Toxic Twins: The Final Birth Story

12 weeks pregnant and you couldn’t miss it already.

All my children meeting for the first time ever.

I asked on Facebook two years ago if anyone had car seats for me to use for the twins. An adoptive mom responded in the affirmative so I went to her home to pick them up. While chatting, she said two things. “God must obviously think I’m weak, if it’s true that He only gives you what you can handle, because my life is EASY compared to yours! My only worry about my kids is that one is too kind and will be taken advantage of! My parents don’t need me… And I’m healthy. But you… You must be extremely strong because He’s thrown a LOT at you!”

I certainly don’t feel as strong as He thinks I am!

She also said, “I tell all my friends about you! You are the embodiment of manifesting what you envisioned! I remember your posts in the adoption group. How you wanted a large family, how you wanted twins.. And now here they are!”

But wow, what a ride. Two years to conceive. Needed assistance from the start as Mr had closed the factory when I was 25 years old via surgical methods. Which he freely admitted I’d never agreed to.

I recall feeling a sharp pain in my womb. And some spotting. I knew! It had never happened with my other two pregnancies, but I’d read of implantation pain and spotting. I knew… Life was burrowing in. Then two days later, same exact experience. Hmmm, was life burrowing deeper? Could it be a second implantation of a different embryo?

Four days after, I started testing. First pregnancy test was negative. I was ANGRY because I knew in my bones I was pregnant! Next day, faint positive! Next day, very dark positive! Next day, the “How many weeks pregnant” test told me I was 1-2 weeks. Then the next day it said 2-3 weeks. Two days later, it said 3-4 weeks. And I knew… Obviously my pregnancy hormones were rising super high.

Specialist sent me for a blood test on the seventh day. I remember his call, “You are definitely very pregnant! We are all very excited for you. Your HCG level is 380.” I pictured these people who’d seen a big fat negative, finally getting a big fat positive and shouting it aloud to each other. Made me teary. (Must have been the hormones.) Normal at this stage is around 50-100. Again, though levels aren’t definitive, I knew…

Two days later, he sent me for another blood test to ensure my number doubled as it should. Mine was 1380. Who needs doubling when mine did more than that? He told me I definitely could start my folic acid and prenatal vitamins. (Didn’t know I’d started those two years before already!) I put my levels in a graph. My numbers were higher than the average.

I knew. I told my husband, “I think it’s twins. I think two little embryos have burrowed in.”

He was underwhelmed. “Oh no! We won’t be able to afford a SIXTH child! And your back! What if these babies cripple you for life and you never walk again? You KNOW how with each pregnancy by 20 weeks you were in so much pain you couldn’t take walks or go to the shops without sciatic pain. How will you survive TWO!???? Your back will not even come to it’s normal levels of pain. What if you end up unable to walk?”💔

Week six, went for the ultrasound. I knew, but when the doctor found he second heartbeat, my response was, “WHAT!??? Oh no!” (Then I promptly apologised. 😂He checked for a third because of my levels but no, it was only two. He told me he was releasing me to see a normal obstetrician and that the only thing we needed to worry about was my advanced age. 39 at the time the twins would be born.

I was MISERABLE! All my children gave me all day nausea . But this, this was the worst! And I was so tired! I couldn’t exercise till maybe week 10. I tried but at week 12, my heart rate started going haywire and I felt all wrong inside. I ran out of breath just doing a normal pregnancy workout, and just walking to the loo raised my heart rate to 120 beats. Something was up,

After seeing an endocrinologist, and having multiple blood tests, it turned out to be my thyroid. It was overactive. We tested for Graves Disease…I had a condition caled gestational thyrotoxicosis. (Hence the title of this blog post.) No meds would help. Only time. So I spent the next month feeling like my twins were trying to kill me. And worried they’d die-miscarriage or super early birth were possibilities.

Then, I started hearing weird noises when I was asleep and breathing. High pitched noises. It was WEIRD. And the reflux in my throat made me feel like I was drowning!! I saw a gastroenterologist and after a nasal scope was put down my nose into my throat and esophagus, it turned out I had laryngo-pharyngeal reflux. The twins had messed me up! I had to sleep in a recliner, as upright as possible. I was put on medication that I’d continue till the twins were born. My vocal cords were extremely damaged by the acid and could become cancerous. We didn’t know if they’d ever heal. I couldn’t sing. Now, singing is my life. I joined the choir in junior school and when I went to our high school audition, the choir mistress later told me that I wasn’t actually auditioning, she’d just wanted to see which part to put me in. My other choir mistress had told her to LOOK FOR ME and make sure I joined the choir. The positive validation that gave me!! I also sang in church trios and quartets and choirs… Singing is my life. When my vocal cords were so damaged that I couldn’t sing, and I didn’t know if I ever would… Then add the beating racing heart and sleeping in a recliner chair and you have a miserable nauseated mom!

Called a hospital to do a hospital tour. They asked for age, and I mentioned I was expecting twins. “You need to do one early! You’re old, and you’re high risk! They’ll probably be born at around 6 months!”

We didn’t choose that hospital. The obstetrician didn’t believe me at first when I told him my heart was beating weirdly. Didn’t greet my husband at all. He didn’t even acknowledge him and was not friendly to me either. He told me I was probably imagining it. Until he listened to me, “Oh! You have a significant heart murmur.” Duh! I know my body! After examining me we went into his main office and he took his cup of coffee and started typing on his computer. Didn’t tell me anything..As in, no instructions, no asking advice about the SI joint pain I was dealing with, no telling me when to return. He was awful. An Afrikaans doctor. I asked him if it’s ok to walk or if it wound strain my body and he rudel answered without even looking up from his coffee.

My husband was like, “I’d rather my children were born on the street than to be delivered by that man!”

So, we left that hospital that was 20 minutes away, and chose one 40 minutes away. Even with it being a hospital in our network, because the DOCTOR wasn’t, we ended up with a R50 000 hospital bill excluding the bills for the two paediatricians 😩But he stated from the get go that should we be unable to pay his consultation fees, or his delivery fees, to tell him and we’d make a plan. He didn’t want to turn any patients away because of lack of money.❤️

Things were ok. No, they weren’t. My ribs started spreading outwards. The twins kept me up at night and one kept kicking my ribs painfully. Even her stretching her legs or arms hurt so bad! When I went to get diesel for my car, petrol attendants assumed I was about to give birth and told me to stay home. 😂I looked 6 months pregnant when I was 3 months pregnant. When I went to the shops, people would comment, “That’s either a VERY big baby, or twins!”

By week 20, I was on full bedrest. No cooking, no walking, no standing, no shopping. Just boredom when not teaching. That’s when I also got another issue also sometimes triggered by pregnancy. Tendon in my right hand start ‘creaking’ when I moved my thumb. Then got sore. Terribly sore! Saw a hand specialist who diagnosed De Quervain’s -tendon sheath inflammation. Cortisone injection made no difference. I had to immobilise my hand and await tendon release surgery after I had the twins.

The twins grew well until my 36 week appointment. Suddenly, I’d gained massive water weight, my blood pressure was HIGH, and they’d stopped growing. Both of them. Doctor told me to go home, pack my bags and go straight back to hospital. I’d be admitted.

By the time I got to hospital, I’d gained another 2kg of water! The next day, another 4kg and my blood pressure was still climbing. The next day, I went into labour. But my second twin was lying across (transverse). We didn’t want to deliver one naturally while risking the life of the other who we knew would need a c-section, so chose emergency c-section for both.

Doctors (We had to ‘hire’ two obstetricians as it was twin) found that the twins’ placentas had failed somewhere in the two weeks since I’d last seen my obstetrician and that that’s why they’d stopped growing. They weren’t getting any nutrition any longer. Twin 2 had meconium-she’d been in distress! They had needed to come out. Doctor had wanted to make it to 37 weeks but they had other plans. Who knows what would have happened if I’d not gone into labour and precipitated the c-section?

My iron had been a problem throughout. But the loss during the op was too much. I ended up having two blood transfusions.

They didn’t give me details about the c-section, but told me not to carry a single baby “because that c-section was brutal.” They told me to lie down and rest. I no couldn’t carry a baby properly anyway with only my left hand. But I tried the next day, till a paediatrician (Who’d been at the delivery) came in, caught me abs made it clear that holding my newborn twins is “not good.” It was heartbreaking for me.

My autistic twin is the one who was in distress. They say there are links to prenatal issues like the ones I had. Maybe this is the trigger, who knows?

At the end of the day, they survived. They weren’t born at six months. They were a good weight for being early -2.69kg and 2.99kg. And they didn’t need even two minutes in NICU (baby icu) My obstetrician even hugged me when I went for my first post birth appointment. He said with my age and the twins and my small frame, he’d really been worried throughout the entire pregnancy. He said each time he did an ultrasound to check growth, he was terrified that one or both would be dead, so to prepare himself he’d ask as if making conversation, if my husband (Who he acknowledged and spoke with!) was enjoying feeling the kicks, his strong the kicks were that day. That way he’d know there was a chance they were alive. Wow. Scary! But the Lifegiver decided to be merciful for whatever reason. While I saw others lose even singletons, while one lost two of her triplets, somehow I came home with living babies.

And so, we became a family of eight!

And after trying to sleep seated with them on our chests, we knew there’d e something different about our autistic girl. She moved around a LOT, had many stomach spasms, moves around in her sleep so much that we knew she’d trouble us. Just didn’t know how. 🙃

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