Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome

Hi! I'm Natalie. I live in sunny Lindisfarne at the moment, with my husband Jared, our identical twin boys, Alex and Jack (who were 3 in May, 2013) and our hilarious Lab x Greyhound, Flynn. Soon we'll be building a house for ourselves on 25 acres just outside of Richmond. I can't wait to have a house and a bit of land of our own after renting and couch-surfing for the past decade or so!

Anyway, here is a bit of a back-story...

Jared and I moved from Tasmania to Vancouver, Canada, in 2008, where we worked in marketing (Jared) and architecture (me). We thoroughly enjoyed our child-free life there, skiing, camping and travelling throughout North America and Mexico. At the end of 2009 I discovered that I was pregnant, and decided that it was no big deal and that we would stay in Vancouver for a while longer and raise our baby. A few weeks later I found out it was twins, and a risky pregnancy at that! Still, no big deal, the city has some great hospitals, she'll be right.

At about 27 weeks gestation, I decided that I was too uncomfortable to keep working and so took myself off in a taxi to get an ultrasound at the hospital, just to make sure everything was okay.

I spent the rest of the day being scanned, poked and prodded by numerous experts who told me that my twins had twin-to-twin transfusion, and that it was manageable at this stage, but I'd be kept in overnight for monitoring.

The next day, more scans, more experts, more serious talks about what was happening. The twin-to-twin transfusion had progressed to a dangerous stage overnight and the babies had to be born. And so they were, by c-section, on the 20th of May 2010, Jack Samuel (995gms) and Alex James (850gms) arrived into the world, beautiful identical twin boys!

The next three months were the most terrifying and amazing time of our lives, a total emotional roller-coaster! There were lots of things to celebrate. Nearly every day something positive happened, even if it was a small weight gain, or a giant poo (who knew that could be so exciting!?) But we did have some pretty dark moments.

In the first few days, Jack was suffering the most from having been the "receiver" in twin-to-twin transfusion, and his little heart was completely overloaded with extra nutrients his body had received. His heart went into survival mode and practically shut down his vascular system so it could concentrate on sending oxygen to the brain. So when the nurses and doctors tried to get a IV into him, they caused a trauma to his femoral artery which caused the blood flow to stop in his right leg. It never recovered fully from this and had to be amputated 5 weeks later. It was a really tough time for us and I would have given him my right leg, literally, if it would have made a difference. But from that day on it hasn't stopped him, he has a prosthetic now, and he loves walking and climbing and terrifying his mother on a daily basis.

Alex contracted a bowel infection close to the end of the 3 months and after he recovered he was set back a little bit with learning how to eat. So in the end we were able to take Jack home first and then Alex a few days later, just before our due date. And since then it's been plain-sailing (plain-ish, maybe?) We have been very lucky.

Soon after the boys were born, I had a small meltdown, suddenly I wasn't all "no big deal" and "she'll be right" and decided I really want to move back to Tassie, so a year later we did. And haven't looked back, much, only to lament occasionally about the freedom we once knew pre-children. Now we wouldn't have it any other way.

Jared wrote a blog as a way of communicating the day to day stuff to friends and family in Tasmania, so you can check out the warts 'n' all version there if you are interested.


Natalie Mendham – 2013


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