Our twins have arrived! Earlier than expected.
Mother and babies are doing well.
Leonidas Alexandros (Leo) and Sofia Julietta were born a minute apart at 11:58pm (Leo) and 11:59pm (Sofia) on Sunday, 27 May 2007. I, for one, was hoping the doctor would drop a forcep or something and they would be born on different days. A delay of less than 60 seconds is all we needed. That would’ve been pretty unique – twins, yet different birthdays. Plus, from what I hear from the other kids, those joint birthdays are always a bit of a drag. You know, having to share the spotlight with a sibling every year. Good thing I’m Greek and we have the Nameday every year in which to lavish gifts and praise on each child separately. Wait a minute, that can get expensive now that I’m thinking about it…we’ve jumped from one to three.
Anyway, it all started with a concerned visit to the hospital that Sunday. AussieGirl was 34 weeks and 3 days pregnant. The babies were healthy and big. At well over 5 pounds each, they were both above the average for even singletons (55 and 67 percentile).
But earlier that week…..
AG had developed some severe itching in the most recent couple of weeks, including on the palms of her hands and the soles of her feet, which we thought was pretty strange. We Googled it and found that, with her symptoms, it looked a lot like cholestasis. It sounded potentially scary. The babies were really active and healthy, and yet this could cause the mother’s liver to release toxins that could kill a baby in utero within a 24 hour period.
On Monday the 21st, at the bi-weekly ultrasound, the very nice doctor we met immediately recognized the cholestasis symptoms and recommended AG give blood so that her Serum Bile Acid could be measured. That was good. To complicate matters though, the results were sent to the wrong office and if we weren’t calling in regularly to find out the results, they may have been floating around for another day or two. As it was, we didn’t track them down until Thursday, the 24th. We weren’t entirely surprised to discover that bile acid levels were very high. We were told 140, when the normal was between 6 and 20.
We were then directed to go to the hospital as soon as possible for monitoring. Still Thursday. They stuck AG in a room and on a baby heartbeat monitor for six long hours, without much information. When the doctor finally visited, he said everything looked good, but that we should come in twice a week for monitoring. He also prescribed a drug called cholestyramine, which we later found out, through various web sites and a medical journal study, was an outdated treatment routine which could actually cause maternal hemorrhaging or intracranial hemorrhaging in the unborn child. AG was even taking injections of Heparin for a blood-clotting disorder she had, so that treatment really concerned us. AG took it once and stopped after researching it further.
So that was Thursday. We let Friday and Saturday pass, but it was weighing heavily on our minds, not to mention the fact that AG’s itching was as intense as ever. Monday was Memorial Day and our next monitoring appointment was Tuesday. It seemed a long, long way away. After reading more and more about how Cholestasis could poison a baby and how fast it could do it, we really questioned the casual, “come in twice a week” thing. Add to that, the questionable prescription of cholestyramine. We decided to call the hospital on Sunday to see if we could come in before Tuesday.
We spoke with a great doctor that shared our concern and she agreed that AG should come in to get looked at. I don’t know if it was the fact that she was also a mother herself, but she was absolutely brilliant.
We went in about 1pm on Sunday. The babies were monitored and sounded great – no signs of distress. To our complete surprise (and some relief), this doctor really thought we shouldn’t take any chances with the cholestasis and should deliver THAT DAY. If she were in that situation herself, she said, she’d want the babies taken out. A cervix exam later found that AG was dilated two centimeters and she also began having regular contractions (two minutes apart). They wanted to perform the caesarean around 6pm, but AG still had Heparin in her system from her 11:30am injection and they decided to wait a full 12 hours for it to run its course.
We have some fantastic friends in Sam and Grace that took care of Eleni overnight and on a moment’s notice. After I took Eleni home for a nap, I dropped her off, and then returned to the hospital to hang out with AG until the clock struck twelve and both Leo and Sofia were out in the world and wailing away.
Leo had a nice, long pee as the pediatrician team cleaned him up. Sofia was laboring a bit in her breathing. She had pooped inside the womb, well before the procedure began. We were told this is a sign of distress and we made the right decision in delivering them early. That may have been a sign that the bile acids were starting to cross into the placenta and poison her. Thank God for putting that seed of concern in our minds and for giving us wonderful, talented medical personnel when we needed them most. Today is Tuesday. I can’t imagine what might have happened if we had waited for our regular. “monitoring” appointment today.
May God continue to bless them….and their brave and strong mother.