Two Little Girls

On December 26th my husband and I found out that we were pregnant. We had been trying for almost 5 years to conceive and had spent a year going through cycle monitor through a fertility clinic. The cycle monitoring included daily bloodwork and lots of ultrasounds to watch the development of my eggs for the clinic to let us know when is our most optimal time to conceive.

Because we conceived while being patients at a fertility I was scheduled for an ultrasound at 6 weeks where the tech was able to identify two distinct heart beats. I messaged my husband right away to let him know the amazing news. Then I sat down with the doctor who tried to explain to me that twins can come in many forms and I just so happened to be pregnant with MoMo twins. It sounded cute until I actually found out what it means. MoMo twins stand for monochorionic and monoamniotic, which very simply means identical twins growing in one placenta and one yolk sac which takes twin pregnancy risks and takes it to the next level due to cord compression and strangulation. Thanks to the internet and too much and too little information being available I spent about a day crying about the fact that there was no way I could protect them from themselves essentially. So with knowing the increased possibility of miscarriage I came to terms with the fact that while I was pregnant I would give them the best I could... which when I wasn't passed out on the couch from exhaustion or with my head in a bucket involved a lot of singing to Queen.

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I went back to get another ultrasound at 11 weeks where it was identified that one of the fetuses had an above average Nuchal Translucency. This added a new layer to the high risk which took me out of the hands of my regular OB and placed me in the hands of the doctors at the Special Pregnancy Clinic at Mount Sinai. If you don't know already an above average Nuchal translucency can be an indicator of a genetic abnormality in a fetus. Funny thing was is that they only saw signs of this in one and not the other. By this point we had only told a few people, mostly those who caught on to the fact that I had the face of a pregnant woman. Adding another risk into the mix made me nervous of telling many other people which I think is a natural response. By week 13 of the pregnancy I had my first ultrasound with the special pregnancy clinic. This was the first ultrasound that my husband had been to, and the one where the little beasties inside of me misbehaved the most basically sitting strait up so you could only see the tops of their heads and flailing limbs. They found the same thing the fertility clinic had seen, an above average nuchal translucency. This time the doctor sat us down and went through the list of everything that could be done from testing to  termination. Again I cried for about a day and then decided it was time to tell family.

We went back a week later to have another Ultrasound and let the doctors know our choice. We wanted to know what was going on with the now embryo's but did not want to terminate. We just wanted to plan for the future. We did blood work first that came back inconclusive but had also scheduled an amniocentesis for week 16. We knew the risk doing the amniocentesis but since the twins were in the same sack we would only have to do it once.

For 3 days after the amniocentesis I sat in the realm of possibility, the one at the top of the list is that they had down's syndrome. Then we got a call back from the doctor's office with the results and there were no genetic abnormalities regarding extra chromosomes but they sample would be sent for a 3 week culture grow.  There was hope as we called out family to let them know that the first layer of the test came back clean. Around this point is when I started needing to interview for my replacement at work, and my husband and I were getting ready to move into a bigger place so there would be enough room for our instant family and I couldn't wait for the anatomy scan on April 12th

On April 12th I knew it the moment they called for a second tech to come into the room that something was wrong, and when the third tech came in it was the final confirmation. "I am sorry but we can't find any heart beats." I called my husband and told him and then made my way to the special pregnancy clinic to review the results and next steps. I sat in a waiting room filled with pregnant looking at them with envy trying not to cry. Once my name was called I couldn't hold back anymore, I managed to mumble to the nurse that had called my name that  there were no heart beats and was whisked away into another ultrasound room to wait for the doctor and husband.

We knew from the beginning that this was a possibility. But I was on the verge of 20 weeks and we thought we were out of the danger zone until I hit my third trimester. The doctor humored me and did one more scan and there was no sign of life. From there we moved on to options. No matter what they had to come out but I could choose between having them surgically removed which would involve an invasive surgery where they would dismember the fetuses and remove them vaginally  or to have my body be tricked into going into labour and delivering naturally. We went for option B.

From there it only took 3o minutes for a privet room to be secured in the Antenatal Unit at Mount Sinai. We were assigned a day and night nurse as the process would take about 24 hours for the medication to trick my body into labour. These woman were kind and amazing, I could never say enough kind words for what they did for my husband and myself.  It was explained that the medication would be inserted vaginally and I could expect to have 6 doses. We were also given a list of things that could happen once they were delivered but with no pressure on making any decisions until we were ready. We sat there wondering if we should name them. Knowing the pregnancy was so high risk I had made a point of not wanting to purchase anything or having names really picked out until they were born. It was a weird way of making sure that incase this moment that we were living through did actually happen I wouldn't have to go home to a house filled with items for little ones who would never get to come home with us.

By 9:30pm on April 12th they were administering my first dose and was told to expect some cramping. By the second dose I was allowed to use the self administered pain medication and went through a very restless night of cramping and two more doses being administered. We saw the doctor twice, once in the morning and once in the early afternoon to be told that my cervix hadn't dilated enough. by 3pm on April 13th I woke up from a nap feeling like the pain killers weren't working anymore and my back really hurt. From there it didn't take long for me to realize that something didn't feel normal and pulled the emergency cord out of the wall. There was no pain, both babies and the placenta were delivered in under ten minutes. The nurses were like bee's buzzing around me each know their next steps as my body just went through the natural motion of giving birth. Because everything happened much more quickly than expected all I knew at the point of delivery  was that I wanted their hands and feet stamped but I didn't know if I could look at them. The Nurses took them away to get cleaned up incase we did want to see them.

They were  little girls, and we named them Archibell and Ferdinand. The nurse came back into the room with a memory packet and a teddy bear that had been donated by a family that had lost their own little one. In the packet are  two cards for each of our daughters with their names and weight written down along with loving sentiments from the nurses,  each girl had their feet stamped on a pink card along with infant bracelets with their names that the nurses had made and a few photo's.

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In that moment looking at the pictures I have to see them, how stupid was I that I thought that I could carry them for 19 weeks, deliver them and then never meet them face to face. They were both so tiny bundled together in pink blanket that had been hand made with love by a complete stranger that knew they would need something to keep them warm. I cradled them in my hands and felt at ease and then handed them to my husband and watched his heart break. He had spent all night supporting me and now it was my turn to support him. I kissed our little ones and we ask to have a naming ceremony and a blessing.

Once the blessing is complete we are left with them for the final time. Words do not need to spoken aloud anymore as we each tell our little girls how much they are loved and always will be.