"When I started the treatment, I had all the medications such as steroids, progesterone injections and estrogen tablets, as well as weekly tests,” says Nicola. “On the 30th October, 2 embryos were transferred into my womb,” she recalls. “We waited 12 days, got a pregnancy test, and it came back positive. We then went back to HSFC - Dr Venkat did a scan and we were amazed there were 2 pregnancies.”
Although the couple were surprised at first, Nicola was quickly getting used to the idea of having twins, and she admitted that she wanted them both. Alex, on another hand, took a little longer, and was slightly nervous! “One kid is scary enough, but two?!" he said.
Nicola was realistic about the twins' development, as she remembered Dr Venkat telling her: “You never put 2 embryos in to expect twins, but to expect one baby at the end of the journey.”
A short-lived hope
Unfortunately, after a couple of weeks, one baby wasn’t developing as expected. After another week, the second baby had disappeared. “It’s called the Vanishing Twin Syndrome. It’s like a miscarriage, but without expelling any pregnancy. The twin that stopped developing is absorbed in the mother’s body, while the other one is taking all the nutrients,” explains Nicola.
Nicola tells us how losing a twin was bittersweet: "It was a traumatic experience, but I have to look at the positives. I am approaching the second trimester with a healthy, dancing baby - a baby that moves like crazy,” she says, smiling.
Alex adds, “people tell me they're ‘so sorry’, but it's ok. It’s less stress on the baby, and less strain on Nicola who would have had to carry them both."
How the lockdown altered their journey
During the first lockdown, Nicola admits that she was anxious about not being able to start treatment. “I was really worried. I have been trying to have a baby for 6 years and didn’t want to wait any longer. My first appointment was at the end of 2019, so it’s been a really long time."
“I also go to HSFC once a month for intralipids, which suppress my immune system. That’s why my treatment was postponed,” says Nicola.
Nicola’s immune system had to be suppressed, and add-on treatments such as intralipids and steroids were lowering her immune system. As this was a worry for HFEA during the pandemic and the first lockdown, the clinics were advised to not offer these treatments.
In order to carry on her fertility journey with a weakened immune system, Nicola was advised to shield. “Alex still needed to work, so I was on my own for a long time,” says Nicola. From then, all appointments were attended only by Nicola, with Alex attending via Facetime. He says “it’s not the same,” but they appreciate it's the best that can be done in this situation.
Admitting that she had anxiety over restarting treatment during the first lockdown, Nicola says that this time is a different emotion. “I now have anxiety over pregnancy and anxiety over Covid-19”.
The support system that sometimes needs support
Alex says that, when he asked Nicola if she was worried, she said she was, but “she was also a mixed bag of excitement. I am ex-soldier, I looked at Nicola’s sister, who gave birth in July, when I asked her, ‘are you worried?’ She said ‘No, I am young, healthy’”. Alex says that “Nicola worries. I am the tough guy, and tell her, ‘Don’t be such a silly sausage!’ But I have to sometimes put a brave face,” Alex bravely admits.
Tests and the Secret Ingredient
Nicola and Alex had a test which checks for abnormalities such as Down's Syndrome, but thankfully, everything was fine. “We did ask about the sex of the baby, but we won't know just yet.” The couple will be able to know the gender at about 20 weeks.
Nicola tells us that she thinks it’s a boy: “I have the feeling I am going to have a boy. I don’t care what I have though, as long as it’s healthy and happy.”
Alex is conscious of the fact that they are strong, healthy and quietly confident. “Even though Nicola doesn’t have a strong immune system, we have what we need: LOVE.”
“So cheesy,” says Nicola, but Alex carries on: “Love is a powerful emotion that protects and heals. We have what it takes to have a baby: Love!”
We're planning our next chat with Nicola and Alex soon, so that they can disclose the gender of the baby!
Seeing the beautiful mother-to-be Nicola, we have to admit that she looks the picture of happiness, her face lighting up whenever she talks about her baby. We are looking forward to catching up with the couple soon.
In the meantime, please have a look below at the dancing baby that Nicola is talking about, a future star like his/her parents!
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