When David and I found out we were pregnant, it was pure jubilation. We had already been pregnant once and our little angel went to Heaven at 13 weeks in April of 2006. We had been “trying, but not really trying” since our wedding to get pregnant. We found out at 5 weeks, which was nice and early. I went to the doctor for the first time at about 8 weeks. I liked the office. It was a group practice, but I didn’t mind. I watched a video at my first appointment and the nurse asked questions to gather my medical history. I remember distinctly when she asked if twins were a possibility. I answered, “no, absolutely not.” We had no twins in the family and there were no fertility treatments.
I mentioned to her that I had been having some light brownish-red spotting. We scheduled an appointment for the next day to make sure I didn’t have an infection. During that appointment, the nurse practitioner collected some specimens and asked if I would like to have an ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy. I, of course, answered yes.
David and I arrived for our ultrasound appointment and were shown back. The technician was very nice and we were making jokes and having a grand old time. When she brought up the screen with the picture of the embryo on it, she asked me what that looked like to me. I responded, “That looks like a thumbnail with a split down the middle of it.” She chuckled and said, “That’s twins.” To which I answered, “Are you f***ing kidding me?” David was appalled that I had said the F word, and I was still shell shocked. Besides our nurse was a grown adult. I am certain she had heard that word before.
At that point, there was no keeping this pregnancy a secret. We had to tell everyone. We were so overjoyed. I was still shocked. All of our friends were thrilled. We were told my due date was September 6. That’s certainly an easy date to remember, as it is my brother’s birthday.
My first trimester was a nightmare. I had all-day sickness, rather than just morning sickness. Those of you, who know what I am talking about, imagine working in a restaurant. I cannot count the number of times I would be waltzing around the dining room at Bravo and have to make a mad dash for the restroom after smelling food. I even had a guest offer to pray with me after she heard me heaving in the ladies room. I actually lost about 10 lbs during my first trimester. Finally, around 13 weeks, the sickness subsided. I still had an occasional bout of random vomiting, but the everyday, all day sickness was over.
Around 14-15 weeks, I started letting our regular guests at Bravo know and some of our acquaintances. The support was wonderful and I was finally able to enjoy actually being pregnant. At my 16 week appointment, I had still not gained any weight and I was starting to worry. However, the doctor measured my uterus and said I was actually measuring 20 weeks. Because I am tall and have a long torso, the babies had a lot more space. So I began to truly enjoy food again!
At 18 weeks, we had another ultrasound and discovered we were having two boys. We were both thrilled, especially me. I really did not want to raise two little mini Andreas. That would have been rough. The babies were growing right on schedule and everything looked absolutely normal. I was happy to hear that especially given my paranoia over my weight gain, or lack there of.
At 20 weeks, I started have Braxton Hicks contractions. They really freaked me out at first but I got used to them. At 24 weeks we had a bit of a scare. We went in for an ultrasound. While we were there, I had about 7 contractions. The ultrasound technician then checked my cervical length and we discovered that it was only 1.5 cm when it is supposed to be 3 cm. We were sent straight over the hospital. I was put on a contraction and baby heart rate monitor. After consulting with my doctor, they decided to give me a shot of turbutaline which is a steroid to stop contractions. The contractions stopped and they sent me home.
At this point, I started going to the doctor every week. On June 12th, I went in for my appointment and everything was just fine. On June 13th, we had our ultrasound and the babies looked great. They were 2 lbs 3 oz and 2 lbs 4 oz. On the morning of June 14th, I awoke with horrific stomach pains. These weren’t contractions; they were stomach pains. I also had just vomited. I called the doctor because the pain was excruciating and she ordered me to the hospital. As soon as we arrived at the hospital the pain surprisingly stopped. They still hooked me up to the monitors to make sure the babies were okay, and of course they were. We then headed home. I felt like an idiot for going there, but little did I know there was something wrong and my babies would be born in less than a week.
On Tuesday morning, June 17, I awoke with the same pains. This time they were accompanied by severe nausea. I was determined to stick it out. Surely, the pain couldn’t last too long. Well, after about 3 hours, I couldn’t take it any more. I called the doctor and was again sent to the hospital. The pain was still fairly intense when we arrived but ended about an hour after we got there. This time they drew some blood and I had an ultrasound of my organs, as the doctor suspected gall bladder disease. The ultrasound came back with no indication of gall bladder disease. However, my labs came back a little off. My liver enzymes were slightly elevated and my platelets were low, so the doctor decided to admit me for observation.
I stayed the night at the hospital and they drew my blood a couple of more times. The liver enzymes and platelet count stayed the same, so they sent me home with an order of complete bedrest. I asked repeatedly what could have caused the pain. She had no answer for me. One of my doctors even said that it could have been really bad heartburn. I had my weekly appointment scheduled for Thursday, June 19 and I felt great. The doctor and I talked about complete bed rest and what that meant. So I headed home with the intention of bunkering down for 11 weeks of bed rest. My liver had another plan.
Friday, June 20th at 2am, I woke up and could not fall back asleep. I played on the computer a little bit and had some raisin bran. At 3am, the stomach pains started again. I started throwing up at 6 am, and finally called the doctor at 7:30. She recommended that I take some Pepcid or something for heartburn. I called her back at 8:00 and told her I was coming to the hospital. The pain was unbearable and I was terrified. We arrived at the hospital and my good friend Lexi was one of the nurses on duty. She got me settled in. The pain was still excruciating. Finally, the doctor arrived and ordered blood work and a CT scan. She also gave me some morphine. At last, the pain subsided.
The lab results came back and my liver enzymes were extremely elevated and my platelets were still very low. At 2:30 pm I had more blood drawn and at 3:00 pm we went for the CT scan. There had been talk about doing a biopsy of my liver after the CT scan, however, the radiologist said that there was too much of a risk because my platelets were so low. He told me that we were heading back upstairs to talk to my doctor about the next plan of action.
I was taken straight to the labor and delivery floor and then I started freaking out. The doctor told me that my liver enzymes were so high that my liver could rupture, basically at any minute and the only “cure” was to deliver my babies.
The anesthesiologist came in and informed me that I would have to go completely under as my platelets were too low to do a spinal epidural. So under I went. David could not be in the room, but he went right upstairs to the NICU with Hayden and Logan when they arrived. I awoke around 6:00 pm in serious pain. This C-section business is definitely not fun. I had been started on magnesium to halt any seizures which were a possibility with how sick I was. I finally got to see David around 8:00 pm. I wasn’t able to see Hayden and Logan until Saturday night and even then I was too sick to even get to a wheelchair, I was wheeled upstairs in my bed. My first view of the boys was amazing. They were so tiny, but I had no doubts that they would make it. They are certainly our little miracles.
Well, as it turns out, I was diagnosed with HELLP Syndrome and Pre-eclampsia. HELLP stands for Hemolsysis, Elevated Liver enzymes, Low Platelets. This is a very rare disease and happens very quickly. HELLP is almost always associated with pre-eclampsia and because I didn’t have any of the classic symptoms (high blood pressure, swelling, headaches, vision problems), they had a difficult time diagnosing me when I first arrived earlier in the week. The recovery was rough. I had blood drawn at least 3 times a day to ensure my enzymes and platelets were going back to normal. 5 days after they were born and 2 blood transfusions later, I was released.