Today I’m sharing a guest post by someone who supported me an unbelievable amount through the exhaustion and hormones of my second pregnancy. When you read her story you might wonder, as I have, how she’s managed not to tell me to pull myself together and be thankful for my lot, but she never has. Cate’s is the story of triplets, complications and a whole new way of life.
Follow Cate @cate_a_moore
Having your second child is marginally less scary than having your first. When I discovered I was pregnant for the second time I was excited. My first born was three and I loved him more than I had imagined was possible. This time I knew what was coming. This time I wouldn’t spend the last few months terrified of the pain and the unknown. This time I would rejoice in my body changing.
I was romanticising my second pregnancy before there was the slightest hint of a bump. I was so lost in idealism that my nagging sick feeling (something I barely experienced with number 1) was a mere irritation and the fact that I had to buy bigger clothes when I was less than three months pregnant was swept away in the happiness of it all.
Ignoring my growing sickness and strangely large stomach I was full of happy expectation at the three month scan. I lay back and awaited confirmation of all things wonderful – a healthy baby growing miraculously inside me. I know how sickly that sounds, but it really was how I felt. There was silence in the room. I sank deeper into my idealism. The woman doing the scan excused herself and brought in a colleague. I smiled a happy hello. “We have a suprise for you” said the second woman. “There are three babies.”
I’ll leave the next half hour in that room private. Suffice to say I left there having to make a decision whether to selectively abort one or more of my three babies. I knew immediately that this was not an option for me but I still spent a tearful week going through all the possibilities. Only one person urged me to abort all three babies.
Decision made, I returned to hospital to see a Consultant. An African man who jumped up from his desk to greet me as I walked into the room, threw his arms around me and said “You are so fertile, you are a great woman.” Eek.
A week later I was back in the Consultant’s room. “There is something wrong with one of your babies. We are sending you to London to see a Professor. He is a world expert. Maybe he can help you. Goodbye…I don’t think we will be seeing you again. I’m so sorry.” There were more words, but those are the ones I remember.
When I met the Professor I wanted to do the whole ‘Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope’ thing, but honestly, everything was surreal enough already. The Professor did help. He did save my babies. He is an amazing, talented man and the only medical person who treated me as an individual and not just someone growing miracle babies. If ever you need foetal medical intervention, Professor Kypros Nikolaides is your man.
My idealistic reverie had been wiped away in a matter of weeks. Now I was a walking medical wonder. I couldn’t eat for throwing up, I couldn’t sleep for the itching of my skin as my liver began to give up trying to work for four of us. Drs stuck needles in me and poked and prodded me, all the while marvelling at the babies inside me. Not really what I had planned at all. My three year old turned four and was wonderfully unfazed by it all. Children are so much more resilient than we give them credit for.
After a haze of weekly scans, an unborn heart stopping, endless sleepless nights and hospital stays, the boys’ dad learning how to (painfully) inject me with steroids to help their lungs at birth, an emergency C section and 6 weeks in Special Care in two different hospitals, I eventually brought home three fairly delicate, but feisty and strong willed identical baby boys.
That’s when the fun really started.
The first night I planned a 6pm feed, downstairs for tea and put my eldest to bed, 10pm feed then bed. At 3am we still hadn’t left the room from the 6pm feed! My friend bought me a tumble drier as I didn’t have one. It was a very generous gift and although at the time I thought she was fussing, it still remains the best thing anyone has ever given to me. The washing for triplets is immense.
Going out for a walk became a major achievement. I had to literally build the triple pram outside as it wouldn’t fit through my front door. Then I had to get all three babies into the pram, which meant leaving one or more outside while I fetched the others. Pushing a triple pram is no mean feat both in energy needed and positive smiles for the endless repeated questions from strangers. My personal favourites from the less common were “Triplets? One of each?” and an elderly lady who looked absolutely thrilled and said “Twins?” with a big smile. I said “no, triplets”. Her smile dropped and with an aghast look she said “I’m very sorry” and hurried past me. That one still puzzles me. Coming home was another session of ferrying babies, leaving them unguarded and utilisation of basic mechanic skills to dismantle the pram to get it through my front door again.
As a child I imagined myself with a noisy, happy home full of love and family. By early adulthood I had reasoned with myself that I was not destined to have that. These boys have forced me to reconsider the direction I was taking in life and to remember what I value most. I am very lucky. I’ve only been pregnant twice (yes, I do feel cheated) but I have four wonderful boys who fill my home with love. I’m re-learning what happy should be and I like it.