I don’t know if I’ll get through this post without fighting back tears, but I’ll give it my best shot…
Two weeks after the shock of our lives, (finding out we were expecting triplets), I found myself back on that same cold table, staring blankly at the black and white screen. I immediately saw the three oval-shaped sacs, and watched breathlessly as she examined each one closely for a heartbeat. Tiny little blips flashed on the screen proving life still existed. We knew that during the first trimester, there were certainly no guaranties. As she scanned the final sack, something caught my eye. Before a word was spoken, I saw it. I knew with certainty that this sac was not like the other two. Time stood still in that defining moment. There were two flashing heartbeats in one sack.
History was written in a conversation that went down something like this:
Me: "There’s two in there, aren’t there?"
Nurse Lisa: "What?"
Brad: "Huh? What? Are there? Are we talking four babies?"
Our Doctor took over the ultrasound from there…
He examined it closely in what appeared to be disbelief. He confirmed soberly there were indeed four and waited for me to get dressed to meet with him in the conference room.
I remember looking at Brad who was standing behind me, making sure he wasn’t going to pass out. He looked so dismayed and distraught. I was instantly flooded with emotions and ten thousand questions. I felt overcome with guilt, fear, panic, grief, pain, disappointment, and disbelief; Yet I remained emotionally unresponsive in appearance. I couldn’t cry… I couldn’t laugh a nervous laugh… I couldn’t scream… I just wanted to pull the white sheet over my head, and disappear from this new reality.
Instead, the nightmare worsened. We learned that not only did we have an even higher risk pregnancy by the increased number, but we were facing, (I quote), "Pretty much the worse case scenario". Our worst case scenario involved a rare form of twinning, called mono-amniotic twins. Monoamniotic twins are rare identical twins that occur in approximately 1 in 35,000 to 1 in 60,000 pregnancies, but had not been documented to exist within a quadruplet pregnancy.
A complicated pregnancy lends itself to a complicated explanation. (For the record the incidence of mono-mono twins or even having identical twins for that matter were unrelated to the mild fertility treatments we underwent.) Without getting too ridiculously medical, let me try my best to explain monoamniotic twins through a compiling of these resources, for those of you who may not be familiar with this terminology. (Illustrations can be found here.)
Monoamniotic twins are identical twins that develop inside the same amniotic sac. They share a placenta within their mother’s uterus, but have two separate umbilical cords for nourishment. This means that both babies share the same living space. They don’t just share their house, they share a bedroom, bathroom, and playroom! Where as other identical twins share an outer sac, but not an inner sac. They are separated by an important membrane. Unfortunately, monoamniotic twins are at great risk for health complications due to the close proximity of the two umbilical cords in the amniotic sac. This makes it particularly easy for the twins to become entangled in each other’s cords, or to compress one another’s cords, endangering their oxygen and food supply. The survival rate for monoamniotic twins is approximately 50%, but incalculably less within a quad pregnancy scenario.
We walked out of our 8 week appointment in anguish, after what seemed to be a death sentence for our four little heartbeats…
But God had other plans.
(Rewinds Numbers 1 – 9 can be found here.)