Has God ever surprised you with a blessing? Well, He blessed first time parents Shelby and James with the surprise of a lifetime in the form of a rare set of twins — Ava and Anna. These two little miracles defied all of the odds when they showed up. But what makes the story even more incredible is that Shelby had no idea she was even pregnant!
Shelby Magnani was suffering from some pretty sharp stomach pains. So, she had her fiancé, James Croskey, take her to a walk-in clinic. And that’s where the couple got some pretty shocking news.
The doctors surprised Shelby with the news that she was pregnant, and estimated her to be 6 months along! They sent her over to the ER where an ultrasound confirmed that Shelby was indeed with child. But there were more surprises in store.
Shelby wasn’t just carrying one baby, but two! And she was even further along in the pregnancy than the doctors had originally thought. Instead of 6 months, she was actually 34 weeks pregnant with the twins. Doctors to rushed her into an emergency c-section, and Shelby delivered two healthy girls, Ava and Anna, weighing just four and three pounds each.
"It all happened pretty fast. An hour and hour and a half and I was in recovery before I knew it,” the mom recalls.
Believe it or not, things get even more incredible. The type of twins that Shelby delivered — monoamniotic twins (sometimes called “mono mono”) — are extremely rare.
"About one to two percent of all pregnancies are twins, but even rarer than that is monoamniotic twins. They have one placenta and one amniotic sac and both of those twins share the placenta as well as the sac," says Dr. Jennifer Krupp with Perinatal Center of Iowa.
Defying The Odds
In addition to being uncommon, “mono mono” twins are also at a much greater risk for serious complications. There is only about a 50% survival rate, making Ava and Anna’s healthy delivery even more of a gift.
"I’m still trying to process. It’s crazy how high risk mono-mono twins can be, and how good they’re doing now, it’s really a blessing," says Shelby.
One of the biggest hazards is the danger of the umbilical cords becoming entangled.
The chances of one or both of the babies dying is pretty significant, which is why Dr. Krupp says they usually bring the expectant mom into the hospital at 24 to 26 weeks, so that they can check the babies several times a day, a daunting fact not lost on the new parents:
"They’re both just little miracles, it could have been so many things that went wrong that didn’t," Shelby says.
By now, I’m sure you’ve been asking, “But how in the world could you not know you were 34-weeks pregnant!?!” Shelby said in an interview that she didn’t have any of the pregnancy symptoms you usually hear about, and she continued to get her cycle regularly.
“The only thing that could have told me was the fact I had gained a little bit of weight, but when you only gain 10 pounds, maybe 15 at the most, you don't think automatically, 'Oh I'm pregnant.' I even took a pregnancy test a few months back because of the weight gain and when it came back negative, I ruled it out," she says.
And according to obstetrician and gynocologist Dr. Mark Hathaway, surprise births are certainly not unheard of. Keep in mind he is not the doctor that treated Shelby, but says:
"I think just about every obstetrician, gynecologist, or midwife that deals with pregnant patients ... has had this happen," Dr. Hathaway said. "We're all kind of astounded because there's so many symptoms that come along with pregnancy, but many women don't get them or attribute [them] to something else."
Before you go worrying that every gas bubble or tummy ache is a sign of an unexpected labor (or am I the only hypochondriac in the bunch?), keep in mind that, while not unheard of, surprise pregnancies are light years away from being common. One study suggests that only 1 out of 2,455 births involve a mother who didn’t know she was pregnant.
But no matter how you look at it, it’s hard to deny the fact that Ava and Anna’s births are nothing short of miraculous. And even though they weren’t expecting to be parents, Shelby and James couldn’t help but treasure the amazing gift they’ve been given.
"I love them, I love them more than anything," says James.
The girls spent some time in the hospital growing and getting stronger, and were then sent home with mom and dad. The little angels just recently celebrated their first birthday, and are doing great!
“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Proverbs 19:21
h/t: WHO TV / NBC 13
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