Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Welcome ICLWers

Welcome all new visitors and thanks for stopping by! I'll give you a recap of our TTC journey, the loss of our twin girls and life with our wonderful son, Carter. I'll warn you this will likely be long as I think this may be the first time I've written our story in detail.

My husband Ralph and I decided we wanted to try for a baby in 2008. After trying for about 8 months with no luck I knew something was wrong. I have always had irregular cycles and was charting my basal body temperature which was all over the place, with no discernible pattern. So I knew I likely wasn't ovulating.... which is sort of a key component in the whole baby making thing!

Even though we had only been trying for 8 months I convinced a doctor to do some further investigating. I think given my irregular cycles and no luck conceiving she knew something was up too. She referred me to an OB who reviewed my bloodwork and symptoms, and he diagnosed me with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).

He told us that we likely wouldn't get pregnant on our own, but would need the help of medication. I took Clomid 50mg in June 2009 and got pregnant on the first cycle. We were ecstatic! About 6 weeks in I was having intense cramping and was worried something was wrong. After a visit to the Emergency Department and a subsequent ultrasound we found out we were pregnant with TWINS! Wow! At this time I was in my fourth year of Nursing School so we were really scrambling to figure out how this was going to work. We knew we would figure it out in time, it was just a big (welcomed) shock!

At around 14 weeks I started to feel frequent contractions. I didn't know what they were at first, but after some research (good ole dr. google) and talking with friends I figured out thats what they were. I knew this seemed a bit early to be having braxton hicks and found myself in the ER on numerous occasions due to their frequency and intensity. I was told every time I went that there's no way they could be contractions and I must just be feeling the babies moving. I was getting them ALL THE TIME! I'd say 4-6 an hour, every hour regardless of whether I was walking around or just sitting quietly. I drank TONS of water and rested as often as I could, but the contractions continued.

On November 20, 2009 I was 23 weeks 5 days pregnant and was at the theatre with family. The contractions continued, except this time there appeared to be a pattern, and I timed them at every 5 minutes for about half an hour. I had my husband pick me up to bring me to labour and delivery. I remember telling him on the way that I'm sure everything is fine as it had been every other time we'd been.

I was hooked up to the monitor and the nurse noted that the contractions were every 2 minutes. She looked concerned, initiated an IV and called the doctor immediately. Things get sort of fuzzy from here, but the doctor seemed to appear within minutes. He checked me and told us that I was 2.5cm dilated with the amniotic sac bulging. We were told that I needed to be airlifted to Vancouver ASAP and placed on bedrest until the babies were born.

Ralph and I were transported by helicopter to Vancouver within a couple of hours. Initially I was given a nitro patch, as this was the new protocol for my situation. It was supposed to slow down the contractions, but it had no effect on me whatsoever! I talked to the OB there about magnesium sulphate as I had researched this in the past. He stated that it has become a last resort in the past couple of years, and they are trying to phase it out for preterm labour. However, he felt that it was the only thing that was going to slow down my contractions at this point.

Finally, the contractions were slowing down even stopping for a short period of time. I remember telling one of my nurses that everything was blurry and I felt extremely hot. She said the Magnesium can cause blurred vision and not to be concerned. When she came into see me next time I told her my eyesight was so bad I couldn't even look at her straight. This time she could tell something was seriously wrong as she checked the reflexes in my legs. I had no reflexes in my left leg! At this time I'm starting to get even more worried. I must note that the babies were doing very well through all of this! The nurse returned to my room with an order from the doctor to discontinue the Magnesium as it was obviously reaching toxic levels.

Once the Magnesium was discontinued the contractions returned full force. Over the weekend at some point I woke up with pain in my chest. The nurse brushed it off as indigestion and gave me an antacid. The next time I woke up my chest felt like an elephant was sitting on it and I couldn't breath. I told Ralph to get the nurse as something was seriously wrong!! She checked my oxygen saturation and it was in the 70's-80's (for non medical folks it should be in the high 90's for a young healthy adult).

Again, things get VERY fuzzy from this point on. She put an oxygen mask on my face and returned with several people. I had one person on one arm taking Arterial Blood Gases and someone on the other arm trying to start another IV. I then had an echocardiogram done right in the room and was immediately sent for a chest x-ray and CT scan. I vaguely remember laying on the CT table barely able to breath and having full on contractions.

As soon as I returned to my room I was visited by two doctors from the ICU. They explained to me that if my condition didn't improve quickly I would need to be ventilated and taken to the ICU. I was so scared! I've never been so scared in my entire life! I asked Ralph to call my parents in Ireland as I wanted to say goodbye to them. I really thought I wasn't going to make it. I remember saying goodbye to Ralph too.

I was told that there was about 3 litres of fluid on my lungs and they needed to get rid of it fast. I was given a catheter and Lasix, and peed litres upon litres of fluid out. Just as quickly as I became ill, I started to improve within hours.

Once my condition was improving I had a Cardiologist visit me. She explained that I had Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome which she said was likely brought on by the Magnesium Sulphate. Apparently this is a rare side effect of the medication.

On the morning of November 25 at 24 weeks 3 days I was transported to another hospital as the NICU in the current hospital was full. My contractions intensified throughout the day and by evening I was in full blown labour. There was absolutely no stopping it at this time and I was given an epidural. I was brought into the operating room because the doctors needed to be prepared incase they had to perform a cesarean section. I remember being wheeled into a giant, bright room filled with at least 20-25 people. There were about 5 people each hovering around 2 isolettes waiting to stabilize our babies and transport them to the NICU. When it came time to push I couldn't tell when I was contracting so the wonderful nurse guided me. Chloe was born at 11:40pm and her sister Zoe followed her 15 minutes later at 11:55pm. She was so close to being born the next day!! I waited anxiously to hear them cry and never did... Once they were stabilized the NICU teams let us see them briefly before they were wisked away to the NICU.

Over the next two weeks we watched our daughters fight for their lives. We often got calls in the middle of the night to come into the NICU immediately as one of them was doing poorly. Chloe developed a grade 4 brain bleed very early on and after lengthy discussions with the doctors and nurses we made the most difficult decision of our lives. We didn't want our daughter to suffer and we withdrew life support. The wonderful nurses let the girls be together one last time before we let Chloe go. We took so many photos. It was so incredibly hard, but I knew that I would regret not having them when I was ready to look back at them. And now, they are my most treasured possessions!

Here is one of only a handful of photos of us all together (Ralph wasn't feeling well so he had to wear a mask):

Here is a photo of Chloe and Zoe together. Chloe is on the right and Zoe is on the left.

Zoe had been doing fairly well considering she was in the NICU, but only a couple of days after Chloe passed away she developed a life threatening infection and also developed a grade 4 brain bleed. We were again faced with the most difficult decision of our lives, a decision I never thought we would have to face again. After many many discussions, again we did not want our daughter to suffer. We withdrew life support on December 9th and Zoe was reunited with her sister. This is so incredibly difficult to write, yet I am glad to finally write it down in detail.

Not one single day goes by that I don't think of our beautiful daughters. I often think about how old they would be today and what they would look like. I think about what their little personalities would be like... would they be laid back like Ralph or more like me.... a little high strung....? Would they have my straight hair or Ralphs curls? I know that we did what we thought was best and I know that given the circumstances again we would still make the same decision, but it's still incredibly difficult to live with! Oh, how I haven't cried like this in quite a while..... It's good to have a cry every now and then I think....

Fast forward to April 2011. I take one round of Clomid and get pregnant, which unfortunately ends in an early miscarriage at around 6 weeks. Ralph and I then go on vacation to the Dominican Republic to clear our heads. I take another round of Clomid 50mg in June 2011 and bam! pregnant again! You should note that I got pregnant 3 times each with one round of Clomid on the lowest dose. I thought there was absolutely no way I would get pregnant so quickly the third time, but lo and behold it worked!

Since this post is already ridiculously long and I go into great detail about that pregnancy on my blog (check out the archive on the right), I will make this brief. I started having contractions again around 14 weeks, and was put on bedrest at 20 weeks. I was in and out of the hospital from 20 weeks until I delivered our son one day before his due date. I had 5-6 contractions every hour of every single day from 20 weeks on and had weekly cervical checks to ensure that there were no changes there. This pregnancy was incredibly scary! I feared losing our son almost every single day, as I knew first hand how bad things could go.

The day before his due date I noticed some swelling in my legs and decided to check my blood pressure. It was incredibly high for me! I waited a few minutes, checked it again then called labour and delivery to tell them I was coming in since it was still really high. They confirmed the high BP and I was told I needed to be induced. The doctor broke my water, which kicked the contractions into high gear! I laboured for 6 hours and our beautiful baby boy entered the world at 4:58pm March 18, 2012.

He is the light in our lives! We are so incredibly grateful to have him here, healthy as can be. He is now 7 months old and full of wonder and discovery. I often cry with joy for him and can't fully express with words how much he means to us.

Many things are bitter sweet for us. Carter sleeps in one of the cribs we bought for our girls... and wore  their sleepers and socks when he was a few months old. We use the crib sets we bought them, as well as the baby monitor. These are things that remind me of them everyday!

I wish I knew what the future holds. We know we want more children, but I don't know if I can handle another high risk pregnancy. We've got a few years to think about it anyway. I just wish I knew that if I got pregnant again that everything would be ok!

For now we are enjoying life with our wonderful son and soaking up the here and now, as none of us really knows what tomorrow brings.

If you've made it this far, thanks for reading,



  1. Visiting from ICLW and just read your story. I'm so sorry about your girls, they were so beautiful. Carter really is adorable with his little owl hat on.

  2. Hello from ICLW - what an incredible story. all of your children are beautiful, and I'm so sorry for your losses...

  3. Stopping by from ICLW. Reading your story was so heartbreaking. I am so sorry about the loss of your daughters. I can't even imagine how hard that was for you. Your son is cutie pie, though. I am sure he is the light of your lives. Thanks so much for sharing your story.

  4. Hello Amy. This is Amy.. mother to Lily Grace. I just saw your comment on Lily's page. I'm glad you found my Lily and thank you for sharing the story about your girls with us. Chloe and Zoe are beautiful.. I bet they are friends with Lily up in heaven.. ;)


  5. Visiting from ICLW. I'm so sorry for the loss of your beautiful daughters. I can't even begin to imagine the heartache. Your son is precious, though. Thank you so much for sharing your story. HUGS!

  6. Oh wow, I never knew about your beautiful girls. I'm so sorry for your loss. You are such an amazingly strong lady & awesome mama to Carter!

  7. I'm so sorry to read about the loss of your girls. Your son is gorgeous and I'm sure is a delight.

    ICLW #74 Dragondreamer's Lair

  8. I am so sorry to read about your girls. Thank you for sharing your story. Many hugs.

    An ICLW Visit from #2
    liddy @ the unfair struggle (mfi, speedskating, life)

  9. Thanks so much for sharing your story. I hope it was as therapeutic for you to write it out as it was for me to read it. I could really identify with the last part about using the crib, sleepers, etc. that belonged to your daughters for Carter. Our son Ethan was lost to miscarriage and we used his onesies and blankets with our daughter Harriet. It's a bittersweet thing, isn't it? I went back and forth about it but decided I liked the idea of Harriet having his "hand-me-downs."

    1. Thank you for reading Em! It's definitely bittersweet! I tear up every now and then thinking about how my girls never got a chance to sleep in the crib, but I'm so incredibly lucky to have an amazing son that does get to sleep in it now. Do you have a blog?