 days before I delivered our twins (30 weeks exactly here)
Liam and Quinn shortly after birth, TAPS confirmed upon delivery via emergency c-section.
Leaving hospital for the last time, 10 weeks later!
3 months old (Liam is on the left in all pictures from here down)
6 months old
8 months old
10 months old
Happy 1st Birthday!
14 months old with big brother Rowan at Easter 2016
While I don't really update this blog regularly anymore (it was there for me back when I needed the outlet), I post regularly on Instagram as Aurian82. If by some chance you're reading this and want to connect, you can find me there. xx

October 4, 2014

18 Weeks Pregnant... and a Reveal!

I have long neglected this blog due to life being crazy chaotic around here. I am thankfully still pregnant with our twins, and simultaneously navigating selling our home (a two bedroom apartment won't cut it for our soon-to-be family of 5!) and parenting our 3.5 year-old son, Rowan.

Twin pregnancy has been very different to that of my first pregnancy. Everything has stretched faster, ached faster, everything has in fact been faster - including baby movement, which I felt the first flutters of at 12 weeks pregnant! Now, at 18 weeks, flutters have become pokes and I can distinctly feel a baby on each side of my tummy which is kind of fun. 

I am carrying monochorionic-diamnotic twins (or Mono-Di for short), which basically means the babies are each in their own amniotic sac but share a single placenta. This means extra monitoring via ultrasound (scans every two weeks starting at 16 weeks, and will progress to once per week from 24 weeks on). The extra scans are to ensure that both babies are growing as they should be and that one isn't getting more or less blood flow than the other. So far so good with our scans, but I'm always cautiously optimistic as I've been told that things can change very quickly in mono-di twin pregnancies. 

So, want to see our babies? Since 12 weeks, Baby A has been in a better position for photos (the twin closer to the front of my uterus, therefore easier to scan) so we've gotten some great shots. Baby B remains a little more elusive and is very wriggly (but I know we'll get that gorgeous profile shot at some point!).

Our twins at 12 weeks (Baby A on the left, Baby B on the right)
Baby A at 16 weeks (with a profile and nose just like Rowan!)
Baby B at 16 weeks
Twin bump growth at 12 weeks vs 14 weeks (when I started to really pop quickly)
16 week twin bump (see what I mean??)
And lastly, at our 16 week scan we were able to find out what we were having, I'll leave Rowan to fill you in with the details! ;)

It's BOYS!

July 27, 2014

8 Weeks Pregnant

This week I've had a head cold and forgotten how much being unwell while pregnant knocked me around (as well as caring for an extremely active 3 year-old!).

I've started to get my head more around the idea of becoming a twin parent. It's scary, really scary. I've had feelings of ungratefulness, of despair, of loss (of the pregnancy I thought I might have had), but also incredible awe at what my body is doing.

Already I am starting to get a little bump that is visible in the mornings and highly obvious by the end of the day. I look like I did at 15-16 weeks pregnant with Rowan, and I'm only 8 weeks! I have plenty of stretching/pulling pangs but they're not cramping so I'm okay with that. Little reminders like that 'stitch' feeling when I twist or stand up too fast remind me that the muscles are growing and round ligament pain will probably become a reality sooner rather than later.

8 week twin bump

We have our first appointment with the obstetrician next Monday (I'll be 9.5 weeks then), he was the same doctor who I saw with my previous pregnancy and he is well-known for being hands off and a supporter of natural birth. From what I know of him, he will support a natural twin birth (providing that the first baby is head-down towards the end of pregnancy). So hopefully after discussion we get the clearance to at least try for this option. Natural birth with little intervention is important to me and I am proud that Rowan's birth was exactly what I wanted. I understand that this time around might be a little different and with time, I think I'll be okay if that's what it comes to.

It floors me that in as little as 4-5 weeks we might know whether these babies are boys or girls. I'm very interested in knowing at the moment, whereas before becoming pregnant I was adamant about waiting until the birth! How times change... 

July 19, 2014

7 Weeks... it's TWINS!

Yesterday we discovered at our first ultrasound that there are in fact TWO babies on the way!
On the trip  home from the scan Matt and I started discussing the logistics of not being able to fit three child/baby seats across the back of our car and what that would most likely mean for our family (I don't like driving huge cars/4WDs), double prams, and will we ever get any sleep again after the babies are born?!
However, it's all so far away (and yet.... it isn't!) and as we're both thinkers (as opposed to do-ers) it's time to start talking about it. Then there's the fun part of coming up with extra baby names (squee!) and deciding such things as finding out the sex of the babies before they're born. We were leaning towards waiting until birth to find out had there been one baby, but now that there's two we'll probably find out for practicality reasons. Not that I'm displeased with that, unconsciously I think I probably wanted to know anyway.
Three children when both Matt and I saw our family with two? If this all works out, we are definitely done now!!
So here is what we know so far:
  • The babies are identical
  • Our single embryo split into two before it implanted into my uterus (basically a 48-hour window between the embryo being thawed and implantation beginning)
  • Each baby has their own amniotic sac (a VERY good thing, I'm so relieved!)
  • The babies share a placenta (so there is a potential risk of twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome developing, worst case scenario)
  • My due date is still in early March, but it's likely that they could come in Jan/Feb, depending on how everything goes (scary...)
  • I'll be monitored more closely because of the twin pregnancy, mostly through ultrasounds (which could be as often as every 2-3 weeks)
  • This will make one heck of a pregnancy scrapbook!
When it was all sinking in yesterday (put it this way, Matt's initial responses to the ultrasound technician telling us that the embryo had split and there were two babies was a loud "OH SHIT!", and I could barely say a word except for muttering "TWO! ..... TWO! ..... TWO!"), my best friend gave me a good laugh. She said that the weakest of our embryos (as I called it, this one took 6 days to get to the 5-day blastocyst stage suitable for freezing) thought "I'll show them..." and went above and beyond the call.
And indeed it did! It also made me realise that this little one decided upon the stealthy 'divide and conquer' approach to survive, so now I have dubbed their collective tummy name as 'The Overlords'. No peas in a pod around here, that's for sure!
(and it's amused me today because I can throw random comments into the conversation such as "the overlords are hungry" and "the mission for uterine domination continues". Ahh, small things :P)
So here they are, meet the Overlords, both measuring at 6w5d (Rowan always measured two days smaller also).
In the picture, you can see one yolk sac in front of the other (the circles in the middle), with a baby at the top and bottom.

July 4, 2014

5 Weeks Pregnant

After using the last of our four frozen embryos (from 2010), a very straightforward transfer followed and the wait to the pregnancy blood test begun. 

There were a few things we did differently this time which may or may not have contributed to finally getting that elusive implantation:

  • Acupuncture (immediately before and following the embryo transfer)
  • Progesterone support (400mg pessary, twice daily)
  • Dilatation & curettage (D&C) in the month prior to our transfer cycle 
  • Herbal support from my naturopath (I have a post-transfer mix that I take 3 times daily)
  • Keeping a consistent body temperature (no super-hot showers or very cold foods/drinks for 5 days following the transfer; blastocysts are temperature-sensitive)
  • Taking it easy (no heavy lifting)
I'd like to hope that one or several of these things tipped the scale in our favour (or simply, that what we thought was our least strong embryo - left until last - was the one that actually came through for us). 

I am on progesterone support for rest of the first trimester and while it's a bit yucky, if it means a healthy pregnancy for the next couple of months then I will gladly continue it.

I found out about this pregnancy at 6dp5dt, I had a temperature shift (37.3C from 36.8C) following a day of mild cramping (I put this down to implantation in hindsight) and woke up in the middle of the night with a rapidly beating heart and sense of something being 'different' in my body. This intuition was pretty much how I realised I was pregnant with our son (now aged 3) so immediately recognised it. I got up and took a test... and sure enough it was positive!

This wasn't the original in-the-middle-of-the-night test, but
instead one I took the next day to confirm BFP.

Normally I wouldn't test so early during a FET cycle but the signs were too strong for me to ignore. I am sensitive to HCG and have a strong sense of what's going on in my own body. In our other (unsuccessful) transfers, there haven't been any moments like this, just continued failed cycles after 5, 6 or 7 days post-transfer (another reason I pushed our IVF specialist for progesterone, following self-research). 

I have had two blood tests recently - one at 10dp5dt (15DPO) and another at 16dp5dt (21DPO). The first came back with HCG=198 / Progesterone=128. The second showed HCG=1600 / Progesterone=100. I have one more blood test in a week's time, and then our first ultrasound (!!) booked for 7w0d to confirm sac and heartbeat etc.

In the meantime I'm continuing to parent our three year-old son while starting to get hit with tiredness (hello Nana nap!), queasiness in the afternoon and growing breasts (I'm small up top to begin with so changes there are generally pretty obvious). I've taken a 'beginning' belly picture but won't post it just yet until I've got something to compare it to - last pregnancy I took pictures weekly but this time I think I'll do it every two weeks (or at least in the earlier stages).

My due date is March 5th, 2015 (two days shy of my 33rd birthday). :)

June 29, 2014


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It worked!!!

June 14, 2014

FET #4

After my surgery last month in preparation for our upcoming Frozen Embryo Transfer (the fourth one since November 2013), we're getting ready for transfer day this week.

The surgery itself went smoothly with little recovery time and, after the effects of the anaesthetic were out of my system, I felt back to my usual self. The last time I had a D&C (dilatation and curettage) was back in 2008 along with the diagnosis and partial removal of endometriosis, and the recovery time was a little bit longer so I wasn't sure what to expect this time around.

Ready for surgery, supportive husband is tired.

I started taking progesterone a couple of days ago (the first time I've had medication as part of a FET cycle) as my cycles are on the shorter side. My IVF nurse and our specialist agree that my body might be getting ready for a period before our embryos get a chance to implant properly and start pumping out HCG. So here goes nothing, hopefully progesterone is the last piece of the puzzle in our failure to conceive through FET cycles so far. In comparison, the cycle that our son was conceived in was an IVF stim cycle (with progesterone support in the second half of the cycle).

So far so good in terms of the hormones, I've been slightly crampy for the past 24 hours (like in the lead-up to a period) but nothing major. Hopefully I don't get too many other uncomfortable side effects with it, time will tell.

Next time I update will hopefully be news of a successful embryo transfer in three days time!