Chloe and Faith Emerson (in the words of their mother, Lisa)
Joel and I were trying for our second child in the summer of 2010. I found out I was pregnant at the end of August, with the baby due around April 30th. Now the journey of my second pregnancy would begin, I was so excited. I loved being pregnant with our first child, a daughter, Kylie.
Things were progressing fine, I had a few bouts of morning sickness but nothing too bad. I noticed at the end of October and beginning of November that I was getting HUGE. I thought something wasn’t quite right but didn’t worry too much.
At 17 weeks, my doctor called about one of the blood tests I had. She said the test showed that maybe the baby’s spinal cord wasn’t growing properly. She asked me to come in the next day for an ultrasound as the first step to make sure I was as far along as we thought. I showed up the next day and the technician looked at me and said “oh yeah, it’s twins.” She was right, I saw two bodies on the screen. I asked what the genders were and the technician gave me a look that said “I don’t know if I should tell you.” Joel wasn’t with me at the time but I told her that we discussed this ahead of time and wanted to know. Girls! Identical twins, as no membrane was found separating them. The doctor talked with me and said she was sending me on to a maternal fetal doctor who can closely monitor me in case there would be any problems. My due date was still April 30 and the blood test was run again and came back with no problems.
At 20 weeks, I had my appointment with the maternal fetal doctor. Joel came along just to make sure everything was okay. The first scan took an hour and it was very uncomfortable laying on my back. They needed measurements of both girls. They name all the multiple babies A, B, C, etc. so Baby A was the one that would be delivered first and she was the smaller one. In January we finally had names for the girls. Baby A became Faith Jolene and Baby B, Chloe Grace. After all the measurements were taken, the doctor put us in a room and got a family history and told us we had TTTS and what my new normal was going to be – bed rest. Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS) affects about 10% of identicals and what happens is some blood vessels form on the placenta going from baby to baby. One baby (Faith) becomes the donor baby and the other (Chloe) becomes the recipient. Faith was giving a lot of her blood and nutrients to Chloe, so Chloe was growing faster than Faith. He also told us that he would contact a doctor that specialized in TTTS laser surgery in Milwaukee.
The doctor in Milwaukee called us a day later and said “get in the car, you need to come here.” This doctor pioneered a surgery to go in and laser the blood vessels connecting baby to baby. That’s the simple version of it all. On December 17 I had the surgery and it was successful, I know if we didn’t have this surgery our girls wouldn’t have made it as far as they had. They had a 43% weight difference. One other thing during surgery that happened was the doctor drained 3 liters of fluid off of Chloe, that’s why I looked like I was full term. I stayed in Milwaukee for 5 days to heal and make sure the babies were fine and I didn’t go into labor.
I lasted a couple of weeks at home on bed rest, horizontal bed rest is the best kind so the bloodflow in my body could go right to the babies. I also had to drink lots of Ensure for the protein. On Jan 13, I was admitted to the hospital for closer observation because the doctor was concerned with fluid around Chloe and Chloe’s heart as it was thick from pumping the extra blood. The nurses had to do heart monitors on the girls every 8 hours. That was a chore sometimes because Feisty Faith was hard to get the heart rate as she kept moving around. Chloe was easier but not all the time.
That’s how I lived for just over a week. Joel and Kylie (our soon to be 3 year old) would visit every day. I also had other visitors which was nice and kept the days moving along. I also did a lot of Farmville on Facebook.
Chloe and Faith Emerson arrived at 26 weeks gestation on January 22, 2011. We didn’t want them to come out yet but at my morning ultrasound the doctor noticed Faith wasn’t getting good blood flow through the umbilical cord and this prompted the C-section. Joel and I knew it was the right decision when we heard Faith was still 14 oz, which was her weight 2 weeks earlier. The reason Faith wasn’t growing was that she only had about 10% of the placenta. The doctor switched birth order on us in the operating room and said Baby B, Chloe came out first making her Baby A. I got to give each girl a kiss on the forehead when they were ready to go to the NICU. Chloe weighed 1 pound 11 ounces and was 13.75 inches longs. Faith was 14 ounces, as I mentioned, and 10.75 inches long. Imagine a can of Coke with appendages and that was Faith, tiny.
The girls made it through their first month of life in the NICU without too many major issues. We had a routine down that I went during the day to be with them and Joel would go at night after dinner. The next major step for Chloe and Faith was to have their eyes checked and the hospital they were at did not have an eyedoctor so they had to move to a different hospital. The girls were at their new place only 5 days when tragedy struck.
Things were going okay, I was trying to get used to a new place and I think the girls were too. One day I took some time away from them to get caught up with other stuff. They were doing well so I didn’t think it would hurt to leave. Joel went and saw them at night like usual. On March 4, 2011 at 1:28AM I got a phone call from the on-call doctor, Faith was gone. Her oxygen had gone down and they were fixing that and then all of a sudden her heart rate dropped and that was it. I couldn’t believe it. The worst day ever is all I can say.
We had a funeral service for Faith a few days later and had her buried in a local cemetery tha tI visit often and bring her flowers. Time has brought healing to our family. One of the hardest things for us is grieving in our loss but also rejoicing in Chloe. We will laugh and cry at the same time. Faith is our angel baby watching out for her twin and the rest of us.
Chloe is becoming a wonderful little toddler and is doing really well. She did have to have a small surgery to balloon open a valve in her heart. She was only 3 months old but after surgery she started to gain the baby weight and look really healthy. She has continued to impress us with her sweet ways and marvel in the true miracle she is