It was a chance occurrence that, during our first prenatal visit on December 23, 2015, our regular midwife (she had been booked up) came and found us in the hallway and insisted on just taking a little peek at my womb since none of us could believe I was pregnant again. After just two swipes of the wand, we all sat, astounded to see what was undeniably on the screen – two little heartbeats.
The in-office machine isn’t the best and we just did a quick peek for fun so we had to wait until today to finally get so many questions answered – but it wasn’t that easy!
First of all, during our first appointment last month, I accepted the offer to do the finger prick blood work to assess the risk of congenital issues with my babies. I had just learned that I was carrying multiples and the reality is that I am well over 35 (I’ll be 38 when I deliver). Having just gone through this last year, we felt really reassured last time when our results were combined with what was seen on the ultrasound.
We were also thrilled that we were able to score our favorite technician. We arrived at the Perinatal Center with balloons and flowers in hand to greet her but we were told there was a bit of a wait. After entertaining ourselves with the Food Network in the waiting room for 30 minutes, she came out and, after hugging and thanking us, explained that we were going to have to see the Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist before we could even have an ultrasound. We were terrified. Was it something in our bloodwork?
When we sat down with the man we had seen several times during my last pregnancy, he seemed so much gruffer and matter-of-fact than we’d ever seen him. I had to even ask him if he remembered us because it was so impersonal. He initially said that we might not have an ultrasound based on what we thought of what he said about our risk factors. He mentioned genetic testing but then discouraged us because the new tests aren’t proven to be reliable for twins. He said that we may see them on the scan and see that they are so deformed that we won’t even want the tests anyway. He went over all the ways that the babies might die and we were completely deflated.
After his 20 minutes of doom and gloom, I was ready to just crawl under a rock and cry. We insisted on continuing on with the ultrasound and we saw three important things:
- They are identical twins in two separate sacs sharing a single placenta (monochorionic, diamniotic).
- The presence of a nasal bone and a nuchal translucency measurement of 1.0mm and 1.1mm (anything over 2.5mm is an increased risk)
- Two bouncy little babies.
I know that nothing is guaranteed and anything can happen but it was a huge relief to see that there were not two little monsters invading my uterus. The way the MFM doctor had scared us, I was half expecting to see el Chupacabra or something.
We were ushered into the genetic counselor’s office where we had to hear more of the same but, with the ultrasound looking good, her tone was a bit softer. She had taken the data from the ultrasound already and combined it with our bloodwork to give us an idea of our risks. While my chances of having a baby with chromosomal abnormalities was still higher than that of a 25-year-old expectant mother, they had decreased by nearly half for a woman my age. For now, we have not chosen to move forward with any more tests.
Still, the MFM physician wanted to see us one more time before we were allowed to leave and, by then, the clinic was shut down. He was a little more the person we knew and loved and less fear-inducing but I was a little crestfallen over the fact that this had stolen some of the joy we had felt going into the day. I guess that was the first reality check about a multiple pregnancy – it’s a lot riskier than having one baby and the risks add up even more if you’re a mother over 35. I know the MFM doctor had to do his job and lay out the facts – it was just hard to hear when all we wanted was to focus on the excitement. In the end, we are grateful to know what we could be up against.
We will take this pregnancy one day at a time and see what happens. There are so many things that I cannot change so I refuse to make myself a prisoner of fear. I will eat as well as I can, try to be active and manage my stress and commit to maintaining an optimistic outlook.