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What’s in a name?

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HELLOO out there!

Wow, so adjusting to twins and toddler has taken a bit more time than I had even initially thought. I was pretty ambitious thinking I would be regularly blogging by now, but I think I might be able to pump these out a little more frequently now. Mostly due to the magic of *night nursing*. What a game changer. One of the positive things that has come out of Livvy’s long NICU journey and medical complications is the fact that the doctor wrote us a prescription for night nursing and we have some insurance coverage. So, mama slept SEVEN hours in a ROW last night. Other new moms know how glorious and luxurious this is. The babies themselves are fairly decent sleepers, however Olivia remains on a fairly strict feeding schedule for weight gain and popping up to the sound of your cell phone alarm after an hour and a half sleep interval gets exhausting after a while. So far we’ve had the night support 1-2x a week, but boy does it make a difference to look forward to those nights when I can catch up!

We also continue to have a grandma on site 24/7, which also makes this thing a whole lot easier. Twin moms without family help- how do you do it? I would have drowned long ago…. love you mama, and mama-in-law!

So, here I sit in the quiet of the morning enjoying a coffee while the rest of the house sleeps and daddy is off to work. *bliss* – I thought I might tell you about how we chose Olivia’s name (or more like how I chose it and convinced my husband- hahah picking names hasn’t been is strongest skill).

If you read my very first post that shared an over view about our journey with these monochorionic diamniotic identical twins, you learned that Olivia was only given about a 30% chance of surviving the pregnancy to a gestational age that she could be delivered and have a chance at life. We were followed extremely close by doctors from 17 weeks of pregnancy onwards, and at each visit and ultrasound her growth remained very slow and beneath the 0.1 percentile for where she should have been at any gestational age. Doctors consider 24 weeks, or 500g, to be the point at which a baby begins to be ‘viable’ out in the world. For the longest time, we weren’t sure if the placenta was going to be able to sustain Olivia to reach either of those milestones. As the weeks went on, it was clear she wouldn’t reach the 500g mark until around 30 weeks. For whatever reason, Evelyn had the majority of the share of the placenta and specialized ultrasounds showed ‘resistance’ in the blood flow Olivia’s umbilical cord. We also had our early battle with Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (or TTTS), also described in my first post (or you can learn more about this syndrome here, part 1- & part 2- Long story short, Olivia was essentially giving away her blood and nutrition to Evelyn in shared blood vessels in their shared placenta. So, on top of having a small share of the placenta (an autopsy on the placenta after birth showed that Evelyn had 75% of the share and the placenta itself was beneath the 10th percentile for its overall size), Olivia was giving away what she was supposed to be getting! What I’m trying to illustrate here, is that all the odds were stacked against Olivia. Doctors were extremely confident that Evelyn would be born happy and healthy, she was luckily unaffected by the TTTS. However, in all honesty I did not know if we would become a family of 4 or 5 right up until after I delivered. So, when picking names, I really wanted Olivia’s name to reflect her story and struggle. At first, I started googling “baby girl names that mean warrior”, etc. But then, I remembered what the doctors, nurses and ultrasound techs called her at all of our appointments every time we saw her up on the monitors. She was our “Oli” baby.

Let me explain further. So when babies develop Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome, one of the diagnostic factors or symptoms they look at when determining which “stage” of the syndrome you are in, is whether or not there is fluid surrounding the “donor” twin. When a baby is not receiving enough blood and nutrition from the placenta, they stop peeing. Amniotic fluid= baby pee. This was something new I learned through all of this. If they aren’t getting what they need, they hold on to all their fluid and keep it in important places like their brain and heart- those smart little fetuses. The “recipient” baby on the other hand, pees like crazy and has extra amniotic fluid to try to keep up with the excess blood coming their way. This can also be stressful on the recipient baby. Evelyn was fortunate in that although she was floating around in an extra large sized swimming pool, since Olivia had such a small share of the placenta, Evie’s heart wasn’t too stressed by the extra amount coming her way. She was able to cope well by peeing it all out, without adverse effects in other places. Other recipients are not as lucky. Anyways- what does this have to do with Livvy’s name right??

We had reached Stage Three Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome before we had the in utero laser surgery (cauterizing these shared blood vessels) to save their lives. Olivia, our “donor” TTTS twin, had stopped peeing and had NO visible fluid surrounding her in her amniotic sac. She was essentially shrink wrapped in the membranes, while Evelyn floated around in excess fluid without a care in the world. I remember that I had been feeling some movement early in the pregnancy (14-15 weeks) but shortly before diagnosis I remember thinking that I hadn’t felt them in a while. I thought perhaps it was positional. Turns out it was because Olivia couldn’t move and Evelyn was surrounded by so much fluid that it was cushioned and I didn’t feel it. When a fetus has an excess of amniotic fluid, they call the condition “polyhydraminos”. When a fetus is in short supply of fluid, they refer to this as “oligohydraminos”. Doctors and nurses at each ultrasound and visit began to identify each of the babies according to this symptom. So, whenever they first found each of them on the screen for an ultrasound, for instance, they might say “here is the *poly* baby”, or they might talk to us about our “*oli* baby”. Even after fluid levels were restored (they took about 1.5L out of Evie’s sac during surgery), they still referred to each one of them as Poly and Oli (sounded more like Olly), right until delivery. Our little “Oli” baby became our beautiful, strong Olivia. And Evelyn, well, I wish she had a good story too hahaha. There weren’t too many “Poly” names I felt thrilled with. Evelyn is just a pretty name and I liked how it sounded with Olivia. Our little “Evie and Livvy” babies. Sorry, girl! Both twins’ middle names are in honour of some pretty amazing women though. Miss Evelyn Jane shares a middle name with her Grandma Russell, and Miss Olivia Marie shares a middle name with her Grandma McBrearty. In tradition with their older sister, who shares a middle name with mommy! How cool, to have passed on all these middle names to our THREE girls. Oh, poor daddy. Three girls, and a mama, ALL with February birthdays.

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