For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139: 13-16
Last Thursday, at a routine 17-week sonogram, the tech noticed a growth abnormality in our baby girls that was quickly diagnosed by Lisa’s doctor as Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome. Our family quickly rallied around us to take care of our crew, and Lisa and I rushed to Houston late Thursday night.
We came to Texas Children’s and were promptly checked in Friday morning at 6:30 AM. By 6:35, two doctors were in the room to take us to a sonogram so they could determine the severity of the syndrome. Lisa and I watched silently, scared and perplexed for an hour and a half of imaging. Seven doctors came in to collaborate and give their opinions. The room was full of mumbling doctor jargon, as we waited for some indication of what exactly was going on and what steps we could take to fix it.
Finally, the doctors turned to us to explain what they found. Dr. Espinoza took the lead and told us that we were facing stage 3 TTTS. Due to this advanced stage of the disease, and the stress it was putting on the girls’ hearts, he advised we get ready to operate no later than that very afternoon.
Lisa and I went back to the hospital room to wait and worry and pray. We were so thankful that we were able to get an appointment and to be seen when we did. So thankful for Dr. McBrayer’s (Lisa’s Midland OBGYN) swift diagnosis and reaction to get us into Texas Children’s. But we were scared. Scared for our little girls. Would that morning’s ultrasound be the last time we heard their little hearts?
The surgery was complicated due to the location of Lisa’s placenta and each baby’s umbilical cord. They had to strap Lisa to an operating table and turn her 90 degrees from the ground so that they could access the uterus through a small “window” on her left side. It was further complicated by how early this operation was being performed relative to the baby’s gestational age. They prefer to do these operations past 18 weeks at the earliest due to the amniotic membrane not being entirely formed.
So after two hours of operating, all of which Lisa was completely awake while hanging from a table perpendicular to the ground, the Doctors wrapped up feeling like they had successfully cut off all the “common roots” causing the imbalance in nutrition and blood flow. We breathed a gigantic sigh of relief and headed to the room to rest and rejoice in the operation’s success.
We tried to relax, the whirlwind of the past 24 hours behind us, things looking up. As we settled in to get ready for bed, I heard Lisa cry out from the bathroom. I quickly rushed over to see what the problem was to have her tell me her water just broke. My heart sank. I saw the heartbreak and worry in her tear filled eyes. All the relief we had just felt washed away in a torrent of panic, fear, and bewilderment. Please God no, no, no.
We knew this was a risk. Compromising the amniotic sac to insert the surgical instrument into the womb could cause the membrane to leak…. To leak away these babies’ source of life. The on call doctor informed us that there was nothing we could do, and we would have to let nature take its course. Needless to say, we were filled with despair.
At the next morning’s sonogram, Lisa and I expected the worst. It was a gut-wrenching thirty or so seconds until the doctor located both heartbeats. Both strong, both even showing signs of improvement from the surgery! The amniotic sac was not devoid of fluid, and while lower than the doctors would like, it was enough to sustain the babies currently.
Dr. Espinoza told us Lisa has a high leak in her membrane from the surgery, and to hope and pray that it quickly seals. Until then there is constant worry over fluid loss as well as infection due to the membrane being compromised.
At this time, the membrane is still leaking. However, the amount has decreased each day, and the babies have shown continued improvement from the surgery. There are still many hurdles to clear, much improvement for Lisa, Piper and Avery to make, and a long, twisting and winding road ahead of us. But we are hopeful and prayerfully claiming victory in the name of Jesus.