Thursday, December 8, 2016

Stories of Hope - Jodie's Story - 6

Geoff arrived a bit later and met me at the door of the hospital.  He just held me as I cried and tried his best to alleviate my fears.  Together we walked to the truck, clearly in shock, and headed for Toronto.  Not long after that the call I needed finally came…my mom.  She was as worried as I was, I could hear it in her voice, but she offered support, offered reassurance and assured us that the boys would be fine, my job was to focus on these babies. 
Having all that settled we then proceeded to the process of getting there and getting admitted .  It’s funny the memories you have of life changing events.  I recall one thing clearly from the admission process.  I was given 3 bracelets at the admitting desk.  I asked why I would need three but then noticed they said twin a and twin b.  I told the girl that I would not be needing these, that my babies would not be born in this hospital.  She smiled and told me that she was sure I was right but the policy was the policy. 
Eventually I was admitted, taken to my room and we settled in.  Geoff was pacing, trying hard not to show me how worried he was.  Soon we were called into an assessment room and we met Dr. Wendy Whittle.  She put us at ease with her joking manner and told us she would be delighted to finally share the gender mystery for us….we still had no idea if these babes were boys or girls.
Dr. Whittle quickly got down to business, scanning and rescanning me.  Mt. Sinai is a state of the art facility and the scans were done right in the antenatal department, right across from the NICU, right beside the delivery room essentially.  We could see everything Dr. Whittle was looking at and as she went along she told us what she was seeing. She scanned and measured one baby and as she moved to the other she said, “Now let’s move on the Mr. B”.  She continued scanning for a good 20 seconds before the realization of what she just said sunk in.
“Did you just say Mr. A?” I asked.
“Well I wondered how long it was going to take before you caught on.  Congrats mom and dad, you’re having a pair of amazing little boys!”
But the visions of blue, of trucks, of sandboxes and mud, of bikes and cars and hockey and oh so much more would have to wait.  First we had a very serious, but easy to understand,  conversation about what was happening inside of my body. 
Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome or TTTS, we learned, was a disease that only identical twins who share a placenta can get.  It occurs in 15-20% of all mono-di twin pregnancies but the potential is there for it to happen to all of these pregnancies because the babies share a placenta.
She told us that our boys shared not only this placenta but connections within it.  And that was where the problem lied.  Normally a baby has connections within its placenta.... nutrients travel down from the placenta into the baby through the umbilical cord.  Because there were two babies connected to my placenta it made sense that there might be arteries and veins that connected the babies to each other.  Somehow these connections begin to transfer blood disproportionally from one baby, the donor, to the other baby, the recipient.

Because our baby B was giving up extra nutrients to Baby A he wasn’t producing any urine and therefore had no amniotic fluid.  Because Baby A was getting so much extra blood from his brother his heart was working harder and he was producing too much urine. This excess fluid caused his heart to work even harder, the same way that someone who is retaining fluid would.  Dr. Whittle saw that Baby B was sort stuck to the side of the uterus and told us that they consider this to be a shrink wrap sort of thing with the membrane being stuck right to him.  Our baby B looked very healthy though, his heart and brain looked great.  Baby A was happily kicking and swimming around in all of the extra fluid he had.  His heart was working a bit harder than normal but Dr. Whittle was certain that with treatment this heart stress would disappear.  She seemed very pleased with how they both looked. 

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