Saturday, October 2, 2010

Twins =Terms. Part I: Who's first?

As soon as you walk though the double doors of the twinning community (pun intended), you start hearing lots of befuddling words that describe the various possibilities of number, condition, and location of multiples in uetero. “Baby B, Baby 3,  dizygotic, monochorionic, transverse, Vertex, and even ‘mo/mo” what do they all mean? This is your all-expense paid trip to find out ‘what’ your babies are.

 Baby A, meet baby B, and perhaps Baby C and D too!
The first medical terminology you come across is likely to be during your first ultrasound. To differentiate your babies throughout pregnancy, they are labeled with the letters of the alphabet. Creative, eh? The baby who appears closest to your cervix is given the letter ‘A’ anticipating that he will be the first born. B is the second place winner and C the runner up.

Because the letters are used to distinguish one baby from the other, they will NOT rename them even if the babies (knowingly) switch places and one wrestles the other away from the cervix. However, if you have an early ultrasound, say 6 weeks and do not have another for a few months, it is very difficult to know that the baby that is A at the later ultrasound was actually the baby labeled A at your initial ultrasound. This is because the babies positions can change a lot and it is difficult to identify placenta location on early ultrasounds. Location of the placenta for each baby gives those ultrasound techs the best clue at who was A last time and who was B, because even though the babies can move, the placentas can not! Thank goodness that unless there is a medical concern, it is also irrelevant who was labeled who. (Except for us sentimental types who are wondering which book to scrapbook the ultrasound photo in!)

This can also make the end of pregnancy interesting as if they DO switch spots, your doctors and nurses start to get very confused at who is A and who is B – especially at the hospital. It also causes very interesting conversation with coordinating physicians who are appalled that you are going to attempt vaginal deliver when 'baby A' is not vertex.

 So this brings up an important point in medicine that applies to everyone who ever seeks medical care or treatment: Always know everything about your condition and pay attention to what is happening to you during your care. If you are supposed to have your left kidney removed, take a permanent marker and write on your back “Keep in” on the good side and “Take this one” on the other side. Folks, it happens too often. I am not joking about this – use the markers on your body. Ok, enough of a side rant.

After the babies are born, they receive new names. No, I’m not referring to the ones YOU will give them. Rather, they are warmly welcomed into the tradition of our modern society with the caring designation of (you guessed it!) a number. The first born is called ‘Baby  1’, the second, ‘Baby 2’ and you can guess from there. This is regardless of what their letter designations were. The baby who was born second will always be ‘Baby 2’ even if she was ‘baby A’ in utero. [Can’t help but bring images of Star Trek Voyageur to my mind ‘My designation is 7 of 9’. That’s what happens when you’re married to Mr. Geek.]

1 comment:

  1. I was surprised during my 2nd twin pregnancy that it was possible for Baby B to be delivered first, ultimately making him Baby A. I was so confused and just prayed that they didn't deliver the 2nd baby first. Thankfully, they didn't but I was stressed over it for some reason!

    Also, I completely agree with you on marking your body parts with markers before surgery!! One of my sons had to have an umbilical hernia repaired awhile ago and the nurse got him confused with another patient with a similar name who was having his tonsils out. So the morning of the surgery I circled my son's belly button with a black sharpie. The dr thought it was funny but after I told him about the mistake the nurse had made, he wasn't laughing.


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