Jean, 27, already had two daughters when she fell pregnant again. Jean has Bipolar II disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder, which adds some complexity to pregnancy and birth. However, this is a good highlight to the mental health battles that many women face during pregnancy. This brave mama then faced a challenging pregnancy with twins! Read on for her story!
“I have Bipolar II and Borderline personality disorder. I had been off my medication for 4 weeks. My emotions were all over the place. I said to myself that if I didn’t fall pregnant first try I would go back on them. The spewing started at 3 weeks and 2 days. I took a test when I was 3 weeks and 5 day. Two lines. I couldn’t believe it.
At 5 weeks I had immense abdominal pain. I was sure I was going to miscarry. Off to the doctors I went and was sent for an ultrasound, by myself. Because it was so early they had to perform an internal. The words that I heard next I will never forget “You’re having twins”. I was speechless. I was told there were originally three however one stopped developing early on. I was sick every single day of my pregnancy. Even the day I gave birth. Medication eased it but nothing really made me feel normal. I felt like a lava spewing whale.
Back pain started around 16 weeks. Symphysis pubis dysfunction by 20 weeks. It felt like hell. I took the pregnancy day by day. Fortnightly massages, and nightly soaks in the bath got me through.
My local hospital did not deliver twins. From 16 weeks I was required to travel to another hospital for monthly visits and ultrasounds. This was a 4 hour road trip. I was public, and under the high risk team – seeing obstetricians for care. My appointments were only ever 5 minutes long but the wait beforehand was 60-90 minutes. From 30 weeks my appointments were fortnightly.
I can honestly say that this pregnancy was by far the hardest. I hated every moment of it. I couldn’t move, constant nausea, the swelling.
I had a 5 and 6 year old at home, so I was familiar with birth and having babies, but so much had already changed in the 5 years since. I was given two choices; c-section or epidural birth if baby A was head down. Baby A had been head down from 20 weeks so natural delivery was my choice.
When I was 34 weeks and 1 day, at 2am, I got out of bed for my usual 5th toilet trip. As I stood up out of bed . This whoosh continued down the hall and all over the bathroom floor. Woke hubby up "my waters have broken". Called my mum to come and mind Miss 5 and Miss 6.
At our local hospital they started my antibiotics and first steroid shot. Then the scariest ambulance trip (the driver was a French Canadian who could not drive for, well you know) lights and sirens (2 hours from home). As I wasn’t having any contractions, I was moved up to the antenatal ward. The next few days are pretty boring.
A few days later my husband brought our daughters down for a visit. We went for a walk within the hospital and had lots of cuddles, even paid $10 for the TV to entertain them. They left at 4pm for the drive home. 4.30pm I started to get tightenings, which I assumed where Braxton Hicks from being active that day. I lay down to continue my riveting find a word and they kept coming. I let the nurse know and was given Endone to see if they would fizzle. Nope they kept coming. The Doctor came around, told me to lie down and see how they pan out.
6.30pm came along and they were starting to increase in intensity. The Doctor wouldn't do an examination due to the risk of infection.
7.30pm came around and contractions instantly were insane. Screaming insane. Yelling out for the nurse "HELP I NEED TO PUSH!" I was rushed to the delivery suite. Here the nurse rang my husband and told him to come. Finally they examined me. I was 8cm dilated, soon to be in the pushing stage, only to be told "don't push we need an epidural for twin 2" (Because she was breech). Well the epidural guy was held up. THAT WAS HELL! Finally he got there and on his third attempt he got it in. Liam came out before epidural set in (original birth plan, yay!). My Mum and Husband missed his birth by literally 30 seconds. But Florence; oh my goodness! Now I know how those poor cows feel when the vet assists them with their delivery. She was delivered breech, and came out screaming.
Ah relief with a quick cuddle, no babies required oxygen.
Oh but it doesn’t end there.Placentas. In my true style we went with the retained placenta. Off to surgery to get that fixed.
In all I lost 1200mls of blood.
I finally got down to see them at 3am in the NICU. Liamin a cot and Florence in a crib (she wasn't keeping her temperature). Both breathing on their own.
My biggest fear was labouring by myself but I got through it. The staff at the hospital were amazing.
I went into hospital at 34 weeks and 1 day, and we left when the twins would have been 35 weeks and 6 days. Baby A was in NICU for 2 days and Baby B 3 days. The remainder of the time they were in the Special Care Nursery. We were transferred to a hospital closer to home for the last few days of our stay. The staff were lovely in both hospitals. My main issue was being so far away from my family.
We settled into a routine at home fairly quickly. Because they were so young it was a cycle of sleep and eat. Having everything organised was a huge help. My partner really picked up the slack while I was pregnant due to physical restrictions. Post birth he was not much help with the hands on of the babies, though he helped with the demands of our older two. We have grown so much since our family went from 4 to 6.
I resumed my daily medication as soon as the twins were born. Due to this medication I could not breastfeed. This was the main challenge. The questions from every single nurse and doctor “Are you breastfeeding” with the same response after I inform them they are Formula fed, “Oh” (insert judgemental face and or comment). I felt like such a failure. I was being asked this at least 4 times a day. Once we were transferred to the hospital closer to home I snapped. The nurse that we first seen as we arrived were so rude. Like it was such a hassle for her. She was very judgemental about the twins being formula fed, I hit rock bottom.
I believe there is too much pressure to breastfeed. No-one read our notes to see how they were being fed and why. It was not a choice I had but I was made to feel like I made the wrong one anyway.
For any mums reading this, my advice would be:
My biggest tip would be pack your bag as early as you can!
Trust your mummy-instinct
Ask questions, lots of questions. Write down questions as you think of them so you don’t forget
Keep all your pregnancy related paperwork in a folder
Talk to people about your mental health. Have a group of people you can turn to
If you are going back on medication post birth, have them ready so you’re not chasing them up
Want more? Click the links below to read about related topics!