“They discovered this when I went to the IWK to be checked, and then I was on the first flight I could get to Toronto,” said Chelsea. “I was told that if nothing is done there’s a 100 per cent mortality rate. It was scary, terrible and stressful.”
The condition, twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS), only occurs when identical twins share a placenta. Abnormal blood vessel connections form and blood flows unevenly between the babies. One becomes dehydrated, resulting in a low amount of amniotic fluid, and the other develops high blood pressure and produces more urine than usual, resulting in excess amniotic fluid.
Chelsea could choose to have fluid drained weekly or have laser ablation, which cuts the connecting vessels. The latter treatment is considered the best option. With a 60 per cent chance both babies would survive if laser ablation was performed, Chelsea headed to Toronto, where the only Canadian doctor who performs the procedure is located.
When she returned home following treatment, she had to go to the IWK twice a week to be checked in case the condition recurred. She was also told to remain on bed rest for a month, which was difficult with a young child. She went into pre-term labour and ended up in the hospital, on strict bed rest, during her last two months of pregnancy – with family members pitching in to help care for her daughter and animals.
The twins were delivered by caesarian section, weighing six pounds 11 ounces and seven pounds three ounces, five weeks early.
“We were told there was an eight- to 10-per-cent chance one of them would have some type of handicap but they seem to be developing fine, although we won’t know for sure until they’re bigger,” said Chelsea. “They look alike but one’s more cuddly and one’s more serious and harder to make smile.
“They want to be together. If I take one out of the crib the other shimmies around trying to find the other.
Chelsea’s husband, Ryan, has twins in his family, but not identical twins. Their first child, Teagan, is three years old.
“Twins were a surprise and twin-to-twin transfusion was frightening,” Chelsea added. “I would encourage anyone to follow up with the IWK if they’re having identical twins. These boys wouldn’t be here without the medical team at the IWK.”