Monday, December 4, 2017

This is the beautiful story and testimony of my sweet neighbor.
The Lord knows each of us.

Libby (left), Kristin, Shawn, and Mallory (right)

Shawn’s and my life changed completely on January 7, 2004.  It was the day our twins girls were born. It was the day we had been anticipating for months, even though it arrived sooner than we had planned. I need to go back about six months, to July, when I had a blood test done. I was scheduled for surgery to replace my pacemaker. (I was born with a complete heart block that has required a pacemaker since I was 19 years old.)

When the nurse told me the results were positive I remember thinking, “Positive for what?  What disease do I have?”

I had done about 10-12 pregnancy tests in the previous months and all of them had been negative. The most recent one was done at my OB/GYN office two weeks before. At that time, they put me on birth control pills in an attempt to get my cycle regular so they could put me on fertility medication in the Fall. Well, to say the least I was shocked. After the shock I was so excited and called Shawn to tell him the good news. Then it hit me: I was having surgery the next day! My battery was running out on my pacemaker and I am 100 percent dependent on it, so I needed it done.

I went in the next morning for the surgery.  Due to the pregnancy I couldn’t be under a general anesthetic, so they just numbed the area, leaving me wide awake throughout the entire procedure. That was a very long two hours! Through all of it, i just kept telling myself I was going through this for the baby.

A week later Shawn and I went camping with my family to Bear Lake. We got home Sunday evening and I was just laying on the couch resting. I got up and felt a rush of liquid going down my legs. I knew pregnant ladies could have some bladder control problems, but I thought this was a little early for that! I got into the bathroom and realized it was blood. I was scared I was miscarrying.

I called the OB doctor on call. He was so nice and told us he would meet us at his office. Here it was, 10:00pm on a Sunday night. He did an ultrasound and said the heartbeat was strong. I was so happy and relieved that I didn’t even hear what else he was telling me. Shawn kept waiting to see my reaction.

The doctor had just told us there were two heartbeats; we were having twins! The doctor said it three times before it registered.

There was a second shock: I was already 10 ½ weeks along! With all my negative pregnancy tests, I assumed I must just barely be pregnant.  What a wonderful night, not only finding out everything was okay with the baby(ies), but we were having two of them and a lot sooner than we thought.

That night, even before I had called the OB, I called my mom. So I called her again to tell her the news and that everything was okay.  She said she wasn’t surprised. After she had gotten off the phone with me earlier she had knelt down and prayed. She told me that she had an overwhelming feeling that it would all be okay and that there were going to be two babies in there. I never seem to be able to surprise her.

The next several months went along pretty smoothly and were uneventful. I just grew bigger and bigger! Shawn and I were getting more and more excited, yet I was very worried I would not be up to the task of taking care of two babies.

Fast forward to Christmas day, I wasn’t feeling very well which I figured was probably normal since I was coming close to the end of my pregnancy. I was just big, uncomfortable, and very tired. We were spending Christmas with my family. My mom is a nurse and kept checking my blood pressure throughout the day. It kept creeping up and up. I still wasn’t too worried, but my mom called Labor and Delivery and we were told to come right in. Again, I just thought everyone was overreacting, but Shawn and I packed up and headed to the hospital. During the examination, one of the nurses said, “You guys could be having some babies tonight.” Shawn and I looked at each other and I thought, “Oh no, this is a big deal!” I think some of assumptions that things are not that big of a deal is my lifetime of health issues, and that I’m just used to it.  But I had two other little people to worry about now!

Thankfully, we were sent home from the hospital, but I was put on full bedrest. I also had to go to the hospital daily for nonstress tests to monitor the babies. I would usually be there for hours, sometimes up to eight, because the babies wouldn’t react, especially “Baby A”.

Two more weeks went by and I was seeing the doctor on January 6th. The doctor asked if my ears had been burning that morning because his group had been discussing my case. They all felt it was time to take the babies. My blood pressure and protein had been getting higher and I had preeclampsia. I was now at thirty-five weeks. The goal had been thirty-four weeks, so I had made it an extra week. Yay!!!!

I had the babies via C-section the next morning. As soon as they were taken, it was clear that there was something wrong. The babies had what is called a Twin-to-Twin Transfusion. This happens when one baby is getting all the nutrients. We were so lucky that I had gone into preeclampsia since that made them take the babies early.
We were told that, if I had gone another week, “Baby A” (Libby) would have been a stillborn and very likely “Baby B” (Mallory), also.

When women talk about  the birth of their children being the best day of their lives, I really can’t relate to that. I was so sick and felt so drugged up I wasn’t even able to hold my babies. Libby was taken to the NICU in the hospital, but Mallory needed to be transported to another hospital to be put on a ventilator because she had a collapsed lung. That night, I was able to be wheeled down to the NICU to see Libby and hold her for the first time. She was only 4 lbs and I felt so weak I was afraid I was going to drop her.

After a few days I started feeling better except that every time I laid down I felt like I was suffocating. The night before I was to be discharged, I asked the nurse if she would listen to my lungs. The month before I had had pneumonia and I was wondering if it was coming back. The next thing I knew, there were several doctors there and they had also brought in an X-ray machine. Then I was taken for a CT scan. As they wheeled me down the hall, we passed the NICU. I could see that there were several nurses standing around Libby’s isolet. I was scared something might be going wrong with her. I already felt like I had deserted Mallory since we were not in the same hospital and now I was leaving Libby.

After all the tests were done, they found that I had cardiomyopathy and was in congestive heart failure. I needed to be in the ICU myself. I just started to cry. I was so embarrassed! I was thinking, “What’s wrong with me?” I had dealt with a lifetime of health problems, so why was I breaking down now? All the emotions of the last several days with the babies and my hormones going crazy was triggering a panic attack. I was panicking that Shawn was going to leave me alone in the hospital. (He, of course, was not going to leave.)

I spent the next few days in ICU and was finally well enough to be released. During my time in the ICU, Mallory was able to be transported back to be in the same NICU with Libby.

Once the girls were back together, they started eating better and gaining weight.

The girls spent two more weeks in the hospital. We were so excited that they could finally come home and we could hold them without all the wires and monitors on them, but I was also terrified! Especially since I was still not feeling well.

In many ways those first few months are a blur. I was always so exhausted! Around 10:00 PM every night, I would get very sad and depressed because that used to be when I would go to bed, but with the babies I didn’t know when I would get to go to sleep. Shawn was always great to help me, but neither one of us was getting much sleep.  

When the girls were four months old, I was at an appointment with my cardiologist for a check up. My heart had not improved since having the babies, and he told me we should not have any more children and that my heart could not handle another pregnancy. At the time I felt so relieved that I never had to go through that again. In addition to the heart problems, I was suffering from postpartum depression. I loved my girls, and I was so grateful to have them, but I felt I was in a black hole and I couldn’t get out. I felt my life would never get easier.  

Well, life did get easier! We all settled into our new life and our new normal. Shawn and I worked out systems so we could get more sleep. One night when the girls were ten months old they were both asleep in their cribs and Shawn and I were sitting on the floor in their bedroom. I looked over at Shawn and said, “I think I’m starting to like them and like being a mom.” Of course, I always loved them, but through everything it just took me awhile to love where I was at.

In the moment, we sometimes don’t always recognize all the miracles that happen in our life, but we had so many miracles during that time. From being able to get pregnant without the help of fertility treatments to having twins when my heart could only handle one pregnancy, and so many others.

Sometimes you don’t know how you make it through, but I know how we did. It was Shawn and I working together and relying on the Lord.

Fourteen years later I’m happy to say that the girls are happy and healthy, and so am I!


  1. Kristin, I love your story! Thanks for sharing it! You and Shawn are such amazing people and we love those beautiful girls of yours!!

  2. Thank you for sharing your story! I’m also a twin mom who thought she was miscarrying and found out there were two babies. May God continue to bless your family as He has already!