I guess I owe you a lot of information, seeing as how I haven't posted since July! Once I catch you up, I think you'll understand.
First and foremost, the love of our lives turned 11 months old yesterday. Oh. My. Gosh. Where is the time going? I'm working on a photo book of her first year and, as I look back at all of the photos, I can't believe it's been nearly a year since her arrival. Amelia is such a special little girl and Branden and I feel so lucky to be her parents. She is still as curious as ever and has developed a fun personality. She's sassy and mischievous when she wants to be, but spends most of her time exploring, dancing and making us laugh with her funny faces and antics. She LOVES to people watch and laughs hysterically around other kids.
Here is a brief rundown of her accomplishments and new skills:
* 2 more teeth (I think I mistakenly said she got three at seven months...it was only two, as the last one actually popped through at eight months)
* Cruising (walking holding on to things)
* Pulling up to stand
* 2 more teeth (that's eight now if you're counting)
* saying "Dada"
* Climbing stairs
Greek yogurt, soup (especially veggie or minestrone), mangoes, orange wedges and any kind of meat. She's anemic so we think that might be why she loves meat so much; her body is craving the iron. Either way, it's quite funny to watch this petite little girl dig in to an Italian Beef sandwich!
Last week we had an early birthday party for her. It was six weeks before her actual first birthday, but back when we were planning it, we decided to have it early in case I ended up and bed rest with the twins. Thankfully, other than for a few weeks, that hasn't happened, but it was nice to celebrate while I still have some energy. We planned a Dr. Seuss themed party and Mia seemed to love it. The best part was having my parents, Branden's parents and my sister and brother-in-law there to celebrate with us.
Of course, as we enjoy and celebrate each day with Amelia, we are also eagerly awaiting the arrival of our twins. It's been a roller coaster few months, but I'm very thankful to report that all is well now and we expect them the week after Thanksgiving! Here's the back story to get you caught up...
As I said in my last post, Amelia and I were in the Midwest until the end of July. After two months away, Branden was coming home the first weekend in August, so we wanted to make sure we were back in time to see him. He was only supposed to be home for a few days and his visit coincided perfectly with my 20-week ultrasound. While Branden was content to keep the twins' genders a surprise until delivery day, I decided that I was good on surprises for the year (hi, TWINS?!) and so we agreed to find out the gender of the babies at the ultrasound. These days, the 20-week ultrasound is pretty much standard procedure and it enables the doctors to look for any potentially serious problems with the baby. Because it is such an in-depth look at the baby, it is also a chance to find out the baby's gender. Fortunately, most parents leave this ultrasound knowing their baby is perfectly healthy and if they are welcoming a little boy or a little girl.
You can probably guess where this is going, but like I said, all is well now! So, as you read, keep in mind that our story has a happy ending. We arrived at Balboa (our hospital) for the ultrasound, dropped Mia off at the the daycare there and headed over to radiology. A very nice and professional tech warmly greeted us and we settled in for the two-hour scan. Right away, she asked us if the twins were identical or fraternal and we said we really didn't know. She said she thought they were identical, based on what she could see. She continued scanning for about an hour and then asked us if we wanted to know the babies' gender. YES, I said! She turned the computer towards us and showed us a very proud little BOY. We were shocked! Our last guess was two boys (it's the most uncommon combination), but there was one and, since they're identical, one penis means two!
Over the next hour, she continued to scan, this time focusing on Baby B. After she was done, she said she wanted to show the doctor the photos and make sure she hadn't missed anything. I knew immediately something was up because I've had both good and bad ultrasounds and that's only something they do in a "bad" ultrasound. Unfortunately, Branden had to leave to pick-up Mia before the day care closed, so I was on my own, waiting for the tech to return. She did, with a doctor in tow. They asked if my husband was coming back and I asked if he needed to. They said yes. We couldn't get a hold of him (dumb cell phones!), so I asked them to give me the news anyways. The doctor was very kind and explained that our identical twins had an uncommon syndrome called Twin-to-Twin Transfusion. She briefly explained it and told me to expect a call from the perinatologist (high-risk obstetrician) within 24 hours.
TTTS, as Twin-to-Twin is known, affects about 10% of identical twin pregnancies. It's a little complicated, so below is a link to explain it. In a nutshell, we met with the high-risk team at Balboa and they told us there was a 95% chance we would lose both twins if we didn't get treatment right away. Thankfully, there is a relatively new surgery to treat this and one of the nation's top surgeons is in Los Angeles. Within 24 hours of our diagnosis, we had an appointment for surgery in LA. This link explains both the syndrome and the surgery, and the doctor and nurses featured are the same wonderful team that treated us.
When we were diagnosed, our TTTS was a level 1-2. Six days later, when we had our pre-op ultrasound, it had progressed to a level 2-3. This meant our donor baby's bladder was no longer functioning, his blood flow was becoming irregular and he had no fluid in his amniotic sac. He was also severly growth restricted. Our recipient baby's heart was showing some thickening and his amniotic sac was 15-16cm deep (normal is 3-8). Due to the excess fluid, my belly was measuring 37 weeks, even though I was only 21 weeks pregnant at this point. During surgery, Dr. Chmait removed two liters of fluid from the recipient's sac and successfully laser ablated all of the blood vessels connecting the two boys. 24 hours after surgery, both boys had strong heartbeats, so we headed home to wait and see how the next month would go (the most critical period).
For a month after surgery, I was on modified bed rest and Branden was home to watch Mia. We had weekly ultrasounds to check on the boys and each week they looked better and better. Four weeks after surgery, we had another in-depth ultrasound and fetal echo cardiogram (an ultrasound of their hearts). To everyone's relief, our boys looked GREAT. Our doctor was so pleased and said, if she didn't know our history, she would think she was looking at the ultrasound of a normal twin pregnancy. We are SO incredibly thankful and blessed by this outcome.
We continue to have bi-weekly ultrasounds and other monitoring, but as of last week, the boys are still making a remarkable recovery. Henry, our donor baby, weighs about three pounds and Miles, our recipient, is almost three and a half pounds. They are both in the 25-35th percentile for size, which is amazing considering Henry was in the second percentile at the time of surgery. Unless the boys decide they're ready sooner, it looks like I will deliver six+ pound babies the week after Thanksgiving!
My belly is getting bigger, but compared to how it was before surgery, I feel great! I'm starting to get more tired and uncomfortable, but most days are pretty good and, of course, Amelia keeps my mind off how I'm feeling. I think my belly will get really big in the coming weeks (or, as Branden so kindly put it, "you're going to be HUGE!"), but I'm so happy the boys are healthy, I don't care! It's all worth it.
Well, you're probably tired of reading by now and I'm tired of writing, so this is probably a good time to call it a night. Before I go, I do want to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers over the last two months. Through the worst of days, we were encouraged by the kind phone calls, emails and cards we received. You brought us meals, watched Amelia and accompanied me to doctor's appointments when Branden had to go back to work. We will never be able to convey the depth of our gratitude, but please know we are so thankful to have such a loving, supportive group of family and friends to lean on. We love you all very much and can't wait to introduce you to our little miracles!!