Friday, March 14, 2014

Lost Post

I had an ultrasound a week ago, and for the 2nd time the girls didn't cooperate for us so that we could get good images of their hearts. My doctor came in and looked and said she wanted me to have an echocardiogram. She patted my leg and I didn't see the same look of confidence I usually get from her. I gave her an opportunity to put me at ease - "But we're not really concerned, right? We just need better pictures." She said we need to have me come back in. I left the office afraid.  I did not have a good feeling at all.

The echocardiogram was Wednesday morning. More than two hours of watching the girls move - both transverse, then one breech and one head down, and then both transverse again. It was amazing to see our strong girls move. "Can you feel all that?!" I could feel every single movement - in my belly all the way back to my spine. At the end of it all, the cardiologist smiled and said she saw no problems. Molly and Charlotte's hearts looked great. We had two healthy, wild babies.

Daniel and I left the office in great spirits. My stress melted away. We ate lunch and talked about improvements we'll be making to the house before they arrive - we walked around the baby boutique. Daniel went to work and I went home to rest (after I posted the great news to Facebook and bought myself a celebratory treat).

At 4 o'clock on Wednesday the cardiologist called me and left a message. She needed me to call her back. I called her - "Are you home?" Yes. "Is anyone with you?" No. "OK. Well, I need you to come back and see me in 3-4 weeks for another scan." OK. "Baby B has a structural heart defect."

Honestly, I can't tell you exactly what else was said. She said it was fixable. I asked if she could just tell me what the problem was. She said she would rather do it face to face. I cried. I couldn't breathe. She said she wanted to see me and Daniel on Friday. I asked if she could just tell me now. It's better if we do it in person. Can't we do it Thursday? We have an OB appointment THURSDAY. She had clinic Thursday, but she would fill my doctor in and we'd get some info on Thursday.

I called Daniel at work. I told him. I needed him to come home. I needed him to not work Thursday. I didn't want to be left alone. My mind went all over the place. Charlotte was not healthy. Nothing was the same anymore. I deleted my Facebook post about our healthy girls, because it wasn't true and I couldn't see the sweet congrats anymore.

I barely slept Wednesday night and Thursday morning felt like it should be Friday. I felt like I'd aged at least 3 years over night. I cancelled my nutrition appointment because I could not bear to sit and tell some stranger what I'd eaten in the last 2 weeks and have her stare at me and judge me. We went in for the OB appointment with the Physicians Assistant. She could see we were both stressed. Daniel did all the talking because I'm having trouble with words. He told Aimee about our phone call, she looked at my file and explained everything. The problem was with Charlotte's greater arteries coming into and leaving the heart.  They were transposed or switched, and it would require a surgery to fix it.  It was serious, but candy coated somehow. This was a big deal. Charlotte would need surgery within a few days of being born. We'd be OK. We'd all look back at this someday, and it would be a distant memory.

Daniel and I went and processed. We ate lunch. We held hands and I tried not to cry and we even laughed about other things. We looked at art at Z Gallerie. We went and bought the girls their cribs and then we went home to hug Zoe and Finn. We took the kids, my parents and Daniel's mom out to dinner. Everything was kind of normal, but not.

This morning was our appointment with the cardiologist. She told us how upset she and our doctor were. I cried. Of all the structural heart defects, if you have to have one - this is the one to have. That is both comforting and not. Charlotte has Simple Double Transposition of the Greater Arteries (D-TGA) meaning the greater arteries are switched. This happens in less than 1% of all babies. Less than one percent. Ridiculous. Charlotte will go straight to NICU after birth. They will put her on meds and stabilize her and she will need open heart surgery in her first week of life... and then she will have recovery time in NICU. She will need to have a cardiologist all her life. While Daniel and I have no heart defects, her children are more likely to have heart defects. So far, it doesn't look like Molly has the same problem, but we can't be 100% sure.

We are in one of the best places in the world to deal with this. People come from all over the world to have the doctors at Texas Children's fix them. Our doctors and staff genuinely care about us and our girls and they will take the very best care of all of us. If this had to happen, we're glad we're in Houston. We're glad that we were already getting extra attention because we have identical twins. We're glad they found the problem now so they will have a cardio team ready to handle whatever they need to the moment Charlotte is born.

All that said, we are - in a fog. This is the hardest thing we've ever dealt with. I can barely talk about this with anyone but Daniel and the kids. I can't say that Charlotte is sick out loud because it hurts. Daniel is of course having a hard time too, and I know he's worried about how I am... but with him I will be ok. He's the strongest, best partner I could possibly have and we will get through this and the girls will be healthy and strong. Our family can do this.

But I really, really don't want us to and I really wish someone would call me and tell me they made a big mistake. But that's not going to happen. This is our new reality, and I hate it, and I'm sad, and I'm not myself. And I thought I should let you know.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Oh, Baby!!

When you've been away from blogging for nearly a year, it's difficult to just pick it right up where you started. In fact, it's impossible.

A lot has happened since last March. My parents moved into our house with their dog and parrot.  Zoe graduated from Kindergarten and started 1st grade. Finn is in his last year of preschool. We made new friends and reconnected with old. At the end of October, Daniel and I took a trip to Calgary for work and the morning after we got back, I found out we were expecting baby #3.

Baby #3! Due July 7, 2014!*

We'd been trying for more than a year, so it wasn't a big surprise. Well, I suppose that isn't right. In Calgary we were discussing how we we might be done trying. We were beginning to adjust our idea of what our family would be (again) and accepting that we were a family of four and what that meant. Part of me was sad that I was done and there wasn't another baby joining our family, but I was feeling sort of at peace with it. I was also feeling nauseous and really tired, but I was sure that was from all the walking I did around the city... and all the eating and the beer. Nausea seemed totally normal.

And then we got back and I took a test and that second line instantly appeared.  After willing that damn line to appear for over a year, with no luck - it appeared instantly. Bam! Baby.

So that was morning sickness I felt in Calgary. And it got worse, stronger than I had ever felt and I was so tired. My first ultrasound was at five weeks. We were looking for the baby's heartbeat and not seeing it, but they kept telling me it might take another week or so.

A week later, I was back in the office, this time alone - so nervous that something was wrong. So scared we wouldn't see a heartbeat. We saw a heartbeat and I exhaled with relief - and then the tech paused.....

"Do you see that?" Oh, I saw it.
"Do I see what, Connie?"
"That." She pointed at the screen. I could see the second flicker clearly.
"What is that? What?!"
"That's another heartbeat! You're having twins!"


Twins. In the same sac. Their little hearts beating together. I left the office in shock and called Daniel immediately. I burst into tears. I'm sure he assumed the worst, but I slowly pushed the words out of my throat.

"We're having twins. There's two. Identical twins."

There were so many things going through my head that morning. Awe. Surprise. Happiness. Insecurity.

I was prepared to have another baby. I'd imagined the challenges and joy of another infant and what adding to our family meant. I was doing something I'd done twice before... it wasn't a big deal. But twins were a big deal! Two of everything. How would we do it? How would I give them both attention and Zoe and Finn? I don't know how to take care of two babies at once!

And then I did what every OB and/or parents of multiples tells you not to do - I went looking on the Internet for answers. My insecurities turned into straight out fear. Identical twins are considered high risk. One might not make it - and because they're identical, the chances that neither would was even higher. I read about vanishing twin. I read about conjoined twins. And I cried and stressed and felt like I couldn't breathe and I couldn't handle this.

At my eight week appointment, we were concerned that there was no separation between the babies (no membrane) which would have meant they we MoMo twins and even more high risk than I had thought. Without a separation, they were at a high risk of their cords becoming entangled and not making it. The scariest thing was there was nothing I could do to help them - it was out of my hands.

I was sent to a maternal fetal medicine specialist and had a detailed ultrasound done at almost 10 weeks. There, as clear as anything - was a separating membrane and two tiny babies with strong heartbeats. They were measuring the same and right on track and I felt my stress melt away just a little bit.  They weren't MoMo twins, but they were (are) MoDi twins. There are still high risk, but our odds were better now.

My OB had informed me at my 8 week appointment that she did not see patients with identical twins. She'd had bad experiences and lost babies and it wasn't something she was comfortable with. It was an awful feeling at the time, but I'm grateful that she knew her limitations and sent me to the best possible people.

My care was immediately transferred to Texas Childrens Hospital/Womens Specialty. Our first appointment with them was at 12 weeks. We were greeted with smiles and congratulations from everyone, instead of frowns of concern. No one seemed nervous. My doctor is the director of the program for multiples and the Chief of MFM at the hospital. She has a great sense of humor and spoke to me with nothing but optimism. For the first time, I was laughing at my appointment and I was feeling hopeful. Without a doubt, we are at the best place for me and the twins. We are getting excellent care.

Last week was our 16 week appointment. I'm doing great and so are the twins. They're measuring right on track and are the same size (which is exactly what we want). They are total wiggle worms (I've been feeling flutters since 13 weeks) and at our ultrasound, one was stretched out over the one and they kicked and pushed at each other almost the entire time.

After a lot of pushing and waiting for them to chill, we saw what we were hoping to see - gender.

Our twins are GIRLS. Molly Angeline and Charlotte Angeline. We are thrilled.

Zoe is thrilled.

Finnegan is getting used to the idea.

* - Babies #3 and #4! Expected in 36th week - June 9, 2014!

So - hi. I'm blogging again!