Pregnancy is one of the most beautiful occurrences in the world and is a blessing to so many women, men and couples all across the globe. Over the course of nine months, the mother-to-be grows a tiny little human inside her body, and any expectant mother will tell you it’s the most wonderful feeling in the world. Even though the end result is the incredible gift of a child, many women actually miss the feeling of being pregnant and would do anything to feel like that again.
However, pregnancy isn’t always a happy-go-lucky experience. Even though the parents are excited about the arrival of their newborn, the whole ordeal can be incredibly stressful and worrisome. Whether it’s the expectant mother-to-be’s first pregnancy, or whether it’s the third, it’s natural for her to feel nervous about every little detail. It’s likely that the mother will cringe at every twinge, worry about every kick, or wonder at the silence of the baby. Of course, these worries are all completely natural, and forms the kind of mother’s intuition that will stay with her for the rest of her life – but the worries will pass as soon as soon as they hold their beautiful newborn in their arms.
Nevertheless, this mother’s intuition can prove vital for the health of the baby, and be the difference between life and death. While pregnant, the mother forms an unbreakable bond with her child, which means it’s so much easier for the mother to simply know if the pregnancy was going well, or whether something is amiss. Millions of women feel these twinges and these problems every single year, and this intuition can not only help the baby but also help the mother. It really is a blessing and a curse. Unfortunately, some parents have to face the problems before they can come out the other side…
An unwelcome circumstance
Each year, expectant parents have to make difficult and life-changing decisions about the health and the well-being of the mother and the baby – and this happened to Vicky and Aiden Campbell. The couple was overjoyed to find out they were expecting, and couldn’t wait to be parents. Suddenly, the excitement of their pregnancy was overtaken by a fear, because the pain Vicky was feeling was the result of an unwelcome circumstance happening inside of her…
A beautiful couple
Aiden and Vicky were totally in love. Vicky absolutely adored her long-term boyfriend and Royal Air Force mechanic, and couldn’t wait to marry the love of her life. After all, they had waited so long to finally tie the knot. After years of saving, they finally had enough money for the wedding of their dreams and were ready to really start their lives together. The couple had a child together, and doted on their six-year-old son, Sonni – and with another one on the way, the couple was excited about the future.
It was all going so well
Vicky was overwhelmed to find out that she was pregnant again, and couldn’t wait to expand her family even more. Vicky already knew what to expect from the pregnancy, as she had carried Sonni just a few years before. Her second pregnancy passed without any problems; it was smooth, and it was easy. It was going so well until September came. Suddenly, Vicky realized something was wrong. She was experiencing the pain she had never felt with Sonni and was also experiencing some bleeding…
A trip to the hospital
As soon as Vicky felt the pain and saw the blood, she knew that something was wrong. Rather than risk the health of her baby. The couple decided to take a trip to the hospital to make sure their child was alright. Aiden rushed Vicky to the Royal Cornwall Hospital in England, and the doctors immediately took her in for an ultrasound. However the Campbells received a shock – they weren’t just expecting one baby. Instead, they were expecting identical twin boys.
Vicky and Aiden were completely taken aback by the news. Although they were shocked, they were overjoyed that they were going to have twins. Nevertheless, the excitement started to wane when Vicky continued to experience the excruciating pain in her abdomen. So, she returned to the hospital for a follow-up scan, to see if the doctors could determine the cause of the pain. Unfortunately, they could. The twins were not growing as expected, and were suffering from a rare prenatal condition…
Twin-Twin Transfusion Syndrome
After scrupulous tests, the doctors discovered that Vicky’s twins had Twin-Twin Transfusion Syndrome. Although the syndrome is rare, it is not uncommon – and her twins had been the unlucky ones. The syndrome occurs when there is a fluid discrepancy between the two babies. In normal twin babies, the fluids and nutrients in the embryonic sac are distributed equally. This is not the case for twins with Twin-Twin Transfusion Syndrome, as one twin receives more nutrients, while the other becomes weaker by the day.
Although Vicky knew something wasn’t quite right with her babies, she had no idea the case would be so severe. In fact, the more they learned about the condition, the more they realized how serious the situation was. The doctors told the couple to expect the worst, as there was only a 10%-20% chance the weaker twin would survive if they did not act fast. In fact, there was no guarantee the stronger twin would survive. The doctors needed to act as soon as possible to have any chance of saving the twins.
A rare condition
Twin-Twin Transfusion Syndrome was not a condition the doctors at the hospital often saw, as the condition is very rare. On average, the syndrome occurs in 1 in 13,000 twin pregnancies – and is a constant worry for couples who are expecting twins. Although the effects are quite severe, the cause of the condition is quite simple. Instead of receiving equal amounts of nutrients from the placenta, one twin starves while the other receives too much.
Weighing up their options
Despite their dire situation, Vicky and Aiden decided to name their twins Bailey and Connor. Connor was not receiving the nutrients he required to survive, and Bailey was growing much too fast. So, the couple had to weigh up their options. The doctors had given them three options to choose from. The first option was to terminate the pregnancy altogether, to remove any more pain and suffering for both mother and babies. However, Vicky knew she didn’t want to do that. They had to explore their other options.
A second option
Vicky and Aiden listened to the second option the doctors offered them. In an attempt to save their twins, Vicky could undergo a very specific form of surgery – laser surgery. The surgery was a relatively new procedure and came with numerous risks. Nevertheless, the surgery improved their odds. There was just a 30% chance both twins would die, a 40% chance that one of the twins would survive, and a 30% chance that both twins would survive the ordeal.
A third option
However, they weren’t out of options just yet. Although the doctors were worried about Vicky’s condition and the health of the babies, their other option was to simply allow nature to take its course. They could leave their pregnancy to chance, and see whether the twins would survive the ordeal on their own. Unfortunately, this option had smaller odds – there was only a 15% chance the twins would survive, as it was likely Vicky would have a miscarry before the nine months were up. These odds just weren’t high enough for the couple, so they chose to undergo laser surgery.
The doctors were pleased with Vicky and Aiden’s decision, as they had faith in the new treatment. So, the expectant mother was transferred to St. Michael’s Hospital in Bristol when she was just 18-weeks pregnant, and the surgeons prepared her for the surgery. During this procedure, the surgeons inserted a rod into Vicky’s womb and used laser technology to sever the blood vessels between Bailey and Connor. The surgery was a huge success, and both of the boys survived the operation.
This positive news gave Vicky and Aiden a new lease of life, and the couple got married in November of that year. They were still eagerly awaiting the arrival of their twin boys and were counting down the months until they could finally meet them. However, just two days after they got hitched, Vicky once again felt a pain in her abdomen and knew something wasn’t right. Aiden took his new wife to the hospital once more, and she had another scan. Unfortunately, the news wasn’t good…
Vicky’s intuition was right, and the twins were suffering. The doctors confirmed that Connor was almost ‘shrink-wrapped’ in his embryonic sac, and had no essential fluid or nutrients to help him survive and grow. Bailey, on the other hand, was struggling to survive with the amount of fluid that he had in his heart. The twins were once again on the brink of death, so the doctors made the decision to repeat the laser surgery. However, Vicky and Aiden needed to decide which twin would get more access to the essential placenta.
A difficult decision
Deciding which twin would get more access to the placenta was a difficult one, but Vicky and Aiden knew they had to make it. After much deliberation, they chose to give Connor more access, in the hopes that the extra nutrients and fluid would even out their divide and attempt to stabilize both of their conditions. The surgery once again went by without a hitch, but Vicky began to experience unimaginable pain the day after. This time, she knew something terrible had happened.
A bittersweet development
Vicky was once again taken for an emergency scan, and the doctors immediately discovered the cause of the pain – Bailey had unfortunately passed away at just 22 weeks old. The news came as a shock, as Bailey was the stronger of the two, and they had expected him to survive. The shock was devastating, but there was a bittersweet development. After the death of his twin, Connor was able to receive the vital nutrients he needed to survive and was now flourishing.
The worst day of their lives
Vicky and Aiden didn’t know how to react. On the one hand, their world had been torn apart. Their little baby had died, and it was the worst day of their lives. Although the doctors had prepared them for the eventuality, they weren’t prepared for how the news would make them feel. They were devastated. However, there was a glimmer of hope in the form of little Connor. Yet, the worst wasn’t over just yet, as there were even more complications to come…
She had to keep going
The doctors kept an eye on Vicky’s condition and monitored Connor closely. The parents were told that Vicky would have to carry both Connor and Bailey for the rest of the pregnancy, to ensure that Connor would survive the whole ordeal. This news meant that Vicky would eventually have to give birth to two babies – one dead, and one alive. At 27 weeks, Vicky was taken to hospital for a caesarian, and she gave birth to a happy and healthy baby. Connor had survived.
The ultimate sacrifice
Although they were absolutely besotted with their newborn, Vicky and Aiden could not forget about Bailey. He had not survived, but he had made the ultimate sacrifice so that his brother could pull through. Vicky maintains that Bailey died to save Connor – because as soon as Bailey passed away, Connor was able to thrive, he received all of the nutrients he needed, and ultimately, he survived. Vicky was so thankful for her beautiful twins, despite the bittersweet ending.
Pulling her through
Naturally, the whole ordeal took a toll on Vicky. She was exhausted, both mentally and physically, but found strength with those close to her. Speaking after the birth, Vicky maintained that she wouldn’t have got through the whole experience with her loving husband and her energetic little Sonni. They helped her pull through, they picked her up when she was down, and they’ve helped her get through the tragic loss of a child. Despite the awful circumstances, she’s learned to be positive about the experiences, and the catharsis at the end of it.
A miracle baby
The whole experience has made Vicky and Aiden realize how lucky they are to have Connor, healthy and happy, in their lives – and they have even called him their little miracle baby. Bailey’s memory and sacrifice will live through Connor, and he will grow up knowing that his bigger brother has saved his life. The blessed family of four are now living their lives to the full in England, and will never forget the fifth member of their family.