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Belle & Brie

When we told my FIL we were expecting, he said to us “Take care of the twins!”. Little did we know that

a few weeks later we would find out that we were indeed having twins! (Picture 1)

Everything was going well until my 18-week ultrasound when one of the babies didn’t have any fluid

around them and we were referred to an MFM. I called my doctor and she confirmed TTTS and the very

real chance I could lose my babies. (Picture 2 and 3)

I called the MFM office in a panic, and they told me to come in now. Dr. Martell said that the girls were

in stage 3 TTTS almost into stage 4 (with stage 5 being death of one or both) and we needed to fly to

Toronto now if we wanted a chance to save our girls. We bought a few essentials, anxiously waited for

our flight in the morning and named our girls, Arabelle (Belle) and Gabrielle (Brie) so that we could call

them by name and ask them to hold on and fight.

At Mount Sinai they completed an ultrasound and decided to wait to have better access and a better

chance to save both twins. We were told that there was a 50-60% chance that both girls would survive,

and an 85-90% chance that only one twin would survive.

Monday I had surgery. They made a small incision and lasered every connection they could find on the

placenta that the girls shared between them, since the problem that Belle had all the blood supply and

was not sending any back to Brie. They showed us each girl on the camera but I do not remember this

part much! (Picture 4- Belles foot during the surgery!)

We were told that Brie had very little placenta and there was a very high chance she would not make it

through the night. I cried all night, and the next day the first thing the doctor did was show us two little

hearts beating. (Picture 5- FB post that sums up my feelings at this time)

We got to fly home on Saturday, with modified bed rest and weekly ultrasounds in Saskatoon to make

sure they were still alive and growing. My mantra became, today I am pregnant (Picture 6- 26 weeks

pregnant), as I waited for the next scan. After they reached viability, I put their names up in their

bedroom as a sign that they would both come home. (Picture 7)

Birth and NICU

On August 16, 2018 when I was 32 weeks and 4 days, our ultrasound showed that Brie was still doing

good, but Belle had a giant stomach. A few hours later after a C section we welcomed Belle, 3 lbs 5 oz,

ad Brie 2lbs 14 oz into the world. (Picture 8 and 9)

Brie came out doing okay, but Belle was not doing well, she came out grey with 2 collapsed lungs, and

was bleeding out internally. After a quick hello to Brie, they both went to the NICU. My husband met

with Dr. Alharbi while I recovered, and he said Belle had a ruptured bowel, and warned us that if there

was too much damage he wouldn’t be able to do anything and she would pass away. Eight hours after

they were born I was finally allowed to meet Belle and hold her hand before she went off to surgery.

During the surgery they removed a portion of dead bowel that was twisted and ruptured and gave her a

stoma and ileostomy, which they thought was caused by a meconium ileus which is a sign of cystic

fibrosis. This was the first time that Dr. Alharbi saved Belle’s life.

Belle did well healing, and we hoped her intestines would heal and start working, and she would start

breathing on her own. 8 days into our stay we were finally able to hold our babies for the first time!

(picture 10 , 11, 12) The NICU was not an easy place to be and we were lucky to have our Bay 1 friends.

Both girls eventually didn’t need breathing support, they learned how to eat from a bottle, and they

gained enough weight to go home. Belle graduated the NICU at 28 days and Brie at 33 days! We

thought, who let us take home these 4 lb babies?! (Picture 13)

The next months were a blur of very little sleep, reflux, tiny stoma bag changes, too many trips to

Saskatoon for appointments, testing for CF (negative!), a short hospital stay for Brie to start medication

for hemangiomas, and did I mention very little sleep? (Picture 14, 15, 16)

At almost 8 months old Belle finally got to have her ileostomy reversed! Surgery went well and we

celebrated having a more “normal” life.... for 19 days anyway. (Picture 17)

Hospital stay and beyond

19 days after her ileostomy was reversed, Belle developed a blockage. We drove from Maidstone to

North Battleford, and then to Saskatoon. They gave her medicines to try to get the blockage cleared but

nothing was working. After a few days of trying, she went back into surgery. Six hours later and she

came out with another ileostomy and a picc line. (Picture 18) This was the second time Dr. Alharbi

saved her life. He said her abdomen was full of adhesions that he had to try and remove. He speculated

that the issue was the knot of intestines that were adhered together.

We spent 97 long hard days in the hospital trying to get Belle’s ileostomy working properly, wean off

TPN and gain weight. Mom and Dad switched from hospital to RMHC, and both girls had to adjust with

one parent at a time most of the day. There were never any answers, we had infections that almost

took her, and a very hard time holding on to hope that we would come home. It was one step forward

and two back. However, Belle and Brie were so happy and made every day so much better. (Picture 19

and 20)

We were 3 months in when our team told us that they did not know where to go from here. Dr. Alharbi

made the decision to try to reverse the ileostomy as a last ditch effort. This is the 3 rd time he saved her

life, and 11 days after this surgery we went home, just in time to celebrate turning one! (Picture 21, 22,


Belle and Brie are 4.5 now, and we still have some struggles. Both girls see PT and OT and Psychology.

Brie has some sensitivity issues we are working on but is doing well for starting out so small. Belle

started to have seizures last year, so we have been navigating medication, Eegs and MRIs, (Picture 24

and 25) and trying to figure out triggers and plans. We monitor for blockages, and she also has frequent

iron anemia, even on higher doses of iron. A Saskatchewan without a GI doctor is a scary reality for us.

The bright side is that both Belle and Brie are so worth everything and are the best things to happen to

us. They are smart, silly, caring, and typical twins who go from loving each other to fighting in a

millisecond. I love every minute I get to be their mom (but I’m still really missing sleep!) (Picture 26)

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