My husband is in the Marines and we got married at 19, right after he got out of boot camp. After he got out of his job training, I moved to North Carolina in September and BAM I was pregnant!
>It surely wasn’t what we planned, but we couldn’t have been happier. I have always loved children and I knew I would make a GREAT mother. I went in and found out that I was about 10 weeks along with TWINS!! We were so happy!!
On November 30 (my daddy’s birthday) I had my first ultrasound and right way they noticed that something was wrong. They sent me to a high risk specialist and he noticed that one was slightly smaller and had less amniotic fluid. I was diagnosed with a rare disease known as TTTS. He told me to terminate, but I didn’t want to. I was given these babies for a reason, and I wanted nature to take its course. He said having this disease early on in a pregnancy isn’t a good thing and I will probably lose them, but I wasn’t going to give up. I told him I will do anything to save my babies.
Luckily being in the military I didn’t have to pay for a thing, which helped considering I was getting bi-weekly ultrasounds. Things were stable for a little while, and then around the beginning of the 4th month I found out that they were BOYS. We named them Jack (the donor) and Jake (the recipient). Jack just wasn’t growing while Jake was in perfect
I was lucky to be in North Carolina because there is a TTTS Specialist (Dr Johnson – who later was seen on medical mysteries when they did the TTTS episode!) only 2 hours away at UNC Chapel Hill which is a wonderful hospital. There I found out that the jack also had a velamentous cord (the umbilical cord isn’t attached directly to the placenta, but rather attaches to the membrane wall) Dr. Johnson said that the donor Jack had about a 20% chance of surviving. I had done so much research. Dr. Johnson was surprised on how much I already knew about TTTS. He said that if the donor died in utero, it could cause the very healthy baby to become brain dead. So we made the hard decision of terminating the smaller one to save the healthy one.
Two weeks before my twentieth birthday, we went back up to UNC and we decided we would terminate by the selective reduction laser surgery, a $13,000 dollar procedure that Tricare did not want to cover, because it was technically an abortion. I was EXTREMLY stressed out that week with Tricare. Finally the doctors proved to the insurance company that it was medically necessary and they approved the surgery two days after my scheduled appointment.
Prior to my procedure, they did another ultrasound to figure out where they needed to go in at. Unfortunately, Jack had already passed. I had an ultrasound three days earlier and he was still alive, so he passed sometime between January 15-17. I wanted to place the blame on SOMETHING. I thought it was my stress that did it, or it was Tricare’s fault for running around circles. I now know it was just meant to be.
Now the focus was on Jake. He already had severe hydrops around the brain, heart and other organs. As time went on I felt him moving less and less every day. Dr. Johnson informed me it might be likely he would not be able to walk, talk, would have to be on a feeding tube, and basically be a vegetable and probably wouldn’t survive past his first birthday. I went and got more opinions from four different doctors, and they all said the same thing. My husband and I didn’t feel that this was the life we wanted for our baby, so we decided to terminate him as well.
So on February 15 a week before my sixth month of pregnancy I went back up to UNC and got a pelvic examine and I was already dilated to one. My body sensed that something was wrong, and I was going into preterm labor. I would have delivered naturally in one to two weeks. We were given the choice of a D&C or a saline abortion. I wanted to see my babies and couldn’t stand the fact of the way they perform the D&C, so we chose the Saline. Since I was already going into labor, we decide to speed it up and get the Saline abortion done so that our child would have not have to go through preterm labor, which he would not have survived.
The next day I had an extremely large needle put into my stomach and was injected with a saline solution and in about an hour he fell fast asleep. My labor was induced and that night I delivered my twins. Since the smaller one had passed a month before, he was very small and brown and his arms and legs looked stingy. He didn’t look like a baby at all. The other looked like a regular baby, but very small. He was bruised from the contractions. I got to spend 8 hours with my lifeless babies. I got to take many pictures and I am so glad I did. I am just thankful for the time that I got to spend with them.
Then we went home, and it was time for the grieving process. For us it was horrible, the first few days I felt like a zombie, walking around my house. I would feel my stomach, it would be so flat and I would just break down. My husband comforted me in every way that he could. I knew though that he was grieving too. I tried to resume life as normally possible, but it was impossible.
I got a job, and my husband went back to work. Then things spiraled down. We were late for work every day. I was on the verge of getting fired. I always asked myself WHY?? WHY ME?? I stopped cleaning, taking care of myself, working out, cooking dinner. I became lazy. It just seemed that NOTHING mattered and that we had stopped as the world flew by us. My husband was getting in a lot of trouble for being late.
We were sad all the time, just feeling sorry for ourselves and pissed off at who ever didn’t feel sorry for us as well. We lost friends and didn’t make new ones. Things just weren’t good for us. We were sent to a counselor and she said that I was fine when I knew I wasn’t. Life was horrible. We had each other and only each other.
Then my husband deployed, five days before our first anniversary, to Iraq for 12 months. I went home to Texas and spent time with my family. That was when life became better. I was beginning to be happy again, and I could tell that my husband was too. I think we just needed a change and we got it. I got to spend time with my nephew who is the best and life seemed to get back to normal. I got a job in the nursery, at a church, taking care of little ones on Sunday and Wednesday nights, which I loved so much. I have always loved kids. In February of this year my husband came home, so I came back up here to North Carolina, and we are happy. They say time heals everything, it mends but I don’t know if it heals.
Amanda Slichter (Mommy to TTTS Angels Jack and Jake)