“It was amazing to watch you two grow. I would do it one million times over if the ending would always be the same.”
Meet preemie mom, Jasmine Motley. Jasmine is the mother of three boys and the face behind Raising Boys (@raising.boys_3). Jasmine’s traumatic pregnancy resulted in her twins, Trey and Jeremiah arriving at 25-weeks gestation.
Jasmine recalls, “When I learned that I was pregnant I was over the moon, but from the beginning things did not sit well with me…”
Learn more about Trey and Jeremiah’s amazing NICU journey…
My name is Jasmine Motley. I am 28 years old and a mother to three boys (TJ, Trey and Jeremiah) and the face behind Raising Boys. I have always loved being a mother and for 6- years it was just TJ and I. When I learned that I was pregnant I was over the moon. From the beginning things did not sit well with me. Two days after taking a home pregnancy test I was extremely sick and unable to eat any meat. The headaches and vomiting were endless. Some call it morning sickness, but what I was experiencing lasted all day! I was sick if I tried to eat and sick if I did not eat anything at all. I went to my first obstetrician appointment and it was revealed that I was carrying twins. My nurse had explained that in twin pregnancy it is very common to have the symptoms I was experiencing as my hormones were multiplying fast. I was prescribed Zofran for hyperemesis gravidarum. It worked for about four hours even though i could only take it once every eight hours, but I was able to eat and gain weight.
After that visit my doctors office called me back and asked that I come in for another ultrasound. At this time I was only measuring five weeks pregnant. This immediately made me concerned. In my first pregnancy, I received two ultrasounds, one at the initial visit and one for the anatomy scan. I thought to myself “maybe this is because I am pregnant with twins” and I let it go. After that visit I was seen weekly until about ten weeks. At the ten week ultrasound, I worked up the courage to ask why I needed so many ultrasounds. The technician explained that they were looking for a membrane between the two babies. I saw the doctor after and he explained the different types of twin pregnancies. The first type is fraternal twins or dizygotic twins are when each child has their own sac and placenta, the lowest risk. Second type is, Identical twins or monochorionic monoamniotic who share the same sac and placenta are the highest risk. Lastly, identical twins or monochorionic diamniotic who share the same placenta, but separate sacs and are a medium risk. They found a membrane so my twins were categorized as mono di or monochorionic diamniotic. He advised me that I would need to be followed by a maternal fetal specialist for high risk pregnancy. I immediately started doing research on complications with mono di twins. Two main complications came up, TAPS and TTTS. I continued to get weekly ultrasounds at my OB until my 14 week check up with the maternal fetal doctor. The initial appointment went well, the babies looked amazing and I was due to come back in two weeks. I would be monitored every two weeks for my entire pregnancy.
The day of my 16 week checkup, December 24th 2019, I woke up feeling uneasy. As I drove in I just knew something was off, you can call it mother’s intuition. These appointments are about two hours, they go over everything on each baby in detail. Usually, the ultrasound techs are friendly and excited to talk about your babies. Not this time! She was silent and barely said a word to me. At first I thought she was just mean, but I glanced at her and she looked as if she saw a ghost. I then watched every measurement on the screen and realized that baby B (Jeremiah) was measuring small at 15 weeks and his blood flow was not the same as baby A (Trey). She finished up her exam in silence.
When I asked if everything was okay, she said, “You will need to wait for the doctor” and walked out of the room. At that moment I felt my heart drop, I knew they had TTTS (twin to Twin Transfusion) and I would possibly need surgery.
The doctor came in and explained what I already knew. Jeremiah was receiving a smaller share of nutrients which put both babies at risk for complications or worse, DEATH! I scheduled my appointment for December 27th at the children’s hospital. They explained this was an all day appointment, we would arrive at 7am and leave by 1pm. What I learned was that they did not have TTTS, but that Jeremiah has selective intrauterine growth restriction (SIUGR). The doctor strongly suggested that I do what is called selective cord reduction of Jeremiah to protect Trey from any demise. This meant that I would basically cut off his connection to the placenta and allow him to die. They gave Jeremiah a 10% chance for survival. If Jeremiah did pass away, Trey had a 60% chance of having a stroke after and causing severe brain damage. I was devastated, I could barely walk or talk. I went to the car and cried the entire hour drive home. After days of endless research and a wonderful support group on facebook, I learned that both twins could survive and I made the decision to continue on in my pregnancy. From 17 to 24 weeks, I had weekly scans to check the cord flow and growth of both twins. Jeremiah was always under the 10th percentile, but his heartbeat was strong and all organs were functioning. After every exam the doctor would ask if I changed my mind about my decision to carry on in my pregnancy. It hurt like hell, to hear once a week that your baby is probably not going to make it.
At my 24 week check up I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel. MY BABIES WERE NOW VIABLE AND COULD SURVIVE IF BORN. I returned to my maternal fetal doctor for my 24th week and on that day I knew my life was forever changed! During the scan there was that dead silence again. Jeremiah had little to no amniotic fluid and was measuring almost three weeks behind. The doctor strongly suggested that I go back to the children’s hospital for fetal surgery of TTTS. I obliged and had surgery at 24 weeks and 3 days. The fetal surgeon came in and told me that the surgery went great, but Jeremiah’s survival rate was still slim. Now that the connections between the twins have been separated, Trey would no longer be able to send blood to his brother to help him. The next day I had an ultrasound and still TWO STRONG HEARTBEATS. I was discharged on bed rest for one week. Over this week, I knew I would give birth prematurely, I just prayed to make it four more weeks. At 28 weeks gestation a baby’s lungs are developed enough to not need much support after birth. At least that is what my medical professionals told me. I reached 25 weeks and 3 days and went in for my one week follow up. I had that same feeling that I did at that 16 week check up. They both had strong heartbeats, but there was blood in Jeremiah’s sac and part of my placenta was flapping off of the uterine wall. I turned to my mom and said “I am going to be admitted today,” and I was.
Prematurity thoughts kicked in, Jeremiah was only weighing fifteen ounces at the time and in order to be intubated he would need to be at least one pound. Within two hours my organs shut down and I was dizzy. The entire day, I had been bleeding out internally without anyone knowing. The fast acting OBGYN on call whisked me to the ER with me crying and screaming that Jeremiah was not big enough to survive and they had to leave him in. This fear is unimaginable for someone to understand that has not been there. Knowing that your baby could die and there is nothing you can do about it! She delivered my twins within thirty minutes. I did not get to see them because I was put under general anesthesia. During most births the mom is able to see the baby, even if just for a moment. I was robbed of that due to premature birth and emergency c-section. Once I woke up I begged to be wheeled to the NICU to visit after I was assured that they were in critical condition, but stable. Nothing can prepare you to see your child that way. They were so tiny and fragile, you could see their bones and every vein in their body. As all the nurses watched me watching them, I thought to myself, “I can’t cry or be weak, I have to be strong for them.” This was so surreal! At that moment, I did not have thoughts of “why me?” or “why did this happen to my children?”. The only thing I could think was please let them live, please let them be okay. I would have given ANYTHING to not see them that way and in so much pain. Let me tell you, that there is no one on this earth stronger than a preemie!
Someone described the NICU journey as a roller coaster, they left out that you are upside down and there are no seat belts. You take one step forward only to go five steps back. The hardest part is your family and friends do not understand the life you are living now. You become an outsider. There are some that treat you so delicately in fear of hurting your feelings. Others are insensitive and say things like “At least you get to sleep through the night” as if I am sleeping well knowing my children are fighting for a chance at life every night when I am not there. Or I have also gotten from friends, “At least you missed the last trimester of pregnancy” as if I would not rather suffer through pregnancy symptoms than to watch my one and two pound babies be resuscitated multiple times. Others just completely avoid you because they don’t know what to say. Here’s some advice for friends and family of NICU parents:
- Ask how the babies are and use their names
- Bring meals without asking
- Help with housework or other siblings without asking
- Give gas/gift cards.
When Trey came home in July and we had to leave Jeremiah behind, my depression hit hard. I felt horrible knowing he was there alone and I could not be there like I was before. Jeremiah’s progress was much slower than Trey’s and required a lot more support to breathe. In those moments I felt like a horrible mother. No one talks to moms about postpartum or PTSD in the NICU. We all know it’s there, but not enough resources are put into helping us. We have to take the initiative to get help when we are already doing so much. There were days that I had to bribe myself to drive 45 minutes to the NICU. It was not that I did not want to see Jeremiah, rather, it was because I was tired. Mentally, physically, emotionally drained. That made everything worse. I thought about just not going to the hospital or only when i had good days, but I gathered my thoughts and went at least five to six times per week with Trey in tote. If they could fight prematurity so could I. There is nothing about this journey that is easy! Now that we are all home after 349 days inpatient, I look back and it was all worth it. I would not change the pattern of events because it made me stronger as a person and a mother. Our journey is not over, we have a ton of specialists and therapy appointments that will likely continue for at least two years, but we made it and we are home!