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An Angel at Christmas

I laid on the exam table, quietly waiting to hear the baby’s heartbeat.  There was a longer period of silence than usual, but I didn’t think too much of it.  The anticipation was killing me though. I couldn’t wait to see and hear my new baby’s heartbeat!  I could tell the sonographer was getting ready to fill me in with some news.  Her big, blue pretty eyes and slight grin showed me something I had never seen before.  I had a feeling it was good news.  “Do you see what I see?”  I was looking frantically on the ultrasound screen in front of me on the wall for something, but I wasn’t sure exactly what to look for.  I had an idea, though and when I figured it out I was in disbelief.  There were two babies with healthy heartbeats.  I was shocked and couldn’t move. My heart felt like it stopped. Then I stuttered over my words to try and even make a sentence out. She said, “you’re having twins.”  What?  How? When? What? This was good.  This was shocking.  This was also too much to take in all at once.  

My boyfriend (now husband) and I had parted ways weeks before this ultrasound appointment.  When we parted ways we knew there was one baby, for sure that I knew of on the way.  When I say parted ways, he left to Dallas to live with family.  I couldn’t believe it when it happened and I was a complete mess when he left.  I had learned to accept it though and was super excited by the time I had the initial ultrasound appointment.  I knew it would be a struggle.  But it wouldn’t have been the only time I had to put my big girl pants on to be a supermom a.k.a. single mom.  Only, after this appointment I would be a single mom to five babies, instead of four.  I was already the mom of three beautiful girls.  

Weeks had gone by and it was time to go have our 19 week ultrasound.  By this time, I was already getting to know my twinkies.  Baby “A” was the most active in the lower right side of my growing belly and Baby “B” was more of the chill baby.  She just kinda hung out in the left upper side of my belly.  I was excited.  By this time, my boyfriend and I had reconciled and he was back to enjoy the twin pregnancy with me.  We found out we were having identical twin girls prior to this ultrasound check-up.  What a blessing?! The pregnancy was going great!  I didn’t have any morning sickness, I was able to remain physically active and continue my workouts, and I was a ball of energy.  I had been feeling the twins move for weeks now.  The pregnancy was perfect.  Or so, we thought.

After spending an unusually long time in the ultrasound room, especially assessing Baby “A” and only briefly assessing Baby “B”, they had us go to the exam room and wait to be seen by the doctor.  It was news I was not ready to hear.  There’s a problem.  “The twins are growing at different rates.  There is a size difference.  It looks like they could have a condition known as Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome.  You need to be seen by a Maternal Fetal Specialist.” The doctor relayed the information as matter of factly as he could, but I could see the concern that you would see on a father’s face. The room got silent.  The doctor, the nurse, my boyfriend, and my sister-in-law were all in the room as we heard the upsetting news.  The room got quiet, I put my head down and turned my head to the wall as the tears overwhelmed my eyes and rolled down my face.  I didn’t know how to accept this.

Later that day, I was at home and got a call from the doctor’s office.  I had no idea how urgent and serious this matter was.  I soon learned. They wanted us to see a Maternal Fetal Doctor in Austin, the very next day.  In Austin the doctor confirmed it was indeed Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome.  It was urgent that we go to one of the only four hospitals in the nation that can treat TTTS.  We were on our way to be admitted to Texas Children’s Hospital- The Women’s Pavillion in Houston on the second day after our 19 week ultrasound check-up.  This all happened so quickly, my boyfriend and I hardly had a moment to take this all in.

We were admitted in Houston on December 5th, 2014.  We got to see the twins many times on ultrasound throughout our stay.  Baby “B”(Alexa) was having a harder time as she was losing fluid and Baby “A” (Audrey) was floating in a pool with too much fluid.  By this time, I was uncomfortable beyond any discomfort I had ever experienced in pregnancy.  I was always short of breath and was having a hard time trying to find any kind of comfort.  I was miserable.  My babies were miserable.  Something had to be done. 

 

On December 9th we decided we had to proceed with the laser ablation procedure to try and save the twins.  The procedure went great.  I asked to be slightly sedated because I didn’t want to feel the pain, but I still wanted to be aware of what was going on around me.  Amazingly while the procedure was going, I was able to see the screen the doctor’s were looking at during the procedure.  With this procedure the doctor inserted a long metal tube that measured the same width in diameter as a pen.  We were all looking the screen and I happened to see one of the twins hands.  It was amazing.  

It took some time to recover from the procedure, so I tried my best to relax as much as possible back in my room.  The very next morning on December 10th, the doctor and the nurse were back in the room to check on the twins through ultrasound.  Alexa (Baby B) was doing great.  Audrey (Baby A) had a slower heartrate.  We could not believe it.  We were watching Audrey’s heart slow down and the doctor and nurse were doing everything in their power to help her heart rate.  We watched her heart rate stop.  The room got silent.  The doctor and nurse left the room after a few minutes to let us grieve.  

The next couple of days were so slumber and gloomy.  We discharged from the hospital on December 12th.  We returned home and the Christmas tree was the first thing I saw walking back in.  It had no life and neither did the living room when we walked in.  The house was filled with sadness.  Things would never be the same.  Eventually Alexa was born, but the holidays are always a reminder of the journey we took with Alexa and Audrey and the pregnancy with them.  This time of year has a new meaning.  And although, I miss Audrey more than I can ever explain, this season is also a season of miracles because Alexa made it out alive.  She was born at 25 weeks weeks.  A lot of times, I see Alexa, I also see Audrey.  Alexa is always a reminder that she has a twin in heaven.  And many times I ask Alexa, “Where is Audrey?”  She responds by pointing up to the sky as she tries to say as clearly as possible, the name Audrey.  

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