Marcie, like many pregnant women this year, has given birth during an unprecedented time, a global pandemic. Not only were hospital visitors restricted, which meant her son could not visit while she was on hospital bed rest, but once her twin girls were born she was required to live in the neonatal intensive care unit where her twins were being cared for at Tampa General Hospital. She was not able to come or go, policies to ensure the safety of her family and other patients to protect them from contracting COVID-19.
written by: Marcie Leblanc
I went through three rounds of IVF with donor embryos for a successful transfer. If you’re not familiar with donor embryos, these are embryos from parents who have completed their families through IVF and have extra embryos that they allow other families to adopt, like us.
My embryo split and I was told I was carrying monochorionic/diamniotic (mono/di), twin girls. That meant our babies shared the same placenta but had separate amniotic sacs. They were at risk for twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS), an imbalance of blood exchange between the twins causing one baby to receive too little blood and to have low amniotic fluid. Because these girls are the last grandchildren in our family, my mom promptly retired to be there to support me. By week 17, I was diagnosed with phase 1 TTTS, borderline phase 3. Against all odds, my girls were able to even out their amniotic fluid and avoid having ablation surgery.
Unfortunately by week 23, we were diagnosed with intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), with baby B having intermittent cord blood flow. On week 28, St. Patrick’s Day, my mom and I went in for a usual ultrasound to find out that baby’s cord blood flow had progressed to ‘intermittent absent’. We were told to immediately go home, pack a bag, and check into the hospital for monitoring until the babies were born. I’d consider myself a realist up until that exact point. The girls had beat every odd they had come against, and I truly believed we would be monitored for 24 hours and released. But it wouldn’t turn out that way and my mom went home, packed her bags, and came straight to the hospital with me.
On our third day in, the staff from antepartum care came in with a Bed Rest Basket from High Risk Hope. First I want to say that everything in the bag was needed for what ended up being a one month stay, but what was even more important to me was the realization that there were other moms going through this. The hope that the bags represented, of coming out on the other side okay. The break from the constant worry to enjoy presents was appreciated relief. The bags each came with a purple bow, which we hung on every door, of every room, of our journey. They are pretty worn now, but they represent the HOPE that we have carried these weeks past and weeks to come, for my girls to make it home.
Once the girls were born at 32 weeks, they were each given their own NICU Napsack from HRH. I used the hand-knitted hats to keep the girls warm, but also to be able to tell them apart in pictures. Again, HRH thought of things that we hadn’t thought of to help our stay be as comfortable as possible. The girls have hit their one month day of life, and they are strong. We hope to be released together, within the next two weeks.
I’d like to say to High Risk Hope directly – your organization reminds moms they are part of a group, all striving for the best for their tiny babies. You remind us that we are not alone and there is hope that on the other side of all this we get to go home together. Thank you for bringing that to our journey!
Update: Marcie and her twin girls, Raven and Rain, were released together after 7 weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit at Tampa General Hospital. If you would like to donate to HRH’s Critical Inventory Fund to ensure more preemies like Raven and Rain continue to be supported by High Risk Hope, please visit https://www.highriskhope.org/critical-inventory-fund/.