Brynn & Tyler
My husband Blake and I had the pleasure of meeting two very special girls, our girls, Brynn and Tyler on March 23rd, 1999. Unfortunately, our meeting was very brief.
On September 21, 1998 I took a home pregnancy test , it was positive and so exciting!! Two days later I was in the Doctor’s office confirming what we already knew, approximate due date May 27th, 1999. My pregnancy was like a fairy tale, no morning sickness, no spotting, only I was gaining too much weight. Off to the ultrasound, yep twins. Actually it was more like O MY GOSH TWINS!!! Blake collapsed against the wall he was standing next to, I started crying instantly. I’m not sure if it was because I was scared or just absolutely amazed. We went to lunch and tried to let everything sink in. People must have thought that we were crazy, giggling, holding hands and bursting out in fits of laughter every couple of minutes.
I immediately went to work on the babies’ room, I decided to do a mural of an underwater cartoon world, much like “The Little Mermaid”. I loved spending every available moment thinking and planning for our first, our instant family. Life clicked right along, everything according to plan. We heard their strong little hearts, felt their swift little kicks, went to our monthly ultrasounds and bi-weekly doctors visits. Every ultrasound proved to us that everything was perfect. They were always moving around during the ultrasounds, sometimes it looked as though they were boxing, and other times hugging, what an amazing sight. On March 16, my last doctors visit before the girls came, the doctor said what she always said, “Everything looks good.” We left feeling happy, we were 30 weeks and healthy. 31 weeks would prove to be a different story.
Exactly one week from my last doctors visit I was sitting on the couch blowing my nose and my water broke. Scared and confused I called my husband at work, and of course got his voice mail. I left a message, “O MY GOD, MY WATER BROKE AND THERE IS BLOOD EVERYWHERE!” I immediately phoned my mother-in-law, she said she was on her way. Blake phoned back within minutes saying everything was going to be fine and that he’d meet us at the hospital. I kept thinking to myself that it wasn’t time yet, I wasn’t ready, I didn’t even have their car seats yet. I knew in my heart there was something wrong because of the amount of blood there was in my water, and that made me very uneasy. My mom later told me that the couch cushion I was sitting on was soaked almost all the way through, something I didn’t notice.
35 minutes later my mother-in-law arrived and another 30 minutes after that I got to the hospital (the joys of living in Calgary). Blake was standing outside waiting for us, he had already checked me in so we just walked right upstairs to the labour and delivery floor. After being forgotten about for 20 minutes, they gave me a gown and told me to change. Everything seemed normal and fine until the nurse came back in an then noticed I was bleeding, “O MY GOD, YOU’RE BLEEDING”. I said “Yes, I told you that when I phoned and Blake told you that when he checked me in”, and then she said, “Well no one told me!” Then it was absolute mayhem until she got me hooked up to the fetal monitor and until the doctor came in. After numerous questions by the doctor and nurses, the doctor did an exam and didn’t seem too concerned. He explained that sometimes there is blood because of the placenta, then he ordered an ultrasound. The ultrasound tech kept saying baby “B” (Tyler) looked O.K. but baby “A” (Brynn) was unresponsive and there was no fluid in her sac. She soon gave Tyler a score of 8, and Brynn a score of 2. The doctor walked in, and after a couple of minutes of technical mumbo-jumbo he did another exam, this time confronted with another gush of blood. He said, “NOW, I WANT THESE BABIES NOW! STAT, CODE RED!!” All I remember was being wheeled past my husband, his best friend Dwayne (the girls’ Godfather) and my mother-in-law so fast all I could do was reach for them. Being too far away to touch them, all I heard was, “We love you Jen”, and the next thing I knew the anaesthesiologist was standing over me with a mask yelling, “Breathe deeper, you have to go to sleep now! Deeper, DEEPER!” And the last thing I heard was the doctor saying, “NOW? CAN I GO NOW?”
I have no idea how long I was in the recovery room, but the first thing I heard was the nurse asking me if I’d like to go see my girls. Blake and the nurses wheeled my bed up to NICU to see them. I was so out of it all I could do was stare at them and touch their tiny feet. I didn’t even ask if they were all right because in a million years I never would have guessed that I wouldn’t be bringing them home. Blake stayed with me at the hospital. Every time the phone would ring at the nurses station, he would jump, hoping it wasn’t NICU calling about the girls. That was March 23rd, our girls’ birthday.
After waiting around and worrying for most of the morning, the doctor came in to tell us what happened. Our girls suffered from a condition called Vasa Previa. This means that my placenta was attached low on one side of my uterus while the umbilical cords were attached low on the other side of my uterus, being connected to each other by fetal vessels. These vessels just happen to run directly over my cervix. Probably the force of Brynn’s head moving down caused these vessels to tear, in turn causing Brynn to bleed out of her vessels. As little Brynn slowly bled, her identical twin bled too as they shared the same blood supply. As it happened, they lost enough blood that their hearts stopped in-utero. They were born with less than half of their blood and were without oxygen and blood to the brain for ten minutes. When they got them out, they did resuscitate them but the damage had already been done. I must say, that it was the quick action of the doctor on call and the ICU staff, that enabled the girls to survive the delivery and allowed us the time to spend with them.
That afternoon the doctors decided to transfer Brynn to the Children’s Hospital in hopes of performing a surgery to try to correct all the damage that had been done to her stomach. They kept her there overnight, but she never became stable enough to even try. The next morning I was informed that I needed to go there to be with Blake and Brynn. We soon decided that it was time to let her go, to be with Jesus. With all our family and friends around, our pastor baptised her, said a prayer and then we took our precious baby girl off ventilator. She gave us only enough time to say our final goodbyes before leaving us to go be with the ones who passed before her. We took comfort in knowing she was no longer suffering. We all went back to the other hospital to be by Tyler’s side, hoping that our little angel baby would transfer all her strength to her sister. That was the morning of March 25th, Blake’s 28th birthday.
The hospital was kind enough to give us a room on the NICU floor to be close to Tyler. That evening the doctor told us that Tyler’s outcome would be much like her sister’s. The tests showed that she had no brain activity and her probability of surviving off ventilator was less that 1%. With the help of our pastor, family and friends we decided that same evening to take her off, so she could once again be with her sister and in the arms of Jesus. Just like Brynn, we baptised her, everyone had their chance to say goodbye and at 6:00 p.m. on March 25th decided to take her off ventilation. Expecting our time with her to be much like the short time we had with Brynn, we said our quick goodbyes then waited, and waited and waited. An hour later our little Tyler was still taking breaths, and her little heart was still beating. We invited our friends and family back in the room and we all waited together. At 2:00 a.m. she was still with us. We decided to keep her with us all night, she slept on her dad’s chest, something he had always dreamed about. At 7:00 a.m. on March 26th our friends started showing up again surprised to see what was happening.
Our little Tyler survived for another five days. During those five days she had many visitors. Family and friends from Spokane came to see her, not to mention everyone we know that was within driving distance. Those five days were filled with many ups and downs, many questions and hard answers, but I cherish the gift of those amazing five days. Her body finally gave up, and she passed on March 30th at 3:15 p.m., one half an hour short of being one week old. She spent almost every second of every day being held by someone who loved her, something every child should experience. I used to feel cheated but now I know from hearing and reading other stories that I am very lucky to have had that time to spend with her. There are so many who don’t get that opportunity. I have so many precious memories I otherwise wouldn’t have. I also had wonderful nurses who cared enough about me and the girls to make sure I had lots of pictures, hand and foot prints, bracelets, locks of hair, and the girls’ baptismal dresses in keepsake boxes.
Our two baby girls are home with us now in their urn, surrounded by pictures, flowers and love, where they were always meant to be. I thank God for the gift of meeting two exceptional baby girls who taught everyone who knew them a lesson of life and love. I think of them daily, with only happy memories.
…She and her husband have had two subsequent children.