It never ceases to amuse me that people assume a) we were doing IVF or b) if we weren’t, that this was very much planned. On a tangent, it reached a head at my last consultant appointment when I was saying I wanted a DNA test after birth to establish whether the girls were identical (despite them being in different sacs, if the egg split early enough they could still be, and this would have medical and social implications for them so not being precious!) Cue said consultant, who I have seen multiple times, has my notes etc “But you had two eggs put in you”. Er, no, and don’t PRESUME just because we’re haggard we’re IVFers. Oo I can’t wait to turn the air blue with him come labour’s full throes. I may get babygros printed with ‘100% natural’. Or is that rude to people who need IVF? Probably…and I don’t feel in any way superior, and thank God I didn’t have the heartbreak of endless attempts. But.
Anyhows. Rewind to last summer. I had just left a very well paid job (with a great maternity policy) with a not unknown major food and drink supplier from Switzerland. As had Jon. We chose this time to take advantage of Joe’s school hols and spend the entire summer schlepping round Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos. We had some vague chats about the future and kiddywinkles and I explained how torn I was: having Joe so early plus being a single Mum for the bulk of it meant I had ‘missed’ my twenties, and had always consoled myself with the fact that, at 38, with Joe allegedly leaving home, I’d be able to see the world, change career etc. But then on the other hand I was broody, would be nice to do things ‘properly’. But we kinda needed jobs…And this on the back of having been really rather ill and in hospital in June.
All academic. Because it transpired I had actually conceived the first week of July, whilst sailing on Jon’s boat Liberty (apparently I am not allowed to call one of the girls Liberty as apparently this is silly, well, we’ll see what happens regarding choice of name when I am the one lying on the bed in charge of whether she comes out or not, frankly!) And we didn’t find out till the Autumn (yes, am thick like that).
What this means is that, for the entire first trimester, contrary to all precious pregnancy advice, the twins were medicated with:
- Live yellow fever vaccine
- Malaria pills
- Tetanus, Typhoid and Hepatitis
- Diamox (an epilepsy drug used to combat altitude sickness)
- Bucketloads of Nurofen and Immodium
- Er, The Pill
The only medicine considered safe in pregnancy is Paracetamol…
They snorkelled with sharks, trekked through the Amazon, climbed to 5km in the sky (with Jon telling me to ‘push on’ whenever I struggled) and consumed:
- Cigarette smoke (as luck would have it, gave up spontaneously in August in the Galapagos as it felt a bit, well, unseemly to be flicking ash over the side of the boat onto the only penguins living north of the Equator)
- Guinea pig (jolly nice, since you ask!)
- A LOT of raw fish in ceviche and sushi
- Uncooked meat – foie gras, parma ham, pate, rare Alpaca (also delish)
- 10m Pisco Sours
- The local brew of Chicha which is corn syrup fermented, as far as I can see, by allowing flies to take long baths in it
- Oh and cocaine, albeit in small doses in the national coca tea
I am genuinely worried. The hospital has been brilliant in terms of calling up the drug companies, but no one can be sure of the combined effect. They’ve been vigilant on the scans, and the girls do have the requisite limbs, normal faces, functioning organs…but the truth is we simply won’t know till they come out. And even then, anything that has been compromised in terms of brain development won’t be evident for some time.
It IS a worry. What has been comforting is when the hospital have been brutally honest, pointing out that a) when something is wrong, Nature miscarries, and she hasn’t b) that given the, ahem, catchment area of the hospital, a lot of Mums don’t know they’re pregnant and even those who do continue taking substances that get you a tad higher than coca tea.
So, no, it wasn’t planned. And we’ve gone from pregnancy being a vaguely theoretical possibility on the horizon whilst I got on with finding another Marketing Director role, to being pregnant, to finding out that was twofold, to realising when they come out there’s the prospect of, to stop the euphemisms and the humour, them being disabled.
It’s tough. And no matter how many ‘you’ll be fine…you’ll love them the same…Nature’s wonderful’ platitudes you receive, every hour they’re not kicking you is an hour consumed with doubt.
Roll on Monday. And if the girls are fine, which deep down I know they will be, then blimey but they’re little fighters! I will have given birth to Bear Gryll’s successors! I can see the C4 series now: ep 1 Nancy and Flora* in The Lost World, ep 2 Nancy and Flora in The Gobi Desert, ep 3 Nancy and Flora Ride Sharks Bareback…
*disclaimer, not intended names, because apparently I am not allowed them. Ha! We will see.