Mommy's Mono Boys!

Mommy's Mono Boys!
Psalm 66:5 "Come see the miracles God performs for His people"

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Our Story...

James Daniel and John David are very special little boys. They are considered to be a very rare type of twins. Monoamniotic Monochorionic Twins (referred to as Mono Mono twins) occur in only about 1 in 250,000 pregnancies. A Mono twin pregnancy is considered very high risk because of the many complications that can occur. From twin to twin transfusion, cord entanglement, uterine growth restriction, and even death. Mono twins share everything in the womb, they share the same sac, same placenta and are not separated by a membrane. Mono twins are given a 50% chance of surviving a pregnancy to viable gestation, and are always delivered early around 32 weeks. The risk of cord entanglement (which leads to strangulation) and fetal death increases the longer the pregnancy continues. For Mono Mommies, they live each day not knowing if their babies will still be alive at their next prenatal visit. They live hopeful but guarded "just in case" and experience an emotional roller coaster as they go through terror and elation throughout the pregnancy. Twin specialists will tell you they diagnose about 6 cases a year and only 2 or 3 will make it. Inpatient monitoring at 24 weeks has given many moms positive outcomes. Monitoring these babies gives them the best chance possible of surviving and being born as healthy as possible. 75% of Mono twins conceived are girls. Mono twins are not hereditary nor due to fertility treatments. Mono twins are a very special blessing from God only. He chooses the twins and the family for them. We are so thankful He chose us.

Our mono twin story starts July 15, 2008 (like many moms who find out the "news" NEVER forget the date or details of it)

I went to my OB for my first prenatal visit/ultrasound when I received the most shocking news of my life. Not only was I pregnant, but I was pregnant with TWINS. My wonderful,loving husband was planning his "big boy" surgery once we returned from vacation, since we felt our family was complete with THREE GIRLS ages 6,3,and 1!!! Little did we know God had bigger and much better plans for us.

The ultrasound technician started the exam, she became rather quiet and didn't offer much information. This is a terrible feeling for a mom waiting to "hear that heartbeat"...I have been in this position many times before. So, I knew something wasn't right. I asked her boldly (cause that's just how I am), "I need you to tell me if there is not a heartbeat!" and she responded, "No, Dana, there is a heartbeat, but I need to do a vaginal ultrasound to make sure there aren't TWO"...okay here is the ridiculous part, I asked the lady, "Two hearts??" and she says, "No, two babies"...Not sure if you have ever had a panic attack, but I did stop breathing for a moment and become incredibly numb all over my body. She continued the exam (all the while I am thinking "Dear God, what are you doing with me..I have three kids already, I can't do twins!!!" and then she says, "Looks like identical twins for sure, see here, they are facing each other." On the screen it looked like two peanut shells opposite each other)...Then Dr. Barron came in to explain that she would be monitoring me very carefully and I would be considered a "high risk" pregnancy. So of course I am thinking to myself, "How am I going to deal with this as I have already so much going on with our three little girls"... Little did I know that my next visit would end with a tremendous amount of dread and worry from doctors.

12 week visit Dr. Barron told me our pregnancy was considered monoamniotic monochorionic because the babies were not separated by a membrane in the womb and that if everything went very well, they had a 50% chance of surviving the pregnancy without dying in womb. They would need to be delivered at 32 weeks best case scenario and would be super preemie. They would need at least 4-6 weeks of special care in the NICU and could possibly end up with many health problems.

This is where I am now totally crying (you know the sobbing with snot kind of crying) and asking God.."What in the world are you doing here with me!?!?" I thought being pregnant was bad enough and then as I finally embraced the idea of welcoming another precious little one in our family I am told there will be TWO and then as I embraced the idea of having TWO more precious lives added to our family, I am told we may carry these babies till the end to only lose them and deliver stillbirth, or deliver them with many health problems. At this point all I could feel was numb again. It was a horrible feeling. Prior to this diagnosis, everything in our lives was going so wonderfully. We just bought a new house, Rob had finished his first year at his new practice, the kids were becoming easier, we were out of baby mode and I had worked really hard to return to my pre-pregnant body. I had recently made the statement that it felt good that life was finally "settling" for us. Well, don't ya know it, as soon as you feel that you have control of it all, God slices you a big ole piece of humble pie!!!

As my doctor explained it all, I asked her how many mono twins she had delivered and she said, "I have only had one case of mono twins in my 15 years of practice"...she continued, "Dana, these babies are very rare, the conception rate is very small and the survival rate is even smaller"...I knew at that moment that the hand of GOD had orchestrated every bit of this...without even knowing our outcome, I knew God was about to take me on a journey that force me to look to HIM in and seriously put my total FAITH in HIM and HIM alone.

Fast forward to 15 weeks, UAB specialist tells us that one baby only has two vessels in his cord (yes they also told us "boys!" so even more rare) and that we had no option other than abort or wait it out, basically there isn't a way to "fix" the problems that occur in this type of pregnancy. A doctor can't go in the womb and untangle the cords or make both babies grow evenly so one doesn't die and then take the life of the other one, nor could they add nutrients to the placenta to feed both babies accordingly...**side note here...anybody ever felt completely HOPELESS in a situation where all you can do is WAIT for God to show up or not** That is pretty much where I was, just had to wait for GOD to show up and boy did HE ever!

I turned to God and said, "Alright then, here we go, you have a plan for this and I have a voice for you. I will praise you in this storm. I won't be comfortable in it, but I will be obedient in it." I am human, and I hurt and boy did I have moments of weeping and wailing, but through it all, I praised every single day God granted me in that pregnancy. I used my situation to pull others closer to Christ because so many people wanted to "pray for our babies", I received emails and letters, cards and phone calls from so many people. I felt the presence of God and His Holy Spirit resonate within me as I walked around with a pregnancy of uncertainty, that could result in dead babies at any given moment without me even went on, teaching fourth graders everyday, coaching my daughters cheerleading squad, being mommy to three little girls, and a wife to my amazing (and very patient) husband.

The agony of wondering if your babies are still alive or if they are growing evenly and blood flow is not being compromised (because that causes major damage to babies in the womb) and living with that for 24 hrs a day 7 days a week for 7 months will take you on a spiritual walk like you've never been through before. But like a lot of times in life, we are dealt suffering to show us the grace in which God undeservedly gives us and brings us to a place where we submit to HIM totally for His strength and mercy.

If you are a mono mama and have stumbled upon this blog, I pray for you to see God in your little miracles, because mono twins are an amazing blessing that can not be created none other than the MAKER HIMSELF!

With the merciful hand of God wrapped around our babies, we made it to 30 weeks and James Daniel and John David Pate were born 2lb 9oz and 2lb 14oz on December 11, 2008...and boy did we have some angels rejoicing with us on that glorious day, along with alot of family and friends. The power of the prayer behind our miracle baby boys still brings chills to me when I think back to our journey and all the warriors out there who unselfishly prayed for us. Our guys are now 2 years old and healthy and thriving. They do not have any known health problems. At their 2 year check up, they met every single milestone on the developmental checklist.

We know the blessing of the boys' lives come from the ONE and only, the Creator of life, the Master of this Universe, the One who will call it the end some day. Those saved by His SON JESUS CHRIST will spend eternity with Him....GOD ALONE recieves all the glory from these boys' lives.