Malar Raja’s inspiring story of how she dealt with the challenges of a complicated pregnancywill give any expectant mother the courage she needs. This young woman responded to a question on Quora about the pregnancy complications she had to endure. The answer details her journey right from the time she conceived to the time she gave birth.
The Beginning of Parenthood
Malar and her husband were just 23 and 27 years old, respectively, when they conceived. They were aware of the responsibilities that they would have as young parents but were excited to begin a new chapter in their lives. At the seven-week scan, a surprise was awaiting them when they got to know that it wasn’t just one baby but two that they were expecting.
“My husband was very happy. I was scared about how I would manage twin babies. At the first scan, we heard two babies’ hearts beat and everything was normal,” she says.
But that’s when things started to go amiss.
A Rare Condition
In the weeks following the first scan, Malar began vomiting profusely. At the 11 week scan, when the sonographer called her husband into the room to discuss an issue, she knew something was not right.
“The sonographer informed my husband that one of the babies’ heads looked suspicious but asked us to wait for the next scan to confirm. I began praying to God every day for my two souls.”
It was during the 12th scan that the couple heard the bad news. The second twin was diagnosed with Acrania — a neural tube defect. A condition where the skull is absent and the brain tissue is directly exposed to the amniotic fluid. Malar’s dreams were shattered, she says. “One of my babies was not going to survive after birth. How could I tolerate this as a mother? I cried profusely for three days.”
As if things were not tough enough, she was diagnosed with mumps. “I was scared to death. It was tough but I managed somehow to eat as my baby’s health was important.”
At her next appointment with the gynaecologist, the couple was told that selective reduction would not be possible as the twins were monochorionic diamniotic. This meant that there was a single placenta and two amniotic sacs. If anything were to happen to one baby it would affect the other.
But Malar was relieved that selective reduction would not be possible in her case. “I wanted to spend a few minutes with my baby after birth and wanted to spend 9 months with them in my womb. Both babies were my heartbeats.”
The couple was given an option to abort both babies since there was a 70 per cent possibility of the second twin dying in the womb due to the condition. Due to this, the first twin would die as well.
Devastated at the thought of killing growing babies, Malar and her husband explored more options.
“We were asked to go to Mediscan where they provide high-quality ultrasound, foetal care and genetic testing,” says Malar, recounting her ordeal of undergoing ultrasound nearly 6 times a day.
At the end of the gruelling process, the couple was told that the first twin was healthy and that they would know everything clearly at the 20th-week scan. Over time, the couple met with several specialists in an attempt to save at least one of their babies. “No one was supportive and they suggested abortion as there were many complications in mono twins. We were under a lot of stress. Each day was very scary for us.”
A Ray of Hope
Malar recounts how during those troubled times, her husband was her rock. “Our relatives would share scary pregnancy stories of others and would advise us to abort and have a peaceful life. But, through it all, my husband was the perfect decision-maker. He told me not to worry even if our baby was born disabled. He said we can bring them up with love.”
Finally, after months of uncertainty, the couple met with a gynaecologist who agreed to proceed with the pregnancy, asking them not to expect anything but to hope for the best, which was being able to save at least one of the babies.
During this time, Malar began reading up about the condition that the second twin had and how parents who had foetuses with the same condition had given birth. “It started to dawn on me that the survival rate of the second twin was 0 per cent and so I did the only thing a mother could at that point: I spoke to the baby in my womb.”
The journey continued, with each day being a new challenge. As the delivery date started to draw near, Malar’s anxiety too started to hit the roof.
“The C‐section was planned for the 36th week. The happiest part was whenever I was crying, both the twins would kick inside. Those were very painful days indeed. I didn’t know whether to laugh at the twins’ antics or cry with the pain.”
On 5 October 2016, she was admitted to the hospital and on the same night, rushed to the emergency room. “I was still able to hear two heartbeats. Early the next morning I was taken to the C section room. After the procedure, I heard a cry. I eagerly waited to hear another one, but did not.” She gave birth to a baby girl.
Malar had asked her husband to spend every minute with the second twin once the procedure was complete. “I told him to take pictures of her. We had already bought a cap to cover her head. I had prepared everything beforehand with my mother’s and husband’s support.”
Her husband had all of three minutes with the baby and then it was a sad goodbye.
The second twin held out to the very end — a feat that no one had expected. The doctors said it was only a miracle that could have made this possible.
“I miss my baby every day, every moment. To this day, I still cry because I know she is still living within me.”
Edited by Yoshita Rao