Jonathan James Paul Bader and David Timothy Paul Bader. The latest ultrasound shows David sucking his thumb, kicking and rolling down my left side, and Jonathan spread eagle on the right, showing his boy parts on the monitor every chance he gets.
"Paul" is a family name -- my husband's real name (though his sisters' nickname of "Wally" in high school has taken over), my brother's name, and a lineage of many "Saint Pauls" back through time. Our babies' namesake is for Pope Paul VI, author of the encyclical Humanae Vitae, which he wrote on the dignity of each human life from conception to natural death, and a saint with a legacy of intercession for babies with special needs in the womb.
(I wanted their middle names to be "All-Saints" to really feel like we're calling down all of heaven on their behalf, but 20 years from now, we're afraid their takeaway would just be their parents were religious nuts.)
Wally and I laughed as the sonographer scanned through all their healthy, functioning organs, listened to the heartbeats, measured bones and head circumference, and then left the room to see if our midwife/nurse practitioner had made it back from a delivery.
"I'm so glad everything looks good," I remarked to Wally, waiting for them to return. "Or she has a really good poker face."
They both came back in, and the sonographer scanned the babies again, the screen cutting out after a view of their four little feet under my ribcage. As it turns out, she has a good poker face.
We find out our twins are identical, not fraternal, and they share a placenta, with blood passing unevenly through the placenta to each other. This usually results in one big baby, and one little baby: one grows too big, and his heart can't handle the extra blood supply, and the other becomes anemic from a limited blood supply.
I tell myself that Google is just full of outdated articles, as I spend the evening attempting to become a self-proclaimed expert before our perinatal specialist appointment the next day. My mind can't handle the statistics. To do nothing has a less than 5% survival rate for both twins. To repeatedly drain excess fluid via amniocentesis is risky, and only treats the symptom of too much amniotic fluid in one sac. There's a new laser ablation treatment that actually separates the blood supplies in the placenta, but it's not available in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. There don't seem to be any silver linings. I keep scanning for "good outcome if caught early" and "high success rate with this treatment." But article after article just ends with fact-spouting finality.
I start second-guessing everything I've done over the past 5 months of pregnancy. I shouldn't have lifted those cinder blocks two months ago. I shouldn't have hiked at high altitudes last week. I shouldn't have picked up my 2-year-old yesterday. But apparently it's all determined before you even know you're pregnant, something about the timing of when the cells split to form identical twins.*
Thankfully, the perinatal specialist is much more well-balanced and calm than any of the apocalyptic websites I'd sourced the night before. The amniotic fluid levels were uneven, and slightly outside "normal," and Jonathan had enlarged kidneys, but both babies were growing and moving well, with good circulation. She even checked the arteries through their brains for anemia, and the four chambers of their hearts for blood flow.
So we're on weekly check-ups, 23 weeks gestation, making sure amniotic fluid levels are giving each boy the environment he needs, and that they're both continuing to grow.
I feel a little silly for choosing worry over sleep so many nights, but also reassured that Pope Paul VI and all the angels and saints in heaven are interceding with us for these two tiny little boys! Please join with us as we thank God for this fascinating, surprising gift of two small babies, and please keep David and Jonathan in your prayers.
|Jonathan's hand, giving us the "Hey, guy!"|
|David, sucking his thumb|
If the cells split 4-7 days after conception, you have two babies growing in two separate amniotic sacs, sharing one placenta. This appears to be the case for our babies, and due to the shared blood supply, can cause twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome.
If the cells split 7-11 days after conception, you have two babies sharing one amniotic sac and one placenta, and if the cells split after 12 days, the babies may be conjoined.