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The Full Story

Christine C

I was under general anesthesia when my identical twin girls arrived. I was unconscious. On Monday June 21, 2021, just after midnight I delivered my 11th and 12th children at UNC Hospital. I am the mother of 6 beautiful children here on earth and 6 beloved saints in heaven.


It was not how I planned or ever dreamed their births would transpire. My daughters were di-di twins, which means even though they were identical they each had their own placenta and their own amniotic sac. At 15 weeks pregnant, my water broke with Twin A. Unfortunately, even with all of the signs and symptoms of a rupture, the tests kept coming back negative for fluid. It wasn't until my anatomy scan at 19 weeks that it was finally confirmed. Twin A had no measurable fluid. After a quick hospital stay for antibiotics, I was sent home with strict instructions to look for infection and signs of labor. We also went home with the reality that not only was my life in danger but the lives of my unborn children. The odds were not in our favor.


We made the decision to stay home until 24 weeks, then I was admitted to the 3rd floor of UNC’s Women’s Hospital for the duration of my pregnancy. Our hope was for me to stay pregnant until 34 weeks then be induced. I only made it to 26 weeks. After only a few hours of contractions, I was brought upstairs to labor and delivery, already 10 cm dilated.


I was rushed into the closest operating room and put under anesthesia while my daughters were born and began the fight for their lives. When I woke up, my husband told me that Elizabeth, our twin who had not ruptured, was doing well and only needed minimal help breathing. Our Emilia, who had ruptured, was not faring as well. Since her little lungs were unable to mature due to the lack of amniotic fluid, she wasn't able to get enough oxygen now that she was born. By the time I was stable enough to be brought to the NICU, all options had been exhausted. Emilia was baptized and then she was placed on my chest, heart to heart, where she peacefully passed away.


We were totally devastated, and yet our dear Elizabeth was doing well. I’d never been more scared, more shattered, more in love and more overjoyed. It wasn't how we planned things would go but we knew we weren't the ones in control. God’s plan for us is far greater than we could ever imagine.


After I was discharged and we were able to plan and be present for Emilia’s funeral, our attention and focus turned to Elizabeth and her health.


The NICU is a different world and to describe it as a rollercoaster is an understatement. It’s nothing like I imagined it to be. It was the ordinary things I had done with the other kids a thousand times that would stop me in my tracks: Diaper changes, swaddling, baths. Everything was different and intimidating and breathtaking.


Heavy was a word I used a lot when I described my experience with the NICU. Having to split my time between the hospital and my husband and other children, spending countless nights falling asleep watching her on my phone, setting my alarm to pump, hoping that one day she would nurse like my other babies did.


Elizabeth proved to be a strong and feisty little girl. She loved pulling on anything that was attached to her. With COVID restrictions, our other children weren’t able to meet their sister. But my husband and I were able to spend as much time as possible with her. We were beyond grateful to live so close to the hospital.


Elizabeth’s care team was beyond incredible and one of the shining lights that got me through that time. They saw me at my worst, they dried my tears and they always cheered Elizabeth on. They never stopped encouraging and advocating for us and they've become a part of our family. They didn't just care about Elizabeth, they cared about all of us as well. It broke my heart every day to leave my baby but knowing she was in the best hands was the only way I made it to my car without running back into the hospital. They were truly extraordinary and a blessing.


After 130 days Elizabeth came home and finally met her siblings. She has melted seamlessly into the fabric of our family. This magnificent piece of us that we didn't know we so desperately needed.


From 2lbs 0.8oz at birth to now 10 months old and weighing almost 15 pounds! She’s happy, thriving, growing, and surrounded by the people who love her most.


Mother’s Day is one of my favorite days of the year. My children are my greatest gifts.

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