Following on from “All About Me” yesterday. I wanted to share a few more things you don’t know about me.
Babies – Getting Broody
I was not one of those women who got broody when other people had children. I quite liked other people’s babies but not enough to want one of my own. I was always more than happy to hand them back!
I worked for years for a tour operator who offered child care as part of the holiday. As part of my job, I used to regularly take travel agents out to our resorts to look around them – in the hope they would sell the holidays on their return.
It was a standing joke in the resorts that I would get to the nursery/kids clubs with the travel agents and staff members would have to take the agents inside to see the children. I always said “I don’t do kids” and would stand outside having a sneaky fag.
That may make me sound like a totally heartless cow, but I think I just knew what a real life changer kids would be and I wasn’t ready for that.
When I found out I was pregnant – a month after returning from honeymoon – I was shocked but I was also quite excited and quite nervous!
We had just purchased a house to “do up and sell”. We were going to become property magnates. That house is still our family home! It has been extended upwards and outwards to accommodate our growing family and the dream of being wealthy through property investments has faded.
Baby number 1
As my first pregnancy progressed, my years of saying “I don’t do kids” was repaid with hyperemesis gravidarum, Symphysis pubis dysfunction and polyhydramnios. Or in English – severe morning sickness, hips that clicked when I walked and too much fluid around the baby!
My eldest son arrived 5 weeks early weighing 5lb 8oz (2.5kg). My waters had broken and on arrival at the hospital, they discovered I had pre-eclampsia so I was induced.
After a shock arrival, everything progressed normally until he was 5 months old when his head was declared too big. Within a few days we were in Kings College Hospital waiting for him to return from brain surgery. He had hydrocephalus and needed a VP shunt inserting into his brain.
I remember thinking things could only get better.
Babies 2 and 3
Two months after my eldest son’s brain surgery, I found out I was pregnant again. A few weeks later I was bleeding and was sent for a scan to confirm a miscarriage. Imagine my shock when the sonographer casually said “oh it’s really common to bleed when you’re having twins”. I refused to believe it until she managed to get both heart beats in one shot, I was sure I had just had one who was jumping around a lot.
That was a day I will never forget. It was the one and only time I heard my mum swear. It was also the day my husband decided to change a water bottle in the waiting room and flooded it! It was also the day he came into the scan with me but our eldest was not having any of it so he left before we heard it was twins. When I walked out of the room, I burst into tears in front of everyone and he said in a broken voice “it’ll be ok, we’ve talked about it, these things happen for a reason” and the whole room looked so sorry for us. The sonographer then said “Oh I don’t think you’ve talked about this”. The whole waiting room cheered and applauded when I blurted out our news. He was forgiven by the cleaners who were busily trying to mop up his mess and the lady who had wet feet.
After this, the pregnancy pretty much followed the same pattern as my first. Sick, sore hips and polyhydramnios with the added joy of a teething toddler.
At 28 weeks, I started with contractions and was kept in hospital for a few days while they gave me lots of injections. I was discharged but the next day developed a headache; the worst pain I have ever experienced. I was re-admitted and more injections were provided. Hubby was sent home at 10pm and told that I would probably be in for quite a few weeks.
At 3am that morning, I became very ill. I had developed Eclampsia. No pre about it. The babies had to come out. Wow, as I am writing this, I am crying. I didn’t realise how emotional this whole experience still is for me.
The twins were delivered by emergency c-section. They weighed 2lb 12oz and 2lb 13oz (1.25kg).
If you have had twins, you will know that you get two of everyone in the delivery room. Two doctors, two midwives & two NICU nurses in addition to the anesthetist and your partner. I also had a consultant who had been called in. I just remember lots of people, lots of talking and lots of nervous glances at my obs.
The twins were wrapped up and I was allowed a very quick glance at them before they were rushed off to Nicu. This was 6am. I didn’t get to see them in person until 6pm that evening as I was, by now, attached to a variety of drips and not very well.
I was also in shock as I now had three children under 14 months of age.
I was allowed to hold my daughter the next evening (36 hours after her birth) but I didn’t get to hold my son until 6 days later. He was too poorly.
At 6 weeks, it was discovered that both twins had Retinopathy of Prematurity. My son’s condition was more advanced. They were taken by ambulance in their incubators to Kings College Hospital where it was decided that my son needed surgery to try to save his retinas.
We then entered the whole political nightmare involved in having eye surgery on a premature baby. Some hospitals don’t allow the surgery in their operating theatres – due to the risk. Some hospitals do but doctors were on leave or the equipment wasn’t suitable. Some hospitals had the equipment but no doctor and wouldn’t provide honorary contracts to other doctors to use their facilities.
I ended up on the phone in tears to a hospital in London begging them to help me. Thankfully, I managed to speak to a human and arrangements were made quickly so the surgery could take place.
Unfortunately the surgery was not successful and his retinas both detached. He has no vision and no light perception.
The staff in NICU were amazing throughout. I am not sure how we would have coped without their total support of us, as a family. Spending the run up to Christmas in NICU is a really emotional experience. As everyone else around you is planning their Christmas Day and wondering if their Sainsburys shop will be delivered on time, we were sat wondering whether we would get our children home for Christmas or whether yet another transfusion or operation would be needed.
We did get them home. On Christmas Eve. I’d like to say Christmas Day was totally magical but in all honest, we were totally exhausted ( we hadn’t had to do many night feeds while they were in NUCU) and we had bacon sandwiches for our Christmas Dinner at 10pm!
Twelve years on
Six months after the arrival of the twins, my eldest son was diagnosed with Autism. A year later, my daughter was diagnosed with speech, language and communication needs, and a few years on, my youngest son was also diagnosed with autism. There have been several new labels added to the collection over the years, in fact it started to feel like a game of bingo and we wondered when we could shout “house”!
As difficult as this may all sound, we are now one of the happiest families I know. All three of my children have Education Health & Care Plans (the new Statement of SEN). They also all have the most amazing sense of humour, we genuinely are the family who laugh together. They are also, most importantly, healthy in every way. They make me swell with pride and belly laugh every single day. They also make sure I am grounded by constantly saying it as it is. (That’s another story).
When I think back to my pre-children days and my “I don’t do children” attitude, I laugh.
I wonder what I would have thought if someone had told me what the future held?