Thankfully, the twins and I made it through surgery! It was such a crazy experience. I was more worried about all that could go wrong with the procedure before getting to the hospital than I was when we were actually there. Sometimes I was thinking, “Well, we’re finally here … let’s get this show on the road,” while other times I felt like it was all a dream, as if I was watching somebody else’s drama unfold before me — a weird mix of proactive relief and out-of-body experience. Stephen got to be with me for all the prep work until the team of nurses and the anesthesiologist were ready to take me back to the OR. I told the anesthesiologist to knock me out as much as possible because I didn’t want to hear all that was going on during the surgery, but she said she couldn’t totally sedate me since it would be too much of a risk to my health for this type of procedure. She said I would be more in a kind of “twilight.”
And that I was. I could open my eyes and hear people talking, but I would drift off a little here and there. The epidural only numbed me from about the bottom of my ribs to my toes, so I could feel the pressure of what the surgeons were doing, but didn’t feel any pain. After hooking me up to monitors and oxygen, getting me situated on my side on the operating table, and putting that horrible, stinging needle into my spine for the epidural, Dr. Lim made an incision through my abdomen and uterus, and then he and doctors Polzin and Crombleholme “mapped” my placenta with the fetoscope, determining which vascular connections needed to be lasered, while a nurse took notes on their findings (this took the majority of the time). There were other nurses present (I was told about 10 people total were in the room) working their respective monitors, taking fetal pictures, working the ultrasound and doing other cool stuff. Then Dr. Lim went through the same incision to selectively laser the problem-causing connections. They glued my incision (yes, they used some super-duper medical glue to seal up my tummy), unhooked all my gadgets and wheeled me out to Stephen, who says the whole thing took a little less than two hours. Amazing!
Even though the babies and I all survived the procedure, we knew that the first 24 hours post-surgery were our next hurdle. The docs drew more than 3 liters of extra amniotic fluid (about six pounds) out of Gabriel’s sac — obviously, an environmental change that is quite shocking to my boy. Dr. Lim said because of this change in amniotic pressure, as well as a change in blood flow, Gabriel’s little heart would really be put to the test during this time. Of course, an array of other very scary stuff could also happen, so we were stressed out last night to say the least. Moreover, I had a million cords and tubes hooked up to me, and my legs were throbbing from being on continued bed rest, so I was not feeling quite up to par mentally or physically. Luckily, Stephen spent the night with me in the hospital and, even though he was also wary of all the horrible scenarios we could possibly face, he remained strong and helped me get through the extremely challenging night.
This morning began with an ultrasound. Connie, the wonderful tech, notified us immediately that she spotted two heartbeats. Thank God, both Gabriel and Zeke were alive! At the end of the ultrasound, Dr. Polzin said that Gabriel’s heart rhythms seemed to be improving from some fairly typical dips they had been showing previously, Zeke’s fluid seemed to be slowly increasing, and both babies’ Doppler readings were looking good. Then Dr. Crombleholme visited me in my room and reiterated that all signs were “encouraging” thus far. Thank the Lord we made it over yet another hurdle!
We’ve been back at the hotel since a little before noon today. I’ve been chilling around the room and Stephen went down to the hotel bar for a bit to see a band doing jazz standards. So now we have to bide our time till Monday, when the babies get another echo on their hearts at Cincinnati Children’s and then another ultrasound is done with Dr. Polzin at Good Samaritan, a sister hospital specializing in OBGYN stuff. If those tests show that the surgery has indeed ceased the progression of TTTS and the boys are positively responding to their new environments, we will be heading home first thing Tuesday morning to see our other boy, who we have missed terribly.
Being away from Houston has made all this Cincy drama that much harder. We cannot wait to see him run, laugh, talk, dance, make funny signs and do all the magical things he does every day. Houston is such an amazing little human. I just hope he somehow understands that we’re away from him in an effort to keep our family intact. We know that he’ll appreciate it when Gabriel and Zeke are around to play with and/or beat up, while all three sport the Reds baseball caps Daddy bought for his boys at the game the other day. Houston’s going to be the best big brother ever … and those are the days for which we’re striving, one hurdle at a time!