For those planning a family, the news of a pregnancy can fill parents-to-be with excitement and maybe a little uncertainty. For those who have struggled with infertility, it can be an overwhelming mixture of emotions ranging from elation to terror.
Author Crystal Duffy’s second pregnancy, which she chronicles in her new book, Twin to Twin: From High-Risk Pregnancy to Happy Family, is one of such intense ups and downs. After enduring a number of devastating miscarriages, Duffy and her husband are thrilled, yet cautious, when they become pregnant again.
Early in her pregnancy, Duffy goes from discovering she’s carrying identical twins to learning the lives of her babies are at risk. She’s suffering from twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS), a dangerous condition in which interconnecting blood vessels cause one twin (the donor) to transfer blood disproportionately to the other (the recipient). The donor twin is in danger of decreased blood volume, decreased development and growth and decreased urinary output, causing low volumes of amniotic fluid. The recipient twin’s blood volume increases, causing strain on the heart and possible heart failure, along with increased urine output and excessive amniotic fluid. TTTS is an extremely serious condition that often involves immediate treatment.
Duffy’s world is immediately turned upside down as she learns they must take immediate action to separate the blood vessels via laser surgery, giving her babies a much greater chance of survival. But while in surgery, the thin membrane separating the identical twin girls tears. The twins are no longer in danger from TTTS, but the lack of a membrane between the two puts them at risk of entanglement or cord compression.
Thus begins a four-week journey on hospital bed rest, a true test of resolve, determination and endurance. While Duffy’s book begins with the heart-pounding account of learning her babies are in danger, Twin to Twin invites the reader into Duffy’s hospital room, into her emotional journey as a mom who is doing what she can to keep her babies healthy in her womb and into her heart as a mother and wife missing her family at home.
In a high-risk pregnancy, each appointment with your doctor could bring any number of dangerous diagnoses. As a mom to identical twins myself, I remember the fear of TTTS well. And as a fellow bed rest patient (with severe preeclampsia), the shock Duffy expresses when she’s told to admit herself to the hospital on bed rest was all too familiar, as was the homesickness and sadness she experienced. What looks easy to some – lying in bed all day with meals being delivered and a Netflix queue at your fingertips – can be agonizing for those forced to endure it. Especially when you fear for your baby’s life. But Duffy’s positive personality takes center stage as she charms all of her medical staff, makes friends and finds a way to make it through a challenging and scary time..
But the story doesn’t end there. As Duffy heals from a traumatic and terrifying emergency delivery, she and her husband now face the uncertain road in their new role as NICU parents.
Duffy’s journey on bed rest, her intense birth experience and her NICU stay are so relatable. She says what she’s thinking – what we’re all often thinking when put in these difficult situations. She admits to feeling guilt, anger and helplessness. She oozes joy when she speaks of her two-year-old daughter, Abby, and radiates emotion the first time she meets her twins, Katie and Lauren. Any mother who has been through a difficult pregnancy will identify with some part of Duffy’s story.
Find Twin to Twin: From High-risk Pregnancy to Happy Family on Amazon, Indiebound or Barnes & Noble.
Join us on Saturday, February 2, at 5 p.m., for a book signing at BookPeople in Austin! Join our email list to stay informed and be sure to watch the video below to learn more about Crystal Duffy and her story!