If one sister’s heart rate sped up, so would the other’s. If one started to wiggle around, the other would, too. You were already holding hands as you were growing in my womb. You amazed the nurses and doctors at Sainte-Justine at every appointment. It was easy to mix you up on the ultrasound screen. They called you their little “mono mono twins” (short for “monochorionic-monoamniotic twins,” a statistical rarity). Adèle and Noella, here is your story.

We got the news on March 31, 2021, the day of my first ultrasound. “We’ve got a surprise for you this morning,” said the radiologist. “You’re carrying twins!” Feelings of shock, joy and panic rushed through me all at once. I would never have imagined having twins, until the day you chose me as your mother.

One of you had a higher-than-average nuchal translucency (NT) measurement, and both of you shared an amniotic sac, something that occurs in only 1% of identical twins. It became clear to me right away that things were going to get complex and complicated. That the path ahead for you, for us all, would not be smooth. I had been working at the CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation for five years, but that was the day I started to become acquainted with the medical world like never before.

Dr. François Audibert, OB/GYN, was waiting for us in his office. He was positive and confident about your health. He said what we were seeing could be due to a simple growth imbalance in the early stages of pregnancy because the placenta wasn’t evenly apportioned. He also informed us of the risks of this particular type of identical twin birth.

Your babies are sharing the same placenta and the same amniotic sac. That means they’ll be in close physical contact throughout their development. There are risks involved, especially if their umbilical cords become tangled.

François Audibert, MD

Obstetrician-Gynecologist
CHU Sainte-Justine

We had to go for broke. With all your acrobatics, there was a chance that your umbilical cords would twist up to the point of stopping one or both of your hearts from beating. And I couldn’t do a thing to prevent it. So I decided to trust you.

In addition to my many medical checkups, I underwent daily fetal monitoring as of week 28 to record your heart rate and my uterine contractions. Fortunately, under the GAREDO program at Sainte-Justine, I was entitled to home nursing care so I didn’t have to be admitted to the hospital. This is an invaluable service for expectant mothers, and one I know is made possible by donors’ generosity.

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The last heat wave of August was a very emotional time for your father and me. We couldn’t wait to meet you. And meet you we did, on a sun-filled August 27, at Sainte-Justine. Adèle and Noella, my darlings, you arrived happy and healthy at 33 weeks and 2 days, weighing in at 3 lb 9 oz and 4 lb 4 oz, respectively. Although you were born early, we knew it was safer that way. It marked your first victory. You sidestepped the very real risks of twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, perinatal mortality, birth defects, spontaneous preterm birth and umbilical cord accidents. Already, my heart is bursting with pride.

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Vous avez outrepassé les risques de syndrome transfuseur-transfusé, de mortalité périnatale, de malformations, de prématurité spontanée et d’accident de cordons. Déjà vous remplissez mon cœur de fierté.

You stayed under the watchful eye of the NICU teams at Sainte-Justine and Cité-de-la-Santé to make sure you gained weight, were getting enough nutrition and were able to regulate your body heat. You were sent home after 29 days.

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Doubly Grateful

Today, eight months later, my feet have yet to touch the ground. I’m floating on air. Being your mother is the most beautiful gift life could have given me. From the high-risk pregnancy unit to the NICU, I am eternally grateful to the medical teams at Sainte-Justine and the incredible community of donors who support them. Their donations are the reason the best care and the most sophisticated medical imaging, ultrasound, genetic testing, surgical and neonatal equipment are there for families.

My first Mother’s Day this year is twice as joyful. And for that, I owe a heartfelt debt of gratitude to Sainte-Justine. ♥

Fanny Huot-Duchesne
Mother and CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation employee

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*The remarks expressed in this article reflect the opinion solely of the author and should not be considered as representative of the CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation.