Friday, June 29, 2012

One in Ten Thousand...The Beginning of Our MoMo Twins Journey

Because we are blessed with SO many wonderful people - family, friends, and strangers - praying for us and encouraging us, and since I've always kinda wanted to blog anyway...I thought now is my time! First of all, I want to remember this journey, share the journey and it's highs and lows, and be able to tell the story to the babies one day. Also, if people are praying, I would love for them to know what to pray for because I know prayer is what will get us through, nomatter what the outcome. This first blog is going to be kind of loonngg and boring so I can explain what so many people have been asking...just what are MoMo twins?

Before I get all technical on you, I will share our pregnancy story from the beginning :) If you don't care and just want to hear about what momo's are and get back to your facebook stalking, then skip over the blue and start back up where it turns pink again.

We were not only NOT trying to get pregnant, we were actively trying not to!!! One day I was feeling kind of nauseous and tired and just not right. My friend had just had a baby that day, a baby that they were told they would never have, a "miracle" baby so to speak. I thought it might be a sign so I took one of the pregnancy tests I keep stocked in my bathroom cabinet. (I may or may not be known to purchase lots of dollar store pregnancy tests at a time and taking them monthly even when I know I am not pregnant...and usually I am not, but hey, it's a dollar right?!) It was WAY to early for the test to even turn positive. We are talking 50% of women get a positive result 5 days early. This was like 10 days early, but I saw a faint line appear. No. No way. Is it really there? No it's my eyes. No it's there. Take another one. Ok, that one isn't positive. Wait. Yes, yes it is. Call friend. Say it out loud. Send friend picture of test. Friend says its positive. It's positive, all three are positive. Faint, but positive. I tell friend I bet it's twins, I know it's twins, how else would I have gotten a positive result this early? True, I said that, and repeatedly texted it to her too! So I am shaking and processing this, tell Emma because I have to tell someone, and she is so excited! I waited until James came home to tell him and he was really excited too, had a man tear in his eye but don't tell him I told you. That night I googled dollar store pregnancy tests and saw there were some that gave false positives. Aha! That must be it, because James and I both had health class, and my mom gave me "the talk". I know where babies come from. But we both had NO idea when or how this occurred! We were TRYING NOT TO! I guess nothing stands in the way of God's will! Without getting too personal, don't think that "protection" and verrry careful calendar counting are 100% effective - you might end up pregnant with twins :)

So, while I wasn't quite ready for #3, I knew it was meant to be, and was thankful that we are fertile myrtles, because I have a lot of friends struggling and spending oodles of cash to try and get pregnant. I can't imagine, and I know how lucky I am to seemingly get pregnant by holding my husbands hand. My sweet 4 year old Emma asking to kiss my belly and grinning from ear to ear is enough to get you pretty pumped.

I was sick with both Emma and Abigail when I was pregnant. I wasn't sick with my first baby that I miscarried. So when the nausea hit hard, I at least knew this was a healthy baby (but it has been no fun trying to take care of a house and my daughters while I feel so yuck). I never vomited or lost weight like this with the girls though, so again it crossed my mind I might be carrying twins. When I went to the dr. for my first exam, she said that I was measuring larger than my due date and that I might be further then I think. Then, I went downstairs for my ultrasound - the only ultrasound I ever went to without James! When she took me back she said jokingly, "so is it one or two in there?!" because a week earlier I told her I swore I felt movement ALREADY. Laid back, as soon as it popped up on the screen, I saw two heads, and the nurse said, "Um. You have twins." Then we were quiet for a little and I said, "yep, that's what that looks like to me!" The rest is a blur, I was so shocked and scared that I couldn't even focus on the next few minutes of what was on the screen. I honestly wasn't ready for ONE more and never thought I would have 4 kids! Maybe a foster kid one day, but never four of my own. We weren't going to try for almost another year, and I still have a baby! Abby is my baby, she is in diapers, she sleeps in a crib, she needs me to hold her! Beyond that, the dr. told me they are high risk because they are in the same sacs. I would need a C-section. I ran out to the car and dialed James with shaking hands and told him and listened to him giggle....what else do you do but giggle?!

As I drove I took glimpses at the ultrasound picture and it didn't take long for me to fall in love with them and the peace that passes understanding to overcome me, and while I was still quivering, I just knew it was to be. I always have said I thought I would have twins. I went to show my parents the picture at their jobs, and a woman at my mom's work looked at me and said, "God has found favor in you". I really needed to hear that. Because sometimes I feel like I can barely get through the day with my sanity in tact with two kids, but if God granted me such a rare gift, I will take it graciously and do my best. If He saw me fit, one in ten thousand to handle this, then I can. I had been overwhelmed at the thought of having one more regular old baby who I would push out, take home a day later with me, and now I was having TWO babies, a high risk pregnancy, potential hospital bedrest (which is now definite bedrest) which will mean leaving my husband and 2 small children for 2 months and all the planning that goes with that, a C-section, and preemies who I will not even be able to hold for a few days and who will spend weeks in the NICU. If only I could go back and smack the me that was overwhelmed at the thought of one more! Somehow though, this all seems a little more special, and much more of a blessing. Onto why this blessing, also comes with huge risk, why we need so much prayer, and why they are truly miracles. WHAT ARE MOMO TWINS?:

One in one hundred are the odds of a woman becoming pregnant with twins. One in TEN THOUSAND are the odds of a woman becoming pregnant with mono mono twins. S0, say our Good Lord lines up 10,000 women. Then, He says, "Heather Petersheim! Step forward!" I look up and down the row of women, unable to see in either direction where they end, and no other woman stands forward with me. I am alone but somehow know I am blessed and that I was chosen just for this, and through this I will be used in some way. That's how I'm choosing to look at it, because the odds for these babies are not so good.

Mono mono twins have a 50-60% mortality rate, and that is the first thing that is scary about all of this. I will explain the reasons why; it's pretty scientific but I'll try to make it simple, bear with me this is the boring part.

Fraternal twins, who are in completely different chorionic and amniotic sacs, may be different genders and may look completely different. They happen when two eggs are fertilized and two placentas, one for each baby is formed. Identical twins happen later in the fertilization cycle. All identical twins share a chorionic sac and a placenta, and are always the same sex with the same color eyes and hair because they come from one sperm and one egg that splits late, so they share the same DNA and that is why they look alike. BUT, 98% of identical twins have separate amniotic sacs within the chorionic sac. These identical twins are called mono di, and almost all identical twins are mono di. Rarely, there will be a thin membrane separating the identical twins, but even more rarely - and in our case (mono mono) twins, there is absolutely nothing separating these babies from each other. This means that as they grow and move all around in the womb, their umbilical cords twist, tangle, knot, and compress. Not only do they share one placenta that they depend on for their nutritional needs and oxygen, but their cords will entangle and compress which will cut off nutriets and oxygen. This kills one or usually both babies 50-60% of the time without aggressive medical interventions. This is why we were praying that a membrane would be found separating them, but there just is not one. The good news is they were not day in the fertilization process can stand between momo twins and conjoined twins.

What this means since we have no membrane separating our babies, is that until viability outside the womb at 24 weeks, it is a watch and wait game. Mono Mono babies are usually as healthy as any other baby, but as the cords tangle and compress with each days new acrobats in there, the risk grows. This is why once I reach 24 weeks, I will be admitted to the hospital on bedrest and 24/7 monitoring for 8 weeks. They will perform Non Stress Tests multiple times a day to check the babies' heartrates, and if they find that one or both is in stress, they will perform an immediate emergency C-Section to get the babies out. I will get ultrasounds weekly to watch the cord entaglement and the growth of the babies. Although there is not much research on Momo twins because they are so rare, the research that is out there proves that when a mother is admitted for monitoring at 24 weeks and the babies are born via C-Section at 32 weeks, they then have a 85-90% survival rate, which is HUGE compared to the 40-50% survival rate without aggressive care. I'll take the aggressive care please. This means I have 11 weeks left before I become a prisoner of a tiny hospital room! Then, hopefully we can make it safely to 32 weeks, when I will get a C-Section and the babies will spend a few weeks in the NICU.

There are lots of other concerns with twin pregnancies in general, which is why they are all considered "high risk", but the other main concern with identical twins is called Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome. This happens in 20% of identical twin pregnancies, not just momo pregnancies. Because identical twins share a placenta, the blood flows through both cords and both babies. With TTTS, one baby, the "donor's" blood flows through them into the other baby, "the recipient" in surplus. One baby gets all the oxygen and nutrients and blood. You would think this means that baby is super healthy, but not so. With TTTS, usually both babies die, one from anemia and the other from heart and brain problems. So we also are praying that the babies do not develop TTTS which can happen at any time. Occasionally when this or Inrauterine Growth Restriction, another problem, happen then one baby dies and one lives. Sometimes you are recommended to terminate a baby who will most likely not make it and is risking the other's life. This is a decision I do not want to face.

Beyond all this, I was diagnosed with a stomach condition the same day I found out I was having twins, and it causes me a lot of severe pain and the diet that helps with the pain is not the healthiest diet for twins in utero. More on that another time...

Well that is long enough my friends. Now you know way more about this whole scenario than necessary but if you care, thanks for caring :) I will try to blog every few weeks with updates. THANK YOU for your prayers and encouragement and support and thoughts!

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