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Full Names: Annelise and Julianna Calero
Parents: Bianca and Jonathan
Nicknames: Lisey and Julie
Birthdate: March 21, 2014
Gestational Age at Birth: 29 weeks
We were expecting one baby, and God surprised us and blessed us with two. I didn’t find out I was having twins until I was 18 weeks pregnant. We went to the hospital to find out the sex of our baby and instead found out were having twin girls. My emotions went from nervous excited to terrified. We decided we could handle this, then a split second later I was declared high risk. We were having mono-mono twins, which are extremely rare, happening in less than 1% of all twin pregnancies.
The twins share absolutely everything causing their cords to become entangled. This causes the blood and oxygen circulation to potentially be cut off as long as the pregnancy continues. The possibilities were losing one or both my babies, early delivery, having to choose one if it came down to it, etc. Anything horrible a mother never wants to think of.
I was admitted to Tampa General Hospital when I was 28 weeks pregnant. It was just for procedure so the doctors could keep a close eye on the twins. While hospitalized I found out I had gestational diabetes. Not only was I stuck in the hospital, but my diet was highly regulated. I was there for two weeks and saw my son and husband just a few times. It hurt me to my core to leave my son. HRH’s support warmed my heart in the best way. A HRH volunteer delivered a bed rest basket to my room and we began talking. She also had identical twins in the NICU who grew to be absolutely beautiful. From that point on I had hope!
At 29 weeks I was rushed to labor and delivery because twin B’s, Julianna, heart rate kept dipping along with mild contractions. After two and a half days with no food and discomfort I had to undergo an emergency cesarean section, Julianna had the cord wrapped around her neck. I was 29 weeks and 6 days, expected to have them at 33 weeks. Annelise weighed 2.9 lbs and Julianna weighed 2.11 lbs They came out screaming, it was beautiful.
My worries didn’t end there. Annelise had a grade three brain bleed, four being the worst. My heart shattered into a million pieces. She got sick and needed antibiotics twice, two separate occasions. It was stressful enough to have babies in the NICU. I cried my eyes out when I had to go home. With my husband working I was only able to see them evenings. It really took a toll on my two year old, as all he saw was the four walls of the hospital. A HRH NICU Napsack was delivered to each of my babies’ rooms NICU and I was beaming. I think it is amazing that anyone can be so selfless and support mothers and families with NICU babies. Very convenient supplies also, I stayed in the NICU overnight and I had everything I needed right there in the bag.
A couple weeks before my girls were discharged, Annelise had one more head sonogram. At that moment when I got the results I knew God was listening to me. Her sonogram read grade one. The doctors told me it doesn’t shrink, she’ll have to grow around it and hope she doesn’t have a developmental disability. I couldn’t believe it, it was an absolute miracle!
Two months later, we brought home two chunky, beautiful and perfect miracle babies.
Full Names: Adelaide McKay and Genevieve Carmody Carrere
Parents: Elizabeth and Christopher
Birthdate: September 5, 2007
Gestational Age at Birth: 35 weeks
Favorite book or toy: Their baby brother Jack
Our story began in early March 2007 when we found out that we were expecting not one, but TWO babies. We were completely shocked but overjoyed and excited to start our family. At our 12 week ultrasound, they told us the babies were identical and at 14 weeks we found out they were sweet little girls! During our routine perinatologist visit at 18 weeks, we discovered something was very wrong with our babies. The doctor told us that our girls suffered from a severe case of Twin To Twin Transfusion Syndrome. My husband and I were completely overwhelmed and devastated and lost to say the least. After much research, and many phone calls, we found Dr Ruben Quintero, an incredible man who just so happened to be the pioneer of the newest treatment for TTTS… AND who just so happened to practice at Tampa General Hospital, just three miles from our home. The next few days were a blur of tests, questions and prayers. Within five days of our original diagnosis I was checked into the hospital fetal surgery with Dr Quintero. There was never a doubt as to what we should do for our babies as we felt very confident in our decision and in our surgeon. We wanted to give our children every possible chance to fight this horrible disease.
The surgery was a success and we cried tears of relief at the sound of “TWO HEARTBEATS” on our morning ultrasound. The next few weeks and months were spent on bed rest and things were looking good. But at 23 weeks, the u/s tech noticed something wasn’t quite right with our previous donor’s heart and we were sent to a fetal cardiologist for an evaluation. Twin B (our donor, not our recipient) was diagnosed with a right ventricular cardiomyopathy and given a stage of heart failure. Just as we were coming up for air from the surgery, we were knocked down again. I continued to be closely monitored and Twin B’s heart seemed to slightly improve. They could not tell if she had a pulmonary stenosis or a stunned ventricle but they sent us off to meet with the cardiac surgeon. We were treading water at this point, not sure if we could handle much more. We found online organizations for fetal syndromes and began to feel like their was hope. Other heart mom reached out to me and shared their stories and made me feel like we could do this. The next 12 weeks were filled with constant prayer and lots of doctors’ appointments.
We made it to 35 weeks when Adelaide (A) and Genevieve (B) were born at St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital on September 5th 2007, weighing 4 lbs 8 oz and 3 lb 13 oz, respectively. Both girls gave hearty cries and were swept off to the NICU. Genevieve was quickly transferred across the street to the Cardiac ICU and was in very grave condition. Our sweet girl was much sicker then we could have imagined. She was put on the schedule for open heart surgery (to core out and enlarge her right ventricle, among other things) at 5 days of life. In a twist of events, Genevieve was actually too sick to go to surgery and the next few weeks were very touch and go. Sweet Adelaide spent two weeks as a feeder and grower in the NICU and then was discharged home, amen! While it was a challenge having one in the hospital and one at home, we were so grateful to have her in our arms!
As the weeks passed, Genevieve too grew stronger and her little heart started to stabilize. After six long weeks, they said we could take her home… for a little while. JUST until she was big enough for surgery or JUST until she got too sick at home — we were terrified!! When I look back at those days I am so grateful for all the help we received. Our families and friends were so amazing to us. Helping with the babies, bringing us dinner, holding us in constant prayer… it really took a village.
Our Genevieve was a regular in the cardiac clinic that first year and at every visit we saw progress in her heart, and doctors who told us her healing was miraculous. They still say she may need surgery one day, but her right ventricle (though small) functions at normal levels! What a miracle. Actually, we have two miracles. We feel so blessed to have the outcome that we do, TWO healthy and happy little girls. Adelaide and Genevieve are incredible, sweet and funny little girls. They adore their little brother Jack and are the light of our lives. Our lives will never be the same and we are so grateful to God for our many blessings.