I had my first appointment last Thursday, September 11. I wondered a little if that was a bad omen, but honestly, I was just excited to get there and see how things were going. I was being very cautious before the appointment, fully aware of all the things that can go wrong. Little did I know what I was in for!
When we were called back at the doctor's office, we went immediately to the ultrasound room. She got right to the point and got started with the good stuff! It didn't take long to pick out a little bean on the screen, and I laughed and said, "Oh, there it is!" The nurse smiled and said "yes, and here's the other one." Wow!! I'm pretty sure I started laughing and crying at the same time. Jeremy asked if she was "freaking kidding," and that was pretty much all he could say for a little while. She showed us both heartbeats, a solid 118 beats per minute. What an amazing relief that was! I was not completely shocked at the fact that it was twins, as we both have several sets on both sides of our families. The nurse could immediately tell they were identical, though, (more on that in a minute) which is not hereditary. She played around on the screen, showing us everything she could, until the doctor came in. She looked at the screen and said "oh my!" She asked the u/s tech if she saw any trace of a membrane, and they both quickly agreed they did not. I didn't think much about that, as I was still absorbing the idea of identical twins! The doctor noticed a small cyst on my ovary, which she was not very concerned about, and is thinking it is fluid-filled and will go away on its own. Before she left, the doctor said she would get a room ready for us, that we had some things to discuss.
We finished up the ultrasound, getting a couple of pictures and a great 4-d one showing both babies. Then we went to the room to talk with Dr. Callison. I remember the conversation, and I remember absorbing what she was telling us, even if it didn't make a whole lot of sense at the time. I remember thinking things must not be too good when she handed me a box of kleenex, though I managed to maintain composure. To make a very long story short, it appears our babies are monochorionic monoamniotic twins...called "momo twins" for short. (I tried to link to a simple wikipedia definition of the diagnosis, but it's not listed!) Basically, our twins are sharing an amniotic sac, as well as a placenta. It is a result of the egg splitting later than normal after fertilization, and it occurs in about 1% of twin pregnancies (naturally, I would be in the 1%...always have to be different!). I am suddenly an extremely high-risk pregnancy, with the main danger being that, as the babies grow and begin to move, their umbilical cords will wrap around each other and can become knotted. It is very scary, and frustrating to know there's nothing we can do to prevent it from happening. The given mortality rate for these pregnancies is usually quoted at 50%, though I have seen several sites claiming the chances have increased in recent years. My doctor initially said "better than 50%," so I refuse to focus on the negatives. As far as a plan of action goes, I will soon go see a specialist at UAB for a full scan and analysis. I will have ultrasounds every two weeks or so for now, some here and some in B'ham. If I make it to 24 weeks, which is kind of the "line in the sand," as Dr. Callison said (the point at which the babies really have a fighting chance of survival outside the womb, though at 24 weeks there would still likely be major disabilities), I will be admitted to the hospital to begin 24-hour monitoring of the babies. At 28 weeks, the survival rate jumps dramatically, and the longer they can stay in after that, the better off they are. Initial opinion is that the babies will be delivered at 32 weeks, if we make it that far...by c-section, no questions asked on that point! Basically, after I go in the hospital, I can have a c-section at any time if the cords become compressed and the babies go into danger. I should mention that I am around 7 weeks at this point (we never did get around to the more "normal" side of the doctor's visit, so I'm not sure exactly where they dated the babies), which is early, but suddenly it's so much further along than I would normally consider it. When you're talking about a pregnancy that will last a maximum of 32 weeks, 7 weeks is almost a quarter of the way there!
Whew...that was a lot to explain in just a few paragraphs, and it's been even more to comprehend over the past four days. But we are doing our best. I've been researching all I can find on momo twins, which is unfortunately not all that much. I have found a support website, with a message board, where I even stumbled across a girl from Huntsville who is 13 weeks into her momo pregnancy. It's great to have someone nearby that I can talk to already, though we both wish we didn't have a reason to connect, I'm sure. I have managed to find several blogs of families who've had success with their momo twins, which is encouragement that I'm clinging to right now. And, of course, I cling to the knowledge that this is all completely and entirely in the hands of our Heavenly Father. From the time I found out I was pregnant, I have prayed the simple prayer that I've had so much difficulty with in the past, "Not my will, but Yours be done." So here we are. I have never been in less control of my life than I am at this moment. There is absolutely nothing we can do at this point to ensure our babies' safety. Nothing, that is, except relying on the faith that our God is in control. I cannot help but think of Angie's words when she found out the baby she was carrying had complications that were terminal... “I think my Jesus is the same as He was before I walked in here.” That's really what it comes down to, isn't it? Faith that God can heal, but ultimately that He will do whatever it takes to fulfill his ultimate plan. And we are called to carry out that plan, whatever it may be.
So that's what I ask for tonight, prayers that God may heal our children as He sees fit, whatever that means. I am hoping and praying that our miracle babies will be here sometime in March (preferably later rather than sooner). There is a chance of misdiagnosis this early in the pregnancy, meaning we could go back and find there is actually a membrane there (and thus, babies in two separate sacs), which we are praying might happen! Unfortunately, though, the doctor seemed pretty sure and there was no trace of a membrane on the 4-D ultrasound. For the moment, we are as prepared as we can be for this ride, however long it lasts. We appreciate the thoughts and support, and above all, the prayers.