Our tiny twins lived only for 90 minutes, but our journey with them made one thing abundantly clear: God always has the final say
(NRC) All human life – including unborn life – is sacred and irreplaceable, no matter the circumstances, diagnoses or opinions surrounding it.
While I always believed this fundamental truth, I experienced it in a transformative way when I became pregnant with conjoined twin daughters whose lives were, tragically, discounted by thousands of people – including medical professionals and social media onlookers.
As a newlywed, COVID-era bride, I was used to “unexpected” things, like rescheduling venues and finding last-minute vendors. Despite the challenges, my husband and I fought for (and had) our ideal Catholic wedding.
That experience increased our faith that God would continue providing for us as we pursued our dream of becoming parents.
Negative test after negative test dulled our spirits, yet also deepened our prayers as we begged God to entrust us with such a precious gift.
We finally got the second pink line, but shortly after, severe nausea hit. Despite my excitement that we had finally conceived, intense sickness and weight loss left me fearful that something wasn’t quite right.
At our 7-week anatomy scan, the nurses and doctors stared, perplexed, at the ultrasound screen, unsure of what they were seeing. They sent us home and told us to come back at 13 weeks. But around 10 weeks, a sharp pain in my abdomen landed me in the emergency room. There, the ER doc delivered to us the most unexpected news of our lives.
“You’re pregnant, with twins.” She paused.
During that pause, my husband and I laughed in disbelief, rejoicing at this incredible news.
“But they are special twins, because they are conjoined. They share a heart, a diaphragm, and a liver.”
We stopped in our tracks. Austin, confused, incredulously questioned the doctor, confirming what we had heard.
Our twin babies were fused together, and their prognosis was inevitable death.
We wanted to avoid having abortion pushed on us and so, we went to a Christian hospital. But even there they subtly encouraged abortion. “We know where you can get this taken care of,” they repeated over and over, refusing to say the word that we all knew they meant. Why was it that every doctor that I saw, upon acknowledging that I was having twins, would ask me three breaths later if I wanted to get rid of them?
After we insisted on choosing life for our daughters, the doctors began detailing the dangers of my high-risk pregnancy. “The chances of miscarriage are higher than those of you giving birth. Even if you did give birth, the babies would live for only an hour – at most. With such a high-risk pregnancy, and only one sac, you will need a cesarean section. But if you do this, your side could rip open, and you could bleed to death.”
But through it all, a calming voice broke through, which I recognized as the all-powerful Creator of our daughters: “I will provide.”
Austin and I named them right away – Maria Therese and Rachel Clare – so that we could have as much and as long of a relationship with them as possible.
Unlike the doctors’ forebodings, I didn’t miscarry, but I woke up every day in anxiety and fear that I would. We struggled to find any other conjoined twins who were given a chance at life; in our research, we found only haunting images of those who were aborted.
Even upon sharing our news on social media platforms, we experienced a barrage of hatred and anger from bystanders claiming that we were “torturing” our daughters by choosing life.
At our 31-week checkup, doctors discovered the girls’ heart was failing, and we would need a C-section just days later. Knowing the risks, I made my confession, and we called a priest in for the operation.
Our trust in God pulled us through. I cannot imagine what we would have done without our faith to ground us.
My beautiful daughters were born and received baptism and confirmation immediately from the priest. We both were able to hold and love them and even heard Maria Therese cry – the most beautiful sound that I can still hear today.
A little less than 90 minutes after birth, our daughters took one big breath together and let it out for the last time in Austin’s arms.
I was immensely blessed that I had the chance to carry our precious daughters. They were two beautiful, perfect souls – babies wonderfully made by their Creator with love – who experienced the wonderful gift of life, if only briefly.
Our journey with them made one thing abundantly clear: God always has the final say, not doctors, and not bystanders. Everything that happened with our girls was unexpected: their lives lasting more than an hour, and the ultimate safety of both my pregnancy and delivery.
We prayed for a child, and God sent us two. Still today my girls inspire in me and Austin a fervent desire to share the truth about their dignity as human beings. Their lives touched ours, as well as the healthcare providers who witnessed their few breaths in this world. They became my greatest loves, whom I will honor forever.
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Editor's note: Nicole LeBlanc is a 24-year-old Hispanic mother of two baby saints in Heaven. She and her husband, Austin, own and operate an automotive business in Michigan. This article is reprinted with permission from the National Catholic Register – www.ncregister.com.