The Big News

The morning of April 14, 2014, I took a pregnancy test.  To my surprise, the control line didn’t even show up.  A dud.  We had been sort of, maybe, not really, trying for a while (as much as you can with a two-year old in your bed), and I thought there was a possibility that I might be pregnant.  I wanted to know for sure before I went to the doctor for my annual exam that day, because if I wasn’t, I had decided that we should stop trying.  Our toddler was just getting to that fun age where he could communicate and make us laugh, and as much as I initially wanted to give him a playmate, I thought he was a pretty great part-time only child.

When I got to my appointment, I told the medical assistant (“MA”) that I thought I could be pregnant.  She had me take a test right then.  When my OB/Gyn came in (“Dr. OB”), I told him that I took the test, and he went into the hallway to check with MA about the results.  She said, “Look, the line is barely visible.  It looks like when I take a pregnancy test.”  Dr. OB said, “Wait, so is this yours or hers?”  (Men.  Sigh.)

So there it was in faint pink and white.  I started to panic and told Dr. OB that my husband was probably going to have mixed feelings, as when his two older boys are with us, life can be very chaotic.  I relayed the story of the day we went strawberry picking in Orlando.  It was a great day: we picked strawberries, went to lunch, played at a park, and met up with our good friends for grilled cheese dinner and frozen yogurt.  On the way home, an hour-long drive, our toddler started to scream.  And scream.  And cry.  THEN, he threw up.  We were 20 minutes from home and just wanted to get there ASAP.  We asked the second-oldest (“Boy 2”) to help clean him up, while the oldest (“Boy 1”), who has Asperger’s, plugged his ears and stared out the window.  We quickly found that Boy 2 is a sympathy puker.  At this point, we were less than ten minutes from home.  Boy 2 and toddler were crying.  I kept pushing napkins to the backseat while husband continued driving in hopes that we would get home before everyone else started vomiting.

Right when we pulled off of the interstate to our exit for home, my husband said, “I’m getting a vasectomy tomorrow.”  Then, the song, “Happy,” (you know the one…”because I’m happyyyyyy”) came on the radio.  I started laughing and crying hysterically.  It was all so surreal.  The car clean-up was quite the ordeal, but my husband is the best, so the car didn’t even smell like rancid dairy vomit afterward.

So yeah, that was the state of our family planning at that time.  Dr. OB and MA thought it was a funny story, and it is.  Dr. OB sent me for an HCG blood test to really confirm, and I started to become excited.  My husband and I had lunch together, where we discussed our excitement and apprehension (yes, you can feel both at the same time).  I got the call later that day that my HCG number was 35, which is fairly low.  Dr. OB wanted me to go back in two days to make sure that my HCG at least doubled.  It was 100-something two days later, which seemed like a great sign.   Although the additional increase could mean multiples, I never even considered that it might.

That weekend, we put the toddler in a “Big Bro” shirt and went to my parents’ house for Easter.  It took ten minutes for my parents to even notice the shirt, and that only happened when my husband said, “Look at his shirt.”  It still wasn’t obvious.  My mom said she didn’t know if the shirt was a hand-me-down from Boy 1 or 2.

Later that week, on Thursday, I woke up around 3 a.m. with severe anxiety and blood pressure spikes.  I thought for sure something was wrong with the pregnancy.  Husband took me to Dr. OB, and my blood pressure was normal.  He said, “I think you’re experiencing anxiety about having another baby.  It probably has something to do with a car full of kids vomiting while the ‘Happy’ song plays.”  Yep.  I started taking anti-anxiety medication that day.

We had my official first pregnancy appointment about a week and a half later.  Typical stuff, just going over paperwork and discussing delivery.  Yes, I’d be having another cesarean section, and YES, I wanted a tubal ligation.  Four kids is a lot, and we already knew that handling three was a challenge.  My first ultrasound was scheduled for that Friday.

I took off work that Friday, because I needed to get more blood work done, and I had an appointment with the allergist on top of the ultrasound.  My husband met me at the Radiology center, and we went back for what was the longest appointment ever.  About 45 minutes in, I saw my husband’s face change.  The technician said, “Let me ask you a question.  Do twins run in your family?”

“NO!  Oh my God, NO!  What the fuck, no!”

OK, so I didn’t react favorably.  The tech called in another, more experienced, tech, who said that we might have identical twins, because she didn’t see a membrane.  We had no idea what that meant at the time, but we supposed it was exciting.

I had a lot of phone calls to make.  One of my sweet friends said, “that’s exciting!  It’s like getting a bonus baby!”  I started to get excited about having two babies.  Maybe we’d have two girls?  We tried to wrap our heads around becoming a family of seven.  We’d need a mini-van and another crib…and we’d need a whole lot more, mentally.

To read about the rest of our TTTS journey, click here.

Well, Hello There!

In 2014, I found out I was pregnant with monochorionic-diamniotic (“mo-di”) twins.  Monochorionic twins share a placenta and are definitely identical.  The twin news was a shock, to say the very least.  Twins do not run in my family (and I have since learned that identical twins have nothing to do with heredity — it’s just like you won the baby lottery and got a bonus baby!), and we were kind of shaky about having one more kid, let alone two!

We quickly found out that mo-di pregnancies can come with a host of issues, as the babies share a placenta (they have separate amniotic sacs), and accordingly, their blood flows back and forth between each other through the placenta.  We were told that around 15% of mo-di pregnancies can develop Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome, or TTTS, and that we would be monitored with ultrasounds to keep a close eye on the babies.

In September, we received our TTTS diagnosis, went to Miami for intrauterine surgery to correct the condition, and waited patiently for our girls to arrive.  Until they were born, we thought that the only possible issues we would face were kidney issues in our donor twin.  When our baby B was born, we were told that she has microcephaly and brain damage as a result of the TTTS.  Her kidneys are monitored monthly, and we do not yet know if she will require dialysis or a kidney transplant.  Baby A does not have any issues of which we are aware.

Life is unfair, as we all know; but seeing what our baby B could and should look like and be is our constant, heartbreaking reminder of everything we went through.  She’s still beautiful, and she’s still amazing, but she will face so many challenges that her twin will never know.

This blog is my way of sharing our story about our journey and our new normal.  I will go back to some of those toughest days and share the present days’ stories as well.  I am not a medical professional, and this blog is not meant to share any medical advice.  Although I am an attorney, this blog is also not meant to impart any legal advice or create any attorney-client relationships.