This picture symbolizes all of our hopes and dreams for the future: a healthy full term baby girl, due July 2nd, right before independence day.
I took this picture on January 25th, 2019. I wanted to do one of those cutesy announcements that you see on Pintrest, but with way less money (grass from my back yard as background), and only a few items to let you know what’s happening without spoon feeding you everything bit.
We didn’t have any reason to believe that anything was wrong with my pregnancy. Our baby had a strong heartbeat at our 6th week appointment, and our ultrasound image taken two days after Christmas showed the profile of one baby.
The next events that follow begin with a routine ultrasound at a local perinatal center, that happens at 20 weeks gestation to check the anatomy of the baby.
February 15th, 2019, one day after Valentine’s day:
Our appointment begins with the normal routine of warm jelly on my belly (ha, that rhymes), the ultrasound wand gliding on my skin, and a TV on the opposite wall so we can watch. After a few minutes (and me not understanding what I’m looking at) the ultrasound tech informs us that she wants to bring the doctor in. The doctor carefully informed us that they discovered two heads. Not just that I was having twins, but that they were conjoined. I remember blood rushing to my face, a sense of disbelief, and staring off into space without being able to breath. The next thirty minutes or so progressed with figuring out how exactly they were joined, and possibly what organs they shared. The doctor could not see everything, but from what she could tell is that they were connected at the torso with one arm each, and separated in the pelvic region so each had two legs. We talked for a long time, but ultimately we needed to see a specialist in San Francisco or LA asap.
February 27th, 2019:
It was time for our consultation and ultrasound at UCLA. Mind you this was almost two weeks after we found out we were having conjoined twins. I actually went in with high hopes, putting on a cute dress and full makeup. There were three doctors overseeing our ultrasound, and again they had a hard time getting a full picture. In the room itself I couldn’t see the images of the ultrasound as they were talking about it, so it was a little unnerving. The lead specialist kept repeating that my girls were connected at the chest, face-to-face, all the way up to their throats. There was still a lingering question of whether or not they had their own separate mandibles, and their heart was larger on one side. Of course we were devastated, and I didn’t know how to react or how to feel in the moment. They suggested we have an MRI as soon as possible.
February 28th, 2019:
I got a call around 8 am informing us that they could squeeze us in for a 12:30 MRI appointment that day. Of course we didn’t want to wait if we didn’t have to, so we quickly drove over three hours to LA. We almost didn’t have the appointment because of insurance purposes, but luckily everything worked out last minute. I didn’t know what to expect from the MRI. But as I discovered even with ear plugs and head phones, it was VERY loud. So loud that the girls did not like it and kept moving around, which made it last longer. Who could blame them right? I was about two inches away from the top of the machine, but at least my head was poking out a bit, and my feet stuck out the other end. Did I mention there’s a change in pitch as well? Sometimes the machine created a higher note while the magnet was creating the image, and other times it was a lower tone. Each new frequency lasts anywhere from twenty seconds to two minutes. My poor husband was in the room with me with only ear buds. Lets just say he felt ill and dizzy after. We had high hopes that the results would give us a better idea of how our girls were doing.
So, even with this unexpected news, our family has never been stronger. We have our good days and bad days, but ultimately we have accepted what has happened and the cards we have been dealt.
Stay tuned for more about our journey.