**this post was written in 2017 when the twins were 2. I have added some updated content to the bottom in 2020 as the twins turned 5!**
I’ve contemplated putting this story on paper many times over the last few years. A part of me wishes I could remember more details, but a part of me is thankful those details are forgotten. As our girls approach their second birthday this week I wanted to share their story. I wanted to share all of the fear and worry we went through for so many months in hopes of encouraging other parents who may be going through this and googling until their fingers can’t type anymore. So here it is.
Fall of 2014, Troy and I decided it was time to grow our little family to a family of 4. In December of that year we found out that we were pregnant and couldn’t wait for our first appointment! Early January, we sat there in my OB office waiting for that first sonogram. As she is scanning, Troy decides to “jokingly” ask if there was only one baby in there.. No lie y’all, he actually asked that. The sonographer turned to us and said um…. there are actually two! Y’all, our lives changed in a split second. I sat there and I cried, and I laughed, and then I cried again. Never in our wildest dreams did I envision us being parents to twins! She finished up her scan and was able to identify both baby’s heart beats and explain to us the different type of twins, mono/mono (identical in one sac, super scary and high risk), mono/di (identical in two sacs), and di/di (fraternal). She thought ours were mono/di, but couldn’t really make out the line that separated the two sacs (otherwise they would have been mono/mono and super high risk since their umbilical cords could tangle). A scan the following week confirmed that the separating line was in fact there and we weren’t in the super high risk zone.
With identical twins, they still do recommend that you see a high risk obstetrician in addition to your regular appointments. We had our first high risk appointment with ROC (Regional Obstetric Consultants) here in Jacksonville at around 13 weeks. They time your first visit for around then so they can run certain test that are more accurate during a certain time frame of your pregnancy. I think they check for several different things, but honestly, Troy and I went in completely oblivious. All we could think about was seeing our twins on the screen again!
This is where things start to get a little fuzzy, so bear with me. As the sonographer is scanning, they take time to go over each detail for each baby, but I did notice that she kept going back and measuring the same things over and over again. And then she recommended doing an internal sonogram as well for a better picture. I thought it a little odd, but didn’t ask questions. After she finished up, she told us to wait for the doctor to come into go over everything (the sonographers can’t actually discuss anything with you, good or bad). We seriously felt like we waited forever, at least 30-45 minutes. It turns out, they were waiting for their head doctor to come in and talk to us.
It turns out that the part that the sonographer kept measuring was the Nuchal Translucency (NT), basically the thickness of the skin behind their neck. Like I said, Troy and I were oblivious as to what they would be looking for that day, so we had no clue what this even meant. A “normal” NT size is under 3mm, both of our girls ranged somewhere between 5.5 – 6.5mm, I believe. Well into the “abnormal” range. As devastating as the next few hours (and months) were, I will have to say that we could not have asked for a better doctor. She sat there with us for almost 2 hours explaining everything over and over again to us, and answering any questions we had. Basically, we were told that with a high NT, we had the following statistics, a 50% chance of a chromosomal abnormality, 25% chance of a heart defect, 15% chance TTTS (Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome) and a TEN percent chance of healthy babies. I will NEVER forget those statistics.
We only had a few options moving forward and most of it was just an awful waiting game. They were able to take some blood to send off to the lab to rule out some things, but they explained with twins it couldn’t be 100% accurate. We also followed back up with our regular OB a few days later where she was able to tell us it was two girls. A part of me hates that moment. I hated that this was happening to me, I hated that this was happening to THEM and I hated that I wasn’t joyous about it (we had wanted two more girls), but in that moment I was scared and bitter. I didn’t do a special reveal or a party. We found out while wondering how much was going to be “wrong” with them.
Over the next few months, I had more doctors appointments than I could have ever imagined. I saw both my regular OB and my high risk OB. The blood work came back “OK” but was only able to eliminate a few things. Our next step was to make the decision if we wanted to do an Amniocentesis to test the fluid around the babies. This could only be done within about a 3-4 week period during the pregnancy and is high risk. It would also eliminate, or confirm, many unknowns. I know that this is a very controversial topic on whether someone should or shouldn’t do an Amnio. I will say that we decided to proceed with it and that unless you are put into that position, you will never know what a person is going through or why they make the decisions they make. Troy and I decided we wanted to be prepared for whatever was going to come our way. Again, it was a waiting game (of course over a holiday…) and it took about 7-10 days to get the results back. Everything was negative. Negative. We ruled out that HUGE 50% chance of a chromosomal disorder. I was probably 17-18 weeks pregnant now. I could breathe a little easier, but now we had to move on to our next hurdle, a heart defect.
Some of you know, that my nephew was born with HLHS, a heart defect, 3 years ago and has had two open heart surgeries. He has beat all the odds. So we KNOW what a heart defect could mean. And the worst thing is, we couldn’t do anything until I was almost 22-24 weeks pregnant. That was about 6 weeks of waiting. 6 weeks of wondering what was wrong. 6 more weeks of not enjoying my pregnancy. Finally, at 24 weeks we did an echocardiogram on both girls. Almost 2 hours of scanning, our same sweet doctor came in to tell us that everything was perfect with their hearts. Perfect.
Another major hurdle down, but I was still at the high risk doctor almost weekly. And it seems like every time we checked something off our “worry” list, something else was added. This is where it gets a little fuzzy, but every time we had an ultrasound, something else “small” was found. Everything from an enlarged bowel, a cist by the heart, to excess fluid, and I’m sure there were more, but I seriously dreaded every single appointment.
Day by day, we prayed and cried. Finally, around probably 27-28 weeks, we had cleared EVERY SINGLE HURDLE. Every single bad statistic. Our girls were healthy and growing. I could breathe. I don’t think we even picked out names until I was 30 weeks pregnant. I couldn’t. I couldn’t name them knowing something may happen to them. I was in denial. Around 30 weeks Troy and I picked out Emily Katherine and Sarah Elizabeth. I was able to enjoy 7 weeks of my pregnancy before they were delivered via c-section on August 6, 2015. Healthy. Perfect.
We defied every single odd that the doctors gave us. I don’t blame the doctors. I don’t think they were wrong. It all started with their high NT numbers, which in their statistic show those odds. They were trying to help prepare us in case those odds were in fact correct. However, after so many hours of googling, so many parents have dealt with the exact same thing. High NTs, bad odds, and then healthy babies. I mostly blame technology. We are so advanced these days, that it shows every slight imperfection of these beautiful babies while God is still molding them to grow and be perfect. A huge part of me wishes that our sonographer wouldn’t have found the second baby in our first ultrasound, we wouldn’t have been sent to ROC and we wouldn’t of had another ultrasound until 20 weeks (and then been realllly surprised to find two!!) and by then, half of the “issues” they found would have already been resolved without us even knowing.
So I’m going to wrap up with this, even going through this experience, I don’t know what to say to a parent going through something similar. There is nothing you can say other than sharing your story and let them know you’re praying for them and that they’re not alone.
Now off to celebrate these sweet, sweet girls turning two (2016)! Check out their Sweet Shoppe first birthday party here (2015)! This year, we’re going to take it easy and just have a small cookout with family, no big party for us, just enjoying these sweet babes.
And if this post wasn’t long enough, here are some more pics of our sweet miracles!
**UPDATE** It has been several years since I wrote this post sharing our story with the world. It has blown me away with the traffic and responses I have received on this post with moms, dads, grandparents and more that are going through the EXACT same thing during their twin pregnancies.
I know that it is not an easy road while you’re in it, and I honestly feel like over the last 5 years I have blocked it out some. But I am thankful that I got my story down on paper to help remind me how far we have come and to help give a little bit of comfort to anyone out there reading this.
Today (2020) the girls turn 5 years old. It seriously blows my mind that this story is 5 years behind us and these girls, while the craziest I have ever met, are still perfectly beautiful and healthy.
Hang in there, sweet friends. I’m saying a prayer for you.
Now for some updated pictures over the last few years!
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