Mono Mono Twins

Since Mother’s Day is just around the corner, I figured I would share the miracle story of the two crazies that gave me that all fulfilling title. I’ve copied most of it from an old private blog I used to have, as well as some personal journal entries from home. I hope that anyone who stumbles upon this and finds themselves in these shoes or similar…knows that there is hope. And that God can conquer all. Medicine today is amazing, and even in the 7.5 years since this experience…so many things have improved. It’s amazing how many friends and family I know on a personal level who have watched their babies thrive and heal in the NICU. It truly is a world filled with knowledge, and these little spirits must have some great work do do.

***That is not to say all babies will survive and thrive. And I am as lost as the next person as to “why” our story unfolded this way, and others did not. I lost my 3 day old nephew almost 8 months ago. He was perfectly healthy, until he wasn’t. Watching my brother and his family suffer this loss was a pain I’d never known.

So this much I DO KNOW…Mother’s day is a celebration of ALL. Those who have a dozen, miscarried, birthed then lost, fostered, adopted, endured the depths of health issues, infertility struggles, never had the opportunity, don’t have the desire, or are crippled with fear. We are all mothers. And it takes a village. My own daughters have many more “mothers” than just me.

(This was 2009 people, I didn’t yet own a smartphone. I rarely had internet access. To take pictures, I had to lug my DSLR into the NICU. And the nurses were using disposable film cameras when we weren’t there. So these posts are few and far between. These are when I could find the time to sit at home with a computer and carve out a minute to write. I know if I was having this experience TODAY, my documentation would be MUCH different. But…hey, this is what we got.)

Written in my journal October 04, 2009:

I am now 19 weeks pregnant! Next Sunday, Ill be five months! We are expecting TWO wonderful identical twin girls!!! Anytime between November 08-January 17, when Ill be 35 weeks. My actual due date is February 28 2010. Yes, that’s for real. They have been diagnosed as monoamniotic twins, which means they don’t have anything separating them inside my uterus. And with that comes extreme complications. We’ve already had nine ultrasounds- and now we go in EVERY week to make sure they’re still living and that their umbilical cords aren’t too tangled. I will write much more in detail about all of this later. But I just want to express my excitement towards being a mother. If these little girls make it into this world (which I have all the faith they will), I don’t think a day will go by that I won’t see them as the biggest miracles God ever created. And for that alone I am grateful for this experience of a high-risk pregnancy. So many tears- so many prayers-so much of myself and my soul has just been poured into them, that already I feel so much love for them.

They are already my greatest success.

I love them more than I’ve ever loved anything. And I love Garrett so much more already for being there with me. He is so excited to be a dad. His hand is always resting on my ever expanding tummy. He has nicknamed the girls and talks to them in the most hideous British accent. Oh, how I love him. He looks forward to the doctors appointments maybe even more than I do- and hasn’t missed one yet. He loves watching them on the ultrasound and hearing their super fast heartbeats. We are so so lucky. So so blessed. And so very excited.

Written on the blog November 25, 2009:

Welcome all to my blog! And welcome all to my life at the moment. I’ve explained a little of our situation in the “about me” section of this blog, but let me now venture a little further into detail. My husband and I have been married for the long duration of seven months and fourteen days. We are still learning how to live together šŸ˜‰ but we are loving every second of it. If you are married, think back to the first days of living with someone else…now confine that living space into a twenty by fifteen foot room, one window, one closet, and a tiny bathroom. This is our life in the hospital room in which we live.

My husband Garrett works as a software developer and has amazing talents and abilities which propel him forward and seem to always surpass his company’s expectations. After working long days at the office, he drives the thirty miles to my hospital room, and begins working on his freelance programming gigs that keep him up most of the night. He then lays out a few blankets on the couch and falls asleep. Sometime around five and six each morning, a nurse or doctor will come in and wake us both up with questions about the status of myself and the twins. Every half hour or so, another hospital employee will come in to make sure all is well. Oh…and by law they have to check on us every two hours throughout the entire night. That will suck the spark right out of any newlywed marriage!
When I was ten weeks pregnant I was diagnosed with twins! I had been feeling like that was a possibility and was elated upon finding out. Garrett almost fainted. I went home and immediately did what any other expecting mother would do…the absolutely most logical thing…I surfed the net.
Ironically enough I stumbled upon some scary articles describing a 1 in 60,000 chance of conceiving a rare condition of “Monoamniotic twins.” I don’t know why I was so interested in the subject, but I did quite a lot of research on it, and totally psyched myself out.
Seven days later Garrett and I went to the high-risk OB-GYN for a routine check-up that all multiple birth moms attend, mostly for a standard consultation of what to expect with twins, and also a pain management plan for me while pregnant for the migraines that have plagued me for thirteen years.
After a few moments of ultrasound, we were told we had won the lottery, and I had in fact conceivedĀ monoamniotic twins

Today, May 10 2017:

Basically my egg split much later than most identical twins. Doctors told me that if it had split 3 days later, we would have had conjoined twins. (In a nutshell, “momo twins” have a 50% survival rate due to cord entanglement- since they have no amniotic wall sac separating them like most identical twins do- their umbilical cords can become entangled or knotted and oxygen supply is lost. They are also likely to develop TTTS (twin to twin transfusion syndrome) where one baby is receiving too much from the placenta and the other isn’t receiving enough oxygen/nutrients.

These are not my images, but ours looked very similar to the one on the right. However, our girls did suffer from severe TTTS as well, so one cord was about three times as thick as the other. Ā And to this day she is about 3 inches taller and 15 pounds heavier! People don’t even know they’re twins, let alone identical- because of this. -However this is becoming more and more common as medicine is enabling these high risk pregnancies to survive. So- keep your eyes open and you’ll notice A LOT of identical twins look like a set of matryoshka dolls. The exact same, but one being able to “fit” Ā inside the other.

FullSizeRender (98)

From day one of diagnosis we had doctors strongly encouraging us to terminate the pregnancy. Filling our minds with the possibilities of loss. And constantly reiterating that if we did indeed carry the babies to a viable age- they would most likely be so premature they would have severe mental and physical disabilities.

We obviously knew God was in charge, and ultimately put all our trust in Him. We did however emotionally prepare by not “planning” on bringing home babies. We didn’t discuss names. We didn’t buy car seats. We didn’t talk about the future.

We focused on the things we could control. And that was constant medical care. The first four months I was so ill that I had IV home therapy. I don’t think I ate solid food for weeks. I had an IV placed in my arm, that I would go and have replaced every three days- and would just sit at home and kick it with my fluids hanging next to my bed, three times a day. (I’m no stranger to health problems.. and I know this was not a huge deal.) But it gave me nothing but time to sit and think about what was going on inside of my body…and constantly wonder the outcome. Literally minute by minute questioning what God had in store.

I was eventually admitted to the hospital at 24 weeks. As this was the age of viability. We were THRILLED when we reached this milestone. I was monitored for an hour by ultrasound and “Non stress tests” Ā each morning and an hour each evening. And on strict bed rest the time in between. I had heard of cases where the mothers of momo twins were monitored 24/7, but our doctors felt like this was the best and most logical balance.

But despite my faith, I lived in fear.

One mother had shown great oxygen flow and heart rates for both babies during her morning monitoring, and by her afternoon session had lost one due to cord entanglement.

We were realistic about our possibilities. But every SINGLE time I heard their heart beats, I was overcome with gratitude and awe that they had made it that much longer.

(stay tuned for their birth story…)

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