With Livia turning 2 this year, we could not wait to try for Baby #2. We felt we were in a good place all round to have a second child. I was going to start writing my dissertation at home. My husband was happy in his current job, which afforded a lot more free time than his previous jobs to be with the family. And we also believed Livia needed a playmate at home. So we started trying for Baby #2 immediately, and just like when we had Livia, I got pregnant immediately too. Baby #2 was also conceived in Jan 2014 and had the same EDD as Livia. I took this as a sign that everything was going to be a breeze – everything was going to be just like it was in 2012 with my first pregnancy. But this time we knew what was coming and we were more prepared than ever, having experienced it all before.
How wrong could we ever be?
The first signs of warning that something was really odd with this pregnancy was the severe nausea from weeks 4 onward. I could not eat anything. All food looked horrible, all food tasted horrible. And I couldn’t sleep. Already, I was regretting the nightmare I was putting my body through. But I thought this will all eventually alleviate. It did not. I started having severe heartburn as well very early on. I thought it was strange because I only had heartburn when pregnant with Livia at 25 weeks onwards. Baby #2 was still a cell at this point, how could I be having heartburn? And despite not being able to eat much, I put on a startling amount of weight.
I should have been very concerned but I was too sick to care. My husband was not around in the first trimester of my first pregnancy because I was overseas so he did not know what was considered normal or not normal. I did not even rush to make a gynae appointment to confirm the pregnancy. I thought the morning sickness was enough evidence and I wanted to wait till the foetus was big enough to be detected on the ultrasound. I also thought oh, maybe its a boy so the symptoms were different.
I remember when Livia was 7 weeks, I had a bleeding incident and was rushed to the ER. Everything turned out okay. The same thing happened with Baby #2. Towards the end of the 7th week, I started bleeding again. I instinctively knew it was probably nothing but decided to see a gynae just to put any worry to rest. My usual gynae, Dr. Geraldine Tan from Thomsons Women’s Clinic at Katong was on leave till March, so I saw another gynae at a Raffles Medical clinic near my home. I wasn’t too excited that it was a male gynae.
I explained to the gynae that I was bleeding and just wanted to check if the baby was all right. I told him I haven’t seen a gynae yet. So he proceeded to give me an ultrasound examination to check on the baby. I thought great, I can finally see Baby #2! Its not all in my imagination.
The gynae furrowed his eyebrows at the screen. I asked, “Is there a heartbeat?” He said, “Uhm, wait ah.” I was like uhm okay. I hope nothing is wrong. Then he showed me the screen and said, “It looks like you have two.” I asked, “Two what? You mean twins?” He said, “Yes.” My husband was waiting behind the curtain and I screamed at him, “Hey its TWINS!” I used to tell him I thought twins were very cute and I would love to have twins. But then later I changed my mind and said, no its too much work. I hope it isn’t twins. But when the news broke that it was twins, our faces lit up. The doctor interrupted my fantasies and asked me, “Uhm did you take anything or not?” I replied, “What you mean take what?” He followed up, “Like eat or try anything?” I was confused and said, “I did not take or do anything.” Then he said rather seriously, “You have a third one….” I replied, “What triplets? Are you sure? No way..” He assured me, “Yes very sure.” I asked, “100% sure?” He said, “Yes.” Still not convinced, I asked, “Do they all have heartbeats?” And he turned on something and sure enough, I heard all their fluttering heartbeats. All three of them. The nurse assisting the gynae gave me a smile of surprise and I gave a weak smile back. Twins were cute, triplets….well, not really. I cannot believe I am having Baby #2, #3 and #4 all at the same time! I knew nothing about a triplets pregnancy. My mind was blank and confused. I kept thinking about my family’s history, and what I could have possibly eaten that might have caused this. My husband had left the office at that point because Livia was throwing a tantrum. The gynae proceeded to measure the triplets. He even pointed to me which one was twin 1, twin 2 and twin 3. He told me twins 2 and 3 were monozygotic ie., they were identical twins that came from the same egg that split into two while twin 1 was dizygotic ie., it a fraternal twin and was floating happily in its own sac. He could not detect whether twins 2 and 3 were surrounded by their own amniotic fluid or sharing the same one. But he assured me that it might still be too early to tell and hopes they are not sharing because it would be safer for both of them this way.
I got off the examination table with my mouth still open. I followed the gynae to his desk where he proceeded to scribble notes for Dr. Geraldine Tan. He even drew out the two sacs and wrote something about determining if the monozygotic twins were surrounded by its own amniotic fluid:
I asked the gynae, “Is all of this normal?” He replied calmly, “Yes.” I continued to ask, “But I do not have a family history of twins.” And he replied, “Sometimes stress can cause an egg to split.” And I kept thinking back if I was stressed when we were trying to conceive. Was I so stressed that not only an egg split, but another egg was released?
I left the gynae’s office and with eyes wide open, I told my husband, “Its TRIPLETS!” He replied, “Oh my god.” He looked very worried. I turned to look at Livia and from then on, whenever I see her, all I could see was there’s going to be triple of that. My brain searched for people I knew who had triplets. I whatsapped my close friends and told them about having triplets and if they knew anyone with triplets. All of them said omg, and that I was the first person they knew with triplets and how they very impressed with our fertility. Somehow I wasn’t as impressed.
Before we left the gynae’s office, the gynae approached us at the waiting area and told us we can consider Selective Reduction. It is a procedure they do at Raffles Hospital by a team of gynaecological experts to reduce multiple pregnancies to one or two. He said having triplets is both very risky for the babies and the mother. He said it so casually like as if all parents of triplets do the procedure. So we left the office feeling completely downcast rather than feeling celebratory. Before we even started to think of this pregnancy as a multiples pregnancy, someone has already broached us on the question of termination. It wasn’t a good sign at all. We remained quiet and pensive the rest of the day googling as much information as possible about being pregnant with triplets. Now and then we find interesting information and tell each other, “Did you know….?” And then its quiet again.
We slept very early that night, just exhausted from the idea of bearing three babies.