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  • Laura

My pregnancy with identical twins

Remember when I said that I would relax after my first scan? Well, I didn't. Now I knew it was a high-risk pregnancy, I couldn't stop googling statistics, potential problems, what if I had vanishing twin syndrome and one of my babies had stopped growing by my next scan? I'd never planned to have twins, well, you can't can you? But now I knew that there were two there, I wanted them both, desperately. I hadn't thought about the logistics of raising twins, I'd worry about that later but my concern now was keeping them safely growing. I still felt incredibly nauseous, so that was a promising sign.

The day of my scan came around, and I was so nervous that I was trembling. My tummy looked swollen and I felt pregnant but I couldn't wait for the scan to be over with and find out they were both OK. I sat in the waiting room for what felt like forever before being called in. This was my first scan that wasn't internal and I was busting for a wee.

I laid on the bed and a large lady who didn't appear very friendly pushed the probe all over my tummy. She barely said a word. I saw one baby, and then two. They looked bigger and slightly more baby-like, but I held my breath as I waited for her to tell me there were two heartbeats. A good 5 minutes later and she still hadn't said anything, I felt myself go cold inside and started to panic with tears prickling the back of my eyes. I looked at mum and pleaded with her. She asked if everything was OK, I could tell she was worried too by this point. "Yep, all looks normal for this gestation, just measuring now" we breathed a sigh of relief when I asked her to show me the heartbeats and she finally did. There was a stark contrast between the clinic and the hospital, and I was missing the clinic! They put my dates the same as the clinic. My due date was 4th September, however, I'd already been told the maximum gestation I would reach was 36 weeks, and that's if all went well. They don't like you to go past 36 weeks when two babies are sharing a placenta. It tends to break down earlier than in a singleton pregnancy and it's generally safer for babies outside than in by this point.

After the scan, we walked back down to the EPU where a lady went through my notes and told me to book in with a midwife, so they could arrange my scans. I'd have one at about 12 weeks, and another at 16 after that I would be scanned at least fortnightly to check on babies' growth etc. 'd have four weeks now until my next scan. I knew I'd be far too anxious to wait that long, so I booked another scan for 10 weeks at Ultrasound Direct, that way it would be in two weeks and then I would only have another two weeks after that before my next one. Lucy was going to come with me and have a double appointment. She would have a 4d scan as her baby was much bigger and I'd have another chance to see how my babies were growing. Plus it meant everyone could see them again.

On the day of the scan, we all piled into the waiting room. There was Lucy, Marley, my mum and Lucy's mother in law Jo. As it was a joint scan we thought it would be good for her to come and see her new grandchild, and honorary twin grandchildren too. Luckily the room was quite big. I went first as Lucy could feel her baby moving and wasn't worried. As soon as she put the probe on, there were my two babies, moving around now, they were without a doubt both there and looking like two tiny babies. Relief, for now! The sonographer said that she'd never done a joint scan on sisters before, it felt really special to be able to do this. Also, she said it was a great gestation for twin pictures as they were still small enough to fit on the screen at the same time. She explained that as my pregnancy progressed the scans would become harder to get good pictures of them both.

Next, it was Lucy's turn. Up on the screen was my new nephew. The scan in 4d was incredible. You could make out all his features, and at this point, he looked very much like his older brother. I was so excited to meet him and couldn't believe that we were lucky enough to be doing this together. He did however have quite a large amount of fluid surrounding him, and he was measuring big, so she referred Lucy back to the hospital. Nothing to worry about though we were reassured.

We left the scan on cloud 9, all 3 babies were looking happy and healthy. What more could we ask for? I still felt very nauseous, and couldn't wait to feel better, but it was reassurance that I was still pregnant so I'd take that any day.

My 12-week scan went well and apart from feeling like my bladder was going to burst, it wasn't too uncomfortable. Both babies were measurements were OK, twin 1 was still on the smaller side, but that was within normal ranges. I had my blood test to check for any life-limiting genetic disorders and was told I would be back in about 4 weeks for the next scan, then fortnightly afterwards.

Afterwards, I saw the consultant, who also had twins herself. She explained the riskiest time for mcda pregnancies was between 16-24 weeks, which is generally when TTTS occurs if it is going to, although it can happen at any time. TTTS or twin to twin transfusion syndrome is where the blood supply from the placenta is disproportionate which then leads to the amniotic fluid being too high in one twin and too low in the other. Without treatment often both babies die, so it’s very serious and needs treating early, even with treatment there are lots of risks. This just led me to worry more. I found myself wishing the pregnancy away, with each new safe milestone. First, it had been the 8-week scan, then the 12 week, now I had to get to 24 weeks, by then I would be viable too, so hopefully, after then I would enjoy it.

You can find out the gender at 20 weeks with the NHS, but I wanted to know sooner. I had a feeling I was having boys, but that might have been because Lucy had Marley and knew that the baby she was carrying was also a boy. I always thought that if I had a baby it would be fun to have a surprise but now I was pregnant with twins I wanted to be prepared. There was the option of doing a blood test to find out the gender, but I wanted the scan instead, so I booked to go back to Ultrasound Direct when I was just shy of 16 weeks, the day before my mum’s birthday. Lucy was going to make a cake beforehand and then she was going to find out the gender, go home and fill the cake with pink or blue sprinkles and bring it back to my mum's house for a gender reveal. I didn’t mind what gender they were, I wanted them to be whatever the universe had planned them to be, but I was excited to find out, choosing names would be fun!

The scan was good, she did mention that there was a size difference, which I already knew, but said she couldn’t see any signs of TTTS yet as the fluid around both babies looked equal. While she was scanning for the gender I was told to look away, but I was pretty sure by this point that I had already seen male parts, so thought I’d had my theory confirmed. She wrote the gender on a piece of paper, put it in an envelope and gave it to Lucy. We decided to go straight home, none of us could wait to find out, plus we didn't want to be out and about much as there was now lots of talk about this deadly virus circulating, and I was worried that it may harm my babies if I caught it. I went in with Mum and Marley and Lucy took her car, so she could sort out the cake.

Once home within an hour, Lucy was back, with the cake. She wasn’t giving anything away with her face, I knew it was boys. Everyone thought they were boys apart from my Dad who had guessed girls. We didn’t mess about, everyone gathered around the chocolate cake, Marley just wanted to eat some. Lucy took out her phone to record the moment, Marley wanted to help me cut. As the knife went in, I got impatient, he was taking too long, as a four year old would! I put my hand on top of his and we and wedged it open. I could not believe it, shock, out spilt a load of pink sprinkles. Pink? Girls? But I had seen boy parts. Everyone cheered and my Dad shouted “I told you it was girls”. My parents would have two boy and two girl grandchildren! Lucy then presented me with the most adorable little pink outfits that she had managed to pick up. I have no idea how she had managed it all in such a short space of time, but I will be forever grateful that she made it so special.

(Pictured below is the piece of paper the sonographer had written the sex of the babies on and the most beautiful milestone discs from Bear and Rue)

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