Part Two | Congratulations You’re Pregnant with Quads
A quad pregnancy is a time for celebration but no-one uses the words ‘congratulations’ as no-one knows what to say.
On becoming pregnant with quads, my life changed straight away. At 12 weeks my head was a lead weight and the morning sickness had left me two stone lighter and unable to care for my six-year-old son, Callum. I relied on friends and family to do school runs and feed him, while Matt was at work. I even dropped my work hours, until eventually my body began to function again.
The 12-week scan, to our surprise, showed all four quad babies growing well. So we shared the news of our quad pregnancy with everyone we knew. My social media accounts went into meltdown with the sheer volume of messages of love and congratulations we received. At first not everyone believed us, so seeing the shock on people’s faces when we told them it was a quad pregnancy became a sport. Even though I was already showing a bump, before we found out, I never for one second thought I was going to have quadruplets.
No legal duty to help the babies…
I was very well cared for by the team at St Mary’s Hospital, but right from the off they informed of the hospital’s responsibilities in a quad pregnancy. They explained that if the babies were born before 24 weeks, then they didn’t have a legal duty to help them to survive. To this day, those words echo in my mind – it was soul crushing to think no one would help my children. I felt helpless but determined to get to 24 weeks.
At first, I was scanned every four weeks to check the progress of the pregnancy. With every scan we held our breath until all four heart beats were found, sighing with relief at how well our quad babies were doing. We left every appointment filled with joy and a spring in our step.
Finding out the quads’ genders
At 20 weeks we found out the babies’ genders. We held our collective breath. Secretly we were praying for two healthy boys and two heathy girls. The doctor said “boy…. girl……boy…….girl and all doing amazing”. Our joy could not be contained, we cried with happiness.
Following this appointment, the frequency of our scans increased to every two weeks. This way Dr Stephens could better monitor both the babies and me. It was also time came for me to finally stop working. It broke my heart knowing that I wouldn’t be returning to work again and my chapter as a salon-based hairdresser was over. However, my bump was so huge, I could hardly walk, and I was pretty much house bound. Again, I relied on friends and family to help with Callum and the school run. I felt guilty that my relationship with Callum was being affected by the pregnancy. For his whole life I was his primary carer and now I couldn’t even take him to school. However, he handled the lifestyle changes so much better than I did.
We soon approached our first goal
On Christmas Eve we had our 24-week scan. Knowing that from there on in that if anything happened to either me or the babies, the doctors would help us survive was the best Christmas gift we could have wished for. From now on my babies had a chance.
The time for daily monitoring
On January 21st 2015, my regular fortnightly scan showed the lower baby boy in a small ball and not growing as fast as the others. He was still doing well, however Dr Stephens was concerned about my blood pressure. Up until that point, my blood pressure had always been perfect but that day it was showing slight rise. It was still in the ‘normal’ category but just not normal for me. So without hesitation, the doctor made the immediate decision to admit me, stating “it’s time we monitor you daily.”
I had my own room and many visitors daily. I was blessed to have so many people love and care for me. Matt quickly learnt to cook, wash and iron, fit in school runs and hospital visits and all while working full time and being a single step dad to Callum.
A quad pregnancy becomes the talk of the ward
For as long as I could remember I could only sleep sat up, as lying down would seriously affect my breathing. Once I was in hospital, I rarely slept at all. The days were long and the nights longer and I couldn’t really walk at all. I relied on others and wheelchairs to get around.
I was soon the talk of the ward. Everyone knew there was a lady carrying quads in the hospital and I had many visits from trainee doctors and student nurses wanting to study the birth. Everyone was so kind and caring and I felt so welcome there, but I was also sick with worry as something was telling me to prepare for the worse. Callum was my first concern as I worried about who would look after him and how he would potentially cope without me? I cried as a wrote a will and trusted a friend to keep it safe – I needed to make sure everything was ready if I didn’t survive.
The quads are coming tomorrow…
I could feel myself becoming more and more poorly. The doctors put me on a lot of medication for my liver, as well as blood thinners. I was undergoing daily blood samples and having my blood pressure taken every two hours. My feet had swollen so much and my body wasn’t releasing water – I had pre-eclampsia.
By the 7th February, the doctors concluded that an emergency C-section was the only option. I phoned Matt at work to let him know “the babies are coming tomorrow.”