To My Beautiful Boys

To my Beautiful boys,

Dad and I had always said that once I hit my 29th birthday we could start trying for a baby.  Luckily for us, we were able to get pregnant easily and a few weeks after my birthday we found out we were expecting.  We were shocked but excited.  Sadly this pregnancy didn’t work out and at 10 weeks in, we lost our baby.  We decided to take three months off and then start trying again.

Shockingly we got pregnant again straight away. I noticed that I needed to go to the toilet during the middle of the night.  Then I noticed I needed to go more during the day.  So I took a pregnancy test and it was negative.  I waited a few more days and surprise surprise it was positive.  At the time I didn’t realize that I took the test very early so I should be suspicious.  Over the next few weeks I felt very bloated and hungry.  I thought that these were just typical pregnancy symptom.  But they weren’t.

Dad and I decided to go for a dating scan and we were hoping to find out that this pregnancy was healthy.  The ultra sound tech spent a short time scanning my tummy.  Then she said “Now we always have to check for more than one baby and there is baby A and there is baby B”.  Your dad and I were lost for words.  We had never thought that we would have twins! We were told that you both had strong heartbeats and look right on track.  I got a little teary and then I was quite excited.  Your dad was quite calm really.  When we got into the car, your dad said, “Well, over 18 years it will cost the same as if we had two children spread out”.

We found out after our 12 weeks scan that you both were mo-di twins.  This meant that we would be monitored closely by the hospital.  Mo-di twin pregnancies can be very complicated so we would need fortnightly scans from week 16.  We decided to tell people about you at 12 weeks.  Everyone was shocked.  It was fun telling people.  I did a lot of reading about complicated mo-di pregnancies as I had a feeling that this pregnancy might get complicated.

About week 13 I started to feel terrible.  My body was sore all the time and I was slower than normal.  Small physical tasks exhausted me and my tummy was so uncomfortable.   I couldn’t sleep well as I was so uncomfortable.  I felt very bloated like my tummy was huge and going to explode.   I just thought that these were typical twin pregnancy symptoms.

At our 16 weeks appointment at Lower Hutt hospital we had an ultrasound and we were told that you both had Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS) and you were in Stage 2.  We were also told you were boys – I was so happy! I really wanted boys and I felt like you were boys! Unfortunately the TTTS diagnoses put a dampener on our happy news.  We were told that there was nothing that could be done until 18 weeks.  I knew that by 18 weeks if nothing was done, you would have died.  We were sent home and I was told to rest and take it easy.  Dad and I were devastated.  We knew that the outcomes were not in our favour.  I cried so much.  My heart hurt more than it has ever done.  It felt like someone had ripped my heart out of my chest.  All I could do was cry.

A few days later we went back to hospital as I was so uncomfortable and I couldn’t sleep.  I just felt terrible.  We managed to be seen again and they gave me some pain relief and did some blood tests.  The next day we were told that my blood results showed that I had a serious and rare liver condition – Cholestatis of Pregnancy and it was rare to get it at 16wks.  This was not good.  An appointment was made for me at Wellington hospital to see specialists there.

We had an ultrasound and the specialists said that we had progressed to stage 3 and that I would need to be operated on urgently.  They contacted Auckland hospital but the surgeon there was out of the country at a conference.  So we were told that we would have to fly to Brisbane, Australia the next day.

Well dad and I were shocked! We didn’t even have current passports so we had to get that all sorted so that we could go to Australia the next day.  We were frantic trying to get passport photos and to get our friends to fill in the needed paper work.  We had to spend a couple of hours that night waiting at the department of immigration for our passports.  There was an issue with my passport but they said that we could pick it up the next day.  It is fair to say that your mum was very stressed!

The flight over to Australia was stressful for your dear old mother but your Dad was awesome as always trying to keep me relaxed.  Once we got the hospital in Brisbane I started to relax.  Mater Hospital in Brisbane was amazing.  They knew that we would be super stressed and made us feel relaxed.  They were just so friendly and calm.  They said that they deal with TTTS frequently.  It was just a regular occurrence for them – which made us feel comfortable with the fact that they knew what they were doing.

The first night the nurses gave me some sleeping pills to have a ‘decent’ sleep but I was just so stressed they didn’t really help.  The next day we met with the specialists and they did another scan to see how advanced the TTTS was.  I was pleased to hear that it hadn’t progressed past stage three.  We were explained our options for treatment but we knew that our only option was Fetal Laser Ablation.  So we signed some forms and we were told that the next day we would have surgery.   I was quite nervous about it but it was our only option.  If we chose not to do anything you would both certainly die.  I just couldn’t have that – I loved you too much already to have that happen.  I am your Mum and it’s my job to protect you as much as I can.

The next day was Thursday – the day of the laser surgery.  It was quite hard for me because I had to fast straight after breakfast.  This is not easy for me!  I love to eat and I do not like to be hungry and growing two babies is hungry work! I had to stop eating by 9am and my surgery was at 4pm.  So I waited and waited – then my surgery got delayed till 6pm and then in the end I didn’t end up having surgery until 7.30pm.  So by this time, I was more concerned about being hungry more than the surgery!

It was so hard saying goodbye to your dad before the surgery – I didn’t know how the surgery would go and I guess it was the first time during this whole process that your dad wouldn’t be with me to go through the hard part.   I cried and cried saying goodbye and as always your dad was awesome comforting me and reassuring me that everything would be ok.  But we didn’t know if you would survive the surgery – we just prayed that you would make it through.

As I waited to go into the operating room I met with the head of MFM.  He was going to do our operation and so he wanted to make sure that I knew what was going to happen and he wanted to know more about my experience so far.  He was such a nice doctor; I felt I was in such great hands.  He reassured me that he had done many laser treatments and my operation should be relatively straightforward.

As I entered the operating room I was in awe.  It was like a spaceship.  There were computers, screens, massive silver lights and about 12 people all dressed in matching scrubs.  Everyone was so nice and relaxed so I became more comfortable about what was happening.  I lay down on the table and I was hooked up to machines, IV lines put in and was explained what was going to happen.  They started to sedate me and I felt so relaxed.  I could hear everything that was happening and being said.  I could feel (without pain) when they inserted the tube with the camera and laser.  I could hear when they zapped the blood vessels that needed to go.  At the end of the operation they drained over a litre of fluid.  After about an hour the operation was finished.  I was covered in these hot towels – it was so nice and toasty.

After the operation I was kept in the recovery room with a midwife.  Your dad came and sat with me too.  It was so great to see him, as it was hard to go through the last hour or so without him.  The midwife keep her hands on my tummy to try and feel any movement that might signal that my waters had broken or I was contracting.  Thankfully I had neither of these so after about an hour I was able to go back to my room.

That night the midwives on the ward checked me very regularly.  They checked my temperature, blood pressure and pulse.  I was fine all night and very relaxed thanks to still being on pain relief drugs.

The next day we were due to have a scan to check on you boys.  We didn’t know weather you had made it through the operation or the night.  I was very nervous all day – I just needed to know if you boys were ok.  The first 24 hours was the most critical, if you are able to make it through until then, it is a great sign.   At around 4pm we finally had a scan.  I cried when I heard that both your little hearts were beating away! The fluid had improved and things were looking hopeful!

The next couple of days we relaxed at the hospital until we were transferred to a motel that is very close to the hospital.  Dad and I were sad to say good-bye to the hospital, as we knew that we would miss having our meals delivered to us!

Before we were allowed to go home, we had to have one more final scan to make sure that you boys were still doing well.  At this scan the doctor confirmed that you were finally both looking great.  This scan was the first time we saw you both moving like crazy.  It was amazing.  We were given the all clear to go home and I was so happy because I just wanted to be at home and sleep in my own bed! The next day we headed home back to Wellington.

Over the next few weeks I spent time just resting and taking things very easy.  I was lucky because I had loads of visitors come and see me.  I tried to keep my mind off you, as I think I was in denial that I would have two survivors.   I didn’t buy anything for you and when people would give me presents for you I couldn’t bring myself to get excited about them.  Your Dad wanted to get organize but I just couldn’t.   I didn’t want to buy a double buggy and I certainly didn’t want to buy two cots.   What if the worst happened and I had all this stuff – it would crush me.

Every two weeks we would go to Wellington hospital to see our specialist team and see how you boys were progressing.  Every two weeks I would get extremely nervous about what the specialist team might tell us.   We never knew what was happening inside me, anything could happen.  Much of my pregnancy I tried to relax but I often felt extremely anxious and I tried to hide this from your dad.  If I didn’t feel you moving much I would get very fearful.   I needed to get to at least 24 weeks.  At 24 weeks if you came early the doctors would deem you viable and help you.  Each day was progress and I was so happy when I got to 24 weeks.

I was very excited about my baby shower, which was going to be held on a Sunday when I would be 25weeks and 6 days pregnant.  I remember that day so clearly.   Your dad had decided to go to church but I decided that I would save my energy for the shower.  At 10.45am I decided to get up and have a shower and when I did this a felt a gush of water go down my legs.  My heart started to race.  I tried ringing your dad but he had his phone on silent.  Finally I got hold of him and told him I thought my waters had broken.  Dad came home straight away and we went to hospital.

When we got to Wellington hospital I knew I was in the right place but I didn’t want to have you guys yet and I got very emotional.  You needed to cook more.  The midwives started to monitor me and they found your heart rates and I was so happy to hear them.  Then I started to feel very strange and my heart started to become very erratic.

My heart was racing then it suddenly dropped and I blacked out. When I came too, the room was full of people hooking me up to heart monitors, stabbing lines into my arms, taking blood samples and giving me oxygen telling me to breathe .  They were concerned about how my heart rate was very inconsistent so they monitored me hourly which makes for a really rubbish sleep. Thankfully I became ‘stable’ but not ideal. And after a rubbish sleep I feel stable, but not ideal.

My MFM team wasn’t sure what went on with my waters. I was leaking but thankfully I’m didn’t go into labour and my cervix was closed at this point so that was good news. My MFM team said that I would now need to stay in hospital for the remaining duration of this pregnancy however long or short it is. I was so sad to hear this but knew it was for the best.

I spent 10 days in hospital and spent most of my time obsessing about you two.  I kept imagining you in my head.  I thought about all the fun things we would do together in the future.  I tried thinking about how amazing it was that we got this far.  In hospital in between visitors I slept a lot.  I cried a lot too.   I cried because the love I had for you already was far more than I could have ever imagined and I hadn’t even met you yet.

After 10 days my MFM team came in one morning I met my MFM team again and they said I could go home!!!!! I was so excited.  I had to monitor lots of things and I wasn’t allowed to leave the house or do anything.  Before we left the hospital your Dad and I visited the NICU.  We were surprised how calm it was and how big babies were for 26 weeks.  It made us feel more comfortable with when the time came for us to leave you there.

When I got home I was so happy.  I did what the doctor said and rested.  I was so happy to be home for Christmas and New Years.  I had missed your Dad so much during my stay in hospital it was so great to be back home with him.

On January 2 I was 29 weeks and I noticed some extra fluid seemed to come out when I stood.  I decided not to tell your dad as I didn’t want to worry him and I would see how the day went.  You both were still moving so I just went and lay down for a snooze.  In the afternoon it was still happening so I talked to your dad and he told me to ring the hospital.  I didn’t want to so I just went back to sleep.  Later on I was organizing some stuff in your room and decided it was time to ring the hospital.  They hospital told me to come in ASAP.  I thought they would just send me home.  I was wrong.

After a thorough examination and scan it was confirmed my waters had officially broken.  I was then pumped with steroids, antibiotics and fluids.  This time there was no way I would be going home.  This night my heart hurt.  I cried out for God to take care of you no matter what the outcome good or bad, I wanted God to take care of you.

Thankfully I stayed stable for a long time.  Every day, morning noon and night the midwives checked on you.  You boys were so wriggly that it was so hard finding your heartbeats! Often the nurses had to check where you were using an ultrasound.  I had so many ultrasounds during my pregnancy that I ended up finding them very boring.

After over a week in hospital I was starting to become very sad.  Grandma came to visit me in the hospital and we went to the café downstairs.  I couldn’t hold back the tears and I cried about how sad I was.  I always tried to be upbeat about things but now the uncertainty was eating me up and I couldn’t shake it.  I started to feel exhausted and I felt funny so we went back to my room.  Once I got to my room I noticed that I was bleeding.  I told the midwives and they assured me it was normal and to keep an eye on it.

That day the midwives decided I could have my own room! I was so happy! Your dad and I pretended I was now in a 5 star hospital complex.  Once your dad left for the evening I was on my phone and felt a massive gush.  I went to my bathroom and looked down to see a lot of blood.  I rang the emergency button and a midwife came very quickly.  They decided that now things were potentially progressing and I needed to be in the delivery suite.

I was so scared.  The midwives were lovely but every few hours I would get a new midwife and I would have to tell them our story again and I was tired of it.  Your dad came in the afternoon.  He was convinced that I would have a c-section soon.  But the doctors kept saying that you boys were fine and that I would need to just wait.  I was constantly monitored and this was very uncomfortable for me as the straps on my tummy felt awful.  I couldn’t sleep and I just cried all day long.  Even though the doctors said I was not going to have you guys soon I still wasn’t allowed to eat just in case they needed to deliver you via c section.

I sent your dad home that night and he told me that he believed you boys were on your way.  Once he left I cried out to God and asked him to make you boys come out.  I was so sad and over the drama that I just wanted to meet you and not be frightened anymore.

About an hour later a midwife came in. She asked me if I had any tightenings, which I replied I didn’t think so because they hadn’t shown up on the monitor.  She put her hands on my tummy and said ‘I think you are having contractions!’ and off she went to get the doctor.  Shortly later the doctor came in and checked on me.  She confirmed that yes these were contractions and I was 2cm dilated.  Then she said ‘Ring your husband – you are going to have these boys tonight!’ Hurrah! I was so excited! Finally!

They had warned us not to expect to hear you cry when you were born because you were born 10 weeks prem and so your lungs might not be as developed as they need to be.  I had no idea what to expect I just wanted you boys with me.  After they pulled you out, you both screamed and cried immediately.  It was the most beautiful thing I have ever heard. I cried and cried.  I couldn’t believe that you boys were finally here.  The doctor kept saying “they are perfect, they are so so perfect”!

Once the two NICU teams had checked you out they quickly brought you over to me so I could see you.  You both had so much hair! You were absolutely beautiful.  Then you were taken to NICU and your Dad went with you.  I was sad that I couldn’t hold you in my arms but I knew that you were being well looked after by your special NICU teams.

I couldn’t wait to see you after I was given the all clear from the recovery nurse.   They wheeled me into NICU so I could see you boys and you were just so amazing. My two little fighters.  I couldn’t be more proud of you.   I only stayed for a few minutes then I went back to delivery suite and had a sleep.  Your dad went home to rest.   When I woke up I was so happy! You boys were out of my dangerous womb and into the world.

I stayed in hospital for a couple of nights after you were born and then asked to be discharged.  I wanted to get on with my life – leave all the drama behind and move forward with my life as a proud MOTHER!

You spent 2 weeks in NICU and then 6 and a half weeks in SCBU in Lower Hutt.  We were incredibly lucky that you did not have any complications and all you needed was to grow and feed.   On March 3 2014 we were allowed to bring you home – 14 days before your due date.  It was the first day of the rest of our lives.

I truly did not think that I would get to meet you both and so everyday I thank God for you.  He protected you.  With all the complications that you had during your time in my tummy, your chances were very slim of surviving.  But you survived! I am truly thankful.  I cannot imagine my life without your two precious faces.

Well my babies, my most gorgeous babes – know that your Mum and Dad fought for you.  We love you more than you will ever know.  Know that God has protected you so respect Him and praise Him for his gracious mercy.

Every so often I look back on our journey and I cry.  I cry tears of sadness for all the heartache that we went through and I cry tears of absolute joy for we all survived TTTS! We are the lucky few that made it through TTTS with two survivors.

Always remember my dear boys that your Mum and Dad love you.  Not because of what you do or achieve.  We love you just for who you are.

We love you to the moon and back.

Forever with love,

Your Mumma