For the past 10 years, May 28th has been celebrated as National Multiple Births Awareness Day. Each year, Multiple Births Canada sets a specific theme to help bring attention to the struggles and success of families with multiples.
In 2013, when our twins were born, the theme was “You’re not alone – Canada’s multiple-birth community is here to support you”. I had no idea how important MBC would be to our family in the years to come, but getting those first congratulatory emails and messages of support from the community really helped this anxious momma.
This year, MBC has chosen Twin to Twin Transfusion – Early Detection Can Save Lives as their theme.
TTTS occurs only in identical twins who share a placenta. The blood vessels in the placenta are connected to both twins and for unknown reasons, the blood levels become unbalanced. The smaller twin (donor) usually does not get enough blood while the larger twin (recipient) is overloaded with too much blood.
As time goes on, and without medical intervention, the larger twin will begin to increase its amniotic fluid while the smaller twin loses most, if not all, of theirs. Eventually, the donor’s bladder will stop working and blood flow will decrease. The donor will experience heart failure and sadly, pass away.
There is no rhyme or reason for TTTS and it can be incredibly difficult to grieve if the doctors don’t catch the abnormalities in time. Our twins are di-di fraternal, meaning two distinct eggs, two placentas and two sacs. They didn’t share a single thing, and yet TTTS was always in the back of my mind every time I went for an ultrasound. Don’t even get me started on the vanishing twin syndrome! Fear and the unknown can really wreak havoc on a pregnant mother’s mind.
If you or someone you know is expecting twins, please encourage them to ask questions and push for answers. So many dangers can be avoided with proper monitoring and clear communication with your health professional.
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