A Valentine's Day Miracle Tale of Monoamniotic Twins and Averted Heartbreak

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The Best, Most Harrowing Valentine's Day Miracle Story You Will Ever Read

By Dustin Rowles | Think Pieces | February 14, 2013 | Comments ()


In September 2011, from the moment my wife and I found out that she was pregnant with monoamniotic twins, I made the decision not to talk about it online until -- unless -- we came out at the end of it with two healthy babies. The idea that I could one day share this story with the Pajiban community -- whether you guys wanted to hear it or not -- actually motivated me during much of what would be the most harrowing 22 weeks of our lives. It was an experience that's more important for me to tell than for you guys to read, but since this particular occurrence is so rare, it may also be important story to put out on the Internet where I hope it may provide at lease some comfort to others going through the same ordeal.

We found out during a 12-week ultrasound. The sonographer waved her jelly-covered wand around on my wife's stomach for a few seconds and said "You haven't had an ultrasound yet?" we said no, and she said, "Ok, well I have some news that will be a surprise. You're having twins!" The news sent me in a panic. Two kids! How the hell were we supposed to take care of and provide for two more kids? My wife's morning sickness had been unusually intense and lingering, so we'd joked that perhaps she was pregnant with twins, but twins didn't run in our families and neither one of us ever expected it to be true.

While I was trying to process the news, the sonographer poked around for a few more minutes like she was looking for something. She got quiet, and I didn't think much of it until she said she needed to talk to the obstetrician. She left, and for 45 minutes in the darkened ultrasound room, we laughed and cried a bit and I freaked out trying to figure out how badly twins would screw up our routine, how to afford them, how to deal with preschool and college and the million little things you don't think about until they're confronting you head on. But then the doctor returned, and grimly told us that our twins were monoamniotic, and those concerns immediately dissipated. Before we even knew what he meant, our hearts fell into our stomachs.

What are monoamniotic twins? As many of you probably know, fraternal (dizygotic) twins are the result of two separate eggs being fertilized, while identical twins are the result of one egg splitting (monozygotic). Our twins were monozygotic. Identical twinning is totally random, and typically, an egg splits by the 8th day after fertilization. Sometimes there are two placentas (dichorionic), but most identical twins share a placenta (monochorionic). Regardless of chorionicity, almost always in identical twinning, two amniotic sacs are formed. In rare cases, the eggs splits after the 12th day, which is how you end up with conjoined twins. In our case though, the egg split sometime after the 9th day ater fertilization, so there were two fetuses, with one placenta, and they were together in only one amniotic sac.

This is bad news. The doctor didn't mince words, either. He told us that the twins might each be fine, but that it was also possible that one or both of them had a defect that would make them "incompatible with life," because the late splitting can be consistent with very serious, profound genetic problems (like lacking organs or body parts). He told us that they would probably die, and that even if they were both genetically and structurally sound, they had about a 50/50 chance. He said that if we lost one, we would probably lose both, or the surviving baby would be severely brain damaged, because of the shared placenta. When there is nothing separating the fetuses, there is nothing preventing the babies' umbilical cords from getting tangled up. Tangles can lead to compression, which cuts of oxygen and nutrients, and the cords can also wrap around a limb -- or a neck -- with disastrous results.

So we sat there, shocked and tired, overwhelmed by this transition from elation to stupid, petty concerns and then gruesome, terrible images of the worse obstetrical outcomes. We were advised to have biweekly ultrasounds - since there is no intervention that can help make the pregnancy safer, we needed to wait for several weeks for genetic and physical tests, and then continue to wait until my wife would be admitted to the hospital as soon as the babies would be able to be born. The idea that the babies could kill each other inside my wife's womb was a lot to carry emotionally. My wife asked if she would know if they had died, and the doctor said no. So she asked if she could come for the ultrasounds weekly, to check on them. To see if they were still living. He said okay.

Can you imagine?

We were told that it was out of our control, to go home, not worry about it, and no matter what, don't go on the Internet. I got into my car delirious with worry and fear, proceeded to back into another car, and after exchanging insurance information with the owner of the (parked) vehicle, drove home and immediately went to the Internet.

I should've listened to the doctor.

Monoamniotic twins are rare -- they affect around 1 in 60,000 pregnancies (about 1 percent of all twin pregnancies). We tried to read every study we could find, but there aren't many, and they are all retrospective. Rates of morbidity ranged from 40 to 70 percent or even higher, depending upon which study you read. There have been just a few quality studies done on monoamniotic twins over the past decade and in all cases, the sample sizes were small (the largest study was done in the Netherlands involving 100 pregnancies over a ten-year period).

The gist of it confirmed what the doctor said, but the internet also suggested even more terrible outcomes than he had outlined. One twin dying in utero and the pregnancy continuing for weeks or months, ending with one stillborn and one live child, profoundly disabled. Photos of headless fetuses. It was worse than a horror movie.

Misdiagnoses of monoamniotic twins are common, so we crossed our fingers and hoped that subsequent ultrasounds would reveal two amniotic sacs. We did transfer my wife's care from our midwives' practice to the high-risk OB's at the hospital, and laughed ruefully about how much time we had spent on our "birth plan" when our son was born. On week 16, we drove to Boston for a specialist ultrasound and to talk to an expert on the subject. My wife brought a bucket to throw up in on the way. There was no separating membrane. And the expert told us he saw monoamnoitic twins maybe once a year. But he was amazing, and British, and was really honest and kind and clear with us. There was a 50 percent chance we would lose both babies. There was a greater chance that we'd lose at least one, and there was an incredibly high chance -- something like 70 or 80 percent -- that even if both babies made it to delivery, one or both would have really serious lifelong problems: Mental disability, cerebral palsy, blindness, respiratory illness, or death shortly after delivery.

We also knew that, because of the nature of monoamniotic twins, at 25-28 weeks -- if the babies survived that long -- my wife would be admitted into the hospital for monitoring, and if there was any sign of distress, the babies would be delivered immediately, and we'd have to deal with the consequences of severe prematurity. Best-case scenario: The twins would be delivered six weeks early and live in a box with gadgets and doohickeys connected to their bodies for the first few weeks or months of their lives. The best case scenario was the most medicalized kind of birth, and a guarantee of weeks in the NICU. Keep in mind, we had our firstborn in the hospital, but we managed to end up with the natural childbirth my wife was hoping for, with no medications or interventions and with a midwife attending, on the exact due date.

The doctor in Boston was also willing to explain our option to terminate. Even though we were just getting the information we needed to figure out whether the fetuses were even viable, it was already too late to end the pregnancy in our home state, and we only had a couple of weeks to do so in Massachusetts. There was the possibility of selective reduction -- ending one baby's life to improve the odds of the other, but because they shared a sack, this wouldn't avoid any complications, so it was clearly not an option for us.

The doctor told us that if we went forward with the pregnancy, if one fetus died in utero it would probably leave the other baby severely brain damaged. He said if that happened, we could make a plan to go to one of two states in the country -- Florida or Colorado -- that still have individual Doctors providing late-term abortions. Kansas used to be an option, we were told, but the Doctor who conducted procedures to terminate the pregnancies of severely brain damaged and deformed babies with no chance of a decent quality of life had been shot and killed. Ain't that America.

We decided to terminate. It was the most difficult, most agonizing decision either my wife or I had ever made. We both are pro-choice, but when it comes to abortion, in the typical scenario, you decide to terminate a pregnancy you don't want. We had made a decision to terminate the potential lives of two babies that we did want. That we wanted very badly. However, we felt that the risks were too high and that it would be irresponsible to risk not only our future but that of our son, who was four. We didn't want him to have to grow up in a home with parents that had to devote all their emotional and financial resources to profoundly disabled siblings. More than that, we didn't want to bring beings into the world that would have to spend a lifetime suffering, who might have a severely low quality of life.

The thing is, there was no one from whom we could solicit advice. There's not even a lot of anecdotal information with which to work when you're pregnant with monoamniotic twins. There is one major support page online, but there is a lot of self-selection in posters, and most of the people who write have had a positive outcome that has either confirmed or bolstered their religious convictions. Many of the posts make clear that termination was never an option -- and/or should not be an option -- for others in this situation, which we totally disagreed with. What we were aiming to do was make the right choice for us -- a rational, logical decision that an objective couple in our situation would make. We were relatively young. We could still have more children. We could wait a few months or a couple of years and try again. The more we thought about it, the more sense it made to end the pregnancy. We felt -- and we still feel -- that this is a fundamentally personal decision, and we were shocked at the politicization of this medical issue, when of course nobody else can tell you what is right for your family. It is a decision that has the potential to fundamentally alter the entire course of your life, and until you are personally faced with something like this, there is no way to know how you are going to react or what the right course of action will be.

We made the appointment.

We felt immediately miserable about our decision. That's the thing, isn't it? When you're pregnant, you're in a heightened state of emotion. It's too difficult to think objectively. We'd been going on weekly ultrasound visits for a month and a half, so we'd seen the two little guys floating around. We'd seen them touch heads in some ultrasounds and touch hands in others. There's a real mortal danger in monoamniotic twins, but their ultrasounds -- because of their proximity -- are super fucking cute. Plus, there is something hugely romantic about telling the odds and the statistics to go screw, and just going for it.

The next day, my wife called and canceled the appointment. It felt like it made no sense, but somehow it made sense for us.

But we replaced one weight with another: The perpetual fear that any day, any minute, any second we'd lose one or both of the babies. What we absolutely did not want was a baby that had to be delivered at 22 or 23 weeks because the risk of complications when you have babies that early is too high, and the interventions required to save them are so invasive and painful. We reasoned that it would be better if we lost the babies than to deliver them too early, where they'd likely face great pain and either a painful death or a lifetime of complications. Each week, we'd look at the statistics, figure the odds, and try and determine what would happen to our family and what sort of quality of life we could expect if the babies had to be delivered that week. The whole thing was a Saw-like game of psychological torture.

But we made it to 28 weeks. The day after New Year's Day, my wife was admitted into the hospital. She had an ultrasounds once a day and fetal monitoring every six hours. If it appeared that something was amiss, the doctors would have to deliver then. But even still, with monitoring every six or four or even two hours, you don't know. You don't know what could happen when no one is looking. The babies moved around a lot. Their umbilical cords were already tangled. What we hoped for was that the cords wouldn't wrap so tightly around one another that circulation would be impeded or cut off.

Six weeks passed like molasses in a glacier. We fell into a decent, though miserable routine. My mother-in-law moved in with us (I cannot tell you how helpful she was during this time). I'd wake up, get the kid ready for school, spend the day writing about Anne Hathaway or Jennifer Lawrence or whatever dumb movie was playing at the multiplex, and at the end of the day we'd drive over to the hospital and hang out there for a few hours. It's not the best thing in the world for a four year old to spend every day in a hospital, but it kept the family together, and the three of us even managed to have a couple sleepovers. We'd bring food so my wife wouldn't have to eat hospital food for all three meals (it's amazing how unhealthy and disgusting hospital food is, particularly given that it's supposed to be for sick people or people growing babies). I wrote many posts for Pajiba and UPROXX while sitting in that hospital room, wanting to share the experience.

The people were around us were amazing. The nurses were sweet and kind, and the doctor who delivered the babies was a former artist who swore like a sailor and borrowed our documentary on Phil Ochs. She visited us daily, and we loved her profoundly. My wife barely had a chance to read a book during six weeks of bed rest because she had so many visits from friends, from family, from her amazing co-workers, visits that took up most of the day. The Pajiba staff were likewise terrific, picking up extra posts, sending along amazing care packages. You really never know how kind and generous people can be until you're put in a position like this.

But, incredibly, we made it, and the babies were delivered by (mandatory) Caesarian section, at 34 weeks and 1 day, on Valentine's Day 2012. As we had seen via ultrasound, the umbilical cords had tangled -- when we saw them at delivery, they looked like blood-soaked ponytails with a big knot tying them together. The girls each weighed around four and a half pounds, and they were immediately put on ventilators. Despite two courses of steroids, their lungs weren't quite ready for air. In a way, it was a nightmare scenario for a couple of pinko-hippy commies: A medicalized birth, ventilators, ultraviolet lights, tubes, and sensors. But in another way, given what we had come to understand was possible, it was the ideal scenario: They were both alive, as as more and more tests came back, it become apparent that there was nothing wrong with them besides simple prematurity. There would be no brain bleeds. No cerebral palsy. There would be no surgeries.

Then, magically, after three incredibly long weeks in the intensive care unit, our daughters came home, putting an end to one terrifying experience, and beginning a new, far more hopeful (and very exhausting) experience.

Today, those Valentine's Day miracle babies turn one. But the hero of this story, of course, is my wife, Mrs. Pajiba-hyphenate, who carried the babies for 34 weeks, the first 28 weeks of which she spent throwing up, and that last six weeks of which she spent in a hospital bed, fretting and worrying in a panic-driven state of terror, who endured the emotional, physical, and psychological weight of carrying babies who were always one wrong flip away from sudden and unexpected death. Kubrick could not have designed a more twisted ordeal, but she came out of it, managed to maintain her sanity, and be the brilliant, loving, and nurturing mother to my children and the wife no one could deserve.

Happy Valentine's Day.

In the Intensive Care Unit


On the Day they Came Home




The TV Loves That May Never Be, and Ones That Got Away: A Seriously Valentine's List | The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

Are you following Pajiba on Facebook or Twitter? Every time you do, Bill Murray crashes a wedding.

Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Jemiah Jefferson

    Congratulations, mom and dad.

  • shyestviolet

    Oh, Lord. No words. Ain't life crazy?

  • Sirilicious

    I usually run fast and far from any valentine's day story (miracle or not). I was about to delete the tab unread after a few days on the to-read-pile. I am glad i didn't.

    I usually wish karma on the bad people i encounter, but even if you only get a dab of it, your family is set for DECADES of good luck. :o)

  • karstark

    I don't reply very often online. And I think I never have on this site. But your story moved me to tears. I am so happy for you guys.

  • ravingmadscientists

    Holy shit. Hardly anything gets to me, least of all pregnancy/childbirth stories, and NOTHING makes me cry. And right now, I'm fucking crying.
    Congratulations to you, your wife and your children and thank you for sharing. Stories like this make me proud to work in medicine.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Okay, I've almost recovered enough from my first read through last week to comment. Almost...

  • jsilver

    i too, read this site almost every day and have never commented. this was such a beautiful story, and thank you for sharing it. i am so happy for you, your wife, and your beautiful children. this is a true miracle.

  • Aaron Schulz


  • J

    I really enjoyed this article, and I swear I'm not crying now.

  • Abe Froman

    God dammit, Dustin - I generally don't even like kids, and I sit here bawling and smiling like an idiot. A deep and sincere congratulations to you and your wife, who really is a hero. Thanks for sharing your story!

  • emmelemm

    Never tell me the odds!

    Thanks, Dustin, for sharing the story. That is a true Valentine's Day miracle. (And I'm feeling some feels.)

  • vitaexcolatur

    I've never commented on this site either until now. You see, I work at a cord blood bank and usually speak with families who are expecting. It wasn't until recently that I met with a family who find themselves in this exact situation, Dustin. I had done a lot of research on how to speak with my now clients who are due to deliver their boys here in a few days. They're delivering at 32 weeks and I have now a much more profound respect on how the family is coping and persevering through this.

    I wanted to thank you for speaking candidly, openly and just brilliantly about this. It certainly has given me more appreciation of my job and being able to hopefully help family like yours should you ever need it.

  • blacksred

    Jesus, I am 9 weeks pregnant and this story made me cry so many happy tears. Thank you for Sharing. And Happy Birthday Girls!!

  • Malin

    The onions my husband is chopping in the kitchen appears to be affecting my eyes a lot more than usual. Every baby is a little miracle, but your gorgeous little girls are clearly more so. Wonderful story, thank you so much for sharing it. What a great reason to celebrate Valentine's Day. Best wishes to your entire family.

  • Rob

    You guys are amazing.

  • $173399

    Until I reached that climatic paragraph I did not realize I was holding my breath. It was at that point I exhaled and exclaimed out loud with tears of joy. Mazel Tov!

  • Adrienne Marie

    This story makes me wonder how my parents felt when I was born. Unlike Dustin, they didn't know anything was wrong with me.... Not that there was. But for some reason, I popped out nearly 3 months early, 1 lb. 9 oz. Doctors didn't think I was going to make it. I had no hair anywhere - no eyebrows or eyelashes. No nails. My eyes weren't open. Lungs also not fully functioning. They also thought my colon wasn't completely formed and that I would have to live with a colostomy bag my entire life if I survived; the doctors werenot very hopeful at this point. I had so many IVs coming out of my belly button, it created a hernia. For the first two months of my life, an incubator was my home. But, just like your adorable, healthy baby girls, something somewhere, wanted me to live. Today, I am 32 years old and the only consequence I had from being so severly premature is very week eye muscles. I have awful eyesight, and my left eye will turn in, especially when I get tired (or drunk). I'll take being cross-eyed over a colostomy bag, thank you.

    I'm so happy that your girls are heathy and beautiful.

  • willalee

    Mr. Rowles, I found Pajiba a few years ago, and immediately found a place that met my sensibilities. I may not agree with every movie or book review, and I do often find my political views don't sync up with most on the site, but I still enjoy reading every article on the site.
    I think this story that you have just shared with us is incredible and shows such a depth of love and bravery I felt compelled to comment. Sir, you and your wife are amazing individuals. Your story made me remember all of the anxiety that is associated with bringing offspring into the world. When my kids were gestating, every bad thing runs through your head. Your family was subjected to not just having all of the free floating doubt about the future, but also the unassailable "facts" of the medical profession to weigh you down and spin you to the dark places.
    You faced it and were rewarded by two absolutely beautiful girls who I'm sure will grow to be exemplary citizens of this planet. Your story also give me hope that this planet isn't so broken that it can't be fixed. Stories of friends and family and community going above and beyond for someone are rarely given more than a 30-second blip on a morning show or as the last story on the evening news after giving us a flood of conflict over gun control or healthcare or bi-partisan bickering.
    Thank you very much for sharing your story.

  • You guys are fucking rock stars. All five of you.

  • matbo

    This is the best Valentine's story ever. Best of luck to you and your beautiful family!

  • the dude

    I'm happy that you at least considered abortion for the sake of your child, yourselves and the twins. Some people don't realize it's the best way to go in many situations

  • Magiel

    *pinks away tear*

  • OdeToThee

    Fuhh...I...you...*sobs*...I'm sor...*sobs*

  • honeybeebomber

    Usually, when people inquire about my plans for my uterus, I reply with the Margaret Cho classic "I ovulate sand". I don't want kids (though I love other people's little ones), and I just can't fathom ever going through anything remotely close to what you and your heroic wife have experienced. I don't get all smushy about babies, I don't feel that ticking clock everyone talks about, I just... don't. My choice is a simple no. But damned if I didn't weep real tears of joy when I got to the bottom of that, and saw the photos of your girls. They are so beautiful. I sincerely want to thank you for sharing this - you made my sad, whiny singleton Valentine's Day so much better for sharing all of this love. My heart is full. May we all be so richly blessed.

  • Nana

    I, too, hardly ever comment even though I'm here every day. This story was fantastic and I want to thank you and your wife for sharing it with us.

  • wsapnin

    My baby was born the day before Valentine's Day and a nurse noticed she wasnt breathing properly. The hardest thing I ever had to do was leave the hospital without my baby. She turned 16 yesterday and as a sophomore in high school is being courted by Brown, Columbia, Northwestern & others too many to count. She is smarter now than I will ever be. But those few days she was in the nicu will never leave me. Blessings to you and your pretty girls Dustin.

  • James Rodgers

    Holy crap. I can't tell you how scary this story is. The most terrifying story I may have ever read. I've been thinking about having children and this sort of thing just shows you how something like that can be so horrowing. I'm very proud of you and your wife. Congratulations two you both! I'm not sure I could have survived something like that.

  • Goldfish

    I was doing an ok job of holding it together. Until that picture of your girls. Wonderful story. Wonderful outcome. Congrats.

  • misslucyjane

    This is a beautiful story, Dustin. Thank you for sharing it.

  • annoyinglittletwerp

    So let me get this straight, had Tiller-the- Killer not been shot-you might have considered availing yourselves of his 'services'. I'm delighted that your babies were okay in the end-but the fact that you even CONSIDERED partial-birth(or ANY) abortion shows that you two have evil hearts. Are you going to someday tell those kids that you considered murdering one of them in the womb? Those little one's deserved better than you.

  • Sara Habein

    Way to skim, asshole.

  • Sara Habein

    Happy, Happy Birthday, Pajiba-Twin-Miracles.

    And so many congratulations to you and the missus and the Lil Pajiban. I had known it was a difficult pregnancy by the little bit you said before, but I didn't know HOW much. Holy cow. You two are stars for making it through.

  • 724wd

    though i've never met you, nor probably never will, i'm glad you girls are healthy! my 2 year old son was born at 28.5 weeks, all 2 pounds 9 ounces of him. our 5 year old daughter spent more time in the hospital waiting room than one should, but happily we're all stronger for it! congratulations to you and your family!

  • Uriah_Creep

    Great, now I'm all verklempt, and I don't get verklempt. Thanks a lot, Rowles.

    But this was my favorite article of yours, ever. Very well written, and very moving.

    And Happy Birthday, Tootsie and Cinnamon.

  • bleujayone

    Words cannot adequately express the congratulations I have for your family's milestone. And perhaps I could not fully appreciate some of what went through without going through a little bit stress at trying to become parents ourselves. That said, it is always inspiring to not only hear about someone else finding the courage going through it, but to bravely discuss it with others too. It makes my sharing that much easier.

    After all the heartbreaks from the false starts and misfires the Mrs and I experienced trying to have a child of our own, we decided to hold off from telling anyone the last time she got pregnant. Too many times we had to tell family and friends we had to rescind our announcement. Too many pre-birth gifts or comments that reminded us of what we lost. For us, this was the last "first" attempt we would have. If we couldn't see this through we would just start considering other options. My wife, ever the rock, never outwardly expressed the sorrow and disappointment she felt. Never wanted to discuss the possibility it wasn't meant to be and didn't want to discuss anything other than trying just one last time. We decided not to allow ourselves to get as worked up over this pregnancy as previous attempts until we knew for sure it was going to work. Nobody knew anything was going on until it was almost all over with. I have no doubt people suspected, but nobody dared ask us. And for almost eight months, we were keeping our potential joys and terror in check, trying our best to prepare for either outcome. But I won't lie when I say the thought of everything going pear-shaped yet again scared the hell out of us even if we dared not speak it out loud. We followed the doctor's instructions to the letter, prepared as though all was well and we waited....

    About five weeks before the due date, I finally allowed myself to accept that this one would be the one that works. In that moment, I got a full-blown case of the first-time parent willies. Nothing panicky so much as months of previously bottled up anticipation and excitement all exploding at once. We were going to have a baby, we were going to be parents and we were no longer going to be a couple; we were going to be a family.

    I won't bore you with the details of the labor. Suffice to say it is one of the greatest things I've ever bear witness to. My wife was a rockstar in the face of a very difficult and painful birth. She had lost over a liter of blood due to a third degree tear and her blood pressure dropped to almost nothing. We went from two nurses and one doctor, to 17 mostly doctors filling the room trying to stop the hemorrhaging. They handed me our daughter and told me to sit aside with my shirt off skin to skin with the baby under a blanket while I watched numbly as the room looked like a small slaughterhouse. We had finally gotten what we had been begging for and here I was looking like I might be about to lose my heart and soul moments later. Three hours and 30 stitches later. My wife was patched up, though she would be severely anemic for the next four months. The room was finally cleared of the scrubs and there we were. The two new parents staring at the new little person wrapped up in a blanket like a burrito staring back silently through her clear plexiglass bed. Not crying, just looking and blinking at us with new eyes. Not a sound between the three of us, until she sneezed three times and yawned.

    I should have realized then this would be the last quiet moment we would likely be having for a long, long time. But in that time, I just wanted to finally take in that all was well after a ride that all the attractions at every amusement park combined couldn't equate. Not a day has gone by that I don't look at the two greatest loves of my life. Entry into parenthood has been a hardship and I have no doubt there will more trials and tribulation along the way. I gladly sally forth into this responsibility with open eyes and heart full of equal parts ambition and ignorance. On March 25th, our Baby Bleuberry will be a year old, although the little milk monster is already in 18-month clothes. I think I'm going to invest in a basketball hoop in the driveway. I thought the day I married my best friend that I could never love another girl as much as her. Thankfully, I was wrong. To this day I have yet to describe to giant tinfoil ball of emotions all mashed together in one giant wad. But I think that entire day is one of those moments that will stay with me the rest of my days.

    PS- like finally arriving at the end of a harrowing amusement park ride...the wife asks when we might go on this ride again....she is the braver (crazier) one after all.

  • Bodhi

    I just through my first trimester with twins. We were surprised that I was pregnant again & flat fucking shocked that there are 2 in there this time. The first question I asked at the ultrasound (through a flood of tears) was if they were in separated by a membrane/ in different sacs because I remember googling monoamniotic last year when your girls were born (there is an image of a Gordian knot of umbilical cords in one of the articles, fyi)

    I have been super stressed out thinking about all the expensive crap we have to do now (move, buy a new car, & all the baby crap you need x2), but this has helped me remember that the most important thing is that the family is happy and HEALTHY. So thanks for that. And happy birthday, little ones :-)

  • Pinky McLadybits

    Congratulations! BABIES!!!

  • Bodhi

    Thanks! :-)

  • Thank you for sharing your story. Happy Valentine's Day, Ma and Pa Jiba, and all the baby Jibas.

  • e jerry powell

    I am GAGGING from the cuteness! They are cute-ing me to death.

    There. I died.

    I am tearing from the story.

  • ellcoolj

    So much happens in a year, that it is good to be reminded of how those amazing girls got to where they are. Congrats on making my V-Day night a teary one

  • grace b

    Damn Rowles this is crazy intense. I've been reading here since '08 and while my reading has slowed down in the last year or two, this was a powerful and intense read. You must be so proud. Amazing, amazing stuff.

  • sian8470

    Like a couple others here have said, I never comment but devour the site every day.
    What a wonderful story and thank you for sharing. Happy birthday to the babies and all the joy in the world to you and your wife.

  • Dustin, thank you for sharing this story. My youngest daughter was born 13 weeks premature and spent the first 9 weeks of her life in NICU...and I found out while I was out of town conducting a concert (so my wife had to go through terrifying early labor alone with an equally terrified but incredibly brave five year old). The nine weeks after that all night drive to get back to my family were difficult, harrowing and worrying beyond belief, but we were incredibly lucky to have great doctors and nurses helping our little one, who has had no physical complications from her ordeal.

    Which is to say, I totally know about your fear, even though it's from a different angle. Your girls are gorgeous and incredibly lucky and, indeed, a miracle, even if not necessarily a divine one (they're a miracle of odds bucking, incredible care and incredible patience and competence on the part of your medical team). You should never, EVER, be afraid of sharing that story again. Seriously.

  • RevBrandy

    Absolutely amazing. Happy Valentine's Day, indeed.

  • I love stories that have a happy ending. Congratulations on your beautiful family!

  • Eyvi

    I don't read Pajiba as often as I used to and comment, well, never. But this, this it's just amazing and deserves comment.

    You and your wife are both amazing. To be able to continue to live day to day without falling into a hole of pity and despair is a miracle in itself.

    Happy birthday to your beautiful little girls and congratulations to you and your wife.

  • bonnie

    Thanks for sharing your family's incredible story with us, Dustin. THIS is what makes Pajiba a great place.

  • Well, now I'm a crying mess. Damn, they're beautiful.

  • KateNonymous

    You have incredibly beautiful daughters. Just incredibly beautiful.

  • hasta

    Holy. Fuckin'. Shit.

  • Counsel McCullen

    Just like Tpersh, this is the first time I have ever commented on a Pajiba article and I have read this site everyday for the past three years. I feel compelled to say thank you, Mr. Rowles, for sharing that story. This is the type of story you love to hear and treasure reading. You told it beautifully and, although I have never met you, I am incredibly happy for your wife, your son, your two daughters, and you to have come out of such a terrifying experience with an intact, healthy family. Your daughters, especially, are lucky to have such great parents. Thank you again for sharing.

  • jon29

    The important thing is that my co-workers aren't laughing at me for crying at my desk. (lie)

    Happy birthday to your girls.

  • beletseri

    Just adding my good wishes and curses for all the crying. This totally made my Valentine's day, thank you. Also you have some adorable twins.

  • JeanUK

    Glory be to God. Whoa!

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Gods, Rowles, you and your wife are lucky SOBs. All the best wishes for those two cute girls.

  • DMA

    A wonderful story. Happy birthday to your girls, and I hope they enjoy the happiest of lives.

  • SeaKat Stabler

    Thank you for sharing this. I checked the site first thing this morning before the rest of the family was awake.

    When I was done wiping my tears, I started my day with a heart full of gratitude for the family I'm so lucky to have and probably take for granted too easily and too often. So thank YOU, sir, for that lovely Valentine's Day gift.

    And all the best to your family. You guys deserve it.

  • No Pithy Name

    Mrs. Pithy Name and I went through a tough pregnancy where we had to make the hard decisions. Our circumstances were different in that this was probably the only chance my then 39 year-old wife would ever have a child. Now, almost ten years later we have a beautiful, flawless little lady.

    I had originally intended to NOT share any part of our story, not even the little bit above, But I realized that Pajiba, and this sounds trite, has become an important part of my life. I don't "know" any of you people, but I feel like I KNOW you.

    So keep up the snark, the boobies and the think pieces. I'll keep coming around to visit.

  • No Pithy Name

    Oh, and Rowles? Good work on those pretty ladies. All three of them.

  • jmd

    Awwww, all the feels! Congratulations to you and Mrs. R! Happy Valentine birthday to your little ones! Now I need to do some serious cleaning in here, don't know where all this sand and dust came from <snif>.

  • yocean

    That's an amazing amazing story of a miracle. I'm so happy for you that they are healthy beautiful babies. Thank you for sharing on this beautiful day!

    Since we are sharing pregnancy stories, and since it's my parents wedding anniversary today, let me share the story of how I almost dies the day I was born:

    It was full moon when my mother went into labor. They have been going to a midwife for five month and been trained in something called Bradley method of husband coached, midwife-mediated natural childbirth (they were ginormous hippies).
    But when they got there and my mother’s water broke some myconium coloring showed, which is a fancy way of saying that I have crapped myself inside her. Though it did not look too significant, it indicated there might be a fetal trauma. So, my parents had to change their plan and take a trip to San Francisco General Hospital, which remains to be a hospital of choice for homeless and destitute.
    So quality of doctor there is hit or miss, at best. My mother’s attending
    physician was a woman, which elated my father, not because she was a hot
    lesbian, but because he thought she would be more caring. Wrong. This doctor wanting to make her friend’s birthday party was impatient to just get done and leave and rarely checked in with the birth much. The midwife they had was on her 3rd delivery in 24 hours and 10th cup of coffee. She was so exhausted she ran directly into the edge of the delivery room door when she entered. Clearly I was in good hands.

    Because of the car accident that killed three of her friends, my mother’s pelvic nerves were damaged and her contraction stopped when I crowned at 3 am. The doctor, wanting to quicken the process, administered my mother
    with I.V. Pitocin, a kind of hormonal oxytocin that would stimulate the
    contraction and make my mother pump the baby, i.e. me, out quick. Then she
    left, just like that, leaving my mother flapping around like a fish out of
    water because of the large dosage, way too much for someone who is not American or over 5 foot. This, my mother jumping up and down like she got Satan break-dancing in her, did not look like a normal thing to my farther, so when it seemed safe to do so, after I was born finally at 6 am and residual
    contractions seem to be subsiding, my father took the matter to his own hand
    and turned off the Pitcin drips. But the damage was already done, as they say.

    Now, at that point my parents, already a bit paranoid authority-hating hippies, decided they cannot trust the doctors anymore and did the only logical thing; they run out with me in their arms. If it weren’t for the doctors calling my parents and urging them to come back, I would have died that day. The doctor told them that I needed to have an operation performed right away. Due to the over-dose of labor-inducing drug, too much residual blood got rushed into me from placenta causing severe jaundice. I was quite yellow, too yellow, even considering I’m half Asian. The good thing was, when my parents went back to the hospital, they had a different female doctor this time. She was quite beautiful, really beautiful,and her skills were as good as her looks. I was put under bilirubin lights, a blue UV lights used to help my infant liver break down excess hemoglobin in my blood. But I remained quite yellow and severely jaundiced, so after three days I underwent an operation where tubes were attached to my umbilical cord vessels-one to the artery and the other to the vein- from which 1/3 his blood volume was removed, centrifuged to remove all solids except plasma, and the plasma reintroduced into my body. And thus, thanks to the beautiful doctor, I made my first healthy response to this world, a burp. I still had to be put me under the bilirubin lights for next four days or so. So, I was under intense lights for the total of seven days right after birth.

    After the surgery I was given a series of startle and other neural test by a female MD who researching the subject for her PhD, She was pretty sure a
    child born under such traumatic situation might have some nerve or most
    possibly brain damage. Boy was she wrong. When I began to crawl I dragged my right arm and leg for weeks but that had passed and I grew up fine and normal, other than very sensitive nervous system which does not well tolerate caffeine or other stimulating drugs.

    Now I am a healthy 34 years old, though used to have a tiny hole in heart. I am not sure what is the point in sharing all this but I think that with proper care and loving parents anything is possible and possibility, I believe, is the essence of romance. And those kids were lucky to have such strong parents and amazing doctors, as I were partly. So happy Valentine Days again :)

  • Lauren_Lauren

    (that was so touching, I didn't even spell my emotion right)

  • Nicolae

    Having known someone who didn't beat the odds, it's nice to know there are those who do. Thanks for sharing.

  • Guest

    Beautiful, heartbreaking story. I'm so glad everyone came out of this ordeal all right! Your girls are absolutely beautiful, your son is adorable, your wife is a superhero, and you are simply fantastic. I'm so very relieved and happy for you and your family. Best. Valentine's. Gift. Ever.

  • Louise et Lotte

    I'm a half of a monochorionic pair of twins. The other half is giggling behind me as I write. We use "we" a lot, and were sort of miracle kids ourselves, 21 years ago, when the sonographer looked up to our parents and said: "I'm afraid... they're twins". My father stoped listening after the afraid part. They had lost our brother after a 6 months-long pregnancy.
    He also has pictures with a baby in each arm.
    As we grew up, we had to put up with a lot of people asking "are you twins?". Tell your kids to be patient. It's beyond their control.
    Having a twin is mostly awesome (yeah, she's still reading). Tell them to stick together and watch the older version of Parent Trap (with Hayley Mills).

    We wanted to say, we're glad for you and we're glad for them. We were so moved by your story. Congratulations.

    Next year, my sis is going to leave home in order to finish her degree in Germany (she's a proto engineer and I'm a proto doctor). I'm going to miss her so very much. In the meantime:


    All our love to your daughters.

  • Samantha Klein

    *sob* They are beautiful, as are you all. Happy Valentine's Day, indeed.

  • tbusidan

    Holy shit it took every ounce of self control that I could muster to not scroll to the bottom and find out if this story had a happy ending. As a first time father of a happy/healthy 9 month old, I can't imagine what you guys went through. Congrats on the beautiful twins!

  • tbusidan

    just realized that the title of this story should have clued me in but I got lost in the drama...

  • anikitty

    While I don't know you, I totally love you and your family. Thank goodness for large miracles.

  • <3 <3

    This story has reduced me to emoticons.

  • An invisible man just ran in my office and punched me in the nose. That's the only explanation for these feels.

    Seriously Dustin, what an amazing story. Thank you for sharing it with us, and an extremely happy birthday to your beautiful daughters.

  • BAM


  • Louise

    Ok, I'm crying.

    I'm so happy for all of you -- and I also want to tell you that I supported you throughout the story, when you were at all phases of this experience. Thank you for sharing all of the emotions and the facts and the decisions. Your children are blessed with wonderful parents.

  • AngelenoEwok

    I've heard a lot stories about pregnancy in the past few years, from the most giddily happy and hopeful to the most dismally heartbreaking. I sometimes worry I'll get hardened and cynical with "I've heard it all" syndrome, but THIS story reduced me to a quivering lump of feeling all the feels. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Melody

    I don't comment much these days, but this made me have feelings. I'm so delighted the girls are doing so well and Mrs. Pajiba-hyphenate is doing good as well. Enjoy this first of many, many more birthdays to come with your adorable little miracles girls. And oh so many hugs to you and the Mrs. today.

  • Tinkerville

    This made me cry in the best of ways. So happy for you and your family and those are two unbelievably beautiful girls.

  • Belkwinith

    Come to Pajiba for the snark, stay for the love.

  • stardust

    Dustin, I don't think I even have the words to describe how happy I am for you and your family. I remember when you first posted about them and this made my heart pound all over again. Happy Valentine's Day. I'm so happy you get to spend it with your beautiful, now larger, family.

  • AlannaJudith

    I finished reading this as I got an email showing me my brand new niece! Valentine's Day babies are the best!

  • Drake

    Congratulations to your wife, you, your son, and your two beautiful little girls. You are all braver than me.

  • OldSchool60

    ...also, I think your wife is secretly 'Wonder Woman'.

  • OldSchool60

    Cutest babies in the world!
    [...except for my kids.]

  • brite

    Thank you Dustin (and family) for sharing this....I am awed at your perseverance, love and belief in the positive. Also those girls are too adorable.

  • L.O.V.E.

    I promise myself I don't cry. Promise broken.


  • Kballs

    I recognize those incubator pictures. Ours were in there for 10 days and lost a pound each in the 24 hours after birth. So, so tiny. I had to be so careful because it was like picking up a loaf of bread and I could barely feel their weight in my hands. As I'm sure you did, I wept with relief when I first held them.

    Our terrifying moment came when the babies were being born. The boy was much lower and came out first. No problems, powerful crying, all the good stuff. They brought him around so we could see him. Healthy kid.

    The girl, however, was pushed so high up that she was pressing on my wife's lungs. While they're rooting around trying to get her down far enough to birth her, my wife starts hyperventilating and turning pale as her lips turned purple. I'm whispering soothing words, trying to calm her down while the lady monitoring her med levels started moving much, much faster. I've never seen so many plungers of medicine administered so quickly. After what seemed like forever, we were told the girl was out . . . no crying . . . no sounds . . . and after about 10 seconds I shot up from my seat and looked over the curtain they put up around my wife's chest to shield us from the gore of a c-section. Our daughter was blue, limp, and being administered with CPR. My wife is staring straight at me, asking what was going on, and I am literally speechless. After a few more seconds she jerked and let out this weak little cry that just about broke my fucking heart. They rushed her out without bringing her around for viewing and immediately hooked her up to ventilators and machines of all kinds. It took a couple of hours for her to stabilize but she made it through without any physical issues.

    The point of this story is to tell you, Dustin, that my moment of sheer terror at seeing my daughter's tiny limp body is what I imagine you felt for months on end and I salute you for your courage. I would've collapsed under that kind of constant pressure. Congratulations on your beautiful little girls.

  • Bodhi

    I find this both terrifying & uplifting. I just got through my first trimester with twins & my husband & I often can't tell whether we are excited or overwhelmed.

  • Kballs

    And one more thing. ***Ignore this if you have kids already***

    If the twins are your first kids, I strongly recommend getting them on a rigid sleeping and feeding schedule right away or you will lose your mind. Nothing else is as important. Nothing.

  • Bodhi

    Even though they will be numbers 2 & 3, I totally plan on doing this! Our son will barely be 2 when the critters get here.

    3 kids under 3, what have we done??

  • Kballs

    It's funny how it works. The boy is healthy as a horse and rarely sick. The girl needs nebulizer treatments during every cold and had 7 ear infections by the age of 1. We put tubes in and she's been fine since but her little survival system isn't quite clicking on all cylinders. She's the Danny DeVito of the pair, if you catch my drift.

  • KellsBells

    Me too! Everything you just said.

  • This destroyed me also. I'm so glad your kiddos are ok :)

  • LaineyBobainey

    And congratulations on your healthy babies, KBalls!

    PS: We miss you in the otherwhere.

  • Kballs

    Thanks, Lainey! I have little to no access to the otherwhere anymore but think of you guys often.

  • Melody

    Seriously, you are missed.

  • Tinkerville

    Much like Dustin's experience, I can't even imagine what that must have been like and I'm truly happy for you and your family. At the risk of sounding cliche, the majority of the news I read about is depressing and makes me want to crawl in a hole and not come out, so stories like these really are heartwarming and uplifting, even if I don't actually know any of you in person.

  • Kballs

    Mine was a few moments of absolute terror. I've never felt anything like it and hope to never experience it again. However, the unrelenting dread Dustin and his wife had to endure throughout the pregnancy is unreal. It makes me sick to my stomach just thinking about it.

  • Slash

    Goddam that's fucking horrible and congratulations for it turning out so well. Cute kids.

    Why are you surprised people politicize this? Assholes do that to everything. The religiozealots want to control every single aspect of our lives. From pre-conception to death.

  • Kelly

    Happy Birthday beautiful baby girls! Dustin, thank you for sharing their birth story with us. And to echo an earlier commenter - your wife is indeed a superhero.

  • TK

    Here's one more amazing thing: my wife was pregnant at the same time as Mrs. Pajiba-Hyphenate, and it was our first baby and we were nervous as first timers are. And the Rowleses, despite all this madness, were a constant source of support and inspiration and kindness for us.

    Which is one more reason why I've never been happier for them, and why ill never get tired of the story of these kiddos.

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