It wasn’t until Mary York was 17 weeks into her pregnancy that she and her husband Kevin learned they were having twins. Earlier ultrasounds had failed to detect two babies because there was only one amniotic sac and one placenta, a rare occurrence known as monoamniotic-monchorionic twins ? or MoMos. MoMo twins are considered to be at high risk for umbilical cord entanglement and other complications.
Mary was placed under the care of maternal fetal medicine specialists Chitra Iyer, M.D. and Aiyanna Anderson, M.D. of the Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth medical staff and, at 24 gestational weeks, she was admitted to the hospital’s Antepartum unit for bed rest and close monitoring. At 26 weeks, the twins showed some signs of distress so Mary was transferred to Labor and Delivery for continuous monitoring.
While the couple wanted the best possible care for mom-to-be and babies, there was another family member who required some attention as well. Big sister, Addison, also needed caring for at home.
“The morning of December 29, 2014, Dr. Anderson came into my room around 5:30 a.m. and told me to call ‘Dad’ because the babies needed to be delivered,” Mary remembered. “Thankfully, my mom and sister had been in town for Christmas so my husband was able to leave Addison with them to be with me during the emergent cesarean. Dr. Anderson told us after the surgery that Amelia, our twin B, had the cord wrapped around her neck five times. This was something the doctor noted that she had never seen before.”
Learning to Thrive in the NICU
Born at 27 weeks, babies Abigail and Amelia weighed just over two pounds each. They were admitted to the Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit NICU at Texas Health Fort Worth to begin their fight to thrive. Amelia had to be intubated for the first 12 hours of her life and both girls were on oxygen for the first two months. Abigail was later diagnosed with a heart murmur that eventually resolved on its own and then Amelia ended up with a urinary tract infection that she fought to overcome.
When they reached three months old, the twins were finally ready to be moved to a lower risk area in the NICU to be taught to drink from bottles, breast feed and breathe on their own. Physicians and nurses were encouraging through it all, letting the Yorks know that the girls would learn how to master these basic tasks as they got stronger and bigger. And they did.
“The NICU staff was phenomenal all around,” Mary said. “As I would sit with my babies, I would talk to their nurses about what would happen when the twins came home. They taught me how to pump effectively and they stressed the importance of keeping our twins on a schedule. Every day they would break down the doctor’s report for us and give us highlights of their progress in a way that was easy to understand. When we were getting close to being discharged, one of the nurses even gave my husband and me a private CPR lesson because we couldn’t make any of the classes. She set up a private class just for us so we could do it with Addison in tow. ”
Overcoming Mom Guilt
Mary admitted that the guilt she felt for having to split her time between the NICU and home was overwhelming. When she was with the twins, she felt terrible that Addison was spending her days sitting in a hospital waiting room. When she was with Addison, she felt terrible that the newborns were all alone. She, Kevin and their extended family were grateful for the webcams in the incubators that allowed them to go online and see what the twins were doing when no one could be at the hospital. Having fairly consistent nurses caring for the girls also provided the family with some peace of mind.
“In the first two months, we rotated between the same three or four nurses who were all great at spending time with our twins when we weren’t able to be there,” Mary said. “These nurses never made us feel like we were lesser parents. Later, we worked almost exclusively with Kara and she was extraordinary. At one point, my husband got word of his mother’s passing and we had to leave immediately for California. Kara called us every day, sent pictures and even bought our girls their first onesies because we were out of town when the twins were able to start wearing clothes.”
“To have a three year old sit in a hospital for six hours every day for three months was hard. We kept it pretty simple trying to explain to Addison what was going on. We’d tell her that her sisters just needed a little extra help growing, and we showed her the webcam videos and pictures. At that point, I had to keep reminding myself that this part of our lives was temporary and we would all be okay. The girls were finally released on March 20 and 31, 2015. Neither has suffered from any long-term complications. I credit their good health to the doctors and nurses at Texas Health Fort Worth. They were on top of everything for our little miracle babies,” she added.