For most people, finding out you're pregnant with twins is quite a shock. But for us, it was a calculated risk that paid off big time! After three rounds of failed reciprocal IVF, we finally got the news we had been waiting on for SO long - not just one, but TWO perfect little girls on the way!
We had some scares in the first trimester but finally at week 18, we felt confident enough to announce our pregnancy to our friends and family. We were so happy and could finally start planning. But this excitement and joy was short lived when we found out at our 20 week scan that something was wrong with Kaylen. We saw multiple specialists and at week 24, they found her "Angel Wings" on the sono. This is when we first met our NICU team and began to plan. Week 25, the official Hydrops Fetalis diagnosis was given to Kaylen and the news of a cure was nowhere to be found. The angel wings previously seen on the sono was fluid around her heart and lungs. The goal was to monitor Kaylen weekly and pray for a miracle. Week 26, the phenomenon "Mirror Syndrome" started happening to my wife and the team explained that she was now at risk also because she was mirroring Kaylen's Hydrops condition causing massive swelling and fluid retention. Week 29, Callie’s blood pressure climbed dangerously high and she was admitted to the hospital.
The next week felt like an eternity and like a blink of the eye at the same time. Delivering too soon would put an otherwise healthy Kamdyn at severe risk due to prematurity, but there was nothing that could be done to help Kaylen until she was delivered. Every 4 hours for a week, we prayed for the doctors to hear two heart beats and that they could just keep growing a little longer.
The morning of March 22nd, 2018 was the scariest day of our lives. Callie’s blood pressure had creeped up too high, and now Kamdyn had restricted growth due to all of Kaylen’s excess swelling and fluid. The decision was made to do an emergency c-section at 9 am. By 11 am, we were in the OR with over 25 people and our little babies were about to make their big debut. Kamdyn came out first at 11:36 and we heard her beautiful high-pitched cry. She weighed 3 lbs even and was feisty from the start. Kaylen followed shortly after at 11:38 weighing 4 lbs 4 oz. The team immediately started working on her but she had a strong heartbeat – which is more than we were told to expect!
The next 9 days are a blur but ones we will never forget. We were first told that Kaylen would probably not make it out of the womb. Then we were told that she might not make it out of the delivery room. But for nine whole days she defied the odds and fought to beat Hydrops. We met with the Medical Director and NICU team for rounds every day, each day partnering with them to search for a solution.
On March 31st, we hadn't made any progress and poor Kaylen was getting sicker. We, along with the guidance and support of the medical team, made the heart wrenching decision to stop all the poking and prodding on Kaylen and finally hold her for the first and last time. We lost her because of Hydrops but to this day we still don't know why. Sometimes Hydrops is genetic, sometimes it is caused by an infection, but sometimes - just like in our case and about 10% of all cases - there is no known cause.
The next 54 days we met daily with the same team about Kamdyn and her progress. Besides being tiny and 10 weeks premature, she was otherwise healthy and just needed time to grow!
On day 63, we broke out of the NICU. Excited to finally take our girl home, but sad to leave the NICU family that we had grown to love over the past 3 months.
Nobody wants their baby to spend time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Every parent hopes for an easy labor, a healthy mom and baby, and a short hospital stay. But when things go wrong, it's great to have the support of a wonderful team who not only nurtures your baby but helps you maneuver through those tough first days, weeks, or months.