It was our first ultrasound with the neonatal specialist in Charlottesville, Virginia. I was around 24-25 weeks with my twins.
The ultrasound tech was friendly and chatty, making my husband and I smile, laugh and feel at ease. But her behavior about half way through the scan confused us a bit.
“Hang on a sec,” she said, darting out of the room. A few moments later, she was back and continued the ultrasound, taking measurements and printing pictures for us to take home.
Then—“I’ll be right back.” And she was gone again.
My husband and I exchanged glances, wondering what was up. Was the machine broken? Our babies had been wiggling away on the black and white screen, looking like tiny aliens: Baby A and Baby B. We knew they were boys but we hadn’t come to an agreement on names yet.
When the tech came back, she was still friendly but not quite as chatty. Ultimately we shrugged off her odd exits, and after we saw the doctor, we made another appointment in 2 weeks to check the babies’ progress. We still had regular appointments with my OBGYN in Lynchburg as well, to monitor the twins’ growth as they were measuring small for their gestational age.
Two weeks later I sat in the same room with the same ultrasound tech. She smiled and was as friendly as before. Running the probe over my gelled belly, she took a few measurements and then let out an audible sigh of relief.
“Oh! I’m so glad your babies are okay.”
I turned my eyes away from the screen to look at her, my brow furrowed in question.
“The last time I saw you? I went home that night and cried. I told my husband, ‘There is no way those babies are going to live. They were so small.’”
My eyes widened and I immediately glanced at my husband. Her odd in-and-out behavior last time made more sense; she had been talking to the doctor throughout the scan.
“But here you are!” she said. “And here they are—they’re still small, but they’re growing and kicking away.”
“Kicking for sure!” I laughed. But I felt completely stunned by her revelation.
I knew my pregnancy was high risk because I was carrying twins but my OBGYN and the Charlottesville specialist had been guarded—even nonchalant—in their conversations with me.
Looking back, I don’t know if the tech should have revealed her personal thoughts to me but our conversation prompted me to demand more details from my doctor.
We soon had the whole story: Our twins had Twin to Twin Transfusion (TTTS) a disorder that sometimes happens because identical twins share a placenta. One twin will start transfusing blood and nutrients from the other twin causing a weight and amniotic fluid imbalance.
TTTS is rare, serious, and can require intrauterine surgery (we didn’t have to have the surgery, but it was discussed).
It can be fatal.
“If we see the babies are in distress at any appointment after 28 weeks, we are going to immediately perform a c-section,” the specialist told me that day.
I nodded, feeling numb.
I honestly had been pretty nonchalant about the pregnancy myself. I was doing all the right things, taking my vitamins, eating right, reading all the books. But I was 23 years old and knew nothing about pregnancy or complications or being a mom.
In that moment, I was tossed into the deep end of the pool and I had to learn how to swim.
In the days and weeks to come, I would press my hands to my belly and feel each baby boy rolling and kicking. We named them: Micah was on my left and Benjamin was on my right.
God, I prayed over and over again. Let them live. Let them live.
It has been a little more than 10 years since I prayed those prayers from the depths of my soul with tears brimming behind my tightly-shut eyes.
On October 9, 2017, we celebrated Micah and Benji’s 10th birthday.
Ten years of life for my boys. Ten years of motherhood.
Looking back, my motherhood experience, like my pregnancy, has been difficult and unexpected.
I didn’t expect my boys to need 7 surgeries between them by age 6.
I didn’t expect learning disabilities, Autism, and ADHD.
I didn’t expect to struggle so much to communicate and connect with my sons.
My relationship with both my boys has been hard won and is still a work in progress.
But as I look back, I realize that my life with them is an answered prayer.
Let them live. Please, let them live.
That ultrasound tech had seen thousands of high-risk babies in utero and she thought my sons were going to die before they even took their first breath.
But they didn’t. They are alive and well and are growing taller and stronger every day.
Our life has looked different than I thought it would, and sometimes I feel defeated by our daily struggles. I forget the prayers I prayed and the way God answered so graciously then, and so graciously now in the middle of intense difficulties.
Micah and Benji are becoming young men; they are growing up before my eyes, every hard-won character lesson at a time.
I prayed for my boys to live and God answered that prayer with a life I never expected. He has given me new life, purpose, and understanding, painfully stripping away my selfishness and naivety and making me a better, stronger, more loving version of the woman I was 10 years ago.
I am surrounded by a life of answered prayers. I can only pray that I will remember that each and every day as I raise the sons I have been given.