“Her name is Mayson and she is where our family’s story begins.”
Tosh Taylor shared those words on what would have been her daughter’s 10th birthday.
Mayson was born at 20 weeks, weighing less than one pound. She had Trisomy 21 and hydrocephalus, conditions Tosh and her husband were aware of before her birth, thanks to the Maternal Fetal Medicine Unit (MFM) at The Moncton Hospital.
The unit made front page news this week, celebrating a much-needed expansion which more than doubles its size and brings a second specialist back to the city. The MFM clinic used to be two small exam rooms, tucked in the hallway by labour and delivery. Most people had no idea what went on behind those doors, but for those of us with high-risk pregnancies, those two small rooms became a focal point of our experience. Behind those doors are doctors and nurses who deliver earth-shattering news with as much compassion as possible. These are the faces that see ours at our worst.
I was sitting in the larger of the two rooms when I was first told our sons were in danger of never being born alive. We had learned the day before, a sunny Monday in November, that we were expecting twins. We were shocked, but excited, and wasted no time sharing the news. I woke up Tuesday still in a daze and didn’t think it unusual when I got a call asking me to come to MFM that afternoon. I’d gone to the clinic a few times toward the end of my first pregnancy to be monitored for pre-eclampsia and high blood pressure, so I wasn’t worried walking into those non-descript doors that day. That quickly changed.
Our boys had Twin-to-Twin-Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS), a rare condition diagnosed about 250 times each year in Canada. Without intervention, one boy was given a 10% chance of surviving the pregnancy; the other, 60%. Without the diagnostic skills and equipment of the MFM team, not to mention their compassion and understanding, it is likely our boys’ condition would not have been realized in time to intervene.
We left the clinic Tuesday afternoon, armed with the doctor’s personal cell phone number. By that night, the staff had secured us a consultation with one of the world’s leading TTTS surgeons and we were on a plane.
Our story has a fairy tale ending. The expertise of the MFM staff sent us to Toronto. My laser ablation surgery at Mount Sinai was a textbook success. Our boys thrived until 32 weeks gestation, then continued to grow under the watchful eye and loving hands of the NNICU staff. Having the MFM clinic here in Moncton also meant that I was able to return home immediately following the surgery, allowing me to be present for our then-toddler daughter. We were lucky to have such top-notch facilities and care here at home.
Tosh says she and her family also benefited from the knowledge and compassion of Moncton’s MFM unit. “Mayson might not have stayed,” says Tosh, “but she brought with her the two amazing daughters we have today. Without MFM seeing us weekly to asses and put my mind at ease, I am sure I would have never had another child. I think highly of many people, but not nearly the same as I value the opinions and knowledge of this staff. We are beyond grateful for them.”
An expanded and fully-staffed unit, with more community awareness, will improve the lives of many, many families. Combined with our progressive NNICU and to-be-improved labour and delivery ward, Moncton could soon be known as a centre of excellence for maternal and infant health.
She Said appears Saturdays in the Times & Transcript.