Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday night thoughts

We made it!

We're in Cincinnati (which is still difficult for me to spell!), and it seems like the wireless internet works at the hotel. =)

I promised some lists, so here we go...

Things to be thankful for:

  1. We arrived safely with dry roads and NO traffic. What a relief!
  2. Our two kiddos are safely at my (Jeff's) parents' house, and it sounds like they had a great first day there.
  3. We received a really thoughtful care package from my sister Laura - she went through a lot of work putting together movies, songs, verses, and treats to help make the week more enjoyable. No wonder she always refers to herself as my favorite sister! =)
  4. We felt really loved this morning at church; countless (I mean, if we tried, we really couldn't count how many) people told us that they were praying, wished us a safe journey, and encouraged us with hugs and kind words. Incredible.
  5. Books! I stole some recommendations from Facebook friends for good books, reserved them at the library, and will eagerly plow through them as the testing and waiting begins tomorrow.

Things to pray for:
  1. Health for both of our little girls. We keep having this recurring thought: "What if something has happened since Thursday?" Thankfully, the ultrasound tomorrow is one of the first things on the itinerary, so that should calm our fears. Although, I guess the kicks that Lisa feels does that, too.
  2. Emotional stability. Lisa laughed when I asked if that was a good way to put it. =)
  3. Good results. Three things are scheduled for tomorrow - family history interview (7:30 am), ultrasound (9 am), and MRI (11 am). If you think to pray during those time, we'd be greatly encouraged. We hope each one will show that the girls are as healthy as can be and that they indicate all green lights for the procedure (to be determined, this week).

Thanks again for all your encouragement! I really can't tell you how uplifting it's been to have your support. God is good, all the time.


The plan right now if for us to leave sometime in the next hour - between 12:30 and 1 pm.

We'll be staying at a hotel for the nights leading up to the procedure, then we'll stay with Paul Kingma - a physician who works in the Fetal Care Center and who grew up at First CRC of DeMotte.

The first test is scheduled for 7:30 our time (8:30 eastern) on Monday morning.

We'll plan on updating throughout the process and might - depending on when we arrive - give specific things to pray and be thankful for when we arrive this evening.

Thanks again for all your love!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Just thinking back

On the eve of traveling to Cincinnati for tests and procedures, I've been thinking back to the ultrasound that took place on February 1. The tech that we had was from our own doctor's office - I'm pretty sure she did the ultrasounds for Daylia a couple years back. We ended up having a good conversation with her - not only about our ultrasound but also about her job and how difficult it would be to see sad results while sitting with expectant parents.

And as I watched the twins interact, as I saw seemingly elbow the other one, as they moved and kicked and caused the tech fits, I had this thought enter my mind: is it possible to love these children when they're just 19 weeks along? And not just to love - but to cherish, to delight in, to have my heart skip a beat as I watch them?

The answer is yes.

Because, just minutes later, we heard from the doctor that there were "concerns." And the first thought of these girls having some kind of difficult made my heart sink. Hearing more difficult news - about TTTS - on February 16 made my heart tremble. Knowing - since Thursday - that three of my favorite girls in the world will have to undergo a procedure has caused my heart to fear a bit. If anything were to go wrong - we pray this won't be so - my heart would break.

So as we wait and go through another gamut of tests before the hopes of a successful surgery... we also pray. Because it IS possible to love these children four months before their due date. And not just to love - but to cherish, to delight in, to have my heart skip a beat as I watch them.

Because they're my girls.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Today's (Fri, Feb 26) news

One of our prayer requests has been answered.

We just got a phone call from the University of Cincinnati this morning that they are ready for us to go there. They would like for the tests and background work to begin this Monday (Mar 1) morning, with the procedure likely to follow on Tuesday. The plan is to leave for Cincinnati sometime Sunday afternoon.

Things to be thankful for:

  1. Wow, what an answer in terms of getting in quickly! It puts our minds at ease to know that there's less time for anything to go wrong with either of our girls.
  2. Support. We feel so loved and cared for - your kind words, prayers, and phone calls have been tremendous. Every one counts.
  3. Modern medicine. We've heard time and time again, "Twenty years ago, this wouldn't be possible."
  4. Good insurance. As far as we can tell, our insurance will cover this process; if not, I don't think we would be able to go out to Cincinnati. We're thankful that much of the expense will fall under the insurance's umbrella.

Things to pray for:
  1. Continued good health for our girls.
  2. Fast prep. The other side of the coin with leaving so quickly is trying to get everything taken care of. It sounds like our kids will be in good hands as they will likely have each set of their grandparents taking care of them throughout the week. There's other loose ends we're working on, too.
  3. Safe travel. Pastor Laryn just shared Psalm 121 - the traveler's psalm - with us yesterday, and we were encouraged by all those rich promises. Clear weather would be ideal as we make the journey...
  4. Comfort. Lisa and I can't imagine life without our kids, and we'll have to experience it for 5-7 days. That's going to be hard.
  5. Great results. There seem to be a lot of good factors - Lisa's age, no previous abdominal surgeries, no previous miscarriages, no family history for chromosomal abnormalities - so we're hoping for a good outcome. Yet we know that this isn't a guaranteed successful surgery. As always, we're putting it in God's hands and trusting Him.
We'll be updating as the process goes along... thanks again for praying for us.

News from February 25

Here is the news I shared on February 25:

First, THANKS SO MUCH to everyone who has been keeping our family in your prayers. They have made a tremendous difference... your encouraging words and "feeling" you all lift us up has the made the journey more bearable thus far.
Second, we're back from the doctor appointment, and we ended up getting some more answers. One of big requests had been that it would be clear what should be done next. And, thankfully, it is clear.

Here's what's clear: the specialist (and his colleagues) confirmed that the twins do, indeed, have Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS). This diagnosis came after about two more hours' worth of ultrasounds, with three techs/doctors taking a shot at getting good pictures of our girls. The specialist said the best treatment option for us would be to have the procedure that closes off some of the blood vessels in the womb (as stated in the Feb 18 update). We figure that we should find out within the next week when we will be able to go out to Cincinnati - and then we'll spend 5-7 days there for testing, procedure, and recovery.

Things we're thankful for:

  1. That they caught this early - it sounds like the sooner they diagnose it, the better.
  2. Contacts in Cincinnati - a church member's son is a doctor at the Fetal Care Center, where the procedure will take place. We already have two offers of homes where we can stay in Cincinnati too.
  3. All our girls' major organs seem to be well formed, and they're both still doing well.
  4. The specialist is EXTREMELY friendly and has gone out of his way to be helpful with us.

Things to pray for:
  1. Having the procedure completed soon.
  2. Continued good health for our girls.
  3. Patience as we wait for this all to unfold... and trust that it's all unfolding according to God's perfect plan.

Again, THANK YOU for the prayers, and we promise to keep you updated. =)

News from February 16

Here is the information that I shared following our February 16 appointment:

On Tuesday, February 16, Lisa and I went to see a doctor from the University of Chicago to deal with some “concerns” that our doctor had with the twins. These concerns came after an ultrasound on February 1. Twin A had some “bright spots” in the pelvic area that could possibly be cysts on the kidneys; twin B had enlarged kidneys. We had been hoping and praying that all those concerns would be cleared up by the time we went in for this more in-depth ultrasound. We also decided to find out the gender(s) of the twins – kidney problems are more common in boys, so some fears would be alleviated if they were boys; girls tend to be more resilient and less prone to major disorders… so we were prepared for good news either way.

As the ultrasound technician studied twin A, we were pleased to hear good news. He didn’t see any problems with the kidneys. The heart, brain, and other major organs looked good. Toward the end of the exam, he gave us the news that twin A is a little girl!

The study of twin B found similar results. Overall, there was good news – first and foremost, another girl – and likely identical twins! We found out that twin B also has what’s called a “horseshoe kidney” – this basically means that the two kidneys are conjoined. We’re told that this condition doesn’t cause any kinds of problems.

Sadly, we heard discouraging news when we met with the specialist. He noted that two weeks earlier twin A had weighed 8 oz. and twin B was 10 oz. From this ultrasound, they found that twin A weighed 10 oz and twin B was 15 oz. The presence of lots of amniotic fluid around twin B and very little amniotic fluid around twin A confirmed the difference in size between the two. This all likely indicates that they have “Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome.” This basically means that one twin is getting too much nutrition and one twin is getting too little. If left untreated, we’ve found that there is an 80-100% mortality rate for both twins.

Thankfully, there is a relatively new (about twelve year old) treatment available. A doctor in Miami, FL, has created a procedure in which they go into the womb and cauterize some of the blood vessels in the umbilical cord to the larger twin. This reduces the amount of nutrition to the larger twin and causes a more even distribution of nutrition to both twins. We’re told that in 85% of cases at least one twin survives; in 50-60% of cases both twins survive; in 15% of cases neither twin survives. Although we’d love a near 100% success rate for both twins surviving, we’re still thankful for the higher rate of healthy delivery.

The plan right now is to go to the University of Chicago on Thursday, February 25, for another ultrasound with a few more sets of eyes inspecting the data. They will then determine whether we will go to Cincinnati or Miami to have this surgery – it’s only done in four cities in the whole country. For the smaller twin to survive, we should really have the surgery done by 24 weeks and Lisa is going on 22 weeks right now. We’re thankful for the prayers offered so far and are praying right now that both twins would have enough nutrition to help their little bodies survive. We pray that doctors – and we! – would have wisdom to know what’s best for these little girls. We continue to cling to God’s great faithfulness, which gives us “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, blessings all mine with ten thousand beside.”

Fast forward to February 1

On February 1, we went in for the (roughly) 20-week ultrasound. It was really fun to see an in-depth look at the twins and see how much they were moving and growing in the four weeks since we had seen them last.

When the doctor came to speak with us, we heard somewhat discouraging news; it turned out that twin A had some "bright spots" in the pelvic region, and twin B had enlarged kidneys. They wanted us to have a Level 2 ultrasound with a specialist from the University of Chicago. The date was set for February 16. We shared the news with the church on the night of February 14 and were really encouraged by their love and support.

Lots more pictures

On January 4, 2010, we went in to get some pictures of the twins.

Twin B:

Twin A:

A High 10 from twin A:

The two heads:

Church news

One of the greatest joys of this pregnancy has been sharing the news with everyone. I especially enjoyed sharing with our church family here in DeMotte, IN.

I was leading the service on Sunday, November 22, and after giving prayer concern updates, I took the opportunity to share our news. I said, "Our family also has some news to share - we are expecting in June." A few people whispered to each other down the pew - most likely to the effect of "I knew it!"

And then we gave the BIG news... "And we found out Thursday that we'll be expecting TWINS."

There was a collective gasp, then nervous laughter, then applause - all within about 5 seconds.

I'll never forget that day.

From the beginning

I figure that I should start from the beginning.

On November 20, 2009, Lisa went into the doctor's office for - what we thought - was the "routine" first prenatal visit. Having two healthy kids already, we figured it would be a lot of information we had heard before, including prescriptions and paperwork. That's why I decided to stay home and take care of the kids that day.

Much to my surprise, when Lisa came home, she said, "You need to sit down." I knew immediately.

"No way!" I said, before she had the chance to share the news.

"Yep - baby 1 [pointing at one twin] and baby 2 [pointing at the other."

The first few days were a mix of shock and excitement... expecting twins in June, before our son's 4th birthday and daughter's 2nd birthday. And yet we knew that God would take care of us through it all.

This is our first picture of the twins.