For the month of June, I decided to write a series of posts about my twins' first month of life to help raise awareness about prematurity and TTTS (twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome).
Seven years ago today... I was wheeled from my hospital room to the perinatal specialist for another sonogram, and got back just in time for dinner. Only I was so lethargic I literally sat there staring at the plate for an hour, willing my hand to move to pick up the fork and eat a bite. And what do ya know, turns out it was actually the first good meal I'd had in the hospital, so I was looking forward to eating the rest. No such luck... nurse came in after just that one bite and said no more food for me, they're delivering my babies tonight. My dr had wanted to try to wait a couple more days, but my bp had spiked again (~165/110) and apparently the dr that did the sonogram saw something that concerned him.
It was about 6pm. From that point on it was controlled chaos as they started all the preparations to get me ready for a c-sec. They gave me a massive dose of mag sulfate to prevent seizures (from pre-eclampsia possibly going into full eclampsia), and I called dh and told him to get to the hospital NOW. Thankfully he got there before they did the epidural. I don't remember all the details, they said the c-sec would be 10pm that night, I think to give the drugs time to work before we delivered.
At about 10pm we went to the OR, dh came in later wearing his hospital gear. He started out holding my hand, but when it was time to actually deliver he asked me if he could stand up and watch (he's a discovery-channel kind of guy, lol). I didn't mind. I was so drugged he could have asked me just about anything and I'd have said sure, as long as he was still next to me where I could see him. :)
Cuddlebug was delivered first, at 10:31pm. I remember the dr holding him up over the shield so I could see, then they checked him, cleaned him and brought him over to me. It took a couple more minutes to deliver Bearhug, he was hiding in my rib cage and they had to pull him out by the heel of his foot until they could reach to lift him out. Bearhug was born at 10:33pm. They held him up very briefly. A nurse brought Cuddlebug over, all clean and wrapped up and held him by my face so I could give him a kiss and talk to him. He was so tiny precious! Then she took him to the NICU. Another nurse brought Bearhug over for a quick 1-second hello and then whisked him off to the NICU in a rush. No time for a kiss, barely time for an "I love you" I noticed he was really red, I can't remember if I asked about it out loud or just wondered about it in my mind.
The rest of the night is pretty much a blur, I think mostly b/c of the drugs they had me on. I woke up briefly back in my room and heard dh on the phone calling family. Woke up a little later in the night when someone came to ask permission to give BH a blood transfusion. They explained that he and CB had TTTS, twin to twin transfusion syndrome, and that BH's heart was struggling to pump. He had too much blood, and his blood was thick like syrup, so they needed to take some out and replace it with saline (a partial transfusion). They ended up having to do two partial transfusions.
And so, their early delivery (6 1/2 weeks early) turned out to be a blessing in disguise. We were told they likely would not have survived much longer had they not been delivered when they were.
To be continued...
Here are some pictures of the boys, taken by the NICU nurses for me. Cuddlebug (4 lbs, 1 oz., 15 3/4 inches) is at top. Bearhug (5 lbs, 8 oz., 18 inches) is below.
More about TTTS:
TTTS is a disease of the placenta that affects identical twin pregnancies with a shared placenta. The placenta distributes blood and nutrients unevenly between the babies, and/or actually pumps blood out of one and into the other. The donor twin is the baby who is getting less blood/nutrients, they have decreased blood volume which can lead to dehydration, slowed growth, anemia, and insufficient amniotic fluid. The recipient twin becomes overloaded with blood (that's why BH was so red)which creates a risk of heart failure, also leads to swelling and too much amniotic fluid. If not treated, TTTS is fatal in 80-90% of cases. The good news is, there are better treatment options available now, which significantly increases the survival rates. Awareness is essential in order to facilitate detection so that treatment options can be explored.