Was there a journey to this pregnancy?
I had always planned on being a mother someday, but I was in no rush. When Charma and I got together when I was 31, we planned to have kids a few years’ down the road. We started trying in early 2007, when I was 34. First, four months’ of temperature monitoring. Choosing a donor. Ovulation testing. Two months of two IUI’s. Four months’ off due to illness. Four more months of back to back IUI’s. Three months of back-to-back IUI’s on Clomid. Charma’s older sister’s pregnancy. Waiting eight months to get on Charma’s insurance to try IVF. Charma’s younger sister’s unplanned pregnancy. IVF Cycle #1 – cancelled due to low response. IVF Cycle #2 – negative. Another month off due to illness.
Finally – cycle #3. Almost three years later. Max doses of fertility drugs. Desperation on all sides. Seven viable eggs. Four fertilized. I was on the cusp of placing two or three, since I was 36 and we were at the end of attempts. We went with two. And waited. I didn’t home test. The day before the clinic test, I felt a bit queasy, but I figured it was nerves. It wasn’t! I was finally pregnant, with a beta around 260. We were off and running! – Jen
How did your pregnancy go? When did you find out about TTTS?
What I remember most about the pregnancy was the inordinate amount of time spent making sure Jen had enough food. With a triplet pregnancy there was a great emphasis on making sure enough protein and calcium were ingested. I remember learning how to sneak in extra cheese and eggs whites in almost every recipe, especially since Jen was not a big fan of meats. We kept a food diary to make sure she was eating enough. I learned how to cook and prepare foods that would “count double”, i.e. a good source of protein and calcium.
Other than concerns for diet there were casual mentions of possible trouble with identical twins. Every ultrasound seemed fine. All the weights and measurements looked good, until the day when the growth between Robbie and Jake was decidedly lopsided. We never heard the phrase Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome, even though that was what we later learned was the cause of death for our boys.-Charma
What were your treatment options? What treatment did you choose?
The only treatment options we were presented with were immediate C-section at 24.2 weeks or watch-and-wait. We decided on watch-and-wait because of the uninvolved fraternal triplet. I was allowed to leave the hospital after seven days, coming back every two days for an ultrasound. Things seemed to be going downhill at the next two visits, but again, my doctor was not available, and nothing was done. On my third follow-up visit, at 26 weeks, we were prepared to have the C-section. But instead, our Baby B’s heart stopped during the ultrasound, and after that, it was chaos.
What would you like to tell us about your brother’s?
“They died before I was born and I never met them. They were twins. I think their favorite color was blue like the sky. If they grew up, they would be nice gentlemen.” – Mia, age 7
“I wish they were here. I dream about them talking to me. I think about them and I can see what they look like. I tell my friends about them. I think one would be a paleontologist (like I want to do) and one would be a firefighter.” – Ginger, age 9
What did you lose during this pregnancy? What did you gain?
I lost my trust in doctors. I received care that was sorely lacking, when you consider it was at a large urban university hospital. I lost faith in my ability to make decisions, after I felt like I kept making the wrong ones. I lost faith in God that took years to build back up, and I still don’t wear it comfortably. I lost the uncomplicated joy of first-time motherhood, the mother I might’ve been. I lost patience with others’ problems; nothing short of near-death got my attention. I lost the chance to be a boy-mom. Finally, I lost a little bit of my soul, and a little bit of my heart.
I gained closeness with other parents and friends who had shared this tragedy. I’ve been able to truly support and understand other loss parents through my work with the TTTS Support Team, which has helped me with my own grief. I’ve gained a perspective of what really matters, and I value it all the more. I take nothing for granted.
What is it that you would like other people to know about your family, your pregnancy, your experience with TTTS?
I have a beautiful family with two beautiful daughters on Earth and two handsome sons in Heaven. I have a very full life keeping up with two girls’ activities and their endless supply of unicorns, Barbie dolls and princesses. I have everything I could hope for in a family until, sitting in a movie theater watching the latest superhero movie, alone because my daughters do not enjoy such things, and my mind cannot help but wonder if my sons had survived would they have liked these films. Would we have bonded over a mutual love of Star Wars and video games? How would life be different? I have a beautiful family, but it will always have missing pieces. -Charma