Feb 3, 2011 my boyfriend and I were beyond shocked to find out we were pregnant. It was unplanned and although we were madly in love, we had only been together for 4 months. After the initial shock passed, we were really excited. We both wanted a family together and had and still have a great relationship, the timing just wasn’t perfect.
As we sorted out insurance, I finally had my first ultrasound on April 3, 2011. I was 13 weeks. We got the surprise of our lives when we were told we were having identical twin boys. I almost felt bad for the ultrasound tech because of how I reacted. I was in utter disbelief. It was hard to wrap my mind around, as now we were going to be the parents of two babies. We were told of the risks and that we would be monitored frequently to check for TTTS. I went twice a month for ultrasounds, and had weekly or biweekly doctor appointments, to check my progress.
By Memorial weekend I was huge already. My fundal measurement was 34 weeks and I was only 21 weeks along. I had been complaining of pain in my upper abdomen and my OB/GYN referred me for gallbladder and kidney ultrasounds, both of which came back clear. One morning, with the pain being unbearable I went to the ER. Because of my gestation I was sent to L&D immediately. I was having contractions 2 minutes apart, which they said was due to me measuring so far along my body had tricked itself into starting labor early. I was given whatever shot they give to help stop contractions.
Through an ultrasound, they discovered that the twins had stage3/stage4 TTTS. We were transferred to UCSD hospital where one of the leading doctors in charge of laser surgery worked, lucky for us. We were told of our options; amnioreduction, fetoscopic laser surgery, termination or nothing. I don’t remember being given an option for selective reduction. The doctor recommended termination or laser. We were given bleak odds for laser. We were told they only had a 10-20% of being born ok and they likely would have brain damage and heart failure, if they survived at all. The doctor pointed out that it’s not about beating the odds, but that these odds had to be beaten twice. I think the kicker was when my boyfriend asked him what he would recommend if his daughter was in this situation. He replied that he would suggest termination, given that we were both young, and had no prior difficulties conceiving. He pointed out the babies needs for future surgeries and the likelihood of being born with severe brain damage.
It was hard to think about how I was going to care and support a child, which then became two and the thought of struggling to support children with special needs was unbearable. Whatever my mindset, although it was such a whirlwind, I chose to terminate, in what I perceived to be a self-less act. I just didn’t want them to suffer because of my selfishness.
I went in on June 1, 2011 and was given whatever they give to help make labor progress. They were born at 3:29am and 3:36am on June 2, 2011. Jayden (recipient) was born sleeping, and Jackson(donor) lived for 45 minutes.
I chose to not see them or hold them and that decision haunts me every day. I was warned that they may be bruised and swollen and because of that, I was scared. I don’t feel like I honored them or was able to take responsibility for my decision. I know a nurse holds each baby until they stop breathing so that offered me some relief.
I didn’t have them cremated or buried another decision I regret. I recently picked up their memory boxes from the hospital, which included photos, bracelets, and the outfits and blankets they wore. They were bruised and they were tiny, but they were perfect in every way. I still search the internet every night, the statistics and outcomes of TTTS and I still struggle with whether I made the right choice. I regret the decision I did make, and then other days believe it was the right decision for us.
It has taken me a year and a half to accept the decision we made. Why didn’t I choose to do laser? I did not feel educated enough. Given those choices now I would of chosen laser. I wish I had been more educated about TTTS, the warning signs and the treatments. I would have chosen a different OB, one who specializes in twins, and not one that gave little attention to me. I showed all the warning signs, and she didn’t recognize them until I was already stage 3. I recently got my medical records, and I had stage2 TTTS, just 2 weeks before and was never told about it. Then it could have been reversed.
I told only a few people of our decision for fear of being judged because you never know what you will do until you are in a situation like that. I told everyone else that we simply miscarried and that I went into early labor. I got and still get pity for it. I became pregnant again this year and it is hard for people to get excited for me because they are scared I will go into preterm labor again and lose this little one. We are so excited to be having a son. Maybe I will heal more after he is born. We will be delivering in the same hospital and I just can’t wait to leave with a happy story and my arms holding my newborn son. Maybe he will look like his brothers looked?
I was chosen to be the mother of twins, and it was taken away from me just as quickly as it had been given to me. Only now, and for the rest of my life, I will be haunted by the questions of what if and why. I still find it hard to not get a tinge when I see twins. I feel angry and guilty. That should be me.