My proudest moment. It didn’t take me long to know that the day Kennedy and Ellie were born was one of the very proudest moments of my life. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I had little to do with the miracle that they are! God had his hand on Kennedy & Ellie from the very beginning. I started writing out a caption for an Instagram post and it just became too long, but I still wanted to share our story! So, even though it has been a hot minute since I’ve done a blog post, here is the story of Kennedy and Ellie.
We had suffered two miscarriages prior to finding out we were pregnant for a third time. So when we went for our dating ultrasound, I was nervous and scared and just praying for a heartbeat and I told the ultrasound tech those same words… “I’m praying for a heartbeat.” There were two ultrasounds techs helping with the ultrasound, one was doing her practicum and the other was her teacher. The practicum student had a huge smile on her face the entire time. I thought either she was just a really happy person, or really loved her job. So smiley, oddly so. The ultrasound took about 30 minutes and both techs, literally said not one word about it, only casual conversation about our day, and our plans for the evening. It was our anniversary and we were planning to go for dinner! Finally, I asked, “Is there a heartbeat!?” The mentor tech said, “Yes, actually there are two heartbeats.” Ummmmmmmm…. Pardon me?! The practicum student was beaming because it was her first ever twin ultrasound! Warren and I were speechless. All we could do was look at each other in complete shock. You’d think, being a twin myself, that it wouldn’t be such a shock to find out that we were expecting twins! But no one can prepare you for that news.
We cancelled our dinner plans because, well, I just needed to go home and process the information – WE WERE HAVING TWINS! I was excited, happy, and so very scared. Having had two miscarriages, I wondered if this twin pregnancy would actually work out. We went home and decided to call our families and tell them. Warren’s parents were hilarious trying to figure out why there was an A and B on the ultrasound picture. I’m so thankful we recorded that video call. Dad slamming is ice cream bowl on the desk in excitement is something I’ll never forget.
I was sick. So so sick. Thank you to whoever invented Diclectin because I don’t know what I would have done without it. But, to me, being sick meant things were okay. So, I was grateful for it.
Fast forward to our 16 week ultrasound. I had never had a 16 week ultrasound before and didn’t know what to expect, but I suspected something was wrong when we were headed into hour three of the ultrasound and they moved Warren and I to the “back” ultrasound room. After five hours, yes five, we met with the doctor. I had a gross, unsettling, panicked feeling. The doctor told us that our twins had Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS). Here is an explanation of TTTS taken from www.hopkinsmedicine.org -
Twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) is a rare pregnancy condition affecting identical twins. TTTS occurs in pregnancies where twins share one placenta (afterbirth) and a network of blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients essential for development in the womb.
Sometimes the vessel connections within the placenta are not evenly dispensed and there is an imbalance in the blood exchange between the twins. One twin — the donor twin — gives away more blood than it receives in return and runs the risk of malnourishment and organ failure. The recipient twin receives too much blood and is susceptible to overwork of the heart and other cardiac complications.
Our girls were not sharing their blood evenly, and even at 16 weeks they could already see the discrepancy. We were scheduled for another ultrasound the following Monday (only three days later). We were told to book flights to Toronto, where Dr. Ryan at Mount Sinai hospital could perform a surgery to hopefully correct the blood flow between the girls. We were handed a piece of paper which explained the odds of survival for one or both of the twins. They weren’t good. I hated that piece of paper. I was devastated, and didn’t know what to do, so I prayed. I prayed for a miracle, because I didn’t know how, after two miscarriages, I would make it through another loss.
On Monday, with our flights booked and our bags packed we went for our next ultrasound. And by the grace of God, the girls blood flow looked okay. The discrepancy hadn’t gotten worse, and maybe was even a bit better. Warren called Westjet, who were so gracious and accommodating in rescheduling our flights to Thursday, the day of our next ultrasound. And again on Thursday we went to the ultrasound, bags packed and flights booked. But again, the blood flow for both girls looked good. We had a total of 22 ultrasounds throughout the pregnancy, two a week, most of them lasting at least two hours. If you’ve had an ultrasound at any stage of pregnancy you know that it’s either the full bladder that’s uncomfortable, or the size of your belly!
We needed our girls to share their blood until at least 28 weeks, at which point they would no longer need to do the TTTS surgery. And they did! Even now as I’m typing I am welling up with tears, realizing what a miracle this is. But there were more miracles to come…
On June 21, 2013, we had another ultrasound, shocking… I know. We had a different doctor who wanted to meet with us after the ultrasound. For the past two weeks we had been scheduled for only one ultrasound per week, but this doctor felt uneasy about not seeing us until the next Friday. He said that the blood flow looked concerning and since he was not familiar with our case, he wanted to err on the side of caution and see us on Monday, June 24th. That was 100%, without a doubt, God speaking to that doctor, in that moment.
Over the weekend (the weekend of the flood in Calgary), Kennedy who had always been the donor baby, the baby giving all the blood, became the recipient, and Ellie, the recipient, had become the donor. Our ultrasound on Monday showed that they were in fetal distress and had to be delivered immediately. Our beautiful miracle baby girls were born via emergency c-section, at 33 weeks on June 24th, 2013, and I couldn’t have been more proud of my girls. They had beaten the odds. Kennedy was 4 lb. 4 oz. and Ellie was 3 lb. 10 oz.
Both were healthy but had to be closely monitored as Kennedy’s heart had been working overtime to accommodate all of the blood that Ellie was giving her. Kennedy was born bright red. And Ellie, needed some help too as she didn’t have quite enough blood, and was born very pale because of that. It was helpful in determining who was who though!
On July 28th we brought our sweet girls home.
I'm so thankful for Warren who was steadfast through it all and provided comic relief when I needed it. Like when he nearly ran into the parkade barrier on our way to hospital to have the girls.... or when he was MIA when the surgical team was ready to go for the c-section. He was getting a sandwich. I'm thankful for medical geniuses like the doctor who invented the surgery for TTTS so our twins and others have hope. And for the doctor who diagnosed our girls, and the doctor that sensed that something was not right and asked to see us a mere three days later.
I pray that the story of our girls is a story of hope for those reading. I challenge anyone to tell me that miracles do not exist. They do.
God’s timing is perfect, never early, never late. It takes a little patience and a lot of faith but is always worth the wait.