The second I found out I was having twins I knew there would be a lot of changes. I thought we were pretty settled with everything we needed to add a second baby to the family. Suddenly we needed two of everything. I prepped, planned, read and read every book I could find about having twins. For most of my pregnancy everything went pretty smoothly preparing for the birth of our twins.
All of that changed around 29 weeks into the pregnancy.
That’s when the ultrasound technician found something concerning. I came to find out I had what was thought to be vasa praevia. It is a condition in which fetal blood vessels cross or run near the internal opening of the uterus. These vessels are at risk of rupture when the supporting membranes rupture, as they are unsupported by the umbilical cord or placental tissue. The prevalence of vasa praevia is 1 in 2500 deliveries. Over the course of the next few days I had several doctor appointments with the high risk obstetricians to confirm what I had and to determine the course of action.
It was decided that I could stay at home since I lived fewer than 15 minutes from the hospital, but would have ultrasounds every couple of days to monitor everything. I was immediately placed on maternity leave and had to take it very easy until we could deliver the twins via cesarean section between 34-36 weeks. Plans changed once again when I woke up two days later with light vaginal bleeding.
We called the doctor who informed us to rush to the hospital ASAP. We frantically grabbed our two-year-old and rushed to the hospital. The next 24 hours were the scariest I’ve ever experienced. The staff was prepared to deliver immediately, but it was only light bleeding and only minor contractions. Nothing had ruptured. They were able to slow the contractions and I was monitored closely all day and night. Luckily, we were also able to do a course of antenatal steroid treatment which usually consists of two injections given 24 hours apart. When used between 25 and 33 weeks of pregnancy, steroids can speed up the development of the baby’s lungs a lot. The contractions stopped and I settled in for a long stay at the High-Risk Perinatal Unit at Erlanger.
The new plan was to stay in the High-Risk Unit until we were able to deliver the twins at 34 weeks. Since I had to stay in the hospital for several weeks, my doctor pulled some strings and I had a very large room with big windows and a view of the Emergency Room. For the most part, the next two weeks were rather boring. Daily visits from the doctor, the daily rotation of med-students coming by to review my case, and my daily walk around the birthing floor. I wasn’t allowed to leave the room unless someone was with me and I was in a wheel chair. My wonderful family and friends visited often and made sure I had plenty of snacks, food, magazine, and books. The hardest part of it all was being away from my two-year-old son and him not understanding why he couldn’t come home with me.
At 32 weeks I woke up with vaginal bleeding again, but this time it wasn’t near as scary because I was already at the hospital to deliver in case of an emergency; also, at 32 weeks the babies’ lungs were stronger and the risk of complications with pre-mature babies was lower. The twins were born that afternoon and were rushed to the NICU with minor breathing issues. I got a quick glance at each one, but it was several hours until I was able to hold them. This was tough knowing I had just had two babies and could not hold them. It was even harder leaving the hospital four days later without the babies. They both had to stay in the hospital to for several weeks until they could breathe and eat on their own. They had bad cases of jaundice and had to spend days under the lights, they faced anemia and had to have blood transfusions. I learned a lot of new medical terms over the course of their stay.