It is 4 a.m. and I am just sitting – wide awake – a million thoughts running through my mind. I’ve been told that near the end of pregnancy, a woman’s body starts keeping her awake more…in preparation for the lack of sleep that is imminent with baby’s (or in our case, babies’) impending arrival. One of Mother Nature’s crueler jokes I think – not letting us soon-to-be mamas get some sleep while we still can!
It does give me an opportunity, however, to start the process of sharing a little more of our story with you. The parts that, quite honestly, we never imagined we’d be dealing with…and, for many months now, have been processing and praying over within the privacy of our family.
To fully take you on this journey with us (and to keep this post from being 7 million words long) I am going to break it up into a few parts…starting way back at the very beginning. I just want to say one thing before I start – thank you. For allowing me to open up my heart and share these more intimate parts of our story with you.
Two pink lines! To be quite honest, my husband and I were both more than a little shocked. I only took a HPT because of a “gut feeling” I had one morning while we were getting ready for church – I hadn’t actually prepared myself for a positive result! Ironically, that Sunday our church was having its annual Orphan Sunday, where the message focuses on and celebrates adoption. So, naturally, I spent the entire service trying to conceal the tears streaming down my face as I wondered to myself…how did I get so blessed?
Just eight days later, we were at our OB’s office for our very first ultrasound. We found out two rather shocking things. First, we were already nearly 9 weeks along. What?! And…yes, indeed, that was two little hearts we saw flickering on the monitor. Shock and joy quickly turned to concern as the ultrasound technician touched my arm and said, “But sweetie, one of them is really small. Not what we would expect at 9 weeks.” And so our sweet Baby A’s battle began.
One month and one day after finding out we had not one but TWO babies on board, we were back for another ultrasound. It had been a long month since our first appointment, with many days spent praying over our babies. Getting multiples through the first trimester, I learned, is quite a miracle – in fact, somewhere up to 30% of early detected twin pregnancies experience vanishing twin syndrome, where one fetus does not make it and essentially “vanishes” from the womb.
At that point, we were just over 13 weeks, so along with our “regular” ultrasound they did a nuchal translucency scan. The nuchal translucency is the fluid found just under the skin at the back of a baby’s neck, and its thickness as measured in a NT scan can be an early indicator of potential genetic disorders on the chromosomal spectrum. This is part of the first trimester-combined screening that assesses a baby’s risk of chromosomal abnormalities.
As with our first appointment, we were taken on a bit of an emotional ride through this screening process. First, we were elated to see two little hearts still pumping away on the ultrasound monitor. To this day, there is no better feeling than seeing and hearing those little hearts beating. Then, we had our follow-up consult. The doctor was taking a lot longer than usual to come see us. We knew immediately by the look on her face something was wrong. Based on the scans, she told us, Baby A had a 72% chance of having Down Syndrome. The nuchal translucency measurement was way above the range considered “normal” which pointed to an almost definite chromosomal abnormality. Baby B, she assured us, looked perfectly fine. There have been many moments throughout this pregnancy that will be forever frozen in my mind. That is definitely one of them.
The doctor stepped out giving Kade and I some time to process everything she’d told us and to decided, at that point, if we wanted to move forward with any type of genetic testing. Wanting to be armed with as much information as possible without any risk to the babies, we chose to do a blood test called MaterniT21 PLUS, which provides extremely accurate results specifically for Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome), Trisomy 18 (Edwards Syndrome) and Trisomy 13 (Patau Syndrome) – the three most common chromosomal abnormalities. We would have the results within two weeks. Christmas Day.
This was quite possibly the longest 12 days of our lives. While we knew the results of this test would in no way impact our love for these babies OR the outcome of our pregnancy (bringing two beautiful babies into the world) – they would significantly impact the rest of our lives in so many ways.
We weren’t sure if we’d have the results back before Christmas. But on the afternoon of December 23…while I was at my family’s cabin in Kansas with my mama and Kade was actually just leaving Illinois to join the rest of our family for the Holidays…my phone rang. I sat on the floor of our “home away from home” with tears streaming down my face before the nurse could even begin to talk. “The results for you’re MaterniT21 test came back…they were negative.” I heard her, but it took a while for her words to sink in. Negative. Meaning no markers for chromosomal abnormalities. Then I heard, “Do you want to know the genders?” YES! My heart was already bursting…so many emotions I don’t even know which ones were prevailing. “You’re having two little girls – congratulations!” Then the water works really started. I ran down the stairs, tears still flowing. My mom was so caught of guard, she didn’t even know what was going on until I could compose myself enough to speak. I picked up the phone and called my husband with two of the happiest pieces of information we’ve ever received. The test results were negative. We were having two sweet baby girls. Life could not get any better.
As we began the second trimester of our twin pregnancy, things were looking optimistic. We were elated parents-to-be. But we had no idea the things that were still in store for us…and the way these babies would change our lives for the better. More of our story coming soon…