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I lost my babies

by Hayley Veschini-Schmitz

Date: Tue, 22 May 2001

In November 2000 I discovered that I was finally pregnant after going through intensive courses of fertility treatments. In December I found out that I was in fact pregnant with quintuplets. My initial reaction, and that of my husband, was one of horror. I asked my gynae how this could possibly have happened. He said it was very unusual and that we did have the option of 'selective reduction', but assured me that I could quite safely carry all 5 babies to term provided that I got into bed from 21 weeks onwards. Well any sort of reduction was just not an option for my husband or I. We were desperate for children, and the more we thought about it, the more that we realised that this was a gift from god and that we must accept it and be happy. Our lives would have to change, but we would be a family. In January at 9 weeks, I started bleeding and they rushed me through to hospital. They managed to stop it with a combination of intravenous drugs and I was able to go home after a few days. From then on my pregnancy was easy. I had no morning sickness, no swelling or water retention, in fact no pregnancy problems at all. I put on weight, but only normal pregnancy weight, and felt healthy and happy. My last scan at 16 weeks showed 5 really healthy babies. All of a similar size and all moving frantically. At 20 weeks exactly I started to feel strange. No actual pain or bleeding.

I just told my husband that I felt uncomfortable. I had a bath and still couldn't relax. Eventually at 2.00 am I asked my husband to take me to the hospital. I didn't feel like I was in labour or anything, but still felt that something wasn't right, and the feeling of discomfort was starting to turn into slight pains in my back. We rushed to the hospital, really thinking that they would examine me and tell me I was fine and to go home. But it wasn't to be. The doctors examined me and told me I was 3 cm dilated. They immediately put me on a intravenous drip to stop the labour and admitted me to a ward. That was the Wednesday. By the Thursday afternoon I was 7 cm dilated and they told me I was definitely going to deliver at least one or two of the babies within the next hour, but that there was a very slim chance that I could keep one or more of them. I was in labour for the rest of that night and only mid morning on Friday delivered all 5 of my babies. 3 boys and 2 girls. All 5 babies were alive and healthy except that their lungs weren't developed enough to even go on life support. It was just too early for them. They all died, one after another, shortly after having the cords cut. The worst experience in my life was delivering them and then waiting for them to die. I felt like I had failed in my first and last test as a mother. I couldn't help them to stay alive. Things went pretty much downhill from there. They took me in for a D&C which wasn't terribly successful as I ended up in hospital a week later for another 4 days with an infection. They forgot to give me something to stop my milk coming in, so I had to contend with that pain a few days after the birth, until we managed to dry it up. It is now 8 weeks later and I am still having complications.

The bleeding hasn't stopped and they now want to operate this week to go in to investigate what is wrong. I just feel like if they would just sort me out physically I could grieve in peace, but at the moment, it just doesn't seem to end. The hardest part is that I miss my babies so much. I think of them every minute of every day and would give anything to be able to hold them and tell them everything was going to be ok. People don't seem to understand. They automatically think that if I just get pregnant again, everything would be ok. They don't realise that my babies are just not replaceable. No other child will ever be able to take away the pain. I might very well try again one day, or I might not.

Only time will tell.

But not for a moment will I ever forget my first babies and what they mean to me. I will love them and miss them forever.

Hayley Veschini-Schmitz
South Africa


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