Below, Amber shares her emotional story of the short but meaningful lives of her precious sons, Cooper and Reed, who were born at 22 weeks.
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Name: Amber Condreay
Where do you currently live? Oklahoma City, OK
How far along were you when you found out you were expecting twins? I found out at 8 weeks during my first ultrasound.
Any issues during your pregnancy? Starting at about 16 weeks I felt like I was getting bigger overnight. My stomach had really swelled up and was hard and tight. I had asked my OB about it and she said you are just pregnant with twins. At 18 weeks, we went in for our ultrasound at the high risk MFM and we got the news they had Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS) and it was already at a stage 3. Also, due to the extra fluid in my stomach my cervix was funneling and shortening. We immediately got on a flight that night to Houston to see the specialists at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital. They evaluated us and we had the laser ablation surgery to sever the connections between the boys that were causing so many issues.
Memorable/funny moment when you were pregnant: Early on we decided we needed to come up with nicknames until we were able to name them. My husband, who is also an identical twin, is pretty big into mythology and decided to name them Thor and Loki since I was having such a tough time with morning sickness. Then he would say Loki, be nice to your momma!
Looking back, what is one thing you would tell your pregnant self? You can get through anything with the support and love of your husband and family. “Courage, dear heart.”
How many weeks/days were you when your twins were born? 22 weeks
Baby A's Information: Cooper Avila
May 2, 2014
Baby B's Information: Reed Russell Condreay
May 2, 2014
Are your twins identical? Yes
Did you have a c-section or natural delivery? After our Laser ablation surgery we went home and I was put on strict bed rest. I was in and out of the hospital over the next 3 weeks with contractions until I finally checked into the hospital on a Tuesday night. I was a few days shy of 22 weeks. I woke up at around midnight on Thursday night with intense pain and called for the nurse. She came in and gave me some pain meds. They had already prepared me that if the contractions started again they couldn’t try to stop them. I had already had the maximum dose of Brethine. There are some things I do not remember I was in so much pain. I can’t remember when Terry called our parents. I don’t remember them coming in to see me when I was in labor. But I do remember Terry always standing next to me holding my hand. I remember thinking this is it. We aren’t going to make it to 24 weeks. They had warned us that before 24 weeks there would be no life saving measures for the boys. It seemed like forever before the doctor got there. I was prepared for childbirth to be tough but the last 3 days of contractions had made me really weak. I sat there looking at Terry more scared than I have ever been and telling him my water just broke. He yelled for the nurse and she came over really quickly. It seems like a blur but I was able to get an epidural. At this point I was dilated to a 4cm but the doctor told me that since the babies were so small I wouldn’t need to be dilated very much more for them to come out. Just like that it was time. At 5:30am Cooper was born. He was so small I didn’t have to push. 8 minutes later Reed was born. He required one push. The nurses rushed off with them before I could see them. The doctor was having a really hard time getting the placenta out. She said it wouldn’t detach and she was afraid that it was going to break leaving pieces in me. She kept pushing on my stomach and it was hurting so bad and I was pushing so hard. She told me I had gotten it out but that I had so many blood clots they were concerned and were going to have to send me to surgery to get a D&C. My whole body was shaking at this point from the pain and exhaustion. I didn’t know what was happening with the boys but they were wheeling me off to the OR. It felt like forever before I was wheeled back in to the room with Terry. That was the first time I would get to see them. They were so small but so perfect. They had them wrapped in the tiniest blankets with cute little foot prints. They had little hospital hats on and they looked so cute. Terry showed me which one was Cooper and which one was Reed. He told me that there were lots of people in the waiting room wanting to see us. I didn’t realize in the hours that had passed everyone had been called and were waiting to meet our boys. It was just what I had hoped for when we found out we were pregnant, a roomful of our closest friends and family waiting
The next few hours are hard to put into words. It was both the happiest and saddest day of my life. I am so grateful that I got to meet the boys, take pictures of them and hold them as they took their last breaths. I am so glad that we got to have our families and friends there to meet them as well. The nurses in the nursery made us a memory box with special mementos to take home with us that we will always cherish. We let everyone hold the boys one more time then asked if we could have some time by ourselves. I sat there holding them both together in my arms thinking about how much I wanted them to wake up. How much I wanted them to cry. I thought about the things I would never get to do with them. How I would never get to hold them again, never get to change their diapers or feed them, never get to teach them to ride a bike, never get to see them grow up. I didn’t know how I was going to hand them back to the nurse knowing that I wouldn’t get them back. Terry and I spent a lot of time holding them and telling them how much we loved them and assuring them they would never be forgotten. Our nurse came back in and asked if we were ready. I don't think I will ever forget her walking away holding them.
Did you have any complications after delivery? After delivery I had severe bleeding. I had to go back into the hospital about 3 weeks post delivery because I was passing baseball sized blood clots. They doctors were able to get the bleeding to stop and I only had to stay overnight but they were never able to determine the cause.
How long did you (the parents) stay in the hospital? I was in the hospital off and on after we had surgery but 5 days for the delivery.
What are three things you are so glad you had (or wish you would have had) at the hospital?
My husband, My family, My friends
Describe one of your favorite moments while you were at the hospital: Being able to introduce the boys to my family and friends. It was very special.
If you had one piece of advice you could give an expecting mom of twins, what would it be? Lean on people. It may not be easy for you but during the good parts of pregnancy and the bad the people who love you will get you through it. We had so many people who were there for us when we going through each step of our journey and we couldn’t have done it without them.
Amber's Blog: Angels of Mine
(Update below pictures)
Hi Everyone! Just wanted to send an update on what’s been going on with us since May. Terry and I made a decision early on that although we were sad our sweet boys were not with us, and we could never replace them, we wanted to honor their lives by celebrating the time we had with them and living each new day the best we could. We got into a routine and Terry was preparing for a work trip to Budapest in early August. It was around this time I realized I was a week late. It didn’t seem like that big a deal. We were being (fairly) cautious to follow doctor’s recommendations of waiting 6 months to try and I had read it takes a while for your body to get back to normal. However, by Saturday, the day he was flying out, I started to think maybe I should take a test. To my surprise it was positive! Terry was leaving in a few hours and I knew if I told him he would be worried the entire time he was gone so I decided that the best thing would be to wait until he got home. An excruciatingly long week later he was back and I told him we should go out to dinner. I had tried to think of a thousand fun ways I could tell him but in the end I just blurted it out.
Everything has been going great! Since the cause of my preterm labor was thought to be related to TTTS, but couldn’t be confirmed, I had a precautionary cerclage placed at 14 weeks and at 16 weeks I started weekly Makena shots. So far all the precautionary measures have been unnecessary! Today is the start of week 20 and our sweet boy is due on April 14th, 2015 (daddy’s birthday).
Cooper and Reed brought us so much joy and changed so much about who we are and how we live. We are lucky to have been the parents of two such amazing boys and we are looking forward to bringing their baby brother into our family.