Author: Jackie Jones
Today I learnt that it takes 14 mins to fly direct from Port Macquarie to John Hunter Hospital in a care flight emergency, this is my journal entry dated 17/06/2017.
The day started like any other, at 26+2 weeks pregnant with twins, I had reached a point of pain every day, pain to breathe, to walk, to rest, to sit, stand, or lay so with my 572 cushions and pillows of every shape and size, I was trying to make the most of it with a 6 year old to look after as well. Baths and swims helped, but this day I had significantly increased pain come 4pm. I went for a bath, the perfect place to be weight free with the significantly increased weight on my 53kg frame BPWT (before pregnancy with twins).
I’d put on a lot of weight compared to my singleton pregnancy. The bath didn’t seem to help, and my back was hurting tremendously, so I had a glass of water and thought if I had a shower I would surely feel better, so off to the shower I waddled. (Yep I was absolutely waddling by this point). The shower didn’t seem to relieve any pain and then I began to question the pain I was feeling, like, I did have a child already so surely I would know what labour felt like, right?
And this was very painful, I thought my back was going to snap and break in pieces and my vagina would fall off if I sneezed, or suddenly moved the wrong way, but I was 26 weeks and 2 days, so way too early to be in labour, surely?
26 weeks pregnant with twins
My husband rang the maternity ward at my local hospital. I was struggling to talk, barely able to concentrate on breathing. They asked me to come in. I hadn’t even packed a hospital bag at this point, and I was in absolutely no state to be able to now. So my husband packed a bag and helped me to the car.
My son came with us, and the hospital greeted us with a wheelchair. I was so embarrassed, but I couldn’t walk or talk so I took up the generous offer of the walking aid and my son wheeled me to the birthing suite!! Yep the birthing suite. I couldn’t even manage a hello by this stage. I explained ” I …ca…nt…. ta…lk…” and would just try to take a deep breathe but that made the pain worse so then I’d scream.
Everything became a slow motion blur, I was handed a spew bag and it was timed perfectly because I spewed into it the very second I reached for it. They were reading my mind! I didn’t even know I needed to spew 5 seconds ago! This is great, I was thinking- I’m going to be looked after and everything will be ok! They injected some morphine in which did seem to begin to take the edge off and I was able to speak, thank god!
During this time, they had hooked me up to the ECG machine to monitor the babies, they seemed to be ok but I wasn’t. They took a wee sample and gave me something to stop labour and steroids incase the babies came. And thats when I heard them ringing for an urgent flight. The nurse was so calm and almost made it sound like I’d won a holiday, explaining something along the lines of ” we are just going to get you on the next flight to John Hunter Hospital because we can’t be sure we have the facilities to suit you and the babies needs”.
”Is everything ok? ” I asked, and she assured “everything will be fine, its just a safety precaution”. I was in no state no negotiate and the pain was coming back so they gave me more pain relief.
Being airlifted to hospital at 26 weeks pregnant with twins
By now it was dark, and I actually can’t even remember getting to the airport but on a plane I went, it was tiny and my phone died right as I was getting on. I did not have a charger either. So as any normal person would, I began to freak out that I had no communication means to contact my husband or my son. Then my attention quickly turned to the monitor with everyones heart rates including mine, I was pushing 160BPM and as the plane left, I could not hear a thing.
I was on a bed that you can’t move or even put your feet down to touch the floor, the midwife came with me – bless her and she was crammed on a seat next to me surrounded by medical supplies and my head was nearly touching the pilot, the plane was so loud it sounded industrial, nothing like a Qantas flight haha. Wish I had photos but as you know my phone died! Sorry!
15 mins later we land in Newcastle and an ambulance meets me at the plane. I’m transferred over to a new midwife who keeps me calm cause by this point, shit was getting serious, and I felt very scared, hello… panic attack! I asked her what was going to happen and she said -we just need to get you to the hospital as quickly as possible and everything will be ok. So, I trusted her, cause let’s face it, what other option did I have at this point?
I was placed into the birthing suite again, AGAIN, and they had two baby incubators in this ginormous room with bright lights. I was still unsure what was happening- It was the still the 17th of June 2017, I was hooked up to a drip as my insulin levels had gone nuts from the steroids. Having Gestational Diabetes meant is is common if steroids are needed. I stayed in that suite until the next day told to try and rest. Thankfully the night had come and gone and I woke up to my bother and sister in law coming to visit me. I was fairly excited, the babies are still in, the pain was being managed and I am wondering how they knew I was her. They explained my husband was on his way and he called them to come see me as they lived in Newcastle.
Hydronephrosis and twin pregnancy
Shortly after I was transferred to a ward and given an information chat from someone designated for “those” chats, it kinda scared me as they gave me paperwork explaining if you have a baby around 26 weeks- this is what you can expect, a 20% death rate with a side note of “sorry, these statistics are based off singletons,.we don’t have data for twin pregnancies” so basically I doubled that in my head and was like WTAF! I still didn’t even know what was wrong, or the likelihood of having the babies now.
The contractions stopped and I was given a tour of NICU which was immaculate. They were welcoming, warm, friendly, and nothing was a drama. They explained RMH (Ronald McDonald House) was up the road if an extended stay was needed and it felt really reassuring but overwhelming. I was given an iron transfusion and won on some scratchies someone had brought me. I begin to feel a shift from scared to lucky. By this time the picture was in view they could see my kidney was swollen, stretched and the tubes were blocked from the twins taking up so much room. This in turn had put me into preterm labour, which they had managed to stop at this stage.
They did say that I would need a decent stay and the technical terms for what I had are hydronephrosis, so I stayed put for quite some time, 3 times a day an ECG on the babies was done and I was on strict bed rest allowed to go to the bathroom to shower or use the toilet only. Let me tell you, I had hit a new level of going crazy in my mind, I am not the kind of person who is a great at being confined to one spot, so thats when I got serious about blogging and created my Instagram to keep myself sane!
Bedrest and twin pregnancy
On the Sunday I found out the boys were just over 1kg, which was on track. I’d learnt to inject myself with blood thinners and my heart was still a beating mess, with a tacky heart. By this stage they said that if I did go into labour they would not stop it. A couple of days come and went, so I set myself a new goal of being able to make it 7 more weeks, that night I got the best 6 hours of sleep id had in a while. I also found that lip balm was my best friend because the air con was making my lips so dry and cracked! So don’t forget to pack lip balm in your hospital bag ladies!!
Day by day things seemed stable, I was on decent pain relief and thankfully 2 weeks later I was allowed out on a day pass so of course I went straight to Kotara Westfields, my favourite shopping centre in Newcastle! I met my cousin there for lunch and I popped in lush for some bath bombs.
As everything was looking fab I got to go home! That time away from my little man was hard, it was the longest we’d ever been apart. It was a relief to be home, but that was short lived, the pain was increasing again and back to hospital I went. I needed to make it past 34 weeks to be able to have the twins at my local hospital and I was still nowhere near it!
Having a kidney stent while pregnant with twins
So we had some really tough conversations and the solution was to attempt that urology put a stent into my kidney tubes which involved theatre not only that it included me being awake for it, which gave me another panic attack. But there wasn’t any other way around it, the kidney was still significantly blocked and the pain relief couldn’t be increased. The pain was from the blockage which could put me into labour again at any stage.
Being in theatre also came with several risks.
They usually put a stent in and check with X-rays that it’s in right. I had 2 babies in there, it’s a big no-no to do X-rays with any babies. The urologist said she would do her best to do the procedure without doing an X-ray, I explained to the doctor going in how scared I was about the entire thing, as I tried to breathe through my anxiety. I was absolutely terrified.
The procedure was supposed to only take 15 mins.I was trying to count down the time staring at the roof in this freezing cold theatre. It felt like an hour had passed, so I began to listen to the conversation of the team, and they couldn’t get the stent in. I asked the nurse holding my hand what we do? She reassured me it would be ok and to try to relax. I heard the urologist call for someone else to help her and have a try. About 30 mins went by, and they thought they had the stent in, but that they did need to do an X-ray to check. I still freak out about that X-ray! I went back to the ward and was discharged after I was able to go to the toilet. I’d made the next hurdle! This was going to take the pain away and everything would be great for the remainder of the pregnancy, right?
Wrong, actually thats probably too harsh, it wasn’t all bad, the babies were growing great. They were healthy and happy. They were transverse most of the time and twin 2 (the higher twin) was a soccer star, kicking the crap out of my ribs all day every day. Twin 1 was pretty chill he didn’t do much. I’m pretty sure twin 2 broke my ribs, they would burn all the time! And now 4 years later they dislocate every time I bend down or even sometimes when I sneeze. It’s crazy!
The pain from my kidney was a 10 all the time, I was on pain meds every 4 hours, and it still was so painful, I had to learn to breathe through pain every minute of every day. The stent only slightly opened the tube that was blocked, as the babies were taking up the space and there just wasn’t any room left for all my organs and you know, tubes and stuff inside us all, this was a marathon.
Trying to fall pregnant with twins
I continued to struggle every day. I tried to distract myself with Netflix and Instagram. When my son was home from school he would do magic tricks for me. He was pretty good, I was one lucky mum! I’d prayed for these twins for years, we had miscarriages. It was so hard. We were so determined to have babies, we wanted twins so badly, that I forgot to think about logistics of things like how my body would cope.
I tried to remember all the things we did to try to get pregnant with twins. Just for a giggle I will share it with you. You might think I’m crazy, and I don’t think anyone including me would blame you for thinking that… I went on a twin diet!! It’s actually a thing if you google it. the crazy things like I drank strawberry milk, like all day everyday to attempt to fall pregnant with twins, I hate milk, so this was really challenging!
We went to Crystal Castle, have you been there? They have a wishing tree, so we wrote our wish to have twins and hang it on the wishing tree. So many adventures haha… Anyway here I was, in arms reach of a dream that I’d had for so long, to complete my little fam bam.
34 weeks pregnant with twins
By now.. I’d blinked and 4 weeks went by, and I’d somehow made it to that goal of 34 weeks!
I felt a bit of relief, but that pain was still taking over my life along with the pain in my hips, my pelvis, my burning ribs, everything hurt. By now I’d put on 30kgs! It was insane! But the sun was shining, even though it was winter, and I was bloody happy that I’d made it into the safest zone yet! I’d been pregnant for 250 days, 6000 hours and 360,000 minutes. And yes I had that much time to work that out cause I couldn’t do a thing! Unless it was absolutely necessary!
Now carpal tunnel was increasing, swelling was so bad I had to put medical stockings on before I even got out of bed or I would swell so fast, I was over the GD and just wanted a god dam Big Mac, with no bun cause I’m coeliac- weirdo I know, but I kept telling myself I was blessed. That I was lucky, and let’s face it, I wasn’t left with many other options at this point then to tell myself all these beautiful and wonderful things.
36 weeks pregnant with twins
By 36 weeks the boys were 6 pounds each, so they were decent weights and we were all doing so well. Then I made it to 37 weeks! We actually made it! It was decided we would have a c section as the position hadn’t changed and this was the safest option for delivery.
37 weeks pregnant with twins
I went into hospital to have steroids under supervision so they could monitor my insulin again. That night I began having more pain, to the point that I woke my room mate. She kept me talking. She was so sweet, even though I couldn’t see her from behind the curtain. We chatted about our kids mostly. I thought I was having contractions, she agreed so I called the nurse. Who said… you’re fine go to sleep. So my roomie and I kept chatting cause the pain wouldn’t allow me to sleep.
Come 2 am I called the nurse again, yep we were in labour for realzzz! This was happening! I was whisked to the birthing suite to let my room mate sleep- sorry babe!! And then all the obstetricians were called in for an emergency c section. It was Father’s Day, so the 3am phone call to hubbie seemed to go down fairly smooth, tell me, who else can give someone 2 babies for Father’s Day? Nothing will top that gift!
Twins born at 37 weeks
I was taken to theatre again and instantly thought I would have another panic attack cause of being awake for yet another procedure in theatre. But it was surprisingly calm. My beautiful student midwife took photos of the other side, which I’d highly recommend for anyone! And it was such a great experience. Twin 1 came out, purple. So tiny. I held my breath waiting for that scream, it came within a few seconds. 2 minutes later I asked what they were doing as it felt like someone was jumping on my ribs in a weird jumping CPR action movie or something. Twin 2 was fairly stuck, but they managed to get him out 3 mins after twin 1.
They were here earth side I couldn’t believe it! I’m so thankful to all the people on my health team. The babies were just beautiful. Twin 1 needed SCN so both twins went there as did I, but shortly after were all together and home within the week.
Within 24 hours I was back in theatre to have the stent removed, they can’t leave them in long cause they can crystalize and cause other problems, again I was awake but now a seasoned pro at theatre so being awake this time was a breeze and the pain went away really quick after it and thankfully I have a full functioning kidney 4 years on from it as well as a complete healthy, fam bam!
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