Once I caught my breath, the dr told us to guard our hope, there were still a lot of uncertainties, and even if the fetal MRI was promising, there would be mountainous obstacles - our boys' first go at life would not be easy for them. He also warned us that we would be challenged emotionally, physically, financially, and that this may ruin us in more ways than we could imagine. The stress on the family was going to be beyond anything we could prepare ourselves for.
Before we left, the dr's secretary called the hospital that would perform our fetal MRI. She gave us the number and told us to expect a phone call from the woman that would schedule our appointment - and if it was at all possible, they would get us in the next day. They didn't want us to have to drive home and then back again the next week.
After we left the dr's office, Dave and I couldn't help ourselves; we went to Wal-Mart and had a mini celebration buying gifts and candy for Ethan and Liam's Easter baskets. We talked about what it would be like to have four boys to love; we talked about how we would be eaten out of house and home when they became teenagers. We allowed ourselves to dream about all of our children together, and it felt amazing. We headed back to our hotel exhausted. On our way there, the secretary for the MRI called and told us that we had been scheduled for noon the following day, but that they were already over-booked, and to come expecting a long wait. I told her we had nothing else to do, and we would be happy to wait as long as it took. I thanked her for squeezing us in, and hung up with a grateful heart.
I told Dave that there was a reason for us to have been led to TX believing we were going to lose our babies - otherwise, we would have never found the people who were supposed to help us.
Around 3 o'clock that afternoon, the MRI hospital called us and told us that one of their machines had broken, and unless they could get it fixed, we would have to be rescheduled for the following Thursday, a week away. She said that she would call us within the hour to give us an update on the machine, and that we would go from there. We found out within that hour that we would be returning to Dallas the following week for the fetal MRI.
My mom came the following week to watch Ethan and Liam for the 3 days that we would be gone. We had a fetal MRI scheduled, as well as an appointment with one of the pediatric surgeons who would be operating on our boys, followed by another meeting with the dr who had given the boys back a chance at life.
The day of the MRI, I had just reached the 19-week mark in my pregnancy. I was nervous, not because of the procedure (though I had no idea what was going to happen) but because I knew the results would be monumental in determining what I hoped would be the continued good candidacy for separation surgery.
The process was simple enough for me. All I had to do was lie very still, which quickly led to a snooze or two, until I was given instructions to hold my breath for a sequence of short periods of time.
Afterward, we were shown into a viewing room where the fetal MRI specialist showed us the images and discussed her findings. She noted that our babies were connected from the xyphoid process to the belly button, that they did indeed share a liver, and that they also shared the small bowels. In addition, meconium was only found in the colon of one of the babies - she did not know if this was due to preferential processing and flow of nutrients through the small bowels into only one of the babies, or if one twin did not have a colon at all. At this point, there was just no way to tell, and there probably would not be a way to tell until the twins were born. She pointed out the large fluid filled sac that they shared and explained it as an omphalo-mesenteric cyst, which, she stated was remnants of the early stages of the developing embryo. It was harmless. Dave asked about the structure and function of the heart again, and she said that both hearts appeared to be developing well. He also asked about the curvature of the spine, which she suspected to be scoliosis. She showed us that both babies had developed their own stomach, bladders, kidneys, large intestines, genitals etc. Her biggest concern was the small bowels.
I was hoping that their shared organs would be limited to the liver. This, though, might be overcome'-able.
After we were released from the MRI specialists, we made our way to the pediatric surgeon's office. Dave says that what he gathered from the pediatric surgeon was that the surgeion needed very specific things to make both boys' anatomies functional, and until they were born, we would not know everything that we needed to know.
The next day, we returned to the dr's office who had initially given us counseling regarding our boys. Dave and I were both in a much better state THIS time through. We were both quite happy to see him again. He did a quick ultra-sound of our babies and told us that they looked very much like they had the last time he had seen them, and this was not a bad thing. He counseled us more and told us to prepare ourselves for the long road that was ahead - there was no guarantee that both twins would survive the surgery, or that either would survive, but that he and his team would do everything they could to make these boys healthy.
In addition, because my insurance is out-of-network, he set us up on a payment plan that would ease our expenses. "You have enough to worry about right now besides the financial aspect of this. I will see you back in a month."
This man was and continues to be a gift from God. We are grateful that God placed him in our pathway. Had he not, our family would have been broken.