April Fool’s Day 1998 was one hell of a day. Just 24 hours after a home pregnancy test revealed I was expecting, I was having a scan to find out if I had an ectopic pregnancy. I had gone to my GP to get the pregnancy confirmed but instead she sent me to hospital to discover more about stomach pains.
Thankfully the pregnancy was not ectopic, and the resulting scan showed not one but two tiny heartbeats. At that moment, I was ecstatic. Little did I know that just seven days later I would be having another scan, in more sombre circumstances.
That weekend my partner Neil and I sat down for a serious talk. There was no question of us not keeping the babies but money was tight. How on earth were we going to manage? We weren't even living together. We had twins on the way. Whoah.
Lying down after the tough discussion, I felt a strange sensation and realised I was bleeding heavily. This was it, I thought, I was miscarrying. I screamed like I had never screamed before. Beside himself with worry, Neil came running and gently led me to his car before driving like a maniac to the hospital.
I was whisked from A&E to a ward to be examined by a doctor. I remember being struck by how kind she was. She gently quizzed me on what the 'loss' had looked like.
She told me I had 'passed the pregnancy' and gave me a leaflet about a support group for women who miscarry. Back on the ward, Neil curled up on the bed with me until he had to leave. I handed him my scan pictures from the week before showing the tiny dots inside me. "Get rid of these, " I snapped. I could not bear to see them again.
My mum came to see me as soon as she could the next morning. What she told me amid our hugs was life-changing. And there was me thinking the biggest shock was going to be hers. This was the first she knew of me being pregnant.
Sitting on my hospital bed, she revealed I could have had a twin brother or sister. She too was told early on in her pregnancy that she had lost her "baby". (Things were different then - no early scans to detect a multiple birth...) History was repeating itself.
My mum's 'least said, soonest mended' upbringing meant she'd carried this with her but never told me until confronted with it happening to her daughter.
It must have been just too difficult for her.
An emotional rollercoaster
The following morning I was due for another scan. It now actually showed a single heartbeat . The doctor had been wrong.
I did not know how to react.I was sent home and booked in for another scan the following week. I felt like I was in limbo. I spent the days fretting that the surviving heartbeat would have been snuffed out by the time I went back. I was inconsolable. Our babies were not planned but they would be very, very loved - both of them. Now I only had one.
But when I went back to the hospital a week later the scan showed not one but two heartbeats again. I went into shock. My legs went from under me. I had to be taken out of the room in a wheelchair, crying tears of bewilderment and joy. Going from the 'bolt from the blue' news that I was expecting two babies to none to one and back to two again in the space of a couple of weeks was an emotional rollercoaster.
Let alone taking in what my mum had told me.
Every now and again, I used to wail "I'm scared". When Neil asked me why, I'd say: "Because I'm going to have two babies, waaaaah!"
Looking back, apart from those infrequent emotional outbursts, I think I stayed pretty outwardly calm, despite my inner turmoil.
Why else was I scared?
Twin and triplet pregnancies can obviously be more difficult than just carrying the one baby, anyway. This made me more anxious.
Not all complications of single pregnancies occur more frequently with an expected multiple birth but the possibility is there. And in my case, when I went to antenatal, first on my own two feet, then with the aid of a stick, then crutches and then a wheelchair, the other mums' jaws dropped to the floor.
I couldn't move because of how the babies were lying.
For mums of twins and more, antenatal care will mean more ultrasound screening, tests and investigations and more appointments. It should also include social support and advice, to plan for the extra load before, during and after delivery.
In the early days you may be more sick because of the higher concentration of hormone being produced from the placenta and as time goes on it is very important to take plenty of rest. An increased size of the womb can also lead to greater pressure on the veins in the legs. Problems such as piles can also be more common.
There is an increased risk of congenital abnormalities and because of this, a very thorough ultrasound scan will be given at around 20-24 weeks.
In the weeks leading up to the birth, there will also be a greater degree of monitoring with scans every two weeks.
Mums to be should also expect anetenatal screenings to be very thorough as multiple pregnancies can lead to more problems with high blood pressure and associated problems like eclampsia.
The importance of rest can also be more pressing with a multiple birth pregnancy.
There is an increased risk of premature birth, - most twins are born at 37 weeks. Labour starts early in 20–50% of twin pregnancies compared with 5–10% in singleton pregnancies.
My thoughts on being told the sex of my babies
These 'increased risks' were a lot to take in. While I may have lay in bed at night sometimes wondering if I was carrying a boy and a girl or two of each, I didn't give much thought to if I should be told. Our local hospital has a policy of not telling and that was fine with me.
I couldn't – and didn't – relax until Emily and Melissa were born at 34 weeks, weighing a healthy 5lb 3oz and 5lb 10oz respectively. I will never find out what exactly happened on the night I was told I’d miscarried. But the sense of loss I felt as I lay weeping in that hospital bed will stay with me forever.
That's why my answer, like Emily from Maternal Tales, to the question: "Did you want to find out the sex of your baby?" (Well babies in my case...) is I was too busy praying for them to be okay.
Threatened miscarriage: the facts
According to the Miscarriage Association, threatened miscarriage is simply the name given to unexplained bleeding in early pregnancy.
It is very common and about half of these pregnancies continue normally. It can happen any time in the first 24 weeks, with the first 12 weeks being the most common. There are no figures available on how often it happens.
But 'unexplained bleeding' doesn't go anywhere near understanding what happened to me. Time has passed but my mum's words have stayed with me. I sometimes wonder "what might have been" if my own twin brother or sister had survived.
And having been told more than once that I may have been expecting triplets, I sometimes reflect on another "what might have been" too.