Four Continents Equals Two Babies

Author: Beth Pettrey

My husband (Matt) and I have fraternal girl/boy twins, Claire and Owen.

I had a very interesting pregnancy. Claire and Owen were conceived in Spain while on R&R from our jobs on a Gold Mine in Egypt after a very expensive dinner (one that we can no longer afford!). We confirmed I was pregnant by Matt bring home a pregnancy kit from a work trip to the UK because we were living in a small remote town in Egypt at the time. We headed back to Australia on our next R&R break to catch up with our GP. Because we knew the dates we didn’t do a scan at this stage and also the GP said it wasn’t likely to be twins because I had really mild morning sickness. While I felt sick a lot I was only physically sick 4 times and twice of these was after eating slightly under ripe bananas (didn’t do this again after the second event).

After our trip to Oz I headed back to Egypt and Matt to the UK to start some engineering work. The plan was for me to head to the UK for the 13 week scan and this is when things started to get really interesting. My 13 week scan was planned for the Friday; however there were major demonstrations in Egypt then, so getting out of the country wasn’t easy. I end up having to tell the Site GM that I was pregnant because he wasn’t letting ex-pats leave site. Fortunately the two camel town we live in was near some of the resorts on the Red Sea and we had an international airport. I was able to get a flight from Marsa Alam to Zurich but there was a bit of drama with this too. The flight I was on was a chartered flight and because I wasn’t a Swiss passport holder they weren’t going to let me on. Couple of phone calls back to site and some paperwork to say that I worked in Egypt I was let on the plane. Stress levels were pretty high at this point.

 

 

So finally in the UK off we head to the OB for the scan. Scan (not a tummy scan…….the other one!) went well and we could see one baby and all the measurements were adding up. Right at the end of the scan the OB moved the probe (god that sounds awful) and says “Um, what’s that, it looks like another baby”. Thank goodness I was lying down, but Matt was standing up watching the TV screen so I had to check that he hadn’t fainted! So at this point we started the scan again!! By the way it was Owen we could see initially and Claire was hiding behind him. She was always really difficult to scan throughout the whole pregnancy.

Matt was based in the UK and it was planned that I would fly back and forth between Egypt and the UK but with the news that I was having twins, this plan changed. I was lucky that work agreed and my work could be done remotely, away from the site so I stayed in the UK until mid May, 28 weeks pregnant. I went through 3 OB’s at the clinic that we were using because of insurance problems but because we were having twins they had sent us off to the Fetal Medicine Centre in London, who were wonderful and they did all the detailed scans. It also meant a trip into the centre of London every couple of weeks for another scan which meant some shopping and a night out.

Originally we had planned to have “the baby” in the UK but with the news of twins we decided to head home. So I flew home at 28 weeks.  Flying long haul flying from UK to Australia wasn’t fun. I had my letter from the Doctor saying that my pregnancy was normal, and that I could fly, but being a short person carrying twins I was a bit on the large side and there were a lot of questions from the 3 different flight crews. I was very lucky to be able to upgrade my ticket (work paid for the base ticket) and went 1st Class for one leg and Business Class for the other two which made it a bit easier. The twins were pretty happy until we got to Singapore but the flight from Singapore to Brisbane was pretty bad.

Once we had decided that we were heading home I thought I should sort out the Hospital and OB before I arrived. This was a bit of a pain because my GP wouldn’t deal with me via email and with the timezone difference it was really difficult to call so I ended up resorting to sending them a fax to organise the referral. This actually worked and my OB’s admin staff were actually happy to deal with me via email so first appointment was already booked for a couple of days after I arrived.

Up to this point my pregnancy had been pretty uneventful and I was starting swollen hands & feet but they would recover overnight but once I got back to Oz this all changed.

Within a week of being home I got diagnosed with borderline gestational diabetes (I’m over 35, was having twins and with family history of type 1 & 2 diabetes I was ticking all the boxes) so out when the pasta and onto the diet and finger pricks. I was fortunate that I was able to control via diet but it was a shock to the system. It also explained why I felt sick every time I ate something sweet.

Then came the heartburn and fluid retention. I had a couple of really bad nights with the heartburn that I was nearly ready to say “that’s it, take them out” but I soldiered on. It also meant that I was only sleeping two to three hours before being up for an hour so this was good practise for their arrival. The water retention was soooo bad that I didn’t just have cankles I had knankles (pretty much my whole legs were the size of my thighs and you couldn’t find my knees or my ankles). Matt ended up having to massage my feet to push the fluid up my legs so I could put shoes on.

Matt headed back to Oz in mid June (he quit his job because he was definitely not going back to Egypt after the twins were born) to find me a lot larger and a lot less mobile (we had been walking to work every day in the UK).

My OB was pretty happy to consider a natural birth as Owen had his head in my pelvis and Claire was semi pointing down at the top of my tummy. About a week before they arrived, Owen decided to move from the right side of my tummy to the left which put Claire more head up but the OB was still happy to give a natural birth a go.

This discussion took place at the beginning of our appointment at 35 wks & 5 days but by the end of the appointment I was heading off to the Labour Ward to have steroid injections because my low to normal blood pressure had started to rise (just in case). We headed back to the Doctor the next day (Friday) after the results of my blood & urine tests and we were then booked in for a C-Section on the next Monday. The next two days were extremely uncomfortable with heartburn, extreme water retention and my blood pressure rising.

By the Monday morning my blood pressure was so high that they couldn’t get a reading on the automatic cuff. At this point they were talking GA rather than an epidural but they pumped me full of blood pressure medication and I was able to have an epidural.

Owen (2625g) was born on the 18th July at 8:05am and Claire (1750g) was born a minute later (feet first). While all the scans had shown that Claire was smaller than Owen we weren’t expecting her to be this much smaller but everything was checked out and she’s just a small baby (she’s still about 2kg smaller then Owen). They headed to Special Care as Owen had some initial breathing difficulties, and because of their size & being 4 weeks early.

I didn’t have a good recovery because of my blood pressure and ended up having to stay on the Labour Ward for 24 hours because they were doing hourly observations. To make things a tiny bit worse my blood count was also low and I end up having to have a blood transfusion. So over the first 36 hours I didn’t see a lot of Claire & Owen but the Special Care Nurses let Matt bring them to me because I was still on the Labour Ward and they were doing fine, it was just Mummy that wasn’t. At the time I don’t think we realised how sick I was which I think was a good think but it wasn’t until a couple of days later when one of the Special Care Nurses pointed out that I had been very sick that it all hit home. Matt was also wonderfully during this time because I wasn’t up for anything and took over and made all the decisions (pain medication made me very spaced out)

After all of this my blood pressure has returned to normal, the diabetes has gone and the massive amount of fluid I was retaining meant that I loss 25kg in the first week after their arrival. I am one of these horrible people that weight less now then when I got pregnancy (but I still have a wobbly tummy so not celebrity mother level).

 

 

As for Owen & Claire, they were in Special Care for 4 weeks and came home on their due date. Owen was ready to come home a week early but Claire took a little bit more time so he stayed to keep her company.

 
 
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