Friday, October 8, 2010
What was two is now one.
As of early this morning, we have lost one of the babies growing in Stephanie. The last week an a half has been a roller coaster of emotions and physical edurance. A lot has happened and so I'm going to lay it out as it happened. Starting with the friday that we found out we were having twin girls, this was the appointment we were so built up for and were so excited to find out our babies gender! The technician found one definate girl and one most likely girl ( becuase her legs were closed)!! We were pumped and I was pretty excited about living in the middle of an estrogen ocean ;) What the technician also found was that she couldn't detirmine if there was a membrane seperating the fetuses. She must have had some other concerns that she didn't tell us becuase she set us up with an appointment with a specialist in parinatology for the following wednesday. That night we had a "gender party" and revealed the news that we were having girls by dyeing cupcakes pink ( to represent girls) and covering them in frosting so that those in attendence would discover the gender when they took a bite out of their cupcake! Also those who were there wore the colors, i.e. blue or pink, to show their vote for what that they thought our babies would be. We had people in attendence and people on conference calls! Everyone was so excited when they found pink inside their cupcakes!! Ok so we move on to wednesday. We left our jobs early and went to see this specialist, and waited for an hour after our appointment to see him. When we did see him and he did his ultrasound of Steph he told us some sombering news. Our babies had a condition called twin to twin transfusion syndrome (ttts). He took us to a different room and explained more clearly what we were facing. For us this TTTS was a condition where the splitting of the fertilized egg into twins took place about three days after fertilization and the twins were sharing blood vessels through, and in addition to sharing one placenta. It also means that one baby (called the donor) is dehydrated and has little or no amniotic fluid and the other baby (called the recipient) has far to much amniotic fluid. This causes the donor to be "shrink wrapped" by its membrane against the uterus wall by the pressure of the recipients amniotic fluid, preventing the donor from recieving the nutrients it needs. Only about 10%-15% of identical twins have this condition, making it very rare. The doctor told us that this was very serious and was endangering the lives of our babies! He also told us that we needed to go striaght from him to St Marks hospital in Salt Lake to get further evaluation from one of his partners. We went home to change, say a prayer and have our neighbor Michael help me give Stephanie a blessing and then we were off to the hospital. On our way we called our family and friends amidts our tears and weighty concern. We got to St Marks at about seven and met with Doctor Belfort who is one of about twenty doctors in the country who deal with this condition. Right away we were in way over our heads and terrified to boot! As soon as we walked in they were changing Steph into a gown plugging her into an IV and the doctor was doing his examination. He was able to find that our babies were in the later end of stage 1, almost into stage 2 of the 5 stages of TTTS. He also found that steph was having contractions every 1 to 2 mins and was dilated 3 cm!!! In order to prevent Steph from going in to pre-term labor the only thing to be done was a cervical cerclage, basically stitching her cervix closed, and taking medicine to stop the contractions. Our Doctor gave us two options to choose from that might fix the TTTS, and we had to choose what to do almost instantly. One was called Serial Amnioreduction, where they take out the excess fluid in the recipient baby, and the other called Laser Therapy, where they use a laser to sever the connecting blood vessels. We chose to have the laser surgery becuase it gave our babies the best chance for surviving. Without doing anything both babies would not make it, but with the laser surgery, it gave our babies a fighting chance. The Doctor laid it out for us saying that on one end of the spectrum steph and our babies could die from complications in the surgery and on the other end all three could be fine, but that most likely it would be that steph would be fine and that we would lose one of our babies. There was a 90% chance of keep one baby alive and a 60% chance of saving both. His logic came from the fact that our babies needed to be seperated from each other and this would leave one baby with a smaller portion of the placenta. Steph went into surgery only 4 hours after leaving the specialist. Waiting for steph was probably the most agonizing part of this! We had been together through all of this up to that point and being seperated was really lonely and scary for both of us. She did make out successfully and were able to put her to bed by about 2 in the morning. That was a long day. The next morning everything seemed to be fine and the ultrasound found two babies improving and with strong hearts. We spent that day lounging and watching tv. We had lots of visitors and are so grateful for everyone that came!! Well at the end of the day our Doctor told us that he wanted us to stay for observation one more night just in case. So this morning we got up and checked out and went for a check up on the babies. The Nurse doing this ultrasound found our first baby with strong heart and an improvement in its amniotic fluid. But when she went to check our second baby she could not find a heart beat. That baby did not make it. This was the hardest part of the day. The nurse left to get our doctor and we cried for our lost baby. When our doctor showed up, he was very caring and was able to explain what happened. When he cut the babies connection it had left each baby with a portion of the placenta, and unfortunately it left this baby with a portion to small to sustain her. We have been in a daze from all of this. In a week and a half we had learned we were going to have twins, that our twins' lives were in danger, to losing one of them. We are devastated, but at the same time we have so much to be grateful for!!! First and foremost we are grateful that we have blessed with one survivor and that Steph is healthy and rapidly recovering!!! We are also so grateful for our doctor, who by a design not of our own, was flying into Salt Lake from Idaho just as we were meeting with the specialist. He had the knowledge and skills to save the baby we have!! We are so grateful to live less than an hour from one of the very very few hospitals that perform the Laser Therapy, and to have moved our into our new home literally days before this tragedy. We are gratefull for the love, support and company of our family and friends who have bolstered our moods and uplifted our spirits. We are gratefull for the strength that we have recieved from knowing the plan of salvation and that we will meet her one day!!! I know it sounds like the serious part is over, but becuase Steph is still having contractions a few times an hour and because she still has a cervical cerclage, our baby is still at risk. Please include us in your prayers! This sunday we intend to fast for our baby and if you want to please feel free to join us!