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The Day Before the TTTS Surgery

It was two years ago today we would be boarding a plane early in the morning to fly from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles. Hours before, our Specialist had detected the TTTS in one set our our twins, Indie and Esme, although they hadn’t been named yet. They were just A and B. One was receiving too much nutrients and the sac around her was filling up causing her heart to work overtime. The other was losing nutrients, with her sac drying up and we were unable to find her bladder. It was really the first time during the pregnancy that I think Ashley and I were honestly scared at what could happen.

I remember the plane ride vividly. It was a full flight, and since we booked last minute, our seats were at the very back of the plane. Luckily their was one extra seat next to Ashley, and she was able to spead out a little bit and almost lay down, just trying to rest as much as she could. I remember there weren’t many words spoken between the two of us. We just sat quietly with our thoughts and prayers, and hoped this would all be over soon, and with the results we wanted.

As we arrived in LA, we rushed immediately to our appointment with the surgeon. Being one of only 5 surgeons in the US that perform this surgery, we were both optimistic, and a little scared. As his staff got Ashley prepped and ready for the exam, we didn’t really know what to think. We were in panic mode since the day before, and we had no answers. The doctor came in, greeted us, and began the exam right away, and he would soon have answers for us, although not exactly the ones we wanted.

After his exam, he concluded Ashley was in fact in labor, dilated to a 3. Set A and B of the twins were in fact suffering from TTTS, and they were at a stage 3. Stage 4 is death. This was all explained to us with care and empathy. We had a hotel booked for that night as the doctor had told us on the phone the day before that surgery would be on the following morning after the exam. The doctor wouldn’t let us leave the hospital. With Ashley’s condition, he checked her into a room immediately, and planned the surgery for first thing in the morning. We both knew how serious the situation was, and also knew we were in the right place if things were to turn out the way we wanted. At this point, all we had was each other, our prayers, and our faith in God. This would turn out to be one of the longest nights I can remember.

Neither one of us slept the entire night. Ashley’s mother was with us for support, and she didn’t sleep either. We just prayed, hugged each other and prayed some more. At one point during the night, we decided to read all the messages and emails that were coming into our social media sites. Ashley’s sister had posted an update on our situation on our FB page, and word traveled fast. We were astonished at the amount of messages coming in. We were completely humbled. Never had we experienced such and outpouring of love and support from people we had never even met before. People were literally typing their prayers out, in all religions, in all languages, all over the world. How incredibly humbling and eye opening was this experience for us. Two little kids who came from little towns in quiet Utah, receiving prayers and love from all over the world, in every tongue and in every faith. We truly were comforted by this overwhelming show of concern and a peace was drawn over the both of us as if God had just gently placed his hands on our shoulders.

The morning eventually came, and they wheeled Ashley to her surgery room. This is where we would part for the time being. This was one of the hardest moments of my life, leaving my wife in the care of somebody else. I had always been there for her, able to protect and comfort her from any storm. That day I had to put my faith in the doctor and in God. That moment also taught me a valuable lesson. Life is not all about doing it on your own. Some things we cannot do alone, we need help. I certainly needed help in that moment. I hesitantly left the room and accompanied Ashley’s mother to the waiting room. Ashley was to have two surgeries that day; one to save the babies, and one to save the pregnancy. If the first went as planned, then they would proceed with the second.

As Mary Lou and I waited patiently in the waiting room, I prayed with all of my heart that God would protect my wife and my daughters, and that the doctor would be able to perform the surgery perfectly. My prayers began to become reality as the doctor came out to greet us. He told us that the first surgery was  success, that he was able to stop the TTTS completely, and that it was now up to the girls to show us how strong they were. Since the first surgery was a success, he was going back in to perform the cerclage surgery to stop Ashley from continuing with labor.

We again waited patiently, this time making calls to all our loved ones updating them on the first surgery. It was a relief that was needed after an exhausting and frightening 48 hours. The doctor returned again almost as quick as he left in my mind, and gave us the news from the second surgery. Again, our faith had been tested, and again the result was a miracle. The surgery went better than planned, and medically, they had done everything they could do to save our daughters, and save the pregnancy. Although this was the incredible news we had wanted and waited for, the doctor warned us that the next 24 hours were vital. We needed to wait and see how the girls would respond to the surgery. If by the following morning we saw two healthy heartbeats, the chances of them surviving were more than comforting. We retired to our hospital room to rest and wait.

It would again be at this time that all of you would touch our hearts and minds again, and comfort us in our anxious state. Those of you that have been following since this point, who prayed with us, who asked God to save these babies, you really don’t know the impact you had on our lives. I promise you this, you made a difference and God heard your prayers. I know it without a doubt because I saw him so vividly during this experience through all of your actions. I know I’ve said it a million times, but ill probably say it a million more; Thank you! We will never forget this experience, the doctors, our followers, family and friends, and especially God.

The following morning we rolled back down to the Surgeons office. We were a little better rested, and full of hope and optimism we would hear those heartbeats. The entire staff was smiling while preparing Ashley, and the surgeon came in the room in a wonderful mood. These were all signs for me. As he began the ultrasound, I paused again to pray. If this experience did nothing else, it perfected my praying technique. As my prayer was finished, my heart was comforted and my mind at ease. I held Ashley’s hand tight with my other arm upon her shoulder. We saw the two heartbeats. The Surgeon was overwhelmed with joy. He even saw Esme’s fluid sac again, which he said usually takes a couple of days. These were all signs from God for me that this particular trial was over, and that we would be moving on with this pregnancy with 4 healthy heartbeats!

Of course the story goes on, and there was so much more to tell about,  but this day two years ago still serves as a reminder of what is good in the world. It shows how real prayers can be. It shows that God exists and has blessed us all with talents like the doctor had to bless the lives of others. It showed me that faith is rewarded and prayers are answered. Although that experience was the scariest experience I have ever had in my life, I would not trade it for anything. It taught Ashley and I more about ourselves than we knew, and taught us what to focus on in this world. God was teaching us, we just didn’t know it. This picture is an example of our faith in God.

I encourage any of your struggling with anything in your life to have faith in God. Talk to him, he will listen. Look to those around you that are there and ready to help in any way. There is always someone there, you just need to look up and see them.