|Joshua and his twin sons Aaden and Noah|
By Joshua King-
Let me start by introducing myself! My name is Josh King. My wife, Michelle, and I reside in East Texas and am a preemie dad of twin boys, Aaden and Noah. Our family’s story is unique in that we knew from the time of the first ultrasound that our boys would be born prematurely.
Aaden and Noah are Mono/Mono twins. This is a rare case in which both twins live in the same amniotic sac. This causes the umbilical cords to become twisted and tied in what can only resemble a lethal ball of yarn. 1 out of every 10,000 twin births is a mono/mono. 1 out of every 50,000 twin births is a set of mono/mono boys.
At the time we were living in Texarkana and were referred to a twin specialist in Shreveport by the name of Dr. Jones. Upon our first visit we had an ultrasound and then sat down to discuss our options. I really wouldn’t call them options, at least they weren’t for us. Before he could finish his thought about terminating the pregnancy, both my wife Michelle and I knew that was not an option. We were told that mono/mono twins do not last in the womb longer than 32 weeks and would have to be delivered early. In addition to that grim news, Michelle would have to be put on home bed rest at 20 weeks and be admitted to the hospital at 24 weeks to be actively monitored to make sure that both twins had good strong heart beats.
The pregnancy was quite uneventful and went normally, with our whole focus being on that magic ’32 week’ delivery date. On a positive note, we could fill up numerous scrapbooks with all the ultrasound pictures we amassed from our trips to Shreveport. Michelle went on home rest and other than ‘cabin fever’ everything went according to plan.
At last the dreaded admittance into the hospital. Dr. Jones told use before we checked Michelle in that we should go have a ‘last meal’. As clever as I am sure that sounded to him, we were not amused. Michelle was admitted and we moved into our home for the next, what we thought would be two months.
I drove the hour-and-a-half trip so much it began to feel like ten minutes. It was at the 28-week mark. We were halfway to the ‘magic’ date. The evening the boys were born, I had originally decided not to go to the hospital, however ended up going anyway after Michelle asked me to. That evening as we were preparing to get some semblance of rest Michelle’s monitor began to go off indicating that Twin A’s heart rate had dropped. Within minutes Michelle was prepped and rolling off to deliver our boys.
I remember waiting in the hallway staring at the doors to the delivery room praying that everything would be ok. The nurse on duty did her best to distract me with idle conversation, but I’m sure I was about as interesting as a pet rock. In less than fifteen minutes my two boys came zipping past me in incubators being kept alive by breathing bags. The NICU nurses smiled and congratulated me as they wheeled my newborn children off to save their lives.
I remember the first time we entered the room. I have never been more scared and grateful in my life. I had no idea what to expect and felt very much like a lost soul. They escorted us to their bed sides and we were allowed to touch them. It was the most amazing experience! The small, fine hairs on their back, their warm bodies from the lights, the noises of the breathing machines and heart monitors, how small they were, I remember everything. Aaden was 2’11’’ and Noah was 3’7’’. They told us that they were stable and were doing great and that our lives would be a roller coaster, and to be prepared.
I could never be prepared for what was to come. The Sunday after they were born Michelle and I were coming home from an evening visit when we got a call from the NICU. They left a message saying to turn around immediately and that Aaden was in critical condition. I mean how could that have happened? He was fine not even an hour ago! We cried, prayed, and drove at a rate that could only be considered the speed of light. We parked and ran to the NICU and announced to the world we were there. They opened the door and we burst through and were met one of the Neonatologists. Quickly she said that they had saved him and he was stable. I remember my body going limp and crying uncontrollably in this small woman’s arms. This saint, this genius, this bringer of great news! I remember Aaden looking up at us, sedated, and us just being so thankful he was alive.
Our boys spent three months in the NICU and arrived home shortly before their actual due date. We made some great friends in Shreveport; the doctors, nurses, preemie parents, and the small ones fighting to survive all inspired us and helped us cope with one of the greatest uncertainties we have ever faced. I thank God every day for those who gave us strength and for our two mono/mono miracles!