Emily talks pregnancy and obstetric cholestasis

Emily from @emsturton is this week sharing her story on both pregnancy and her birth and how it wasn’t quite the easy or glowing experience she was expecting.
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‘Emily there are so many twins in your family do you ever think you may be having twins?’ 

A question I was asked by pretty much everyone that knew me. The short answer was no…but when I was sat in the waiting room to have our first scan I couldn’t help but compare myself to the other women in the room. I was already in my best friends hand me down maternity jeans and had morning sickness all day everyday (which makes me wonder why on Earth it is called morning sickness). Now, I am just under 5ft so I just assumed that because I was short maybe I was showing earlier than most. Alas.

Lady Pregnant with twins

We were called in and the FREEZING gel was plastered onto my bloated belly and instantly there they were. Two perfect grey round heads. Before the sonographer could even speak I turned to Chris and said ‘oh shit it’s twins’ from that point on we were both in floods of tears (obviously joyful ones but also petrified ones). The babies were in two separate sacks but the same placenta so we knew that they would be identical. My grandmother on my fathers side, who I never met but bare a striking resemblance to, had identical boys so I clearly was keeping the tradition going with twins however this time…girls! Poor Chris completely outnumbered!

From this point onwards I did not have the beautiful, glowing pregnancy I’d hoped for or seen others have when scrolling through Instagram. I had a bout of kidney infections that meant I had to finish work at 26 weeks (I was hoping to at least make it to 30) and by this point was already the size of a 38 week singleton pregnancy.

We were kept a close eye on every 2 weeks to make sure there were no signs of TTS, which luckily I never had and the girls just kept getting bigger and bigger! 

Eventually my iron levels were incredibly low as was my blood pressure so I was prescribed iron tablets from about 27 weeks onwards. I experienced horrendous nose bleeds as I was taking aspirin to thin my blood, allowing there to be enough pumping to the placenta and obviously to the girls.

By 31 weeks I began to develop a rash over my entire body (see pictures) which was the start of obstetric cholestasis. The itching was horrific and I bathed myself in oatmeal, drowned myself in Calamine lotion and caked myself in Aveno! Nothing worked. By 34 weeks I’d started to swell and walking had become the most difficult task.

It got to 35 weeks and 4 days and I had a routine scan. My mum was on driving duty and picked me up early doors. Since 4am I had been having bad back pain, to be honest I was in constant pain by the sheer weight I had no idea until I was strapped up to the monitor at the hospital that I was contracting and in labour. 

It was one of the hottest days of the year and I shared a room with a lady who was very much in labour and one very bad fan. That night was long and painful. I didn’t get much sleep. I had said to myself that if I went into labour naturally I would give a natural birth the best shot I could. But it wasn’t to be. I had only dilated 1cm over night and things weren’t going as quickly as we had hoped. There were concerns the smaller twin would become distressed and we went for the emergency C-section. On Friday the 12th of July at 14:38 and 14:39 I gave birth to Ophelia 5lb 11oz and Imogen 5lb 4oz. I lost a lot of blood and there was talk of a blood transfusion but luckily we managed to avoid it! 

Chris was incredible through my whole pregnancy and I was so happy that finally, after what felt like an eternity his girls had arrived. He changed their first nappies and gave them their first kisses and for that I will always love him more than he knows. The girls were placed onto my chest and an overwhelming amount of emotions raced through me. 

I came out of theatre and into HDU where I was overcome with the biggest thirst you could ever imagine. I drank jugs of orange juice which tasted like liquid gold at the time. This in hindsight wasn’t wise! It’s common that 6/8hours after surgery you are made to get up and try to have a bit of a move. I sat up and instantly felt like I couldn’t breath. Just as this happened a nurse ran in with my blood results from the night before to confirm that I had had pre-eclampsia which had been missed. In theatre they had pumped me with fluids which meant I now had water on my lungs. I was on oxygen for 24hours and had to stay in HDU for a couple of days. This was really the hardest thing as Chris wasn’t allowed to stay with me and the girls were looked after by the midwives at night so I could rest. 

My milk was delayed coming in and I really wanted to give breastfeeding a go. I was so delirious on pain medication and so exhausted the nurses had to help me get my colostrum going. At one point I woke up to find Chris needing my boobs like a cat with a little syringe and a very strong look of concentration on his face. The midwife had asked him to take over. I fell back to sleep but looking back I still find it hilarious! 

I was allowed home 5 days later and my recovery took a while but the girls were happy and very healthy babies which to this day they still are! 

Chris was phenomenal. His bond with them is so strong as he fed, bathed, burped, changed and rocked them for the first two weeks as I wasn’t strong enough to. You can read his version of events here soon as I’m sure he remembers a lot more than I do!

We are sleep deprived but so in love 8 months later!

Thank you so much to Emily for sharing her story, and if you have any questions or would like to follow her and the girls journey you can find her by clicking here.

To find out more information from the NHS on cholestasis please click here.

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