“By the time my first ultrasound came around I was so sick I couldn’t keep anything down. I mean, nothing. On a good day I could keep some water down and maybe a few crackers. All I was doing was losing weight. I had determined the reason for that had to be – it’s a girl!
And then, the craziest thing I had ever experienced in my life happened. There were TWO babies on that screen!?! No way. Where’s the camera, we’re being punked. That’s not even possible. I was 10 weeks pregnant. I was incredibly excited but wasn’t sure I should be. My OB looked incredibly concerned. She explained how they looked like Monoamniotic (“MoMo”) twins, which are the kind of twins that carry the highest risk. They share both the same placenta and amniotic sac. She immediately referred me to a Maternal fetal medicine (MFM) specialist. She told me she’d be sending the paperwork over to expect a call within 24 hours. The only thing standing out to me when I left her office that day was, ‘I AM HAVING TWINS!’
I got the call the next day and had an appointment scheduled for the following week.
10 weeks. That’s how far along I was when I found out I was having twins. 11 weeks. 11 weeks is when I was guaranteed I wouldn’t be having twins. ‘Baby B is not going to make it and you’re putting Baby A in serious jeopardy the longer you wait to terminate.’ They must have thought I was crazy. I didn’t cry. I didn’t even hardly react other than to very adamantly stick with my gut. Appointment after appointment… doctor after doctor… boy did they put the pressure on. Almost as if they would receive some sort of commission. None of that mattered. I was pregnant with 2 LIVING babies. I sure as hell wasn’t going to just cut the cord because it sounded like a good idea.
Let me back up. We walked into a very unfamiliar office, knowing nothing at all. I can’t say I remember this appointment in full detail. I remember an ultrasound, determining they were not MoMo, but Monochorionic (“MoDi”) twins, which meant they shared a placenta but had their own sacs. The ultrasound tech couldn’t say much so we had to go sit and wait. Again.
Finally we were called back. It was very, very clear to us that Baby A was hogging most of the placenta, leaving Baby B with very little space and nutrients to thrive. They went from Baby A – to recipient baby and Baby B -to donor baby. It was intensely pushed on us, ‘The longer you wait to terminate Baby B, the more you are putting Baby A at risk as well.’ … ‘Baby B will not survive. We do not normally catch this early, and that’s a really bad sign.’ … ‘Baby B has a 0% chance of survival.’ … ‘Baby B has about 7-10 days.’ Was he making some sort of commission per abortion? Did he have a quota to fill? Or was he concerned of some type of lawsuit? That I’ll never know.
They had to think I was crazy. I didn’t cry, I really didn’t react other than to say ‘NO.’ They kept drawing pictures and pushing tissues in front of my face, and I just kept staring back at them. Blank. Pregnant with TWO babies.
We left, and were expected to really think about our ‘options.’ They wouldn’t see us again for almost 4 weeks.
I’m certain they were sure I’d come back pregnant with only one living baby. Instead there were still 2. Our ‘options’ were still available. Baby B still definitely wasn’t going to make it under the circumstances.
And then they mention fetal surgeons and the possibility of surgery. Well first of all, why didn’t you lead with that?! So once again, we were sent home and told to expect a call within 24 hours. That night was the first time I felt movement. The slightest tiniest flutter. I clutched my belly and thought, ‘I hear you babies… don’t worry, I’m on your team.’
We got the call from the Fetal Center the next day and had an appointment about 2 weeks later, which meant, again, more waiting and this time, traveling. It was almost 3 hours away from where we live.
Now I was 16 weeks. This appointment was incredibly scary with a ton of language I didn’t understand. We did our best to absorb as much as possible.
There were findings of partial placenta previa with possibility of circumvillate placenta, vasa previa, intermittent absent end diastolic flow, possible amniotic bands, marginal cord insertion, double barrel placental cord insertion, and honestly, I’m sure I forgot a thing or two.
Ultimately, the whole reason we were there, to find out about the laser surgery, we were not eligible for because the cords were approximately 1cm away from each other, making the surgery incredibly risky for both babies. So, other than hearing a bunch of scary stuff I didn’t understand, the only thing that really changed is we now had more reasons to believe that things were not going to be ok.
The doctors in this facility were very kind. They never pressured us on our options but made it very clear we were diving head first into the shallow end. They sat down with us and tried to explain things in details, but it was overwhelming, and I was tired of hearing about how imperfect my perfect babies were. There’s no way to sugar coat telling someone their baby is going to die!
Now we went back home to our local MFM that was going to remind us of our ‘options.’ And of course, he did. By now I think he was realizing he wasn’t going to change my mind, so he very reluctantly set me a goal of 28 weeks. I was being seen biweekly at this point, and then he stopped calling me back going over my scans. My first appointment I assumed he was busy or not there. Then the next time I questioned why he wasn’t seeing me. I was told, ‘he hasn’t requested to see you,’ must mean everything is ok. Hmm. He was quick to tell me how badly I needed an abortion, but has nothing to say when things are going good? Not even for peace of mind. Nothing. Ok.
Fast forward to 27 weeks 3 days weeks. Now I’m being seen 1-2 times per week as well as the non-stress tests (NST) which some weeks meant 3 separate trips, but you never heard me complaining. I couldn’t often feel Baby B’s movements due to his small size and placement, so my only solid reassurance was that doppler on my belly! Well this is when we had a non-reactive NST. They gave me a steroid shot. They allowed me to go home and gather my things but directed me to come back immediately. I would be admitted, get another shot the next day and be ready to deliver the following day. ‘What?!’
A week’s hospital stay. A lot of tests. Doctors. Words. Plans. Again, I don’t understand any of it. Discharged, still pregnant. 28 weeks now.
This is also when I learned the office had multiple doctors and I switched to someone else. This doctor was a breath of fresh air! He often used the word ‘delivery’ as a goal and plan. This was all new to me. Because even with the ‘goal’ of 28 weeks, Baby B would be so tiny.
Week by week by week. 33 weeks and 5 days.
My first appointment that morning was with my OB. We agreed to make a delivery plan at my next appointment the following week. Fair enough, I thought. By the time we make the plan and schedule, Ill be at least 35 weeks and that’s SEVEN weeks longer than the crap goal set by the specialist.
Next I walk down the hall for my growth scan, which is a longer detailed ultrasound that includes specific measurements. I was getting these every 3 weeks. Baby B had not grown since his last growth scan. This was the moment. My heart sank. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think. I said, ‘Ok, schedule my surgery please.’ Monday was a holiday. So we scheduled for Tuesday. What this meant was I had to go home and sit around and again WAIT because it was only Friday. I had 3 days to gather myself, my feelings, my thoughts and get ready to do this.
34 weeks and 2 days. Arrived at the hospital and waited. Finally, it was my turn.
The operating room was so cold. So sterile. So bright. So full of people. There was a room to the side with TWO beds, and double the staff. This was really happening!
Shortly after 4 p.m., here came baby A, HUGE! He was brought to my chest for a brief moment before being taken to the nurses. And then Baby B, who I never heard but they all promised he cried. I didn’t get to see him right away. Actually my ‘first look’ of him was the picture they took on my phone. Which I was very thankful for because I wasn’t able to get into a wheelchair for a while. That wait was pure torture. But finally. Sometime after 10 p.m. I finally laid eyes on that baby that ‘had no chance.’ He never needed to be intubated. He only needed nasal oxygen. And a feeding tube. And he was so tiny. The smallest person I had ever met in my whole entire life. And the strongest willed, greatest fighter I’ve ever known. Still true to this day.
I delivered two of the most beautiful, perfect babies I’ve ever laid my eyes on. Baby A tipped the scales at 4lbs 15oz and Baby B – the baby who ‘will never ever make it’… the baby in utero with 0% chance of survival – defeated all odds and proved a strength I wouldn’t believe if I didn’t see with my own eyes, blessed this world at 2lbs 9oz, and not only never needed a ventilator, but ONLY needed oxygen and a feeding tube.
Baby A spent 16 days in the NICU, and Baby B spent 29. He took a lot longer to learn to eat and gain weight. He needed his incubator and nasal oxygen longer, but ultimately had no major setbacks. And after only 29 days, he too came home to start life with his family.
And here we are. Almost 2.5 years later. To think of how different my life could have been had I listened to any single one of those doctors.
I still tell them both, daily, how thankful I am that I felt their strength and used their voice. Every mess, every spill, all the stress… reminds me of just HOW blessed I really am! I cannot imagine a world in which my life is quiet and toddler free!
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jami Marie of Ohio. Do you have a similar experience? We’d love to hear your journey. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.
Do you know someone who could benefit from this story? Please SHARE on Facebook to let them know a community of support is available.