Our sweet boys! I have wanted for a long while now to sit down and just let all my thoughts spill over into a blog post… about our boys and our life the last ten weeks. I have been just so exhausted — physically & emotionally — that writing it all out seemed too overwhelming.
In November of last year, we found out we were expecting again — my sixth pregnancy (in between Anna & Noelle, I had an ectopic pregnancy with an emergency surgery and then an early miscarriage five months later). What a surprise! We had just moved into an out-dated, 1980’s tri-level house roughly three months before and had busied ourselves with painting, updating, and dreaming of future projects for our house. The pregnancy was a happy surprise & a sweet “interruption” to what we had thought our life may look like the next year.
At six weeks, early December, I had an early ultrasound to rule out another ectopic pregnancy. (With every pregnancy since my ectopic in 2009, I have had to have an early ultrasound to make sure the pregnancy isn’t another ectopic. If you’ve had one ectopic pregnancy, your chance of having a second increases.) It was at that ultrasound we discovered — identical twins! I couldn’t stop laughing. Just a few days before I had been Googling “early signs of twin pregnancy” because I just had a vague feeling something was different about this pregnancy.
We were THRILLED by the news. And shocked, of course! : ) I tell everyone who has asked how I feel about having twins, “It is the sweet surprise you think you will never get.” I know not everyone feels that way, but I have always loved the idea of twins. I can remember as far back as 2010, in my “crazy moments,” praying for twin boys. Yes, praying. I just never thought God would take me seriously!
Nausea was horrible the first four months. Daily dates with my toilet to throw-up. Laying on the bathroom floor because if I moved, I would throw up. Waking up at night to throw up. I could barely finish my sentences sometimes. About 15-17 weeks, I felt so much better. I thought that we could sail through the second & third trimesters and then welcome these two precious babies!
At our 19-week anatomical ultrasound (where we officially confirmed — boys!!), everything looked great. However, right after my appointment, my doctors’ office called and said they wanted me to see a specialist to determine if each boy had their own placenta, or if they shared the placenta. In early appointments, they had told me about the risk of twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome in identical twins who share a placenta but have different sacs (which was looking like our duo had) — also called mono/di twins.
I went to the appointment a week later — at 20 weeks — expecting it to be a simple ultrasound. It turned into a three-hour appointment.
Here is the email I sent to our family & friends following that appointment:
Hey precious friends and family!First, I’d love to officially introduce our beloved boys to you all… Noah Ryan & Grayson Eli. They are both so large now it is hard to get an ultrasound photo of them both, or I would have loved to have included one in this email. They are precious, and active, and so fun to watch on ultrasound.Yesterday I went for an ultrasound with a specialist team based out of Chattanooga, who comes to town twice a week with their services. I thought this was going to be a simple ultrasound to determine — for my OB’s records — whether there was, in fact, one or two placentas. What I thought was going to be a simple ultrasound turned into a 3-hour appointment. Their office did a full anatomical ultrasound on both boys.Basically, the specialist OB there believes that I am in Stage 1 (out of five Stages) of a syndrome called Twin-to-Twin Transfusion — a very serious complication of identical twin pregnancies where the twins share one placenta (which they believe is what I have). It seems that my placenta is beginning to better nourish one baby — Noah — more than Grayson. This condition affects amniotic fluid & blood flow, so Grayson had significantly less amniotic fluid than Noah; this can put stress on both babies, so both babies are considered in danger.
There are many possible outcomes for this… we are still trying to wrap our heads around it all. We could lose both babies. We could lose one. I may be a good candidate for a special kind of surgery that may help them. The babies could come significantly early (….as in, 28 weeks) and spend much of their first year in a NICU. Right now the specialist OB said we are to focus on getting both babies to viability — 24 weeks. I am 20 weeks & 3 days today.Rust and I are waiting for a call to set up a special consultation at the Cincinnati Fetal Center. We will be traveling up there next week. They said to plan on staying at least 1-2 days, and if I am a candidate for surgery & we choose to do the surgery, we would need to stay in Cincinnati for a week.There are so many unknowns! We are still processing everything. Rust is currently out-of-town traveling with work, and when he returns Wednesday we are going to have a phone conference with the specialist OB I saw yesterday so she can explain it clearly to Rust.If you would like to read about twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, the Fetal Center has good information the doctor recommended.Prayer requests —– Yesterday, the OB said that she has seen twin-to-twins where there is low fluid with one baby and then a week later, it has corrected itself. We are praying that that could happen — that the fluid will even out and both babies will have enough for proper lung development. She said resting off my feet may help encourage more blood flow to Grayson. I am trying to do that as much as possible!– That I would stay at Stage 1 instead of progressing further. Yesterday, the OB said she “saw a lot of positives” — both boys are extremely active; they are healthy anatomically; both boys are good sizes with little weight discrepancies (you would typically see one baby normal size and one baby significantly smaller); and Grayson had more fluid around him than she originally thought. She said she was hopeful for a good outcome.– That they would live! We want to have BOTH our sons in our arms someday. We are SO thankful we live in a time where we have options — surgery, if I meet qualifications; she mentioned a medicine that may help bring more blood flow to the placenta; and diligent doctors who are committed to monitoring me and the boys weekly from here on out.– That I may not take for granted every day I have with my sons. I want to treasure every kick, every movement, every weird hunger craving and not waste the days I have with them, but celebrate and rejoice that God gave them to us! They exist! They have a soul that will long outlast their frail little bodies! They are valuable because God has place a soul within them and crafted them in His image! They will always be our sons, even if they do not live long outside the womb. Pray that we can communicate with our girls what a GIFT these little boys are, how special life is — even when there are complications, and to invite them to daily rejoice in their brothers!– Our girls! My heart breaks at the thought of being separated from them for up to a week! Please pray we can arrange the right kind of childcare, and that I would not fear to leave them so long!– That we would entrust our boys, ourselves, our whole family to God daily, hourly… I KNOW He loves us. I KNOW He loves our boys. I KNOW He is good, and tender-hearted, and steadfast in His faithfulness to us. We don’t know the outcome, we don’t know what will happen with the lives of our sons, but I KNOW He will remain the loving, good God He has always been to us. May we praise Him in the dark as we have in the light! May our hearts SING with confidence that hearts & flesh may fail, loss may come, our family story may not be what we want, but God is our portion FOREVER.
And that was the beginning of a rollercoaster that included three trips to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital at the Fetal Center, for a fetal MRI, fetal ECHO’s, and ultrasound scans, as well as constant appointments here in town, and one 4-day stay at Erlanger for low fluid levels.
It has been a challenging, draining, scary, hard time for our family. I live between appointments, never knowing week-to-week how the twins will be. I have spent the most time away from my girls the past 10 weeks than I have their entire lives! We have prepared for the worst while hoping for the best.
While this has been a hard, stressful time for us, in so many ways it has also been a beautiful time for our family. God has sweetly answered so many prayers. When I reread the prayer requests I emailed to friends & family during the past two months, I see so many ways He faithfully answered them! We are forever changed by this pregnancy–rather, we have been changed by God through the events of this pregnancy. And we have found ourselves thankful, so very thankful. Not just because things — so far — have “turned out good” for us, but because of the things God has done in our hearts & through other people.
This post is already getting incredibly long, so I will save the thousand of ways God has been ever-present & gracious & beautiful to us for another post. : )