Hanna & Riley's Story, 25 Weeks

Miracle Mum, Grecian has decided to share her story to support other mums going through a similar journey.

“Hi I'm Grecian!  I’m 28 years old and have a beautiful family of 5. My hubby and I have been together since 2008 and have been married since 2013. Our family consists of a 3-year-old daughter Adelyn and twin daughters Hanna and Riley who were born 14 weeks premature in February this year.

My girls are the reason I decided to share our journey and I believe us mums need to stick together and support one another, and to put it bluntly, being a mum is tough. As a family we have been through so much in the past year, but have come out the other side stronger than before. It’s certainly taken its toll on hubby and I, but we make an awesome team and I couldn’t be as strong as I am now without him.I believe infertility isn't openly talked about enough, especially secondary infertility. 

Just because you've had one childdoes not necessarily mean it will be easy to fall pregnant again with baby number 2. Falling pregnant with Adelyn actually took a long year of trying. Every month I'd pray my period wouldn't show its face and I would over-think every little symptom. Were my boobs sore cause I was  pregnant or was it just normal hormonally sore boobs?

After 3 months of trying I fell pregnant.. Adelyn’s pregnancy was perfect . I was able to train the whole time and keep fit and active. We had no issues and she came out a healthy 3.5kgs at 40+2 weeks via non-elective C-section. When Adelyn was 8 weeks old we started trying for baby number 2. We had always wanted the kids close in age and with how long it took to conceive Adelyn we thought we best start trying sooner rather than later. Months passed and nothing. Each month the disappointment got worse and worse. It was hard to enjoy Adelyn as the longing for another baby took over. We waited for 18 months before doing our first round of monitoring under a fertility clinic. They found my AMH levels(to show how many eggs you have) were extremely low – the equivalent of a 65-year-old woman, but I was only 27.

I pretty much had no chance at falling pregnant naturally because I had as many eggs as a post-menopausal woman. I I thought was my body had failed me!

So, we decided to get help. We did one round of Intrauterine insemination (IUI) but unfortunately it wasn't successful. It was the most heartbreaking moment ever, seeing that negative pregnancy test once again even after getting help. After the countless blood tests, needles, jabs, prods and pokes I thought it would have worked. Why wasn't my body working how it should?

So, we jumped ships to IVF in August last year. We wanted a chance to have more than one baby in the future so this was our best option. The month of IVF was tough.

The toughest thing I had to date. So many more needles and hormones flowing through me it was emotionally draining, but I went with the flow and just trusted the process. I remember the nurses being amazed with how calm I was during that month. They were so supportive which made all the difference. They were able to collect 10 eggs on surgery day. 4 of them grew into successful day 5 embryos. We were pretty lucky, as some of the ladies I met through the clinic only had 1 embryo that made it to day 5.

Transfer day came and it felt amazing to be PUPO (pregnant until proven otherwise). I couldn’t stop talking to and rubbing my belly. I actually had a chance of being pregnant, a real chance! I was in two minds about doing a pee test before the blood test day, but I couldn’t wait and low and behold it was a positive! Everything I had put my body through over the last few months felt so worth it! We were so lucky that we fell pregnant on our first round of IVF, as many don't. We now have 3 more embryos in the freezer in case we want any more children.

As soon as that pregnancy test was positive we were stoked! It felt like we had waited so long for this! Bloods came back and confirmed it was most certainly a positive and my HCG levels were quite high. I had people joke ‘oh maybe its cause its twins’ but I just brushed it off laughing. It couldn’t be because we only transferred one embryo, right?

I loved being pregnant again, rubbing my belly knowing I was growing a life in there, not knowing it was actual two. At 7 weeks we had our first dating scan done.

I remember it so clearly, Justin, Adelyn and myself were in the room nervously waiting to see that little flicker of a heartbeat. The sonographer was quiet a moment and said "well guys..." and at that moment I just knew she was going to say it was twins! We were in such shock! Never in a million years did we expect the perfect little embryo we had transferred two weeks prior, to split into two. We were speechless! I sat there crying my eyes out with so many emotions flooding in. It was such an overwhelming moment.

After the scan we sat in the car and cried with joy and nervousness. Was this really happening? Were we going to have two babies in less than 8 months? It was such a blessing after going through secondary infertility, I just knew it was meant to be. We decided to go under the private obstetrician we went with for Adelyn and started our routinely visits from 12 weeks. I thought my body has done this before and its pretty strong, so I'll be ok carrying two; how things changed. At our 16 week scan there was a difference in the babies sizes  so the doctor called King Edward Memorial Hospital and referred us there to be checked. In any pregnancy there are risks, but a twin pregnancy it increases especially with monochorionic/diamniotic (MO/DI) twins. So off to KEMH we went, nervous wrecks, and met with the gold team and the most amazing obstetrician. She sat us down and was blunt with us.

We needed fortnightly monitoring and I was told to stop doing anything which could take blood away from my placenta, this included training. I left that day devastated.

Training was my life, after all I’m a Personal Trainer! It was my outlet in all of this, the one thing I could do to take my mind off things. Each scan we would sit nervously in the waiting room, praying both girls would still have heartbeats and were still growing. Scan by scan the difference in size got bigger and bigger, up to 55% growth discordance at one stage. Twin 2, Riley, wasn’t growing and her cord flow was absent. She wasn’t able to get enough nutrients through her cord to grow big and strong like Hanna. At 22 weeks we went to weekly scans then twice weekly to keep an eye on Riley. I was pretty much on light duties at work at this stage and had to give up my PT clients so I could rest. We had a talk with one of the top paediatricians in the state about the likely hood of survival for our girls. It was the hardest thing ever to hear that you may lose one or both of your babies at any time along the pregnancy, especially if they were born around 400g or before 26 weeks. They were aiming to get us to 28 weeks if they could, but Riley had other ideas. Her cord flow at 25 weeks went to reverse absent diastolic flow, she was sending all her blood to her brain and heart to keep herself alive. Her movements slowed down and it was time to decide what we were going to do. Hubby and I always said we wanted to give both girls a chance at survival and this is what we did. The Friday and Saturday before the girls were born I got the steroid injections to help their lungs in case the following week was the week to deliver. I’ll never forget the scan on that Tuesday, Riley was very quiet that day and the doctor monitored her for a good while then said "today's the day".

The 13th February was the scariest day of my life. I was about to meet my girls who weren’t meant to be here for another 14 weeks. At 25+6 weeks I delivered the twins via C-section.

Adelyn's C-section was a breeze in comparison. Firstly, I was left on permanent monitoring and set up on a drip of magnesium to try and protect their brains. This stuff was horrible!

You could literally taste it and it made me so hot!  I was wheeled upstairs and the aesthetician popped in the epidural, with a mixture of epidural and a spinal block. I remember it taking what felt like ages to be numb, laying on the surgery table with about 20 people in the room. With Adelyn I felt nothing, absolutely nothing during the procedure. With the twins there was so much pulling and movements that my body couldn't take it and I started to panic. There I was laying vulnerable on the table having a panic attack. I didn't even want to see the babies after they were born. However, the best moment was hearing both girls faintly cry/squeak. They were here and alive for now. Because I was in such a state of panic I didn't want hubby to leave my side, and as the girls were whisked off to NICU, I was sewn up. This took forever, and I felt like I needed to move. Even more anxiety kicked in. I only started to feel OK once I was in recovery with my midwife. What an ordeal my body had just been through and now it was time to start pumping every 3 hours.

Riley has always been cheeky from the start.She actually got a better APGAR score than Hanna when she was born! She decided she didn't like being intubated and pulled her tube out on the way to NICU! They decided to give her a go on CPAP instead, but after a little while her tiny lungs got tired and needed more support. I didn’t see the girls until later that day. I was so scared to see how little they were going to be.

I was wheeled to Hanna first and thought wow she is small (930g), but ok I can deal with this. But when I saw Riley (515g) I lost it and started crying. She was the most delicate thing I had ever seen.

I felt overwhelming guilt that my body didn't do what it was meant to and protect and provide for her.

Their NICU journey was long and they both went through many days of sickness, countless heel pricks, blood transfusions, ventilation systems, highs and lows, but they are such amazing little fighters. During the almost 5 months we were in hospital I suffered from PTSD, PND and Anxiety about the girls’ birth and life so far. To this day I am still suffering but nowhere near as bad. I find comfort in sharing my journey with other mummas so I know I am never alone in this. I wished I spoke up about my anxiety sooner in our journey as I waited until I crashed 100 kms an hour into a wall. This is the one thing I would go back and change and encourage other mums to do - if you feel like you’re not coping, please speak up. I have learnt you are not weak for asking for help, you are actually braver for doing it .

Our life is so different now the girls are here and both home together; with the last year being the craziest ride through motherhood ever! The thought had never crossed my mind that I would have a premature baby, let alone two micro-premmies! They have taught me so much strength, patience and love than I ever knew before. The future is still full of unknowns as we watch the girls grow; the NICU journey doesn't end when you get it home it just changes path. Juggling a 3-year-old (threenager) and a 9-month-old (actual) or 5 and a half month old (corrected) twins, is tough some days and a glass or two of wine is most certainly needed, but I wouldn’t change anything.

I believe we were thrown this challenge because we were strong enough to get through it and look at us now - thriving being a family of 5!”

Important tags: Intrauterine insemination (IUI), IVF, twins, monochorionic/diamniotic twins, reverse absent diastolic flow, PTSD, PND and Anxiety


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