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Menopause? No, I was pregnant

Catherine McDiarmid-Watt | Monday, December 17, 2007 | 0 comments

At 46 and with a 16-year-old son, the last thing Yasmin Kureishi was expecting was another baby. Then she discovered she was expecting twins

Who would have thought that in my mid-forties, I’d be buying a pregnancy testing kit? In the car, on the way home from the supermarket, I feel a bit strange. My husband bet me £20 that I was suffering from some kind of hormonal imbalance; in other words, that I was starting the menopause. Yes, much more likely, I thought in horror. But I wasn’t ready for the “hot flush” scenario.

When we got home, we stood among the shopping bags, observing closely as a vebright, spirited, pink dot appeared. I was 46 and up the duff. In a daze, my husband stepped over the groceries and bolted into the garden for a fag. I sat down, regretting yesterday’s whisky and Coke, and concluding that this was the demise of my size 10 trousers, which I’d worn only once. But what the hell, I was having a baby. Actually, after I’d got over the traumatic birth of my first son, I’d always wanted another child. But my marriage broke down and it wasn’t until my early forties, after an operation to remove a large fibroid, that my second husband and I started trying for a baby. However, nothing ever happened and I began to lose hope.

My doctor’s first reaction was to raise a cool eyebrow and ask whether I wanted to keep it. I hadn’t expected that: in a jiff it could be sorted, got rid of and I could be back to my size 10s. Just like that. Much harder to say “yes” and face the consequences.

He started to discuss miscarriage

I came out of the surgery feeling despondent. I felt really stupid even to consider that, at my age, there would be a baby at the end of it all.

I waited for the miscarriage. A week later, feeling wretchedly sick and not able to stand the whiff or sight of most foods, I went back to the doctor. He was still sceptical. It wasn’t until around the seven-week mark that I panicked. Somehow I didn’t feel pregnant any more. It was then that I was sent for an early scan.

My husband said jokingly: “I can see loads of them...” The sonographer beamed at us. “Actually, I can see two heartbeats.” My husband and I exchanged stunned glances. I was having twins. Afterwards, I kept picking up the scan photo and gazing in wonder at the two splodges. I needed reassurance and asked my doctor what the chances were. “Well, if there are two, you will be much more likely to end up with one.” There was so much against this pregnancy. Multiple pregnancies are considered “high risk”, even without all the add-ons.

In fact, my age seemed to be the least of my problems. For starters, there was my height; 5ft 3in (1.57m). Would there be room: two babies, plus a fibroid, plus the scar tissue from the previous operation to remove a fibroid?

Plus, the boys were identical and shared a placenta, which meant there was a 30 per cent chance of a dangerous imbalance in the flow of blood, called twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome.

Despite all this the pregnancy progressed quite smoothly, apart from the terrible sickness and backache. My stomach ballooned very quickly. I made a nest with cushions, surrounded myself with catalogues (as I couldn’t get round the shops) and watched Trisha a lot.

I was put on a drip for five days

When I reached 29 weeks, contractions became strong and frequent. I was put on a drip to stop them and found my forced stay in hospital excruciating. Not only did I hate being there, but my older son was about to start his GCSE exams and I needed to be around.

It wasn’t until I was nearly 33 weeks that I was rushed to hospital feeling extremely uncomfortable, and the consultant decided to deliver by Caesarean section. The boys, Kieran and Harry, were born weighing 4lb 1oz (1.84kg) and 4lb 8oz. Two years on, though often exhausted like any parent with young children, I feel energised and revitalised by our two little miracles. Without them we would have been on the cusp of an “empty nest”, about to step into the world of city breaks and “serious” gardening.

Instead our twins have injected a sparkle not only into our lives but also their remaining three grandparents and elder siblings. Among other things, they enjoy Gina Ford’s “cheesy peasy rice” and my late father’s keema recipe, as well as a wide repertoire of songs from across the decades, from Pack up Your Troubles to Hey, Hey We’re the Monkees and my son’s rap music.

I think that I’m a better mother this time round and that, actually, this was about the right age for me to have had the twins. I am less selfish than I was in my twenties and thirties, a bit more confident, resilient and hopefully a little wiser. I just hope that my creaky knees and dodgy back last the course.

I’m at the play park, desperate for caffeine but the mobile cafĂ© hasn’t shown up yet. Twin One is precariously perched on the top of one slide, while Twin Two is 10m away perched on top of another. I dash from one to the other, like a lunatic. I’m thinking I might get back into a size 10 at this rate. If I don’t have a heart attack first.

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About Catherine: I am mom to three grown sons, two grandchildren and two rescue dogs. After years of raising my boys as a single mom, I remarried a wonderful man who had never had a child of his own. Unexpectedly, I found myself pregnant at 49!
Sadly we lost our precious baby at 8 weeks, and decided to try again. Five more losses, turned down for donor egg, foster care and adoption due to my age and losses - we have accepted there will be no more babies in our house.

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