Tag Archives: 20 week scan

20 May 2014

It has taken a while but my body finally seems to be getting used to our two little toxwins! I don't feel amazing but I am so, so much better than I was - the difference is night and day! After my fifth hospital admission for IV I wrote a letter to my GP asking to be referred to a different hospital and sent another letter to the lead midwife at the Southern General documenting my reasons for requesting the transfer. It wasn't a complaints' letter so much as an appeal to the senior members of the maternity team to prioritise a reassessment of their hyperemesis policies in the light of nationwide advances in the treatment being made available to sufferers. I explained that in late 2013 a leading obstetrics consultant from Ayrshire, Dr Marjorey MacLean, successfully petitioned the Scottish government for a change in hospital policy regarding hyperemesis and a legally binding commitment has now been made to institute a mandatory minimum of one hyperemesis specialist in every maternity unit in Scotland - as well as setting up a Scottish information and support network for sufferers and their carers. The legislation has not yet been processed, (this will probably take a couple of years), but it is coming. I detailed some of the facts and figures associated with the condition, including the high incidence of therapeutic terminations and the long term implications of PTSD. I pointed out that while there is only one British charity seeking to raise the profile of the condition, it was now attracting support from well-regarded public personalities who had suffered hyperemesis and were so dismayed by the lack of treatment available that they have made it part of their life's mission to effect a change. I suggested that rather than play catch up post-legislation that Glasgow's leading maternity hospital should follow Ayrshire's lead by pre-empting the new guidelines and opening an outpatient clinic where sufferers could come on a daily/weekly/as and when necessary basis for IV and that this would not only put them in line with the most forward thinking and compassionate practitioners in the country but it would simultaneously cut the cost of inpatient treatment, ease unnecessary suffering and potentially save the lives of countless unborn babies. Of course, I didn't expect a positive response or even a response at all, but I felt that I had to do something to try and help the women who will suffer in my wake and, as an un-empowered minion of the state, a letter was the only weapon in my arsenal. Imagine my surprise when, yesterday, I received a reply, that was not only apologetic in tenor but included the following commitment: 'In conjunction with one of our consultants we are now looking to set up a process whereby women can come in at day time and be replenished of fluids with a hope of a return home later that same day.' I am so proud - the toxwins have taken their first ever stand for a more fair, equitable world from the womb and they have had a small but immensely worthy degree of success! Go the toxwins! (Their sneaky Mummy has furnished Dr Marjorey MacLean from Ayrshire - the driving force in Scotland for change - with a copy of this commitment and a suggestion that her expertise regarding the condition, in conjunction with her experience of setting up outpatient facilities in her area, may be of invaluable assistance to the Southern General at this time - I have passed on the particulars of the person who made the pledge so that Dr MacLean can offer her services as a mentor... exerting clout by proxy 101).

So, moving swiftly past my 6th hospital admission two days ago for a frighteningly painful bowel impaction, (brought on by prolonged dehydration), and leaving aside the matter of my 3rd urinary tract infection, what is it like to harbour the toxwins in their 19th week? They will be 5 months old, (20 weeks), on Sunday and since the majority of twins are born by week 37 and the remainder induced by week 38, (because the placenta starts to fail thereafter and this can lead to terrible complications including still birth), we are officially a minimum of half way through! Isn't that crazy?! My experience thus far hasn't been entirely typical so I was very excited, last night, to have itchy feet and painful indigestion - I was so proud of my 'normal' pregnancy complaints that Archie couldn't help but laugh and it was lovely. It was a laugh, full of affection, that said 'I remember this kooky, nut bag - she's the woman I married' - and it made me realise how dreadful it has been for him to watch me this past 4 1/2 months. Forget the fact that his workload has gone through the roof, (12hr night and day shifts, accepting every offer of overtime to pay off the IVF, cooking, doing the laundry, the dishes, shopping, walking the dog, spending every second week sitting by a hospital bed... and having to constantly reassure me that the torment will end and the babies will be OK), he has also been helpless... and helplessness, in the face of watching someone you love suffer, is about as close to that suffering as a person can get. To those of you who have been following this blog, it will come as no surprise that he has taken it all in his considerable stride - but just because something ceases to surprise doesn't make it any the less amazing. Hyperemesis has taken me to some unimaginably dark places and brought me to the brink of thoughts that, thanks to Archie, I never voiced or actioned - he believed I could survive, so I found a way to be the woman he believed I could be. It would seem that being loved by someone you respect and adore gifts you unimaginable strength - letting him down wasn't an option but, if he hadn't loved me and if I didn't thrive on that love, things could have been very different. Me and the toxwins have a lot be grateful for... (and just in case you're about to puke over the sickly sweet perfection of it all, some of this insight was garnered in the pursuit of screaming meaningless profanities at one another while I writhed in a pool of snot and vomit on the bathroom floor trying to rip my own head off... the devil is in the detail - but to the bigger picture, the spoils).

As one of the luckier hyperemesis sufferers I have been able to tolerate very dry solids like toast, crackers and biscuits from about week 8 or 9 which means that I haven't been starving, just horribly dehydrated. In fact, since my pre-pregnancy diet was a super healthy feast of fruit, veg, soup and yoghurt - and for the past two months I have only been able to eat carbohydrates - I feel positively roly poly by comparison. Of course, I am now also harbouring two five month old babies, not to mention a bust that is just that, fit to bust - I don't look like a cartoon character so much as a caricature of a cartoon character. For some women bigger breasts are probably an advantage of pregnancy - me, I have all the appeal of a badly designed buoyancy aid. I have never had a singleton pregnancy, so I have no way of comparing how it feels to carry two rather than one but I'm pretty full - from hip to hip and up to my rib cage there's nothing but baby. I've read that twins play with each other in the womb, poking one another through the placentas and squabbling over whose foot is in whose ear - I like to think that they're friends already. I am desperate to see them at our 20 week scan on Thursday - I want to know that they're OK - I sometimes feel like I've let them down by providing such a lousy, dehydrated environment, riddled with infection and impaction - but I take heart from what I've read about the parasitically resilient qualities of babies in the womb. Both placentas are anterior, meaning that they are fixed to the front of my womb rather than the back, which has the effect of cushioning the babies' movement. This is neither unusual nor problematic, it just means that I'm not getting a lot by way of reassurance from being able to feel them - in fact it is debatable whether I have felt them yet at all. I will try and post again after our scan on Thursday, (when I will hopefully be able to report that the toxwins are in tip top working order). All being well I will soon go from being 'much improved' to 'better' and then I will have to rename them again - from the 'maybe babies' to the 'toxwins' - can Mummy possibly keep pace with the creative demands?