After raising two children, Kate Lucas and her husband learned that Kate was pregnant again. At one of their early visits to their OB-GYN, the doctor joked, “Let’s have a listen to the heartbeat and see if it’s just one!” And then during the ultrasound, she smiled and stuck up two fingers. Kate was confused and asked her what the “peace sign” was for. “There’s two!” exclaimed the doctor. But that was not the only news that Kate received.
The embryos had only first separated 8 - 13 days after insemination, which meant that there was no protective membrane between the two children. Just a day or two later and the babies would probably have been conjoined twins. There are serious risks involved in this so-called monochorionic twin pregnancy: the umbilical chords can become life threatening dangers, increasing the chance for entanglement, strangulation or blockage. These extremely rare twins only have about a 50% chance of survival.
Astoundingly, Kate's doctor advised the distressed soon-to-be mom to keep her pregnancy a secret and to let nature take its course! Kate changed doctors immediately. After the 28th week of pregnancy, Kate spent five weeks in hospital, fighting daily for her twins' survival. The doctors delivered the babies by Cesarean section. When they saw the umbilical chord, a deadly silence came over the delivery room.
The two umbilical chords, the two babies' lifeline, were completely interlocked, just like a single hair braid! It beggars belief that no blockage had occurred and that the two girls survived! But that’s not all.
The twins were indeed small and underweight since they were born early. But they were completely healthy! The birth had been induced just at the right moment. If the doctors had waited longer, the entanglement of the umbilical chords would have cut the babies off from the lifeline to their mother.
Surprisingly, the two preterm girls didn't need a ventilator or an incubator, although they remained under special care. Eventually, the twins were allowed to go home. One 1% of twin pregnancies are monochorionic and as a result, the condition has not been extensively researched.
Harper and Cleo, now eight, are the best of friends, despite their completely different personalities. Fortunately, not only did they survive what with the benefit of hindsight was an extremely risky entrance into the world, but they did so with very few complications. A rare case indeed!