I was 32 years old when I first told my husband that I wanted to try for a baby. Luckily we had no way of knowing that nearly 5 years of misery would follow on from that decision or we might never have made it.
I was a little disappointed when the expected pregnancy failed to happen immediately when we started trying. I read somewhere that 90% of couples conceive within a year of trying so I reasoned that I didn’t have anything to worry about.
Instead, problems at work compounded the monthly disappointments. In addition, the fact that my two sisters both had babies within a month of each other after I had been trying for a year increased my distress and resulted in my becoming very distant from my family.
In due course I consulted my GP and we were given a number of tests, none of which showed any reason why I couldn’t conceive.
After this, we were told that the next step would be to try artificial insemination, for which the doctor told us that there would be a 20 percent chance of success. After numerous delays, caused by waiting for treatment on the NHS to finally become available, I eventually started treatment a whole year after I had been diagnosed with unexplained infertility.
After 2 unsuccessful attempts at IUI (intrauterine insemination), I was devastated. My depression was so bad that I often had thoughts of ending my own life. I don’t know what I would have done but fortunately a referral came through for one of the major hospitals.
When we went for our individual consultation we were told we could have IVF but we could not start until the New Year. By now I was so depressed that I was signed off work for 2 weeks. When I went back I promised myself that I would leave if the IVF failed, as I couldn’t take the stress any more.
The treatment went well with 6 eggs collected, all of which fertilised. Two were transferred in line with the guidance in the hospital’s information booklet and the other four were frozen.
We were not given any individual assessment of the likelihood of a successful outcome, let alone a multiple birth. I didn’t even discuss this decision with my husband because I was convinced the procedure would fail. Since one baby seemed an impossible dream, it never occurred to either of us that we might have twins.
I could hardly believe it when the pregnancy test was positive and even more amazed when the first scan 3 weeks later showed that I was carrying twins. I was delighted but became slightly anxious when the risks of multiple births suddenly hit the headlines.
Nevertheless the pregnancy advanced without any problems and when the babies had still not arrived by 39 weeks, I agreed to have them induced on my due date.
Just 4 days prior to the planned induction I had some unexplained bleeding and it was decided to proceed immediately. After about 12 hours of labour there were concerns that Twin 1 was in distress due to the Syntocinon (a synthetic version of the naturally-occurring hormone oxytocin, used to induce labour or increase the strength of contractions) so it was discontinued.
As the contractions stopped, the twins were born by caesarean. They arrived early in the morning, a boy and a girl, weighing 5lb 6oz and 6lb 4oz respectively.
Unfortunately things started to go wrong for me shortly afterwards. My husband was told to go home and did so, under the impression all was well. I was left alone and then my son was whisked away for immediate feeding, followed by my daughter, so that I could sleep.
I was so worried I couldn’t sleep and when I was finally reunited with the twins, I was shocked and upset to see my son had a tube in his nose. I was unable to breastfeed and due to stress and exhaustion, my depression threatened to reappear.
The morning after I left hospital, my milk came through but by then I was formula feeding and didn’t have the heart to try breast-feeding again. In fact my husband took over the milk preparation for most of the first year, which took the pressure off me and enabled him to get involved.
Life with twins is undoubtedly hard work, but I have no regrets over my decision to have 2 embryos replaced. The immediate aftermath of their birth was traumatic, but there are some things in life we just can’t control. Above all, I am thankful every day that I have a son and a daughter.
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