Happy Birthday in Heaven

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My Dearest Babies,

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since we lost you. I wish I could say time has healed the wounds, that I feel less empty now than I did the day I had to say goodbye to you, but that would be a lie, cause the truth is my heart aches and longs for you every single day.

The year has been fraught with emotions as I have tried to accept your loss but a part of me died the day you did and there will always be a gaping hole in my heart. I will always think about you and wonder who you would have been, what life would have been like with my beautiful pigeon pair. You were both perfect in every way and I will always remember your tiny little hands and your perfect little feet I got to hold so briefly. They say there is no footprint so small that it does not leave an imprint on this world, and how you have changed mine, and left the biggest imprint on my heart. I will forever love you and carry you within my heart.

As I write this I am starting to feel your sister move inside me and I would like to believe you had a hand in picking her for us and will always be there looking out for her. She’s brought joy into our hearts again and although she will never take your place she will be loved three fold.

I don’t want today to be a day of sadness remembering only what we lost, but today I want to celebrate your lives, acknowledge the profound impact you had on my life and the unconditional and eternal love you have inspired within me. Your lives were not in vain and every day so long as I live you will be remembered, loved and honoured.

I’d like to believe that you are celebrating your first birthday today with your Ouma and Papou, that they are showering you with kisses and love, and that you are all always here with us looking over us. I hope you all see everyday how much we love you and miss you. So on this your very first birthday Happy Birthday my babies, you will forever be in our hearts.

Love, Mommy

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Our First Scan

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Our first scan was booked for Monday the 24th August 2015 but on Friday the 21st I woke up to brown spotting and phoned Dr S. I was 6w2d and although I knew this could be normal I was, understandably, a little bit neurotic. Dr S was his usual compassionate self and said I must go in for another Beta count and come and see him at 10:30 for a scan.

We went in to the hospital early and had my blood drawn and then went to have breakfast at the cafe. When I went in to Dr S’s scanning room, I just said to him, it’s like de ja vu and we nervously laughed, please god don’t let it be like last time. I hopped onto the table with my hubby by my side. We were about to see our little baby or babies for the first time.

When the probe went in I immediately saw that familiar sight, my little baby. My heart swelled with unmeasurable love and sure enough I could see the flickering of this little miracle’s heart and soon enough we heard that magical sound of our little bean’s heartbeat. We looked around but sure enough there was only one, we breathed a sigh of relief knowing that this would be much easier for me than a twin pregnancy. All I wanted was to bring my little baby home. Please let me bring this baby safely home.

Today I am 7w4d and tomorrow I get to see our little miracle again. I am anxious and scared most days, a little too cautious, but I try and hold on to the belief that this has to be it for us. This will be our happy ending.

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Baby D at 6w2d 🙂

IVF #6 – July/August 2015

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I can’t believe we have come full circle. Last year this time we were doing our third round of IVF, the one that would fill our hearts with immeasurable love, and the one that would break our hearts into a million pieces, pieces we are still trying to piece together. And here we are again, facing our sixth round of IVF feeling disheartened and on the verge of giving up, of losing faith in the whole process.

The truth is we have run out funds too, our savings were just about depleted and in order for us to do this round of IVF, which would cost more than R40,000.00, we needed to loan R20,000.00 from the bank in the form of a credit card. We did so reluctantly, but what other choice did we have. If this cycle fails we are not only facing a negative cycle, but a hefty credit card bill and no prospect of doing another cycle for a few months while we save money for this never ending pit of medical bills. The thought of having to wait so long scared me more than the financial ruin all this IVF was surely to bring us.

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We were able to start a fresh cycle straight after our FET without having to take a break so we jumped right in, bought our meds and started the whole process again, de ja vu. As usual follicle growth was good. I remember Dr S telling us about a seminar he went to where one of the Professors said you had a 20% higher success rate if you got more than 20 eggs, so I said yes please, I will order 20 this round! and we all laughed. George said he would regret telling me that. As the cycle progressed I felt rather uncomfortable and by egg retrieval day my walking resembled more of a waddle!

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It was the 21st of July, my mom’s birthday. I missed her so much. I wish she could have been there for me this past year. It’s been such a difficult year and at times all I wanted was to lay in my mom’s lap and have her tell me everything is going to be okay.  As I lay in the room waiting to be taken to theatre, I said a little prayer to her, told her how much I missed her, how I wished I could have given her a big hug and kiss on her birthday, I asked her to give me some sign that she was with me, for some reason I said if I get 21 eggs I will know you always with me. When I woke up from the anaesthesia and was wheeled back to my ward, George was standing there waiting for me. The first thing I asked him was how many did we get, he looked at me and said 21. I couldn’t believe it. Now George is an eternal sceptic and even when I was telling him I knew he would say it was coincidence, which of course he did. It might very well be coincidence, but I took it as a sign that my mom was always with me and that filled my heart with so much love.

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21 was the best haul I had ever gotten. It would seem the more I did this, the better I got at it. The next day we learnt a whopping 17 had fertilised. How lucky we were to have such amazing results. On transfer day we were quietly confident that we would have a few blastocysts and when we got into theatre the news was good. We had two beautiful textbook quality embryos to transfer, and we will know tomorrow how many made it to freeze. The transfer went perfect and I could almost not believe how lucky we were. The next day we got the call that 8 embryos made it to freeze most of them top quality, Jozef our embryologist said you just don’t see this every day. We were over the moon with happiness.

The two week wait dragged on and on and on. I wanted to be excited and positive but I was petrified of disappointment. Everything was so perfect this cycle, surely something had to give, something had to go wrong. Two days before testing I started to feel a little nauseous but I had felt the same way the cycle before which was negative. I was reading into every twinge, every symptom, I was petrified of a negative. Last year this time we got our positive, what were the chances that we would be that lucky again.

On the morning of the 4th August I went to the bathroom and my heart was pounding, I was petrified. As I sat there with the test flashing waiting for the result all I could think was how much I wanted this, how much we needed this, how much love I had in my heart for a baby, how much I wanted a family to love, a child who could teach me about life as much as I would teach him or her. Then the result, I went to the room where my husband lay waiting for the result, and for the second time I could say, I’m Pregnant. He jumped out the bed and hugged me and we went to my mother in law’s room to share the happy news. It was a dream come true, I couldn’t believe I was given a second chance at being a mom. Oh how I already loved this little bean so much.

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Our first betas looked good 87, 206, 3407. Of course being pregnant came with it’s own fears and I have been petrified since the moment I fell pregnant that something would go wrong. Pregnancy after loss is scary, but all I can do is take it one day at a time and know that I have two angels looking out for us.

IVF/FET #5 May/June 2015

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After the disappointment of the negative cycle, I got back up, dusted myself off and was ready to embark on our first frozen embryo transfer (FET).

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During the cycle preceding our FET I went in for another hysteroscopy and endometrium scratch which showed that my womb was 99% back to normal. This was good news for us.

We had three embryos frozen in one straw, but one wasn’t the best quality so it remained to be seen whether it would survive the thawing process.

The FET cycle was strange for me. We were doing a natural cycle which meant we simply had to wait for ovulation and then transfer the embryos five days later. Simple. Although I had never had problems with ovulating I asked to be put on Clomid so that we can ensure that I ovulate and so Dr S prescribed me the meds and off I went.

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It never felt as though I was doing a cycle. No hormones, no medication, no nightly injections. Just nature taking it’s course. On Day 10 we started scanning but lo and behold nothing, niks, nada. So Dr S said to come back two days later, perhaps something will be brewing by then but again nothing. Not even a hint of a dominant follicle. Really? Inject me with Menopur and I become a battery chicken, but a round of Clomid produced not even one measly egg. We went back for a few scans until we had to come to terms with the fact that I simply wasn’t going to ovulate. Luckily there was a Plan B and we started with progesterone injections to mimic ovulation. After five days of injections we would do transfer, this happened to fall on the second anniversary of my mom’s passing, 25 June, and I took this as a sign.

This time I decided that I obviously had a bladder problem and was going to refuse drinking water even though the nurse tried to force it down me. I simply told her I knew what I was doing, or at least I hoped I did. I had my cup of coffee in the morning, emptied my bladder an hour before transfer and didn’t drink a sip of water until about 15 minutes before transfer when I drank about half a glass of water and after 5 rounds I had finally mastered it. My bladder was full but not uncomfortable and I even managed to lie down for the entire hour afterwards without much discomfort.

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When we got to theatre we were told that only two of the three embryos survived the thaw but that they were looking good. The transfer went well and everybody was in good spirits. I couldn’t believe it was this easy.

This time I had learnt my lesson and promised I would not ever in my life test early again. Never would I put myself through the agony of such disappointment. I was so scared though that I couldn’t test on my own. So the morning of test day at 4:00am I peed on the test and put it straight back into the box. I took it to my husband and asked him to break the news to me. I couldn’t bare looking at it. As I sat there my heart was racing, and he simply told me it’s negative, I didn’t answer, so he said again it’s negative. I was disappointed, sad, angry, teary. Why was this happening? Our Beta confirmed the results later that afternoon. I felt I was disappointing my husband, my family. What was wrong with me? Would this ever happen for us again?

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IVF #4 – March/April 2015

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Our fourth round of IVF was filled with hope and a feeling that perhaps the tide was changing for us.

There was one big change this time and that was that Dr S had started his own lab. Whereas previously he used the lab at Aevitas Clinic miles away, where there were hundreds of patients undergoing IVFs every month this time there would only be a handful of patients and one embryologist looking after their embryos. It was a welcome change for us. The clinic was in Panorama Hospital 5 minutes from our home, it couldn’t have been easier.

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We bought our medication and started stimming. I have never had issues with producing eggs and this time was no different. Dr S was very happy with the progress and said we would get more than 10 eggs, of course I was hoping for much more than 10.

On egg retrieval day we were checked into the hospital early morning. I was excited, very much in love with my husband and feeling more positive than I had in months. This had to be it, right? After all we had been through, this had to be the one. When I woke up and was wheeled into my ward, George broke the news to me that we had gotten 14 eggs. Now for any normal sane person 14 eggs would have been reason to be jumping with joy, but for a rather fragile emotionally unstable infertile, it left me in tears because we hadn’t gotten enough eggs. We left the ward and went for breakfast at the hospital cafe and I was in tears, irrational as that may be.

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The next morning I expected dismal fertilisation results but to my surprise 8 out of 14 had fertilised. Although not perfect, it was still a good result with my history. On Day 2 they all seemed to be dividing and looking good and so we left them until transfer day. I was still very nervous that we would have a repeat of our first cycle with no blastocysts but when we got to the hospital we happened to walk past the embryologist and he told us when he looked that morning there were two blastocysts. After that I was on Cloud 9.

You would think after doing this so many times I would have learnt, but it seems that no, that isn’t the case. During this cycle I again drank far too much liquid before my transfer and felt like I was going to burst at the seems. When we got into theatre for the transfer all my concentration went into not wetting myself. To our utter amazement we had 6 blastocysts, we had never gotten so many, and never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would finally get some to freeze.

We transferred the two best blastocysts and the transfer went well however at this stage I couldn’t hold it any more. With tears in my eyes I told the nurse I couldn’t anymore, and she asked the doctor to use a catheter to empty my bladder. It was quite embarrassing but really I didn’t have a choice. The nurse had the same name as me, Desire, and we were chatting about it when I said my mom named me after a Neil Diamond song but that I’d never heard. So as Dr S wheeled me out of the theatre he gave me his phone and it was playing Desire by Neil Diamond. It was blaring while he wheeled me through the wards. It was quite the sight.

The next day we got the call that we were able to freeze 3! The first round I had ever gotten to freeze any embryos. We were absolutely thrilled.

We were all so positive, convinced we had it in the bag. Then I made a massive monumental mistake, I decided in my wisdom I would start testing early, at 5dp5dt to be precise and of course it was negative, it was the worst feeling ever and now I sat wondering had I just tested too early or was it indeed negative, it was agonising. The days that followed were torturous, my husband was so upset with me for testing so early, but I sneaked in another test and of course it was negative too. On beta day I did another HPT which was again negative, and which the blood tests later that morning would confirm. I was heartbroken, shattered, gutted. IVF #4 would not bring me my rainbow baby.

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Failure to Launch

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Being the determined [also read stubborn] person I am I wanted to do the next round of IVF as soon as possible. After the miscarriage I went to see Dr S. I remember the tears in his eyes as he told us how much they were all hurting for us and I knew in that moment how much he cared. Through all our journey, failures and success, I never once thought about switching clinics. I was in this for the long haul with Dr S, the most compassionate doctor I’ve ever known.

I waited nearly 7 weeks for my period to start and when it did, as planned, we scheduled a hysteroscopy for the latter part of my cycle. It was supposed to be a standard hysteroscopy in which we did an endometrial scratch in preparation for my IVF cycle. I was excited to start trying again. I missed my babies with all my heart and I knew having another baby wouldn’t ease that hurt, but I needed to remember why we were doing this, and I owed it to us to keep trying and complete our family.

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It was the usual procedure of checking in, being wheeled into theatre and drifting off into a wonderful haze of anaesthesia. After recovery I was wheeled into my ward where my husband was waiting for me. The usual procedure was that Dr S would phone my husband after a procedure to give him an update. I am sure he had a method to his madness, as really who in their right mind would want to be the bearer of bad news to a drugged up infertile. So very strategically he put my husband in the firing lines. It wasn’t a very pretty picture when he told me we couldn’t continue with the IVF because my womb hadn’t healed from the miscarriage and there was a lot of necrotic tissue left over. I was upset and in tears, being emotionally unstable to begin with, this disappointment only made the cracks ever so much more visible. At his wits end George phoned Dr S saying I was beside myself and he asked us to go up to his rooms so he could show us. Still groggy and unimpressed, I made my way up to his rooms. When he showed me the video of the hysteroscopy I finally understood why we couldn’t continue. It didn’t mean I wasn’t disappointed but I knew it was for the best at the end of the day.

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The following cycle was very much the same, hoping to get the green light but having to abruptly stop. A second hysteroscopy showed as a whole my womb was healing but there was still necrotic tissue on the one side so as a precaution I was asked to wait one more cycle and was given the final go ahead to start our fourth round of IVF at the end of March. I was disappointed and poor Georgie was in the firing lines again as I cried and was visibly upset with him for simply being the bearer of bad news.

But as it turns out the month went by quickly and when I finally started my cycle I was overjoyed to start my fourth IVF cycle and that perhaps soon I could be pregnant again.

The Aftermath

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The months after we lost our precious babies have been the most difficult of my life. I came home from the hospital and my husband had asked my mother in law to pack away every item that could remind us of them, their scan pictures, baby clothes, the doppler we listened to their hearts with. I think he thought it might hurt less, maybe it was his own coping mechanism as to this day he can’t look at their scan pictures or foot prints. But the truth is nothing could stop those gut wrenching raw emotions that came with losing your child. Yes, I never knew them, but they were my children and I fell head over heels in love with them the moment I knew I was pregnant.

I spent days in bed, crying, not being able to even get up to shower or brush my teeth. I had the remnants of a pregnancy, stretch marks on my breasts, yet no babies to hold in my arms. I missed them with all my heart, I would never be the same again. The day I lost my children will haunt me forever, and the loss will always be profound within my heart, it has fundamentally changed the person I am.

People were uncomfortable around us initially, they didn’t know what to say. You could feel the tension and others said the most insensitive things. A friend of our’s mother came to the bakery and told my mother in law next time we shouldn’t give them personalities. I cried and was so upset when I heard that, how could someone be so insensitive. That same friend’s sister told me the same thing on New Year’s Eve and it took all that was in me not to push her into the pool. That same friend’s wife gave birth to his beautiful little girl just before New Year’s, it was my husband’s best friend, the same friend in whose arms he cried, and as we went to the hospital to meet that beautiful little girl, my heart was shattered in a million pieces. I was happy for them, of course we were, but seeing that baby was one of the most difficult things I had to do and as we drove back home from the hospital we were both in gut wrenching tears.

We never even celebrated Christmas, Christmas day we were all in our pyjamas, just the four us, coming to terms with our loss. My mother in law had gotten me two angel wings for my Pandora bracelet and to this day I never take them off. We had a small Christmas tree up and I made it pink and blue for our babies and framed their little footprints and hung it on the tree. I wanted to keep their memory alive.

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I was falling into a deep dark depression, I became a bitter, miserable, a horrible person. I wasn’t happy for anyone who became pregnant or had their babies. I didn’t want to see anyone, I was angry, and that anger would eventually consume me, would become me.

We tried to go away for a long weekend, but found we were so consumed in our depression it was hard for us to relate to each other. I had no interest in the business and as I found myself consumed with anger, my life started falling apart and I directed the anger I felt inside towards those I loved. Inside me was the very real struggle of anger trying to consume and love trying to break free and more times than not I allowed the anger to consume me.

In January my father in law was diagnosed with oesophagus cancer, and our lives fell apart even further. Our problems were brushed under the carpet while we dealt with our new reality and this caused me even more anguish as I felt no one cared anymore about my babies, no one cared about me, I felt like everyone had just gotten over the death of our babies while everyday I struggled to make it through the day. I was resentful, I had allowed the hurt and anger to consume my life, and as George tried to hold on to me and save me, I felt myself drifting into a deep depression I didn’t think I could ever get out of.

At times the pain became so unbearable all I wanted was for it to stop. I was researching the best ways to commit suicide, imagining hanging myself in the Wendy House or overdosing on my father in law’s very strong cancer medication. This was the lowest I had gone. The only thing keeping me from doing this was the intense love I had for my husband and I couldn’t imagine hurting him but I was losing control. I tried to reach out to him, but all I did was fight with him. An incident got blown out of proportion and it ended up with me having a huge blow out with my mother in law who I adore and love to bits, I didn’t want to be at the bakery anymore, I didn’t want to live in the house anymore, I was walking in the street and screaming and shouting at my husband, how I wanted it all to stop. That night I remember having a monumental fight with my mother in law, it was technically about giving a part time job to a girl I didn’t think was good for the business, but really it was about my own anger, so many hurtful things were said, so many true things were said, we were screaming at each other, it broke my heart but I was so consumed with hatred and anger, I couldn’t see beyond the hurt. That night was one of the lowest points for me, I didn’t know the person who was staring down the passage screaming at her mother in law like a banshee. That wasn’t me. What had happened to that loving sweet person I used to be? Would I ever be her again? I still don’t know the answer to that question, but it was this fight that was the turning point of my depression. It was George who saved us, by making us see how much we loved each other, and it was something as stupid as our love for gossip and Lee-Ann Liebenberg that had us sitting next to each other in tears.

It was still a daily struggle to get through the day, but I tried harder. I put all my focus on the business and we embarked on a rebranding that lasted four months and ultimately saved my soul. As I became engrossed in something other than my own sorrow the anger started to lift, in time the bitterness left me, and although it hurt seeing babies or pregnancy announcements, I could be happy for those people.

Time has healed the raw wound in my heart, but the scars will always be there. The emptiness will always be there. The memory of my babies, what I had and what I lost, will always be with me and every day I will celebrate their memory by remembering the unconditional love I have for them that will be with me until the day I breathe my last breath.

It’s been 9 months since I lost them, and although the darkness and storm has lifted, the clouds still remain as we wait for our rainbow.

The Week that Changed me Forever

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Thursday, 13th November

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The morning of our 18 week scan, our first appointment with our new obstetrician, was filled with joy and excitement. We had finally graduated from our fertility battle, into the hands of an obstetrician that will take me to term and deliver my beautiful babies. I got dressed and we did our 18 week bump shot. I was beaming with joy.

We got to the hospital early and decided to enjoy breakfast at the hospital cafe. After we went up to Dr Du Buisson’s rooms, filled out the necessary forms and waited for him to see us. After a while he called us into his rooms and went through a long list of questions with him. I told him I had only one concern and that was that I was having a watery discharge the last two days and a heavy feeling. He said he would examine me and I went into his little exam room and got undressed and into the robe. The speculum was cold and uncomfortable, he didn’t say much while he was doing the exam. When he was done, he sat next to me and said “This isn’t good”. I didn’t understand, he said the membranes were bulging and talked of cervical incompetence, something I had never heard of. He measured my cervix again and said I was 3 cm dilated. He scanned the babies and as I lay there in the dark room looking at my babies, wondering but perhaps knowing, this was the last time I would be looking at them tears streamed down my face. George and I were both in shock, we didn’t understand what was happening.

There weren’t much answers for us either, he talked about a cerclage but that it wasn’t indicated in twin pregnancies. He gave me medication and I was told to go home on strict bedrest. I couldn’t believe that they weren’t even going to try, that I was simply told I had to go home and lie in bed waiting for the inevitable to happen. We could hope to get me to 24 weeks but our babies couldn’t be saved at this early stage.

The minute we left his rooms we were both researching incompetent cervix, preterm labour, cerclage, bed rest etc. I didn’t want to believe what I read, I didn’t want to believe what was happening.

As soon as I got home I was put into bed and I hoped to stay there for many weeks to come.

A few hours later we got a call from Dr Du Buisson who said he had talked to Dr Pistorius the perinatologist and they believed there was merit in doing an emergency cerclage and I would be taken in on Friday. George went to pick up more medication, antibiotics and I finally had some hope to hold onto.

Friday, 14th November 

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The Friday evening I was booked into Panorama Hospital for cerclage surgery at 8.30 pm. I lay in my bed, with my hand on my tummy, full of hope that this would be the answer. I smiled and joked with my husband and a little while later Ryan, my husband’s best friend, came to support him through this. The nurses came and fetched me for theatre and George held my hand as they took me into theatre. As the anaesthesia worked it’s magic, I could not have been more positive that this was the answer.

George and Ryan had gone to get something to eat, expecting that I would be in theatre for a while. When they got back to my hospital room, both doctors were there waiting for him. George went into the room and they closed the door behind him. The doctors told him that the operation had not gone well, that my cervix was too dilated and they ruptured one of the membranes which is when they stopped the surgery. They said there is about a 5% chance of the babies surviving. As they left George turned to Ryan and cried in his arms.

When I woke up I remember Dr Du Buisson telling me, I know you won’t remember this but there were complications and we couldn’t do the cerclage. As I lay there dazed from the anaesthesia those words stuck in my mind and it was all I could think of. I don’t know how long after Dr Du Buisson came back to me and asked me if I remember what he said, to his surprise, I said yes I can’t stop thinking about it, you couldn’t do the cerclage. He held my hand and the silence was answer enough for me of what was to come.

When I was back in my room, Dr Du Buisson came to us again, he pulled up a chair beside me and explained to us again the gravity of our situation, he said perhaps there was a small chance of saving one.

As I drifted to sleep that night, I couldn’t believe what was happening, one part of me was desperate to cling onto the hope that a miracle will save them, part of me knew I had to start saying goodbye.

Saturday, 15th November 

Saturday passed without any incident or fuss. Dr Du Buisson was off the weekend, so his colleague Dr Lourens, a young compassionate doctor took over from him. He came in to check on me and George visited me every time he could.

Sunday, 16th November 

On Sunday George came to me early to spend the day with me. I was always amazed at how this man was by my side through everything. How strong he was for all of us. Dr Lourens came into the room and checked in on me. He said my infection markers were rising but in the absence of any symptoms we would just keep an eye on the situation. As I sat there he looked at me again and asked why my is heart racing like that (a symptom of infection), am I just nervous? I could feel my heart pounding in my chest, but I wasn’t nervous. He said he would check in on me again. I said I was constipated and he said he would ask the nurse to give me a suppository, which she did.

It wasn’t long after he left I went to the toilet. That’s when it happened, I could feel the baby coming. It felt as if the head had popped through my cervix. I was traumatised. I screamed desperately for help, George ran to me, nurses were frantic. I was hysterical, crying. The nurse ran to me grabbed me by my arm, her other hand waiting for the baby. She was a young nurse, but she was calm and collected, and I trusted her. She told me to push and with one push I gave birth to my baby. She held the baby as she helped me onto the bed. I remember the feeling of giving birth and although they told me it was my little girl I couldn’t look, I couldn’t face it and as I got onto the bed, my husband grabbed my face, held it, looked me in the eye and told me everything is going to be okay, he loved me, everything was going to be okay. It was traumatic for both us. Dr Lourens came rushing to us, his words were “this isn’t good, it’s offensive” which I learnt meant the baby was full of puss and that I had an  infection in my womb and that I had to deliver my other baby too.

I was rushed to the labour ward, a room that was obviously meant for happier events but I am sure has seen it’s fair share of sorrow. I was lucky enough to be given heavy drugs to help me through the emotional and physical pain and I was in and out of consciousness for the next five hours, while my husband helplessly and worse, very soberly, sat at my bedside throughout this whole time. Dr Lourens told me that if I hadn’t given birth by 5:00 pm we would have to speed up the process.

When 5:00 came and went and there was no sign of baby boy arriving there was the real fear that we were endangering my life. My lips were blue and I was pale and cold t to the touch. They tied a string around the baby and put weights at the end of it and hung it off the bed. It was painful, physically and emotionally, but he assured me that she was no longer moving, through all the trauma she had already passed away. It was hardly 10 minutes after the procedure when I felt the urge to push and with one push our little girl was born sleeping. Dr Lourens asked if we wanted to see them, George didn’t but I wanted to, I wanted to see the miracles we had created. George gave in and as they brought them to me to see I saw their perfect little toes and perfect little hands that I will never forget. I could hardly sit up but in those few minutes, I breathed in every last detail of those perfect little babies.

There was a further complication as the placentas weren’t coming out and I was rushed into theatre for an emergency evacuation. I remember how frantic everyone was in the theatre, and as the anaesthetist hooked up my IV, he said to me “there’s quite the fuss about you tonight”.

I woke up, drugged, dazed, heartbroken and the feeling of emptiness I felt in that moment hasn’t ever gone away. I spent five more days in hospital, two days in the high care unit having blood transfusions, IV antibiotics and a few more doses of Pethidine that I actually started to look forward to to numb the pain, both physically and emotionally.

I wish my story had a happier ending, I feel sad and heartbroken, I feel cheated but most of all I miss them, every second of every day I miss them so much. I will never forget my perfect little babies, they were born too soon, but they will forever live in my heart. My perfect little babies made me a mother and I will forever be their mommy.

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The Joys of Pregnancy

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After our positive beta I went for a few more blood tests and everything was looking amazing with the numbers more than doubling each time. We were so excited and I couldn’t believe it was finally my turn.

Then at 6 weeks I had some spotting. I was in tears, and phoned my doctor. He said I can come in and have an early scan. We rushed to his rooms and as I lay there I was petrified he would tell me it was all over. Instead what I heard filled my heart with so much love I wanted to burst out crying, the beautiful sound of my baby’s heartbeat. We saw our baby on the monitor, just a little sac and yet I loved that little bean. I couldn’t believe it. But wait, there was  more, another sac, yes another heartbeat. We were having twins. We were not only blessed but blessed times two. I couldn’t believe it, how could we be so lucky. It’s like we hit the jackpot. We left on Cloud 9.

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A few days later however, I passed another clot and I was once again petrified. Again I rushed to my doctor and once again our babies were doing great, hearts beating for mommy and daddy.

I continued to spot on and off but was less concerned about it than I was at times before. Then one Sunday night, just before I went to bed, I went to the loo and as I wiped there was bright red blood, and a lot of it. As I looked down into the toilet I could see blood rushing out of me. I screamed at George to come and help me, I put a sanitary pad on and we rushed to the hospital which is only 5 minutes from our home. As we were driving I could feel the blood gushing out. We got to the ER and as I was speaking to the nurse I could feel the blood running down my legs, as I looked down I was standing in my own blood. I just looked at the nurse and said “This isn’t good is it” and she just looked at me and said “no dear I’m afraid not”. As the nurses scrambled looking for a towel for me, a lady in the waiting room with a baby walked over to me and gave me one of her baby’s nappies to help catch the blood flow. By this time George had reached Dr S and he said he would be there in 10 minutes. As we sat there in eery silence we both knew it was over. My heart was broken into a million pieces, how could I lose these babies, I already loved them so much. Dr S arrived and arranged for a porter to wheel me to his rooms. I got up onto his table and as he inserted the probe I just knew there would be no heartbeat. The room was quiet, and I could feel George’s tension. But there it was, that wonderful sound, the sound I fell in love with just two weeks ago. I couldn’t believe I was listening to my babies’ heartbeat. They were both alive and healthy. Dr S removed a lot of blood clots and to this day we will never know what caused this bleeding. I was just happy my babies were healthy.

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The months that followed were amongst the most fulfilling and happy days of our life. All I had hoped for, all I had wished for was finally ours. I welcomed the morning sickness with open arms and even though sitting with my face in the toilet every morning wasn’t ideal, this is what I always wanted, I welcomed it all, fatigue, stretch marks, all day nausea. We did bi-weekly bump shots of my ever growing belly, we went to baby expos, baby shops, I finally got to buy teeny tiny little baby clothes that made me want to cry. We even argued about stupid things like breastfeeding and cloth diapering.

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One of the fondest memories I have which I will treasure forever was our gender reveal. A room filled with our family and a handful of friends, celebrating this milestone. They all supported us through our struggle and to be able to share that moment with them was a wonderful experience. Especially sharing it with my mother and father in law. We were so excited, and as I cut the cakes to reveal boy and girl, I remember the shrieks of excitement, the laughter, the joy, the love. It was the happiest moment of my pregnancy. We named the babies Alexandros and Anastasia or Alex and Annie. Both family names, Alex being my husband’s uncle and Anastasia being my mother in law’s name. How could I get this lucky? A boy and a girl?

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I loved these babies with all my heart. After 12 weeks we bought a foetal doppler and I remember hubby finding their heartbeats and listening to that wonderful sound. How amazing is it to have life growing inside you. We planned on doing a Dr Seuss Nursery, and even asked one of our arty friends if he could do a mural in the nursery. Every day we imagined our life with twins, how wonderfully chaotic it would be.

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At 16 weeks we graduated from our fertility specialist and had our first appointment with our obstetrician at 18 weeks. I couldn’t believe that I was finally going to be “normal”, just your average fat pregnant lady. Yes please.

IVF #3 (July/August 2014)

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After two failed, miserable rounds, we were anxious, financially and emotionally strained and pretty much lost faith in the whole IVF process. We had so many questions but as is common with IVF these questions are often left unanswered. You want to know if there is something wrong with you, why your fertilisation isn’t quite up to scratch, why there are never any frozen embryos, you want to know why a perfect blastocyst won’t implant, you desperately want … no need these answers and yet there are none. After each negative round we were given a sympathetic ear, allowed to vent our frustration and then simply told IVF was a numbers game and we had to simply try again. This was so difficult for me to comprehend, isn’t the height of insanity doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Friends were begging us to take a break, that the strain was too much for us. Little did they know how strong the foundation of our love really was. We decided to push ahead with another cycle, this one under wraps.

It’s a difficult decision whether to share your IVF journey with those close to you, or whether to keep it a secret. During the first two rounds when I was still naively confident that it would work straight away we shared this journey every step of the way with our friends and family, but each negative felt like a public failure so when the third round came along we decided we needed our privacy.

Before we started our round I went to our appointment armed with a list of questions as long as my arm. I had researched endometrial scratch, PICSI, progesterone injections versus suppositories, and had the usual list of unanswerable questions to go along with it. I had to do something different this time, for my own sanity, I had to try something different. In the end we decided to do an endometrial scratch, PICSI and use progesterone injections instead of suppositories.

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A week before my period was due I went for a hysteroscopy and Dr S did the endometrial scratch at the same time. Then started the usual drill of nightly shots, continual scans and finally egg retrieval. I was still groggy from the anaesthesia, which at this time had become the best part of IVF, when I got the news that we retrieved 19 eggs. What a haul. I often wonder if my husband felt a little left out of the procedures, everything was always me, me, me, inject me, scan me, retrieve eggs from me, until this day when his one and only job was to produce a “sample”, not the most glamorous part. There’s certainly no romance in IVF. I wish I could say my child will be conceived through a passionate liaison of unbreakable love, but the truth is mommy and daddy didn’t even get to touch each other, which might actually make our children very happy one day when we tell them the story, if we get to have children.

After I recovered and hubby had given his sample, we got training from the nurse how to administer progesterone shots. Dr S warned me they would hurt, so I was surprised when the nurse jabbed me and I hardly felt anything. This is easy I thought. A walk in the park.

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The next day I got our fertilisation report, only 12 had fertilised but out of those 12, three were abnormal. So we were left with 9 embryos. Not the greatest start I thought, but as the days past I was hopeful that this time it would be different. Transfer day was on a Sunday and I was once again excited. After five days of progesterone shots I could hardly sit on my ass it was so sore. The news however was good this time, one blastocyst and one early blastocyst and we transferred a compacted morula for good measure. Again nothing to freeze.

The two week is always the worst for me, nothing to do, wondering, hoping, scared, anxious. It’s really torturous and I envy those women who never had to endure it. I’ve had far too many, far too many disappointments.

As I sit on the toilet that morning with the test in my hand my heart was pounding. I sat there staring at the test, and I jumped up when I saw the words flashing, Pregnant. I left everything as it was and ran to the bedroom. I tried to fool hubby, I told him it’s negative and I could see his face drop, then I told him it’s positive and he jumped out of bed in disbelief, hugged me and we ran to my in-laws room, where my father in law opened the door and gave me the biggest hug and said bravo! It was an unbelievable morning.

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Later that day we went for the beta result and I was definitely pregnant, 209, very pregnant indeed. We were overjoyed, grateful, happy … it was finally going to happen, after all these years, I was going to be a mommy. Could this really be?