I promised myself I wouldn’t do this, and honestly I never meant to but when I turned the page and saw the words ‘parents evening’ on the school calendar, I realised it has been almost a year since we went to THAT appointment.
The night before said appointment, I was sat in the school hall wearing the baggiest dress I could find trying to hide my growing bump. Even though we were well past the 12 week ‘danger zone’ I still didn’t want to share the news with everyone at school. The teachers and the school staff knew but the 200 children and their parents? Not yet. With the last appointment of the night done, I slid my parents evening notes into my mark book and headed for the door. When I left the building that night, it was the last time I would leave school pregnant with our twins, the last time I would set foot in the building for months and the last time I would feel like ‘me’ for almost a year.
Ok so THAT appointment – Thursday 9th March 2017. We’d spent 40 minutes in an ultrasound scan, the sonographer barely spoke, called in a second person and politely shut down just about every question Mark and I dared to ask. Actually there was one question she did answer – “Is everything ok?”… “We need to get the Consultant to speak to you”. With Mark and I sat one side of the bed, the Consultant and the sonographer on the other, the words that left her mouth went a bit like this…
“As you know with monochoronic twins* there is a risk of TTTS and today we have seen clear signs of severe TTTS. Twin 1 is significantly smaller than Twin 2, there is virtually no amniotic fluid surrounding Twin 1, there are signs of IUGR** and we can see from the scan that Twin 2 has a severe cleft lip and palate.”
While both of us sat there trying to digest the words that had just smacked us in the face, I realised she wasn’t quite finished – brace yourself…
“We can laser the placenta to try and save them although there is only a 10% chance Twin 1 will survive and 70% chance Twin 2 will survive. If we don’t do the surgery today, both your babies will die.”
Now you know when people talk about an out of body experience? Well that is the only way I can describe what I felt at that precise moment in time. I felt like I was in the corner of the room looking at these 2 people sitting, holding hands, staring at a woman moving her lips and communicating something they couldn’t quite comprehend. Who the bloody hell was she talking to? It was then I realised she was talking to us. Our babies were going to die, my body had failed them, the two little ones I should have been protecting were at the mercy of a deadly disease and my body had let it happen – what kind of Mother was I?
The surgery itself was horrific, seeing one of their tiny hands on the screen in front of us as they lasered the twins separate from one another was an image that will never escape my mind – no matter how hard I try. Maybe one day I’ll write about the surgery, maybe not, but either way the scars it left were more than physical.
With the surgery complete, we headed home hand in hand with an appointment to return the following week – Thursday 16th March, which just so happens to be my birthday. Then exactly one week after I turned 32, we delivered our twins.
As much as I used to dread parents evening, this year I’m dreading the month of March even more. As much as I’m trying not to make an anniversary out of everything, the next few weeks are going to be an achievement to get through. But if the last year has taught me anything, it’s that one step at a time, I can get through whatever the world throws at me – so come on March let’s do this.
As always thanks for sticking with another one of my offloads.
Love and hugs,
* Identical twins who share one placenta.
**Intrauterine Growth Restriction