Rock Fists

Rock Fists

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

When Life Gives You Lemons: Part 1

I can't stand that expression..  It's not always so easy to just "make lemonade" out of lemons.  Sometimes life gives you something for which you are not prepared, nor could you ever be.  I would put having twins up there at the top, at least for me.

On April 2nd, 2007 we went to my wife's doctor for a check up.  We saw the nurse who was performing the ultrasound.  As we watched the computer monitor, she nonchalantly said "so, you know you're having twins"..  I can't even put a question mark at the end of that sentence because in reality, it was not a question.  She was thinking she was confirming something we already knew.  Oh she could not have been more wrong..  The shocked expression on our faces was something out of a horror movie where the soon to be victim just realized the killer was inside the house..

"Wait, what?" I asked?  Being April 2nd, where the previous day was April Fools Day, I of course asked "this isn't some belated April Fools joke is it?  Because if it is, it's not really that funny".

The nurse then said, "oh no, see that little dot right there?  That's Baby A and then see that little dot right over there?  That's Baby B".

I will be honest..  The first thing that went through my head was not excitement; it was a dollar sign. Thousands of them.  2 mouths to feed, 2 kids in diapers, 2 kids in daycare, 2 Bar Mitzvah's!!!  I really don't recall when it set in..  Not sure it truly has.

The next few months which should have been full of joy, shopping and excitement were some of the longest months of my life chock full of doctor's appointments.  I feel like that's all we did.  Doctor after doctor and test after test. With my wife not being very big (5 feet or so) and carrying twins, obviously the doctors wanted to monitor her closely.  Oh, and the fact that she had had multiple back surgeries, including 2 spinal fusions, didn't exactly help matters.

Then, at about 20 weeks or so we had an appointment.  The ultrasound revealed a two-vessel cord on Baby B (Normal would be 3 vessels).  Baby B also had a distended stomach.  Now either of these things alone is no real cause for alarm.  However the two characteristics together can be a marker of certain birth defects such as Down Syndrome.  The doctor then tells us that we should seriously start thinking about considering selective reduction.  And yes, it's exactly what it sounds like.  While an amniocentesis could potentially confirm a diagnosis, at this point it would be too dangerous for the healthy twin and it would not 100% confirm anything.  So really, we had nothing to gain from doing the procedure and everything to lose.

She says she would like to see us next week to discuss, but we were going away to North Carolina for vacation, our last before the kids. We tell her we are going away and then she tells us she is on vacation the following week so she can see us when she gets back.  What?  We're supposed to now have this life-altering decision weighing on us for 3 weeks, including our vacation?  She seemed very indifferent to the situation and saw no immediacy in a resolution.  I guess in retrospect we could have canceled our vacation but the stress of the situation was really baring down on us and we needed this break for whatever sanity we had left.  Regardless of what your beliefs may be, when faced with that type of decision it is not as easy as you think. You start weighing things you never thought you would weigh, speak words you never thought you would speak.  But after some discussion, the decision was clear. Already knowing we would not be selectively reducing the twins, we decided it might be best not to go back to that doctor and start seeing one in Boston where the twins would be born.  Though it would be a much longer drive and require more time for appointments, we felt it would be well worth it in the long run, and we were right.

We saw this fantastic doctor at a hospital in Boston and were told we were having a boy and a girl.  We were elated!  1 of each and we're done?  Oh this was great, we could not have been happier..   We had names picked out and everything..  Then a few weeks later, at another ultrasound (which seemed to be a weekly occurrence) the doctor asked "what did I tell you that you were having"?  We told her she had said a boy and a girl..  And the doctor said something I will never forget "Um, you may want to stop telling people you're having a girl".  Wait, what?  The reason for the confusion was that Baby B was not cooperating very well in opening its legs so even a 4D ultrasound (which I HIGHLY recommend if you can, very cool) could not determine the gender for sure.  Another reason was that there was a possibility of the fetus having ambiguous genitalia.  One could understand the lack of confidence in the gender with these two factors. 

More doctors and more meetings with geneticists, urologists, counselors and on and on and on it seemed..  The doctors also wanted us to rethink having an amnio.  We believed it was more to satisfy their curiosity about the gender of the babies.  However, the cons far outweighed the pros.  There was no guarantee that the amnio would be 100% and there was a good possibility that the healthy baby could move, puncturing its sack and sending my wife into early labor.  That was certainly not an option (at least at this point).

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