I couldn’t believe it…the day had finally arrived.
We were going to start trying to have a baby and I was thrilled with the prospect. Five years married, numerous trips taken and our lives fulfilled up till this point. We were ecstatic to start this new chapter in our lives. Little did we know we should have started trying ‘not to not have a baby’ (as they say in ‘Marley and Me’) instead of ‘trying to have a baby’ because try as we might it just didn’t seem like it was in our future.
After almost a year of ‘trying’ with no success, tons of friendly and helpful advice such as “just try not to think about it”, “make sure you do it 10 days after your cycle” and “take a trip, that’s when we got pregnant” we decided it was time to really start thinking about our options.
We were referred to the SOFT clinic by our family doctor and as soon as we walked into the door we felt like we were where we needed to be to be successful. From the friendly smile as soon as you walk into the door, to the shoulders that saw thousands of tears, we never once felt like our journey was too long or too hard for them to overcome. We just KNEW it was going to happen. Little did we know though it was going to take some time and our patience was going to be tested again, and again, and again.
We immediately started cycle monitoring which involved a visit every month to see how many follicles were growing. The nurses and doctors at the SOFT clinic were there for us throughout every visit. No question was ever too silly, no worry was ever too small and we owe them my sanity!! Because I only made 1-2 follicles naturally, we decided to try a drug called Clomid. After one cycle we realized that though the drug was doing what it was supposed to cysts were growing in my ovaries as well and we switched to Femara which worked famously! No cysts and more than 1-2 follicles made us confident that pregnancy was just a month or so away. A couple cycles later we decided to try IUI (Intra Uterine Insemination) along with the Femara to help increase the chances of a successful pregnancy. 8 IUI’s later I still wasn’t pregnant and it was almost 5 years since we initially decided to try to have a baby.
Needless to say, our journey was far from over. Even so, we kept the smile on our faces and the hope in our hearts because we just KNEW this journey would have a wonderful ending.
Even though every month we were dealing with a gamut of emotions including immense heartache, disappointment and fear of the unknown (because I still had never gotten pregnant) we were becoming closer and stronger as a couple and had a wonderful time ‘trying’ to get pregnant. We tried really hard not to let our attempts just be ‘baby making time’ and took the opportunity to travel (we went twice to Las Vegas and once to Cuba), enjoy our ‘single couple time’ and learn more and more about each other and how strong we could each be for the other spouse and as a couple. We sure are glad we did so because soon, our strength was going to be tested and tested really hard.
In January 2010, we decided to try IVF (in-vitro fertilization). We had saved up every cent we were paying out and couldn’t imagine anything more exciting to spend it on. I’ll admit, giving myself numerous needles for 5 days was definitely something I never thought I’d be able to do but it showed me just how strong I had become and how badly I wanted this! At the end of January, it was time to test fate and have the actual transfer done. I had successfully created 15 follicles and 6 of them were viable. It was an exciting day, 2 embryos were transferred in and now it was a waiting game. We were thrilled that we also had 4 other embryos that could potentially be frozen to use if the 2 that were transferred into my uterus didn’t attach, the 28th of January was an exciting day.
Then…heartbreak. I called the clinic and was told that the embryos that were going to be frozen hadn’t ‘made it.’ Not ONE of them had lived. What would we do now? All we could do was concentrate on the 2 that were inside of me and just hope, with all our hearts that they were growing. In 2 weeks, we got the answer. I couldn’t take it anymore and bought 2 home pregnancy tests the day before going into the SOFT clinic for our clinical pregnancy test. I WAS PREGNANT and the next day it was confirmed. Then, more good news, not only was I pregnant, the numbers suggested I could be pregnant with multiples!! It was a dream come true.
3 weeks later, I wondered what I had gotten myself into. One of the side effects of being stimulated by the IVF drugs is ‘ovarian-hyperstimulation’ and was I ever stimulated!! By 5 weeks pregnant, I looked like I was 3 months pregnant and it was all fluid. Not only was it in the lining between my stomach and skin, it was in my lungs making it difficult to breathe. Soon, we returned back to the ISIS clinic in Mississauga to have some of the fluid drained. They removed 2 litres…..2 soft drink bottles!! Needless to say, I felt MUCH better.
My pregnancy progressed, the babies were growing well, I was growing, however it was not an easy pregnancy and by 5 months, I was on bed rest (by the time I was 6 months I was measuring full term and had gained 50 pounds).
A week after being put on bed rest at home, I returned to have my 6 month check up with my OB. During the ultrasound, I just knew something was wrong. The normally chipper ultrasound tech was abnormally quiet. Going into the doctors’ office, I had a sinking feeling, something was not right. As soon as the ultrasound films were taken out of the envelope, we saw his face drop. He was shocked as he shared that I was completely effaced. I had no discernable cervix left and I was now going to be a “prisoner of St. Joseph’s” in the hopes of keeping the babies inside as long as I could. Darryl and I started a cribbage tournament thinking I’d be there for a long, long time.
7 days later, I went into labour at 11:15 pm, just after saying goodnight to my husband. I couldn’t understand, I was only 25 weeks and 4 days, this couldn’t be happening! But it was, I was already 8 centimetres dilated, and the babies were coming. 1 hour and 45 minutes later, Addison Paige was born at 2 pounds 1 ounce and Myles Oliver was born at 2 pounds exactly.
The first time we saw the babies was 5 hours after they had been born. Dr. Coughlin brought us pictures of both of them and told us the good news!! Addison was so strong, they even contemplated NOT intubating her to help her breathe and Myles, though intubated, was doing well. They were great sizes for premature twins and we headed down to the NICU to see them. I can’t even explain the feelings I experienced when we saw our kids for the first time. The joy and exuberance of having the babies was overshadowed with sorrow and pain. They were red in color, almost purple, not the normal healthy pink you see on ‘A Baby Story’ and they were so very, very small. There were tubes everywhere and going into what seemed like every possible opening. I couldn’t cry I could just stare. What was going to happen now?
The nurses stood with us with pained smiles on their faces and explained everything while answering the gazillion questions we had. What does that machine do? How long will they be on that? What does this mean? The question we avoided was, “Are they going to live?” How can you even utter than question when you’re talking about your babies? Just being with the nurses on the first day helped us realize how lucky we were to have the kids in their care. Not only were they knowledgeable, they cared about our kids and we knew that they would do whatever it took to keep our kids not only safe and healthy, but alive.
That first day was a dream. The kids were doing SO well!! Even though they were intubated, they were breathing ‘room air’ and all seemed good. The nurses kept telling us to be cautious though. Our kids were really young, were really small and they were in the ‘honeymoon period.’ They just wanted to make sure we were being cautiously optimistic. We sure are glad they did. The next day started one of the worst days of our lives.
I woke up, pumped my first ever amount of milk for our kids and headed down to the NICU to see them. I was SO excited. As I walked in, I realized that there were far too many people around the kids and before I could stop, I realized that something was VERY wrong. Soon I learned that Addison had suffered a lung haemorrhage and was almost drowning in her own blood. I was so scared I couldn’t even breathe. We learned shortly after that she had also suffered a brain haemorrhage, grade 3 bilateral and she was very, very sick. It was unbelievable and it was hard to understand but we pulled ourselves together and headed to my hospital room. Within an hour, the doctor had returned to give us the horrible news that Myles had also suffered a lung haemorrhage and even though it wasn’t as bad as Addison’s he was also very sick. Both babies were given blood transfusions and we started to pray.
We decided to have the babies baptized and were amazed that the hospital could provide us with a minister in Rev. Margaret. Within a day, the babies were baptized and our souls were put at ease.
As the summer continued, both babies encountered many different obstacles while in the NICU including numerous infections, which required both kids be given immunoglobulin and numerous blood transfusions, a scare with NEC (necrotizing enterocolitis) for Addison (that thank goodness was not NEC) and PDA ligation surgery for Myles to repair one of the valves in his heart that didn’t close when he was born. Our little man also gave us a pretty substantial scare when he aspirated some of his milk into his lungs and contracted pneumonia as a result. Because of this, the NICU staff completed a swallow study and we learned that he refluxes almost every time he eats. Poor little man!!
Addison came home on October 13th after 93 days in the hospital and Myles joined her on November 10th after 121 days. It’s been amazing since. Other than dealing with some pretty terrible reflux (both kids have ‘thickener’ added to the milk in their bottles and take daily medicine), a cold that brought us to the ER for Myles and a cows milk allergy that brought us there for Addy, it’s been a pretty wonderful last couple of months!! The kids have really taken well to our daily and nightly routine and Myles was just recently discharged from Dr. Shiedow’s eye clinic which means he is no longer at risk for ‘retinopathy of pre-maturity’.
Each day, the kids do something new and whether it’s a new sound, a different smile or a new adventure we’ve taken (even if it’s just to the grocery store), we relish in the fact that these two little angels have blessed us in our lives. We continuously marvel at how strong they are and how resilient they have become. Nothing is a challenge for them. They just keep trying and trying until they get it and we constantly wonder what they’ll be when they grow up. If they are this strong and persistent now, the future is VERY exciting for them!
We are so lucky to have them and we can’t imagine our life any other way.
We couldn’t have lived this life without the staff at the SOFT clinic nor the staff at St. Joe’s and we will be forever indebted to each and every one of them. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We will never forget everything you’ve done for us.
Life is good and we just can’t wait to see what our future brings.
“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.” – Anonymous.
Marion & Darryl.
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