Here’s the only pictures I have of my sweet identical babes together. Shepard is Twin A, Deacon is Twin B. As hard as it is, I’m really grateful for these. Shepard and Deacon were born at exactly 24 weeks, 5 days into my pregnancy. Today I’m exactly 24 weeks, 5 days pregnant with their younger sibling. I’ve never really talked about why the twins were born so early, so I thought today was a good time for that with all the reflection being 24 weeks along has brought. Shepard and Deacon were in their own sacs, but were sharing a placenta. Early on, the doctor said we’d have ultrasounds every four weeks until 24 weeks, and then every two weeks after that. She said not to research it on the internet because there were many possible complications, but that our twins were the exact same size and measuring perfectly healthy, and were giving us no cause for concern at all. She thought it was most likely the case that there were two placentas there, but they were just too close to each other and were appearing as one. At the 20-week ultrasound is when these pictures were taken, and the last confirmed time they were completely perfect, healthy-sized boys having a good time in there together.
At my 24-week ultrasound in Lethbridge, a doctor came in to talk to me after the tech was through and said I needed to go directly to the hospital to speak with my doctor. As soon as I got there, they gave me a steroids shot, and my doctor told me the twins had what was called TTTS, Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome. I immediately burst into tears, and she seemed surprised, asking if I had heard of it before. I barely could nod yes and told her one of my husband’s best friends had experienced it with their twins. She asked what the result was, and I told her neither of them had made it, through a lot more tears. At least she knew I immediately understood the seriousness of the situation.
Nothing like having your brother’s foot in your face. :)
TTTS is basically when the blood supply isn’t evenly-distributed between the twins, since they each don’t have their own placenta. It resulted in WAY too much amniotic fluid in Shepard’s sac, and hardly any in Deacon’s. The high-risk doctor in Calgary wanted me to ride in an ambulance immediately to Calgary for a more-detailed ultrasound, and then I would be getting on a plane to Toronto in the morning to have a laser surgery that would supposedly help sever the ties between the boys that had been the culprit of all the unequal distribution. Though I knew the surgery was not always successful, and I was extremely tearful and worried, (and uncomfortable and alone in that bumpy ambulance), I felt good about the twins’ chances since they were all ready 24 weeks along, which was a more ideal time to do the surgery.
After arriving in Calgary, they took me to triage and seemed confused about why I was there because I wasn’t in labor. I kept asking to see the doctor who had me come on the ambulance, telling them she wanted to see me when I got there, but apparently she’d gone home? Around this time, they were beginning to get worried they couldn’t find Baby B’s heart beat. (Deacon’s.) They paged another high-risk doctor, she came and explained they’d just do the ultrasound in the morning, and I’d still have time to get on the first flight out to Toronto. She was simultaneously trying to find Deacon’s heart beat, and could finally hear it faintly, but had to manually count the beats herself with an iPad timer. She suddenly said that the babies were in too much distress due to the imbalance of amniotic fluid and needed to be delivered immediately or else Baby B would pass away in utero, and Baby A would soon follow. She said babies were born at 24 weeks all the time, and it wasn’t abnormal. I had felt 9 months pregnant for at least a month, and my belly was huge, and I think that played into my naive thinking that it wasn’t THAT early to be delivering.
In follow-up appointments with our Lethbridge doctor, she says now she does ultrasounds two weeks apart in every multiples-carrying patient from the time she even suspects they are sharing a placenta. It’s hard being the catalyst of that change instead of the beneficiary of it. This is only one doctor though, and she says this is not common practise at all for other doctors, so if it were me, carrying multiples sharing one placenta, I’d definitely be demanding ultrasounds at least every two weeks apart from the get go. Though I obviously wish I’d done this and just been overall more knowledgeable about even the worst-case-possible scenarios in our position, I know our family’s plan is ultimately in the Lord’s hands, and all the research and appointments in the world could have made no difference. Whether we hadn’t delivered or not, I’m not confident things wouldn’t have ended the same way, with our babies in heaven. At least this way we got to spend some time with our boys, hold them, sing to them, give them blessings, and feel their strong little grips and soft skin. Things to be thankful for.