Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Saved by the dragon - can love, courage and concentration affect outcome?

So last night was the first night since very early childhood I can recall sleeping with a stuffed animal.  Dylan, the interactive dragon, has found a very soft spot in my heart and is waiting, patiently, to have a little baby or babies to love it. Dylan provided me with some comfort yesterday after a miserable day.

What's up? Well, the day started wonderfully.  We were excited to have another ultrasound and see our lovely twin daughters again. Mommy has been loving pregnancy and feeling great, and the kicks were a great sign that all was well.  And at first, it was.  My parents were with us to see their grand-daughters for the first time, and the Civic high-risk unit was very receptive to having them there.  Boy, they were thorough.  So thorough, in fact, that after a lengthy time, and after my parents left excited and happy, I had a second ultrasound with the doctor on duty in the unit.

It was then, after he looked around for another 5 minutes or so, that he was forced to look at us and say "there's something wrong with one of the babies".

You never want to hear these words folks.  You really, really don't.

The optimist in me kept trying to come up with questions and things to say that would make things better.  Was there any possibility that this situation could rectify itself? No. Could I still try and deliver vaginally? Unlikely. When will we know for sure if she was going to be okay?  Not sure if we will have any good answers until the birth, if she makes it that far...

You see, baby B had somewhere along the line developed a  hernia that meant there was a hole in her diaphram.  Not a severe issue in and of itself, except that at some point, as I understand it, her tiny developing stomach migrated through the hole and took up residence beside her little heart, which is a spot normally reserved for her lungs.  IF it is just a hernia, and not a sign of some other contributing issue (it might be a sign that the baby has Downs and now we must have an amnio in order to find out), and IF somehow the baby's lungs are able to develop enough, we MAY be able to save the baby with a quick surgery after birth, but there's a real chance, from what we gather, that she won't make it. And there is nothing we can do about it, except pray for a significant amount of luck.

So what do we do?  We are now being tranfered to the General, and to CHEO as necessary, and will have a number of appointments with specialists, surgeons and go through a number of tests and monitoring ultrasounds to watch and wait.  We can, at the very least, get the amnio to obtain an answer there, but it won't mitigate the possibility that even if she survives, she may have some level of disability or handicap. I no longer have an OB, but the hospital will be my doctor.  Not sure what will be the outcome for my doulas...

And what is doubly hard (or a comfort, depending on my mindset at any given time) is knowing that baby A is fine, and healthy, and barring early onset of labour, should be with us, and with Dylan the dragon, in due time. We have to keep going as if we are fine and are having twins, because...at this point, we ARE, and thinking otherwise is thinking worst-case scenario.

Yes, by the way, after three miscarriages and now this, my natural sense of optimism is being severely tried.

Um, what else?  Oh, yes. There is a chance that due to this hernia issue, baby B's amniotic sac will develop too much fluid, which could affect my belly size, which could in turn increase the possibility for delivering prematurely, which, with this scenario, is doubly dangerous.  This means I have to be off work very soon - as soon as two weeks from now, and possibly earlier than that, in order to take it easy and focus on eating healthy and resting a lot. Thankfully, no requirement for bedrest as of yet...

So here's my question.  Can concentrating on all the beneficial things I can do to help the girls grow, can my intense love, and can a certain dose of courage to face what might be a very hard reality help affect the outcome here? 

It seems to be all I have to offer. Anyone who thinks you control what happens in life is fooling themselves.

AND...to add insult to injury, after our unexpectedly lengthy appointment yesterday, we got a parking ticket.

Thank god I have my wonderfully strong husband, my caring parents and Dylan, the stuffed dragon, to get me through the next few months. I'm going to need all the help I can get.


  1. Oh Pam, I am so sad to hear this. Prayers that this situation rectifies itself, or that surgery can. Hugs to you and I will be sending as many positive thoughts and prayers into the universe as I can!

  2. Hugs to you and Art, Pam. Many hugs. I'm hoping the dragon helps. As well as the love.

  3. He does help. His little 'claw' rattles, and the other squeaks. His wings and scales crackle, and even the end of his tail has little rattling balls in it...and yeah, there's a lot of love to feed them, so...

  4. All I can offer is my prayers. Thinking of you.

  5. Thank you ladies. Off to bed to see if I can get a good night's sleep.

  6. I'm so sorry to hear this, Pam - there's not much anyone can say to make it better, but you've got a lot of love around you (and stuffies always help during hard times too, I agree from experience!) and a lot of love in you...and that'll go a long way. Be brave and battle hard, Baby B - you're already beautiful...

  7. I am so sorry that you are going through this. Sharing it with other people helps lessen the burden and you have great support which helps. You are a mom...and both your darling babies feel that love now. I know how it feels to have those lives inside and how much courage, love and strength it takes to get through this. One day at a time. It really is all you can do. Focus on the things in your control and continue to love.
    My story is similar in that I have twin girls - different in that it was my body that was failing. I went into the Civic at 22 weeks and stayed there till they were born at 32 weeks. Many doctors, grim reports and tears...but also much love, courage and determination. I was lucky - my girls were born early but healthy.
    Just know that you are doing all you can and that you are already a wonderful mom. Your girls know and feel this!
    As for that ticket - I want to pay it for you. Let me know how much and I will send money via internet transfer.
    Cynthia :)

  8. You have a great deal of courage. My heart and prayers go out to you. Perhaps, with some miracle, things will turn out for the best :-).

  9. Geez Pam...
    Keep swimming, stay positive and keep shining. The best to you and your family! Frankie

  10. I am so sorry. I am sending you lots of positive thoughts right now.

  11. I'm so sorry to hear your news. FWIW, I ran into a woman today whose 3wk old granddaughter is recovering from surgery to fix this exact problem. The positive is that u/s can spot these things before birth and that parents and care providers can prepare and plan in order to provide the best medicine possible.

    In my 2nd pregnancy, we discovered a potentially severe medical issue with my son. Knowing ahead of time enabled us to educate ourselves, make plans for the likely, the possible, and the worst-case-scenarios. The extra stress was hard to handle and I had to physically remind myself to stop and breathe and remember that it was *good* we knew about his problem, and that the best thing I could do for him was to rest, eat well, and stay healthy.

    CHEO is great with babies even before they are born - I can attest to that firsthand. The only advice I could give you is to pull your family and friends around you, to plan for the worst but expect the best possible outcome -- for me, at least, this strategy helped me feel in control, at least as much as I could be.

    Sending good thoughts.

  12. Sorry to hear this news Pam. Stay positive. When Ava was in the hospital they always told us the worst case scenerio so we were prepared. It terrified us. As I looked around Sick Kids Hospital I realized how unfair life can be but was also amazed on the strength of children. In the end Ava is doing great. Have faith in the love the baby is feeling and the doctors whose hands you are in.

  13. Hi all. I can't tell you what all your kind words mean to me. Cynthia, you KNOW that I won't accept you paying our parking ticket for us (we can certainly afford the $30 price tag) but I can't tell you how touched I was by this offer. Thank you so very much.

    Melissa, I don't know if the medical situation of that newborn was so similar that it included the same issue with the stomach/lungs, but nevertheless, I love the idea that there's a grandma out there who is happy and in love with her newborn grandchild. We are also hopeful that our parents will have the same story about our little baby B...

    It's a bit of an emotional yo-yo at the moment (lack of sleep and a lack of clear information leading to mixed feelings and mood swings), but when the babies kick, mommy is still happy. And that, paired with the intense love I have for these little miracles, I hope is enough.

    Will be sure to update as we have more information...thanks again for the love and supportive words of encouragement.

  14. They really can achieve miracles these days with modern science. While it's true that life is not fair and that it throws what it wants at us, your babies will be able to feel your love and positive vibes in utero -- that is bound to make them feel very, very special and happy. Thinking of you ... more virtual hugs ... Julie