Born Too Early: A Mom’s Story Pt.1

By Liz McCarthy

This is a shortened version of a long, sad and sweet story of the birth of my twin daughters. The entire story can be found on my web blog:

I became pregnant with fraternal triplets after a long difficult road of trying to get pregnant. The trials of my infertility seem like a distant memory to me know, but I remember those days of hope despair and then finally success. This story is more about what happened after I was pregnant rather than getting pregnant.

I had 3 very good quality embryos and all 3 were implanted, and 2 weeks later (more shots the whole time) all 3 took!!!! I was finally pregnant, and with triplets!!!!

At week 8 of my pregnancy, I miscarried baby C. I was very sad, but after the misscary finished, I was finally pregnant, healthy with twins, feeling great, we had just bought a house, things were fabulous.

The start of the bad news…

I had my amniocentesis at 16 weeks, 6 days (1 day short of 17 weeks on 7/26/05). I got an amnio due to the fact that I was 39 years old. At the ultrasound prior to the amnio, everything looked GREAT! The babies were moving around, looked healthy from what can be seen from the u/s, their development was right on schedule for both of them, AND we found out the sexes. We are having 2 little girls!

The doc said that if he could, he would try to do the amnio with one needle stick instead of two. What this means is that he inserts the needle into one sac, out through the membrane that separates the twins, and into the other sac to retrieve her fluid first. He then pulls the needle back and removes fluid from the other sac. I asked about this, stating I was concerned that putting 2 holes into one sac seemed worse.

Well, that night, I started leaking amniotic fluid. Just a bit, which the doc had said could be a side effect. I went to sleep thinking about my two little girls and our move which was to take place in 2 days to our new house.

The next morning things got bad. I started leaking a lot, a whole lot. Basically my water broke.

My mom came up to help us with the move and take care of me. Brian came to the new house and set up a bed so that I could be immediately transferred from the bed at the old house to a bed in the new house. I entered into my first new house ever and went straight to the bedroom. That was my first glimpses of our house. I was very depressed. I continued to leak

I can’t believe this is happening to me.

We are told that 70% of women whose water breaks go into labor within 72 hours. This means that BOTH babies are at risk.

At 1 week past the amnio we go to our first u/s since the amnio and it’s not good. There is a small amount of fluid near the baby’s head of Twin A. Very small amount. Her heart rate was still normal, and she had fluid in her bladder and abdomen, signs which were also good The Doctor said that the baby needs fluid for her lungs to develop normally. We are told to go back home for more bedrest and that hopefully in another week it will heal. I can’t even walk out of the office as I’m crying so hard.

Bedrest means getting up only to use the bathroom. Even sitting up in bed is discouraged. I only sit up to eat. I am starting to loose it. I can’t believe I’m in this situation. I have two major thoughts, one is for the health of the babies obviously, and the other selfish I guess, but I have lost my freedom. I am normally so active and now I am stuck in bed, in my new house that I haven’t even seen. Brian has lost his freedom too. I can’t work. How am I going to cover the mortgage of the house we just bought? Being self-employed as a Realtor, if I don’t work, I don’t make money.

We really started pressing the doctors to know what the outcome looked like if things didn’t heal. The outcome was not good. Birth defects for both babies were a very major concern.

The 3 options as were outlined to us were:

  • Abort (or kill, as the fetus would not leave my uterus, with a shot of chemicals to her heart) the ruptured twin.
  • Abort both twins.
  • Do nothing and see what happens.

The best outcome was for the sac to heal.

You might be saying, why would you abort both twins? Or even the one, as she seems to be growing ok? Well, this is a 2 for 1 deal. Although the twins are in two separate sacs (they are fraternal), they are both in my single uterus.

What I have is called pPROM. (Pre-term Premature Rupture of Membranes). I PROMEd at 17 weeks.

The single biggest fear from PROM is infection. Because the sac is ruptured, bacteria can easily find its way into the sac through the open membrane from the leaking fluid. Many, many cases of PROM pre-term labor are caused from infection. Pre-term labor would affect BOTH babies, no matter how healthy the one is currently. 24 Weeks is the earliest viability for pre-term babies, but the outlook is not good for that early delivery. One doctor told us there was only a 10% chance of not having problems at a 24 week delivery. At 28 weeks, things start looking better, but it would still be an uphill battle.

Factors affecting the PROM baby, should I hold out getting an infection are lung development issues. Babies need amniotic fluid to develop their lungs, as they actually “breathe” in the amniotic fluid. ; The major time of lung development for a fetus is between the weeks of 18-22. I ruptured at 17 weeks. Another fear of PROM is compression of limbs and face. The fetus usually swims and moves around in the amniotic fluid. There are many other complications like: prolapsed cords, placenta abruption that I won’t go into.

Our 2nd ultrasound 2 weeks after the PROM was even worst than the first. It showed no fluid what so ever around Twin A. All other signs were still ok.

The leaking that I’m experiencing is basically the baby’s urine. She gets the fluid and nutrients from my blood and umbilical cord, which she excretes. Normally this fluid is recirculated every few days, but with the sac being ruptured, it just spills out of me.

What are we going to do?

Well, after doing a lot of research I found a 4th option I felt, a way for the sac to heal which would make everything ok. We ended up flying to Florida to try an experimental procedure called an Amniopatch, which sadly didn’t work. Flying on bedrest – that’s another story.

I spent a total of 10 weeks on bedrest. I started having labor contractions at 8 weeks post PROM, I spent the day at the hospital, was given anti-contraction drugs and sent back home as my twins weren’t yet viable (I was 23 weeks pregnant).

At 25 weeks, I started again having contractions, and this time was immediately admitted. I was given horrible drugs to stop the labor, but the doctors were concerned that stopping my labor would possibly mask an infection, and preemies with infections were worse-off than preemies born earlier.

The contracts were slowed, and I spent 2 horrible weeks in the hospital during a labor strike. Eventually I started spiking a fever, sure signs of an infection and was sent immediately into surgery for my girls to be delivered by an emergency c-section.

The delivery

My beautiful, perfect twin daughters were born at 7:30 in the morning on October 4th.

I will NEVER forget the absolute terror I felt when I was wheeled into the delivery room. I kept telling the nurse who stayed by my side all night as my labor began that it was too soon, I wasn’t ready, the babies weren’t ready. ; My husband was at work as a fireman, and they waited just long enough for him to arrive at the hospital. They were 13 weeks early.

Corinne Margaret (named after our mothers) was born first and weighed 1 pound 14 ounces, Kaitlyn Elizabeth was born a minute later weighing a mere 1 pound 11 ounces. Corinne was our prom princess. Brian felt it was important to name our prom princess our mother’s names’ as she needed all the strength she could use.

As I was recovering in the post-surgery room, the doctor came to tell us the grim news, that Corinne’s lungs weren’t developed and that she was in very bad shape. I was wheeled into the NICU, they disconnected Corinne from everything and handed her to me. She was so tiny. She held on to my finger tight. She lived 3 short hours and took her last breath in my arms. This was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I didn’t know it would be so hard.

I looked over at her sister Kaitlyn in her isolate, she too was so tiny. I wasn’t able to hold her, I reached out and touched her with my finger before I was wheeled away again. I ended up getting quite sick, I became septic with eColi and basically could have died myself. I spent 4 days in the hospital recovering, never once being allowed (or feeling well enough with my 105+ fever) to go see my surviving daughter. Brian gave me updates, we were told that it was likely she was going to need a heart surgery immediately.

When I was finally well enough to visit Kaitlyn the first thing I did was look to the empty space where Corinne isolette was. It was so empty , the tears rolled down my cheeks. When I first really looked at Kaitlyn, I was amazed how incredibly small, fragile and sick she looked. She was covered in wires and tape and I could hardly see her. She was under a billirubben light and had her head completely covered.

The Continuation: Born Too Early: A Mom’s Story Pt.2

About the author

Lisa Arneill

Founder of Growing Your Baby and World Traveled Family. Canadian mom of 2 boys, photo addict, lover of bulldogs, and museumgoer. Always looking for our next vacation spot!

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