In October our family discovered that we would be adding a new little person in the spring of 2011. Due to some confusion on the baby's due date we went to have a dating ultrasound. At this first ultrasound we were told two things of importance: First, the baby's estimated due date was May 21, 2011. Second, there was an abnormal mass discovered on my placenta that would require further examination. As you can imagine the second piece of the news we received was unsettling; however, at the time I was immersed in my internship and life was proceeding at a fast pace. Weeks went by and we did not give things another thought... after all, wouldn't my midwife call if there was something SERIOUS going on?
In early December, I went to see my midwife for a regularly scheduled appointment. At this appointment I discovered that due to an administration mix-up my midwife had never received the results of the dating ultrasound which had taken place 5 weeks earlier. Once we had the results in hand, I was told that I would need to receive a more detailed ultrasound. The midwife gave me a range of possible reasons for the mass and then referred me to North Memorial's perinatal department where I would be scheduled for a level 2 ultrasound.
One week later, I was getting to view our baby for the second time. This ultrasound was filled with both joy and a little trepidation. I had gone alone because at this point we still believed everything MUST be fine. Shortly after the ultrasound had begun my technician stated that she would need to go and speak to the Dr. I knew at this point something was not right. Upon her return I asked for whatever information she could give me. All she could say was that this was a twin pregnancy and that the Dr. would explain everything after the ultrasound was finished. I anxiously awaited the duration of the appointment while trying to enjoy the sight of my little baby BOY moving around and looking healthy to my untrained eye.
Once the pictures were done, I waited for the doctor to come in and review the results with me. This half hour wait was excruciatingly long! The doctor came in with a solemn face. She explained that this was indeed a identical twin pregnancy; however, the one baby (the mass on my placenta) was what the referred to as an Acardiac Twin. What does this mean? Essentially it means that this baby did not develop a heart. It also means that our twin boys our connect by a vein in the placenta. Our baby boy is pumping blood for his non-living brother. This can allow the Acardiac twin to continue to grow. The doctor explained that this was a complex situation. It places our healthy baby boy at risk for potential heart failure. So what was the game plan? I would be monitored weekly via ultrasound to keep an eye on our little one!
I would be lying if I was to say that this ultrasound was not emotionally draining. My midwife had prepared me (us) for the possibility that there would be a non-living twin which turned out to be a blessing. While, it was sad to learn that there had been another baby it has been an odd sense of loss because we never knew about him while he was alive! It was much harder to hear that our healthy baby boy was in real possible danger. So many questions abounded... What were our odds? What would this pregnancy look like? How do hold out hope and yet know there is a possibility of loss? Would we be the parents of a preemie? How would this affect our little guy in the long run if he made it? So many questions and so few answers. We were (and still are) truly living on a prayer.
Some of these questions have been answered in the weeks following this initial appointment. Some of these questions we still hold awaiting an answer. What we have discovered for certain since this initial diagnosis is that we serve a powerful, gracious and compassionate God and that He has given us a tremendous support network in our friends and family. We wanted to create a place where those around us could go and find out what the latest news on this little one is and where we can share our concerns and our joys as this pregnancy progresses.