It was the Sunday before Thanksgiving, I was 26 weeks pregnant and Dan and I were getting on a flight to meet with a Fetal Surgeon and his team. I usually love flying and staying in hotels, but this was not a trip to look forward to.
The next morning, we were greeted by a wonderful nurse, who helped us walk through our full day of tests. At the end of the day, we met with the Fetal Surgeon, Neonatologist, Pediatric Cardiologist, Radiologist and several more team members in a conference room where they presented to us the results of what was happening to our little girls. They explained that TTTS is categorized into stages 1, 2, 3A, 3B, 3C and 4. The fourth stage was the demise of either baby. Our girls were in stage 3A. The option was to do Fetal Laser Surgery to basically disconnect the blood vessels in the placenta that were connected to each other, thus stopping the TTTS. However, because I was 26 weeks along, they would not be able to perform the surgery if we waited any longer. If we proceeded, there was only a 50/50 chance that both girls would survive. The laid it all on the table then told us the decision was ours to make. So there we were faced with the hardest decision of our lives and we had to decide then and there.
After asking a few more questions, to make sure we understood everything the best we could, we decided to not do the surgery. We would continue the pregnancy with close monitoring including ultrasounds each day, echocardiograms weekly and aggressive amnio reductions as needed and leaving our girl’s future in our loving, powerful God’s hands. We hoped for being able to make it another 2 to 4 weeks before delivery.
We flew home from Cincinnati, celebrated Thanksgiving, still on bedrest, then I was admitted to the hospital on bedrest to keep a really close eye on our babies. I was surprised at just how difficult it was to be hospitalized, on bedrest. I got so sad being away from my family. I felt like I wasn't able to a a Mom to my little boy and missed him so much, plus it was Christmas time. Thankfully, after a couple of weeks, my doctor decided I could go home. My Dad came back to town and was willing to drive me to my appointments every day while I promised to stay on strict bedrest. It did my heart such good to be home again.
As a little girl Psalm 23 seemed so mysterious, I suppose I read it quite literally as a child. I was studying this verse and finally deeply understood the meaning. Here we were walking through our own valley of the shadow of death.
At 31 4/7 weeks, the cardiologist recommended our babies be delivered. The recipient’s heart wall was continuing to thicken. Delivery day was scheduled for 32 weeks. We were excited, grateful to have gotten so far along, and nervous to meet our little girls, not knowing what would lay ahead of them in the Neonatal ICU (NICU).
Here is a portion of an email my husband sent out. Dan wrote, "At 8:30 we said hello to Anna Hope and at 8:31 we said hello to Josephina (Josie) Faith. Anna weighs 4lbs 5oz and Josie weighs 3lbs. Melanie is doing well. Today I asked our Dr. now that we are all done with the TTTS situation, what was He thinking when he saw us at 20 weeks. He responded almost immediately, I thought you'd lose one of them, if not both. At the c-section the Dr. brought me over and showed me the placenta. She could see that Anna had maybe 75% of the placenta and Josie had 25%. She said that Josie didn't have enough of the placenta to support herself and if they didn't have TTTS Josie would have died. So what we have thought was the problem ended up being the life saver. "For the winter is past, and the rain is over and gone. The flowers are springing up and the time of singing birds has come.” -Song of Songs 2:11-12
With that news, we were in awe at the Sovereignty of God!
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb, I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!” -Psalms 139:13-17
We thought the hard times were behind us, except life in the NICU doesn’t always work that way. They were preemies and still had tough days ahead...