Thursday, 13th November
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
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.