Monday, July 8, 2013

Motivational Mondays - Malissa's Honest Account

Today's Motivational Monday guest blogger is someone who has become a very important part of my healing process...and I'm sure til right now she didn't even know it!
Malissa is another TTTS mom.  Her boys are around 2 years old and TTTS survivors.  They beat TTTS and that, alone, is reason to praise the Lord!  But I praise God for other reasons regarding Malissa.  I praise him that he brought her and her humble attitude to my life and to the groups that I help run.  Malissa and a few other moms (Lindsay and Amber amongst others) are moms to two surviving TTTS twins who are humble, respectful and empathetic towards each and every person who has lost a baby to TTTS.  There is are many groups, as I have mentioned, that support those going through it and Malissa (and the other girls) have made it their mission to ensure that no one is left to feel that their story doesn't matter or shouldn't be told.  They make sure that all of our babies have their story told and that the wishes of loss families to not be exposed to things like excessive photos of double survivors or cute stories (and photos) of what double surviving twins have been up to is kept away from the places that offer support.
Having Malissa in my life has helped me to feel like a twin mommy.  She lets me feel safe to remember what it was like to be pregnant with the boys and not be reminded of what I didn't get to have but rather what I did.  And she allows me to see that God has let TTTS and her babies inspire her to do amazing things AND praise him for it!!!
Here is a post she made about a year after TTTS first touched her life, how much easier it was to be a twin mommy then she ever dreamed it could be and how much she was grateful for the changes TTTS brought to her life. Thanks for sharing Malissa!


What a year brought me

One year ago, I woke up in the morning and headed to work.  I was a happy mommy to be expecting identical twin boys.  Everything was just peachy.  Then, that afternoon, a huge storm came in and rained on my parade, or should I say it rained on my LIFE.  One year ago today, our boys were diagnosed with Twin-Twin Transfusion Syndrome / TTTS.

I went in for what seemed to be a "let's just double check" with a new doctor, the amazing Dr. Zaretsky.  During the ultrasound, I could see what was wrong.  I watched the DVD they gave me the other day.  In the very beginning, you can see the tech looking for their dividing membrane.  They are hanging out at the bottom of a big black spot, together.  Previously, you could see a membrane running right down the middle, clear as day.  I don't know why I didn't notice you couldn't see it on this ultrasound.  Then the tech stops and moves the wand around by P's head.  There is the membrane.  Between his chin and his chest, you can see a line.  He was literally shrink wrapped in his half of the sac.  Of course the tech did not point this out to me.  How sad it made me to see this.  There my baby was clinging for his life, and at that point, I just didn't know it.  The rest of the ultrasound went on, and at the end when I saw the 29% size discrepancy, my heart sunk because I knew they had TTTS even before the doctor came in.  I cried.  I cried and cried and my heart LITERALLY hurt.  I am getting upset thinking about the way I felt that afternoon turn long evening.  We went up to cardiology for the boys' ECHO.  By the time this was done, Dr. Z had come up to tell us that we needed to get to Cincinnati ASAP.  He told me they would be calling in the morning, so start planning our trip.  I was also given a prescription for Procardia, which is a blood pressure medication that lowers my blood pressure to help alleviate some of the stress on L.  I didn't know if I could drive home.  My husband and I had met there, so he told me to go home and that he would get my medication.  I was at home crying, telling my mom about everything.  She was living with us at the time.  She comforted me until he got home.  He had lacrosse practice that night, and he went a head and went because he needed to blow off the stress.  I just cried in bed, and took my medicine.  I wanted to be alone.  I tried to get up to use the restroom and immediately almost fell.  The medicine took some getting used to!  I am not sure I slept that night because I spent much of it praying and crying.  I woke my hubby a few times crying, I do remember that.  This was my darkest day.

Throughout the rest of my pregnancy, I struggled.  I struggled a lot more than I ever told anyone.  You just DO NOT know the fear a mother has that she is carrying a baby (or two) that has a grim prognosis.  There's nothing to be done.  You can't change it.  You pray and pray, but still it hurts.  Wondering if you will have a heartbeat (or two) at the next week's ultrasound.  Being on bedrest, you have PLENTY of time to think of the what if's.  I prepared myself to lose my little man.  I prepared myself to have to return one of the cribs we had finally picked up.  I couldn't buy anything for them, because I didn't know if there was going to BE a them.  It wrecked me.

On the flip side, I spent a lot of time in prayer.  My relationship with God had turned into a full on plea.  I begged Him every day to save these boys.  I eventually was able to buy some things for them, knowing that if I did lose one, I would have to return it.  Their innertwin membrane ruptured, I was told I would have to be admitted to the hospital soon, and I looked at it as the lessor of bad things that could have potentially happened.  I was heavily tried when I could feel them switching sides.  Their bodies would cross over one another.  I thought they were going to get tangled up before I could get to the hospital.  They only did that for a few days thankfully, because my positive attitude I just found wasn't so positive.  I had a couple panic attacks, but I just kept praying and praying.  Slowly, I began to see the positive in things as the weeks passed by.  Going to the hospital was hard, but it really wasn't that bad since I got to hear their hearts beat several times throughout the day.  I could finally relax and stop wondering.  I spent EXACTLY 3 months on bedrest.

After my boys were born, again I was changed forever.  Not just because I was a new mother, but I knew I had them; they were HERE.  They made it.  They survived.  My prayers, and the prayers of thousands of others were answered.  My faith was strengthened, and my outlook on life was forever changed.  I look at people differently.  I used to get frustrated at strangers,  but now I give them the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe something big is going on in their life.  Maybe they've just lost a loved one.  Maybe they really are just a jerk.  Regardless of the situation, EVERYONE needs a prayer.  I look at so many more things with gratitude.

I have met some mothers online in TTTS support groups that have lost one or both babies.  Their strength encourages me.  I know they'd kill to be in my shoes, and I'd kill to do anything I could to have saved their babies.  This is something very sensitive and personal to me; and until you've been there, I don't expect you to understand why I shed tears over other's lost babies.

Maybe there is a reason why being a twin mommy is so much easier than I thought it would be.  I rarely let myself get frustrated with them.  Maybe yet again it's my subconscious reminding me that I killed for both of these babies to stay alive.  They cry, they fuss, they annoy me, but just as I'm about to get mad, I can't.  There are moms with just one baby that would die to be in my shoes.  I whine about it being so difficult to do things and get out of the house with 2 nap schedules to work around, then 2 car seats to load up, I can't take both of them to places with small shopping carts because that would mean I have to use my stroller, and you can't push a shopping cart with a stroller, so you can only pick up a few things.  Sometimes I get down about this, but again, I remember just how lucky I am to have these two little blessings.

In a year I dealt with the most traumatic experience of my life.  In a year I became a mother.  In a year we doubled our family.  In a year we sacrificed my income.  In a year, we became truly blessed.  As I look back on what the past year has brought me, all in all, I am a better person than I was before February 23rd, 2011.

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