On a Saturday morning, at 29 weeks, I started having a lot of contractions and they were much stronger. I had 21 contractions in an hour, and we couldn’t get them to stop with the tertbutaline, so Bill and I went to The Woman’s Hospital of Texas. During the 45 minute drive there, I really hoped that I would get to come home again but figured that was improbable. We prayed that the babies would not come yet!
When we arrived, the doctor examined me and put me on a medication called magnesium sulfate to stop the contractions. They decided that I should check into the hospital for the duration of the pregnancy. This drug had a much bigger impact on me, and I had to be hooked up to an IV all the time which was very limiting. The staff also monitored contractions three times per day and baby heart beats once each day. Within a few days, I was able to get off of the magnesium sulfate and go back to the terbutaline pump. This allowed me flexibility to shower more easily, go for “walks” in the wheelchair, etc.
Bill spent the night with me in the hospital the first night, and Mark stayed with my parents, who brought him to visit the next day. Leaving Mark was very hard. Everything happened so quickly that morning that I don’t think he knew what was going on and seemed very concerned. It helped a lot getting to see him again the next day. During my stay, Mark got sick and wasn’t able to come for a whole week. Because he wasn’t even 18 months old yet, he didn’t grasp what was happening and wasn’t able to talk on the phone. Bill, my parents and my friends would give me updates every day with what he did and would sometimes send pictures.
The staff at the hospital was awesome! The nurses were extremely helpful and really nice. They even brought me a cake and sang “Happy 32 weeks to you” when I reached 32 weeks! I met with a dietician, a physical therapist, a neonatal doctor who talked about what to expect when the babies were born, and of course the OB every morning. Everyone went out of their way to try to make things as comfortable as possible. I really missed being at home, but it was calming to know that if there were any issues at all, I was already at the hospital with a great team of doctors, nurses and other medical professionals.
Trying to fill the time on bedrest at home is hard, but it is even harder in a hospital! I watched TV, read books, did Sudoku puzzles, ate a lot, and really appreciated visitors, especially if they brought Mark with them! I think the biggest challenge, but one of the most important things, was trying to keep an upbeat and positive attitude. We were focused on keeping the babies inside as long as possible. There was a dry erase board in the room where Bill wrote all the babies names and made a calendar with a countdown to our target delivery date. One of the highlights of each day was lowering the numbers of days left until delivery! It gave me a sense of accomplishment, and just looking at their names reminded me how important it was to stay focused on the goal.
The last couple of weeks were very uncomfortable. I had gained over 90 pounds and 27 inches around, more than doubling my waist size. It took a lot of effort and sometimes some help even to roll over from one side to the other. I had to wedge myself into the shower literally touching my back and stomach to the walls. Honestly the last week or so is kind of a blur. I started not feeling as well and was so uncomfortable. I pretty much watched TV and slept, although I did walk to my last ultrasound three days before delivering! It was only three doors down from my room, but to me that was a big deal! Even with the difficulty of this pregnancy compared to the first, I still loved being pregnant. While I was excited about delivering soon, I felt sad that the pregnancy would be over. It is such an amazing thing watching a baby or many babies grow inside!
On Saturday, October 25, at 33 weeks, my body had given all it could give. My OB, Dr. Kirshon, said we needed to deliver at this point, and Baby A’s water broke. It was so exciting to hear that it was time, but it was terrifying too! I was certain that, like the pregnancy, this delivery was going to be different than when Mark was born!
Like many couples, when Bill and I got married 10 years ago, we looked forward to starting a family someday! We dreamt of kids in our future and talked about how many we wanted and what spacing we hoped for. We enjoyed early marriage just the two of us, traveled and had a lot of fun being together. After several years, we decided we were ready to add to our family. Neither of us ever imagined that would be difficult. Both of us assumed that when we were ready, we would have a baby. However, it turned out to be more of a challenge than we expected. After trying for awhile with no success, we consulted with a fertility specialist. I only knew one other person who had gone through fertility treatments and was so appreciative of her support. It was a very difficult time, and I felt very alone. It seemed like I was the only person who couldn’t have a baby. We weren’t comfortable sharing with people that we were having trouble conceiving, and many people would comment that we had been married a long time and might want to think about starting our family. I remember crying one night after someone informed me that “I wasn’t getting any younger” and should have children soon. While people were not trying to be mean, it was very hurtful. Life has had different challenges, but I think this stage was the most painful, difficult time I have been through.
The reproductive endocrinologist diagnosed me with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and we talked through our options. The first month, I took Clomid which is an oral medication. I am usually a pretty optimistic person and was convinced I was pregnant that month! Getting the negative test result was devastating. Due to cysts from that cycle, we had to take a month off from trying which was even more discouraging. The next month we switched to an injectible medication called Follistem. It was a big change in treatment. I went to the doctor every other day for blood work and ultrasounds to monitor the number and size of follicles growing.
I gave myself shots in the stomach each day, and my mom gave me one shot mid-cycle that caused me to ovulate. Never in my wildest dreams did I think this was how I would have a baby! The first month of this was tiring and hard. Again, my hopes were high, and I was crushed with another negative test and another month off. After doing this several times, we decided to move to the next step. I continued with the same treatment, but we did Intrauterine Inseminations (IUIs). This was the first time where I was not optimistic. I really thought it was not in the cards for us to have kids. We started talking about what we would do, where we would want to live, and what life would be like if it was just the two of us. When I was feeling at my lowest, we got a positive test and were ecstatic! We decided shortly into the pregnancy to share what we had been through with some of our friends. I was amazed how many people had done fertility treatments! I think I had more friends who had assistance getting pregnant than friends who didn’t. I also found that people were grateful to be able to talk about it, and I was able to support other friends going through similar things. Looking back, I wish we would have shared earlier. Dealing with infertility is painful and lonely, and if you are going through it, know that you are not alone! Many people experience the same thing, but most are silent. It is a very private thing, and not everyone wants to share, but be encouraged that you are not the only one.
Our first child, Mark William, was born weighing 8 lbs and 20 inches long. We were thrilled! When he was approaching his first birthday, we decided we would like to have another baby. Since it took so long the first time, we wanted to start trying pretty early. We went back and did the exact same treatment and got pregnant on the first try! We were surprised and excited! My first ultrasound was on a Monday, and we saw one baby. When I went back on Wednesday, we saw three babies! Triplets! Friday, we saw five! Quintuplets! We were shocked! While knowing it would be a hard road, we were excited for what lay ahead.