Mothers warn of condition affecting twin births - - Columbia, South Carolina

Mothers warn of condition affecting twin births

Mother with twins who suffered with Twin to Twin Transfusion Mother with twins who suffered with Twin to Twin Transfusion

"I just remember bawling and thinking, this is not the way it's supposed to be," said ReNee Bixler. "You're supposed to see your baby the first time and have all these emotions of joy and love and this is your offspring and for me, it was terrible."

Bixler didn't know if her two little girls, Peyton and Addison, who were born three months early, would make it.

"It looked like every horrible medical movie you'd ever seen," said Bixler. "My little teeny tiny babies 'this big' had wires and pick marks from needles and you could literally see right through their skin."

Peyton was born first at 2 pounds, 7 ounces. Addison came a minute later at 1 pound 12 ounces.

It's common for one twin to come out a little larger than the other. But Bixler's babies suffered from twin to twin transfusion.

"It gives one baby more nutrients than the other baby," said Bixler.

"My smaller baby had barely any fluid," she said. "My bigger baby had too much and my smaller baby wasn't taking any more. She was sending it back to the placenta."

When identical twins share a placenta they have a 20% risk of developing TTTS.

"Don't just go to the doctor and hear 'Oh I'm having twins' and think everything's fine," said Bixler. "When you go, find out if there is one placenta or two. If there's only one then you are at risk. Don't think 'Oh it's just 20%' because I was part of that 20%."

So was her friend Alexa Bigwarfe.

"I just thought, it's my third pregnancy and I've got two babies in there," said Bigwarfe. "Of course my stomach's going to hurt. Of course my back's going to hurt. I'm going to feel really full. But in fact, those could have been indicators that something was going on."

Bigwarfe did not know that surgery was an option that could have helped.

"I think there's a huge lack of understanding in the OB community," she said.  "If there were earlier ultrasounds, more frequent ultrasounds, if doctors knew more information about it or knew well enough to send us to a specialist."

When she delivered her twins, Charis was just over a pound.  Kathryn was four pounds, bloated with fluid.  Kathryn's little body was under-developed and couldn't handle all the stress.

"We held her for -- it was probably 30 seconds or a minute -- before she was gone," said Bigwarfe.

Even though Kathryn is gone, she'll never be forgotten. Now Charis completes their family of five.

"Now she's 9 1/2 months old," she said. "No more tubes. She's catching up developmentally. She's doing wonderful, just minus her sister."

TTTS can happen to anyone.  It's not hereditary or genetic. It's random and is not caused by anything parents did or did not do.

"When I got to see their faces and they looked like little wrinkly old men that was the first time I was like 'Wow these are my babies,'" said Bixler. "They weren't perfect, they weren't pudgy bouncing around little bundles of joy but they were mine and that's how God gave them to me."

Bixler and Bigwarfe are a part of a TTTS support group.  It's on Facebook. For more information, click here.

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