Towards the end of the first trimester around 10 weeks pregnant, I went to have a scan at Rigshospital to check the nuchal translucency (apparently an indication of the statistical likelihood of Downs syndrome in the foetus). As it happened, I thought I was 13 weeks by then, but found out I had misjudged based on my dodgy menstrual cycle. Anyway. It was a rough day.
The ultrasound doctor noticed that there were twin babies in there, and I was completely shocked; there are no twins in my family and I had never even considered this possibility. Then a specialist came and had a look and told us that the twins are sharing a placenta, and are in separate amniotic sacs (monochorionic, diamniotic) and are a risky type of twin pregnancy. He explained that there is a high chance of twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) in this case, where the blood vessels from the placenta run from one baby to another. So one baby becomes overly engorged with blood, and the other is deprived, and gets really tiny. The only solution is laser surgery to cauterize the shared blood vessels, and that can only be performed from 17 weeks, but if this syndrome is happening, they won’t make it until then. However since it was only 10 weeks, we would have to wait and see in the next 2 weeks if they were really in separate amniotic sacs, and if one would be bigger than the other.
I was blown away. I couldn’t believe I had gone from ‘oops a baby’ to ‘Wow! 2 babies!’ to ‘Maybe neither baby will make it’. My husband and I were totally devastated and what followed was the worst night of my life so far, followed by an awful 2 week wait, which I survived in suspended animation, numb and too afraid to feel anything in case I should lose control and go insane with grief. As I write this and recall those feelings I am tearing up, even the memory is still painful.
So 2 weeks later we had another scan, and in a new surprise twist, the babies were clearly monoamniotic, sharing an amniotic sac. So they are mono-mono or momo. This means that they are a lower risk for TTTS, but now they stood a chance of getting their umbilical cords all knotted together, which causes less blood and oxygen from the placenta to reach them, and can be lethal. The doc told us there is a 50% chance of survival in the beginning. Well, not great odds, but considering what we had just been facing with slim odds at best, we were relatively relieved. Still freaked out, but there was a glimmer of hope and we both grabbed it for all we were worth.