Miracles of Life
“It's twins!” The words rang out from the doctor and sent shockwaves to the new parents-to-be. In that moment, Brian and Sara Ceresa knew that life was never going to be the same.
“We had decided on only having one child and all of a sudden, there we were, going to have two,” Sara said.
Early in her pregnancy it became apparent that Sara would have identical twins, resulting in both babies sharing the same placenta. Soon after, problems began to arise. At just nineteen weeks into the pregnancy, the two little girls, Julia and Lauren, were diagnosed with Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS).
“At the time of the diagnosis, the outlook was very bleak,” Sara said. “We were sure that we would lose one if not both of the girls. We were also concerned about what difficulties they might be born with or develop later in life.”
TTTS is a disease of the placenta that strikes about 10 percent of all identical twin pregnancies. This condition occurs when twins, or other multiples, share a single placenta that contains blood vessels, which connect the twins. These inter-connections may cause one baby (the recipient) to get too much blood, thereby overloading his or her cardiovascular system. This baby may die from heart failure, while the other baby (the donor) may die from the loss of blood.
“Its very scary when you are going down a list of doctors and you have to pick one to perform a very important surgery,” Sara said. “The decision can be the difference in life in death.”
She decided on Julian E. De Lia at the International Institute for the Treatment of TTTS at the Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare – St. Joseph Hospital, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
“Their case was significant. We had to get them up here for the operation,” Dr. De Lia said. “The idea of the surgery is to separate and isolate the blood sharing. It's imperative that any mother that is pregnant with multiples who are sharing a placenta have themselves fully examined.”
The procedure is performed at mid-pregnancy, and Dr. De Lia pioneered the development of this surgery. In the early 1980's, this disease was diagnosed by a pediatrician in the hospital nursery, just after birth, if one or more of the multiples survived.
It was around this time that ultrasound began to make great strides in being sensitive enough to pick up early symptoms of TTTS. Also, laser technology began to make improvements, which opened up new surgical procedures concerning the uterus. Lastly, the endoscope had begun to make abundant improvements to allow for better visuals, which allows for a more precise operation.
“Twenty-five years ago, the attitude of this disease was that there was nothing that could be done about it. Today, it is almost thought of that there is somewhat of a disappointment if there is not a 100 percent successful rate,” Dr. De Lia said.
After completing the surgery and her pregnancy, Sara Ceresa gave birth to two completely healthy baby girls. Then came the hard part—on the job training in raising twins.
“The first six months were really the hardest. We were new parents and we were not sure about our parenting skills,” Sara said.
Then she was introduced to a local organization aimed at helping parents with multiples. “Edmond Mothers of Multiples (EMOM) stepped up and provided a bunch of help. “They gave me advice on how to meet the immediate daily needs of our twins and our family, such as sleeping arrangements for the twins and getting around town with two infants in carriers.”
EMOM is a non-profit volunteer organization open to all mothers of multiple birth children. The club is a local chapter of the National Organization of Mothers of Twins Club and the Oklahoma Mothers of Multiples.
The idea of EMOM is not only to help parents with multiples interact with other parents of multiples, it is also a place to find support with problems during pregnancy or just after childbirth. Having been in existence for over twenty years, EMOM has active members that have encountered a wide range of life's difficulties.
“Whether the topic is time management or health care or even estate planning, EMOM will address the topics that will help women be better moms, women or wives,” Sara said.
The club meets monthly and has a semi-annual sale of clothing and other household items to help raise money. There will be a sale September 15, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the First Church of the Nazarene at 3001 South Boulevard.
“It is a lifeline and a support group,” said Sara. “You will find people that really care.”
Log on to http://www.edmondmoms.com/ to find more information on EMOM. Or see www.wfhealthcare.org/stellent/groups/public/documents/www/cmke_105929.hcsp for information on TTTS.