Ada and Ashlynn

My husband, Kevin and I were very excited to learn that we were expecting again in April 2014. Weston, our first son would be two in July and we were happy to be adding another addition to our family. I felt pretty nauseous the first several weeks and I also felt like I was showing earlier than I did with Weston. A couple of times I joked with Kevin about there being 2 or 3 in there but in honesty I just chalked it up to showing more with your second pregnancy. At our 8 week ultrasound we got quite the surprise. The tech doing the ultrasound said “And here is the first heart beat…”. I instantly thought, “Oh no, it has two hearts.” Ha. Then we looked up and said “Twins???”. “Yes, Twins!”. We were excited and scared and overjoyed all at the same time. After the ultrasound we met briefly with my doctor. She said that there was a chance the twins were sharing a placenta and that they needed to send us to a specialist to be sure. Our doctor explained the different types of twins and said that they are pretty sure the twins were sharing a placenta only and were in separate amniotic sacs. She told us that sharing a sac was very dangerous and while there are risks with sharing the placenta, they were not as high as sharing the same sac. We made the appointment with the high risk maternal fetal specialists for 10 weeks and went home and told our families the big news.

At 10 weeks Kevin and I went to see the high risk specialists at TN Maternal Fetal Medicine. We were hopeful that the preliminary ultrasound was wrong and both babies had separate placentas and separate amniotic sacs. The ultrasound tech spent a long time looking around in the ultrasound and wouldn’t tell us anything until we met with the doctor. It was the longest ultrasound ever. All we knew was that there were still two heartbeats. After the ultrasound we met with the doctor and our worst fears came true. Both babies were not only sharing a placenta but they also could not find a membrane separating the babies. It looked like the babies were monochorionic monoamniotic (or mono-mono twins). Mono-mono twins are very rare, resulting in about 1% of twin pregnancies. They are also very risky. The doctors gave us odds anywhere from 50-70% of making it to 24 weeks (viability). The main risk for mono-mono twins is cord compression due to cord entanglement since the babies are in the same sac. There were other risks as well. We had hard conversations with our doctors on devastating scenarios that we could face: twin to twin transfusion, where one twin gets more blood and one doesn’t get enough, severe heart and kidney birth defects, defects where one twin would likely die and we could possibly sacrifice one to save the other, situations where one twin dies in utero and it harms the other. I could go on and on with the devastating scenarios we braced ourselves for. Kevin and I made the choice to give our babies and fighting chance and continue the pregnancy. This meant ultrasounds every two weeks and inpatient hospital admission at 25 weeks. I have never been more scared in my life.
The pregnancy was an emotional roller coaster. Every two weeks we went back to the specialist’s office for ultrasounds. At 16 weeks we found out that the twins were girls. I was excited but made myself emotionally unattached to the pregnancy. Before I knew the twin prognosis, I found all of these cute ideas on Pinterest for announcing your pregnancy and gender reveal, etc. Once we knew our situation I didn’t do any of them. I didn’t buy one thing once we found out we were having girls and we didn’t dare put up a nursery. The thought of having to take down a twin nursery or return piles of pink clothes was too much for me to handle. I tried to focus my time on Weston and staying positive. I stayed off Google and read stories from this website on monoamniotic twin stories with happy endings. I read the happy stories and day dreamed we’d be one some day. At the same time I had nightmares that we’d lost the babies and I picked out songs I liked for their memorial/funeral. It was a tormented way to live for months but I did it. There was no choice in my mind. I was going to give these girls a fighting chance and do everything in my power to get them here. I had 33 ultrasounds to check on these girls and I prayed and held my breath that each one would be ok. And by the grace of God, they were ok. The twins were healthy and growing. Kevin and I did pick out names: Ada Vaughan and Ashlynn Vanessa. Whatever happened, we wanted our girls to have names and know how much they were loved.

At 25 weeks I was admitted to the hospital for inpatient monitoring. I remember being so relieved to have made it to 25 weeks but still cautious in knowing that we could lose one or both girls at any time. At one point before my inpatient admission, they gave me an 80% chance of coming home with one healthy baby if we made it to 25 weeks. It was hard being away from my husband and son but I lived on the antepartum ward for 44 days. I had fetal heart rate monitoring 3 times a day and ultrasounds 3 times per week. The nurses, ultrasound technicians, and doctors were fabulous. I was lucky to have great care. I was also able to work my job remotely from the hospital which was a huge blessing. Not only did it make the time pass quickly, it allowed me to not have to burn up all my leave before the girls were even born. Week after week, Ada and Ashlynn continued to grow, have good fetal heart rates and good blood flow between their cords.
My doctors and I made the decision to deliver the girls at 32 weeks gestation. Technically, it was 31 weeks and 6 days because 32 weeks fell on a Saturday. I remember asking one of my doctors if we should plan for Friday or Monday and she said “We take them early on Friday. We don’t go past 32 weeks.” I had heard a story of a patient that tried to wait longer and lost one of her twins. I was scared to be delivering premature babies, but hopeful that the risks of prematurity would be less than the risks they faced in the womb.
On October 17, 2014 via planned C-section, Ada and Ashlynn made their debut. Ada Vaughan was born at 9:20 am and weighed 3 lbs., 14 oz. She measured 16 inches long. One minute later they pulled Ashlynn Vanessa (Baby B) out at 3 lbs., 8 oz, measuring 16 1/2 inches long. I could hear both girls crying when they came out which was so cool and a huge relief. After the respiratory therapists and nurses and doctors checked them out, I got to see both girls before they took them to the NICU. Kevin got a ton of great photos during the delivery and was able to follow the girls to the NICU. After my doctor finished sewing me up, he showed me the placenta with the umbilical cords attached. Both cord inserts were on far ends of the placenta and the cords themselves were entangled but ”loosely braided” as the doctor said. If the cords had been more entangled or had several tight knots, we likely wouldn’t have been so fortunate to make it to almost 32 weeks with these girls. It was a miracle.

Ada and Ashlynn spent 4 weeks in the NICU. They had minor respiratory issues and needed a nasal cannula for a brief time. They also had jaundice and were on a feeding tube and had to learn to eat as they got older. Thankfully, today the girls have no known issues. They are healthy 4 month olds weighing in at 9 lbs. I thank God for them every day and am so thankful our story had a happy ending. I pray for all those out there dealing with a mono mono diagnosis and hope that our story can give you hope that sometimes miracles come in pairs.