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Our Journey of a Triplet Pregnancy - a guest blog by Megan Temby

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A collection of stories, insights, pain and laughter that details our lives, our experiences as women and mothers and the wisdom that comes out of that.

Our Journey of a Triplet Pregnancy - a guest blog by Megan Temby

Julie Tenner

My husband and I have been married for some time now, with two beautiful boys aged 8 and 10 years old. As the boys were getting older my husband and I had started discussions on whether we would go back for our third and ‘final’ child.

Quite quickly I fell pregnant and immediately I sensed this pregnancy was quite different to my previous ones. This time I suffered immediately from very severe morning sickness, which I had never experienced before. My husband and I started joking very early on it was multiples but I had a very strange intuition that there were 4 babies in my belly. We don’t have any history of multiple births within our family.

7 weeks into the pregnancy we went for our first ultrasound. I can remember the sonographer looking quite shocked. I knew there was more than one! She went on to announce that there were three babies present. I was so relieved there was not four!! We had 1 baby in a sack and placenta by itself plus another 2 identical babies in another sac sharing a different placenta. I was quite confused how this could happen but it was later explained that I had two eggs that were released and then one of these eggs went on to further split.

  7 Week Scan

7 Week Scan

Although we had received such big and exciting news we were told that it was quite common for a multiple baby to ‘disappear’ by the 12 week scan. It was a long and nervous wait until our next scan.

Around the 7- 8 week point my morning sickness had hit an all-time high. I was couch bound and not keeping any fluids down. We didn’t want to announce our news so early but we started telling a couple of people so that we could get some help. Although excited and shocked I was feeling physically drained. I had no understanding of how debilitating morning sickness could be until now.

The big day arrived and both my husband and I went into the 12 week scan. Initially only two babies could be found and instantly I felt disappointed that the third baby didn’t make it through. However after a minute or so the third baby was found hiding. We were told that since all three had made it this far it was a very definite triplet pregnancy now.

Our next big scan was planned for 20 weeks. Something about the big gap between scans and appointments made me feel a little uneasy. I had no idea what was normal for a multiple pregnancy but decided to follow my intuition and make some calls to our major tertiary hospital for further advice. After these enquiries I was seen immediately and managed to get an earlier ultrasound and appointment at 17 weeks. At this point our pregnancy journey changed from excitement to a rollercoaster ride.

At 17 weeks we learnt that our babies were seriously ill with a disorder called ‘Twin-To-Twin Transfusion Syndrome’ (TTTS). What this meant was that our identical twin babies, whom were sharing a placenta, had an unequal share of blood flow. Our smaller baby, called a ‘donor’ was receiving too little blood flow and not enough fluid. Our other identical baby, called a ‘recipient’ was receiving most of the blood, causing excess fluid and her heart to be placed under strain. Usually this disorder is fatal without a procedure during the pregnancy called ‘Fetal Laser Surgery’, which is like an amniocentesis. It involves lasering blood vessels of the placenta which helps too even out the blood supply between both babies.

Unfortunately in our case both of our twin babies umbilical cords had grown into the sac wall of our third baby, meaning we could not get the laser surgery. We also had additional complications in that this was an early onset case and if the excess fluid ruptured the sacs, all babies would go into a premature labour they would not survive. One of our smallest babies also had selective fetal growth restriction and we were told that she would not survive.

After receiving this news we were left absolutely shocked. We went into this appointment thinking we had three healthy babies and left being told we would most likely loose them all by that weekend. Our only option to take any babies home alive was to try and terminate our identical babies in the hope of saving our single baby. This still came with risks of premature birth and losing all three. We had gone from thinking we had three healthy babies to an outcome of taking home no babies, or best case scenario one.

Deciding that we would just let nature take its course we continued on with the pregnancy with no interventions. Despite receiving the best medical care with the most amazing doctors, week after week our babies had not improved but had also not passed away as expected. We tried to hold onto a small glimmer of hope for a miracle.

At around 19 weeks into the pregnancy I found the ‘Twin-To-Twin Transfusion Syndrome’, that was founded in America. I was given lots of amazing advice by the founder, Mary, and linked in with a medical doctor in America that had pioneered the laser procedure for this disorder. Within hours of contacting them I was given advice to go on immediate bedrest and drink a high protein diet. Although not a recommended technique in Australia without any options we thought ‘why not give it a try!’. I also started using Mindfulness to try and keep myself calm as well.

Within weeks our babies’ condition had very, very slightly improved. For the first time our smallest baby finally started getting the slightest amount of fluid back into her sac and her bladder was starting to fill with fluid again on ultrasounds. I thought this was an amazing step forward however we were told the two identical babies would still most likely not survive.

Our biggest goal was to reach 24 weeks into the pregnancy, a point at which hospitals will try and save a baby if they are born early. By some miracle we continued on each week and made it to this point. However our smallest baby was still not growing well and had not made it to the 500 g mark that was needed to be considered ‘viable’.

Our next major goal was to reach the 28 week mark. We were told if we could make it to this point survival rates were much higher and longer term medical complications would be lower. Amazingly we defied the odds and made it to 28 weeks. We also received the most amazing news at this appointment too, that our smallest baby had grown and they were for the first time on a mission to save all three babies.

My excitement and hope grew but the worry that the disease could progress and still kill them within hours made it an incredibly anxious time. Each day was a very delicate balancing act of trying to keep them ‘cooking’ for as long as possible however deciding to deliver them if any complications arose. At 30 weeks the decision was made to deliver our three girls- Asha, Sophie & Jade. We never imagined we would ever make this milestone, yet alone delivering three babies!

Our girls were born a minute apart by C-section to a very crowded delivery room. Each baby had a doctor and nurse and was whisked straight off to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). I was grateful the girls were now on the ‘outside world’ in a more controlled environment and felt immense physical relief myself once they were born.

   Placed into zip lock bags when born to keep them warm

Placed into zip lock bags when born to keep them warm

   Sophie just born

Sophie just born

  Jade just born

Jade just born

   Asha just born

Asha just born

Once the girls were born I felt so grateful we had made it this far however our next journey had started! I wasn’t quite prepared for the rollercoaster ride the NICU would bring us. All three girls had medical issues due to their prematurity and pregnancy complications, including breathing difficulties, collapsed lungs, fluid on the brain, infections requiring spinal taps, IV burns, heart difficulties, bowel difficulties and feeding difficulties. However after a 3 month stay they were released from hospital and are now happy, cheeky and healthy 2 year old girls.

We were so lucky that on the day the girls were born there were enough NICU beds to keep them together at one hospital. Many families have their babies separated. However they were in separate rooms and due to the medical equipment they were on it took us six weeks to get our first cuddle with them all together. This is the first time everyone was together and a day I will never forget.

IMG_0586 (1).JPG

Our NICU stay was a very structured daily event. Every 2-3 hours I would pump breastmilk and take it in. The nurses and doctors were the most amazing people on this planet and people we will never, ever forget. They involved us as much in the girls care as possible, we would help change their nappies in their incubators, take their temperature and change their bedding. We were told the importance of skin to skin contact, otherwise known as ‘kangaroo care’ and would book in for our daily cuddles.

   First playdate they had together around 7 weeks old

First playdate they had together around 7 weeks old

   Asha & Sophie having kangaroo cuddles

Asha & Sophie having kangaroo cuddles

Our NICU stay opened our eyes to how hard it is for some families, many had to say good bye to their little babies that didn’t make it through. I found during our NICU stay many people didn’t know what to say or how to support us. My best advice to anyone you know that may have a premature baby is to still ask them if they would like visits in the hospital, it may really brighten up their spirits.

The amazing supports we received by family, friends, school parents and our local community in helping us clean our house, preparing meals, helping us run around our oldest kids will never be forgotten. It truly took us a ‘village’ in the early days to help us care and feed the girls around the clock and keep us sane.

   Home after 3 months in hospital

Home after 3 months in hospital

My advice from our journey would be:

* ALWAYS follow your mother ‘intuition’, if you feel like something is not right it probably isn’t!

* If you come across anyone having twins or more that are identical and sharing a placenta, make sure they are aware of Twin-To-Twin

Transfusion Syndrome. They should be getting fortnightly scans from a very early stage in the pregnancy and should be monitored by a high risk fetal medicine unit in their major hospital.

* If you have a friend who has had a premature baby, continue to support them once they are home too. They will still have quite a journey ahead of them with lots of appointments and may need your help more than ever during this time.

* Try to also remember that anyone who has had a NICU journey will become a ‘germophobe’!! They may ask you to stay away even if you have the slightest sniffle and please don’t take offense to this.

 

Although some time ago now our journey will always impact us strongly. It has definitely taught us to take nothing for granted and not sweat over the small things.

Now at 2 years old we are off on another chaotic, funny, joyous adventure of toileting training triplets, keeping up with their independent requests, nurturing their totally different personalities and their cheeky antics. It is an incredible journey to be on and we feel truly blessed.


You can listen to Megans Full Podcast Interview with us HERE
Or go through your smart phone podcast app to iTunes or Stitcher and download episode 157

NTM 157: Interview with Megan Temby – a mum to triplets; her story of defying a 100% mortality rate to birth three healthy babies

 

You can connect with Megan HERE

 

Relevant Links Megan found helpful on her journey:

Miracle Babies Foundation – an organisation for support and resources:
https://www.miraclebabies.org.au/

Life’s Little Treasures Foundation – an organisation for support and resources for premature birth:
https://www.lifeslittletreasures.org.au/tag/lil-aussie-prem-foundation/

Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome Foundation – an organisation to support families experiencing twin to twin transfusion syndrome:
https://tttsfoundation.org/