9 March 2019, I started round two of SO-IUI at KKH. This time, I was put on Puregon which was a lot easier to inject than Menopur since I didn’t have to withdraw the solution manually. Everything was in a pen and I just had to set it to the amount I was prescribed, and inject it in every day.
As you all may know, our first round of SO-IUI failed in January, and even though I hadn’t conceived, I was distraught. The next day, I went to the TCM clinic just behind where we stay (Oak Health) where Gabriel, the physician, found my uterus to be very cold, my kidneys, liver and digestive system were weak too. So I started visiting the clinic regularly to get acupuncture done, and to get whatever tonics and herbs I needed to get my body in balance. I stopped taking cold drinks, cold foods i.e. sashimi, raw salads, cold fruit, and I stopped drinking coke zero, or having the odd cup of coffee now and then. I went for yoga regularly and started to feel a lot better physically. I felt more energised, and a lot more calm.
My first scan on CD7 showed my follicles growing very slowly, so Menopur was added to my daily dose of Puregon, which meant self-injecting twice a day.
I won’t go into too much detail but my follicle growth from scan to scan pretty much looked like this:
R – 4, 3, small follies
L – 4, 4, 4, small follies
Lining – 3.5mm
R – 7.5, 8.5, 8, 7
L – 8.5, 8.5, 8. 6
Lining – 6.4mm
R – 11, 11, 9, 8.5
L – 11.5, 10, 10, 9
Lining – 6.9mm Triple
R – 12.5, 12, 11.5, 10
L – 12.5, 13, 12.5, 9.5, 8
Lining – 8.6mm Triple
Still no dominant follicle so I was getting a little worried… They lowered Puregon and Menopur in hopes that the stronger follies would grow and the weaker ones would shrink or stop growing.
R – 14.5, 12.5, 11.5, 8.5
L – 14.5, 13, 13, 9.5, 8
Lining – 8.6mm Triple
R – 16.5, 15, 13, 11.5, 11, 9.5, 10, 9
L – 16, 15, 10.5, 9.5, 10, 9.5, 9
Lining – 9mm Triple
By CD 16, this was how my poked abdomen looked like…
23 March 2019, Saturday. After my scan was done, I sat anxiously awaiting my turn to see the doctor for my review. With SO-IUI, they usually want us to have 2-3 leading follicles, maximum, with a minimum length of 17mm, and a lining of at least 8mm. My lining was fine, but I wasn’t sure about my follicles especially with so many of them so close in size.
The doctor told me that I had four strong follies (16.5, 16, 15, 15) but they worried that ’13’ might catch up so no injections that day. My follicles were still expected to grow a little more but I would have to trigger ovulation myself that night between 8-9pm. She did mention that there might be a risk of having multiples, which we figured would be fine because after the disappointment of our first round, we didn’t think we’d have the luck of having that many babies in one shot.
That evening, I triggered ovulation as instructed although right after, I started wondering if I’d done it right because a nurse had administered it to me during my first SO-IUI. I hate the side effects of Ovidrel – sore nipples, ovulation cramps, nausea, tiredness. And the thing about Ovidrel is, it stays in your system a good two weeks so it really makes you feel the symptoms of pregnancy, and gives you that false hope, even while knowing that it’s unlikely any real symptoms can be felt that early.
25 March, Monday, I went in for the IUI procedure. Flo had already sent in his soldiers to be washed and while it was busier that day compared to our first round, I managed to go in quite quickly. They ask that you have a full bladder when the procedure is carried out so I told the nurse that I was really full and getting urgent. It was all done within 8 minutes and I was able to go.
Unlike the first time though, I didn’t experience bad bloating and I believe it was because of the TCM. I continued seeing Gabriel and taking my tonics as prescribed. He constantly told me to relax because that would really help implantation but OMG! Relaxing when instructed to do so is no easy feat. The two week wait was a little more bearable this time round but not that much better. Every day that passed, I wondered what was going on within me. Initially, I awaited implantation bleeding but had nothing. As it got closer to about 14 days post-IUI, I started to hope NOT to see any blood whatsoever.
About 10 days past IUI, I remember started to get very bloated and achy. It was strange because I had a funny feeling some kind of implantation took place but couldn’t be sure. I just knew I was really uncomfortable. The bloating caused my appetite to take a turn and I found myself having bad cramps. The discomfort lasted a good week before I started to get some relief.
Finally, on 12 April, Friday, 18 days past-IUI, I made my way back to KKH early morning for my blood test. They told me they’d call me before noon to inform me of my results – Mum and Dad were going to come over at 10am to keep my company in case the results were not in my favour.
At 9.50am, I got the call. “Congratulations Mdm. Tan, you’re pregnant!“. Those words. I was beyond ecstatic, in tears and quickly calling Flo to share the news. When Mum and Dad arrived, I opened the door and said “Hi Grandpa, Hi Grandma!“. The look on their faces – the initial surprise broke into realisation and we hugged and kissed each other with joy! Of course, even with the blood test, I HAD to take a home pregnancy test just to have a ‘positive stick’ for keepsake.
I refused to check before the blood test date just because I knew that taking a pregnancy test would be too torturous. If it said no, could it be a false negative? And would I be able to take it? If it said yes, it could be a false positive. Whatever the case, I knew I wasn’t ready for the answer until it was time.
16 April. Tuesday.
9am, I was on the way to hospital because I found a pink stain on my toilet tissue. Until now, I cannot be sure if it was blood, spotting, or nothing at all. Whatever the case, I panicked, suddenly my boobs didn’t feel as tender, suddenly, it was as though all my symptoms had numbed. I went straight to the 24hr KKH O&G, praying it was nothing.
They did a scan to check for any bleeding internally. Thank God there was none. Instead, they found two little sacs, sent me home excited at the prospect of twins, and with an increased dose of progesterone.
24 April. Wednesday.
We were back in KKH for our first official scan. Babies were supposed to be about 6 weeks then so they were scanning for yolk sacs and heartbeats. Flo and I were so excited, and when we went into the room and I started being scanned, Flo was in tears. Since it was still very early on in our pregnancy, it was a vaginal ultrasound that was carried out.
While I was being scanned, Flo and I suddenly saw three very clear yolks sacs, but we couldn’t be sure. Flo started laughing and showed me three fingers, mouthing “Three?“. I kept shaking my head going “Nah!! Two, just two!“. Until the sonographer zoomed in and went “And here is baby number three“. That’s when we both went “WHAT?! No… Really?“.
We made sure she checked around to ensure there was no fourth. There wasn’t.
So there you have it, our three little dumplings. It’s not so clear in the pictures above but their yolk sacs were there and we saw each of their hearts beating.
We saw Dr. V after our scan where she congratulated us while also sharing with us the risks involved with multiples – higher rates of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, premature labour… She mentioned that some couples consider ‘Selective Reduction‘ which sounds like a euphemism for abortion to be honest. Flo and I were discussing that before we were called in and had already decided that there would be no reduction since they all had a heartbeat. However, if one of them was weak and didn’t make it naturally, we could accept that.
Dr. V then recommended three doctors we could see who specialised in multiple pregnancies and maternal fetal medicine to oversee our pregnancy. We went with Dr. Edwin Thia. While a lot of triplet Mums (whom I found on FB and am now in a whatsapp chat group with) sang high praises for this one professor at NUH, Flo and I decided to try Dr. Thia first and see how we liked him. After all, KKH is a lot more accessible for us and we feel that at the end of the day, KKH is also the best equipped for neonatal care especially in the case of emergencies.
10 May. Friday.
After what felt like ages, we were finally back for our scan to make sure all babies were doing well. I kept worrying about one suddenly vanishing but the ultrasound showed all three bubs getting along just fine.
Our three dumplings measured nearly the same at 19, 18 and 19mm at 8.5 weeks, and looked like little gummy bears. Their heartbeats all looked strong and steady which brought lots of comfort to me.
We met Dr. Thia who was patient in answering all our questions, and we found ourselves really liking him. He said that until week 20, he would treat our pregnancy like that of a singleton, after which, I’ll be treated as high-risk. As such, we’ve been given the green light to go ahead with our honeymoon to Switzerland and Italy in July since we’ll be back just before week 20. YAY! I think he is less concerned about my pregnancy at this point because our dumplings each have their own sacs so there’s less risk involved. It means that they won’t be fighting for nutrients with each other – they’ll just be fighting with mummy.
As I write this, I am in the middle of Week 13. I’ve been diligently taking side profile belly photos of myself but perhaps am a little over eager. This was me at around week 6:
And this at week 13:
I do get more bloated in the evenings and when I lie down, I’m pretty sure my uterus protrudes out. Those who know me well will sometimes be able to notice my belly sticking out a touch more but those who don’t know me never guess I have three babies inside of me. Neither can they believe it. Yet.
I’m quite happy to wait a little more for my belly to pop, especially with triplets. I heard from the other mums that once you pop, you won’t stop growing (a little like eating Pringles). Your belly just expands exponentially and at the end of second trimester, I could very well look like a singleton pregnancy at full term. OK. Not going to think of that right now.
We had our 13 week scan this past Monday which also helped check each baby for Down’s risk as well as other possible chromosomal abnormalities. Again, all three look to be growing well, all are low risk, and while my little Xiao Long Bao is a little smaller than Siu Mai and Har Gao, and has a slightly slower heartbeat, perhaps its just naturally more petite and relaxed as my dear friend (more like an older sister), Grace, suggested. With all three looking good, we finally couldn’t contain it any longer and announced their impending arrival!
It’s crazy how our babies look fully formed but are really only about 7cm long. They’re developing their brains, bones, limbs… And Xiao Long Bao was most friendly, even giving us a wave so we could see all its 5 fingers! Siu Mai was the most active, rolling around and making sure we had to return to it to finish the scan – it finally settled and fell asleep I think, and Har Gao was the most cooperative. Let’s see if these traits continue!
We won’t know their gender until week 20 – after our holiday, but for now, I’m happy just knowing they are all growing well. It still feels so surreal carrying the three of them and I’ve been blessed in that my morning sickness was very mild. I mainly slept a lot through my first trimester, with symptoms of nausea and some vomiting peaking between weeks 8-12. Praying that the rest of this pregnancy will go smoothly and that these babies will stay in for as long as possible!
Thus begins our pregnancy journey. I don’t know whether I will share much after the babies are born, perhaps I will but one thing Flo and I are sure about is that we will not be sharing any pictures of them on social media. Of course, being pregnant with multiples comes with a lot of possible complications and risks, but we will leave everything is God’s hands.
I know that there are many couples struggling with conceiving. Some have gone through multiple cycles of fertility treatments without success, others have had some success but have miscarried time and again. Some are still trying; some have given up. There is always hope to be found, no matter how difficult it is, you have to keep the faith. I believe that God led me to Gabriel, and I truly believe that TCM helped me conceive. We feel blessed – a little fearful and anxious about how to handle three babies when they arrive, but blessed. And I pray, that for those of you yearning for a little one, that it will happen, in His time.