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We found out we were pregnant back in December, just before Christmas 2007. On April 10, 2008 at 20 weeks along, we went in for our scheduled ultra sound. Our pregnancy had been uneventful up until that day when we found out we had conjoined twin boys. There is no way to prepare yourself for that kind of news.

We had been kind of joking around with the tech before hand telling her we didn’t want to know if the baby was a boy or a girl. Within the first 2 minutes of the ultrasound, she cut us off and said “That’s fine, but I need to tell you something. There is a problem and I have to tell you now. It is twins and they are conjoined." We just broke down immediately, and I think I said “What?!" She left the room for a few minutes and then came back and said she would take some measurements and then put us in a room to wait for a doctor to see us. We spent the next hour and a half in a waiting room by ourselves crying, just in shock. We couldn’t stop crying, and we knew nothing. I really thought that the babies were probably so deformed they just didn’t know what to tell us, since they had told us nothing at all.

Finally they put us in an exam room and a doctor came in for a short time. He said they were conjoined twins, joined at the torso and they would have to refer us to a high risk group. He had tried to reach the group by phone but had not been able to, but offered to walk downstairs personally and ask if they could see us right away. That sounded great to us, as we needed information in the worse possible way.

About an hour later we went in for another ultrasound at the high risk group. There the tech had at least seen conjoined twins once before, in her twenty year career. She told us they were boys and that they have their own kidneys, legs, arms, heads, necks but that in the middle at the torso they are conjoined and it got very confusing at that point. She spent about two hours trying to figure out if there were two stomachs, two bladders, two hearts, two livers and came to the conclusion they shared a liver and she just couldn’t tell about the heart. At some angles it looked like two, and at other angles it looked like one big one.

They scheduled us for a fetal echo for the next week, so we had a grueling weekend to get through just waiting for more information. The cardiologist had never seen conjoined twins before, either. She was very honest with us, and said she just wasn’t sure what they had, but it looked to her like one large heart with good great arteries going to both boys. She suggested we go to Philadelphia and let them take a look.

So after another long week and weekend, we went to see a team of specialists in Philadelphia. There we learned that the boys share a three chambered heart and a liver. They told us in Philadelphia that separation was not possible due to the organs they shared and to come home to deliver so that we would be with our support group. We were so heart broken. We left the office in shock and spent that night in a hotel room discussing everything we should have asked the doctor, but hadn’t thought of at the time. Luckily for us, they agreed to meet us the next morning and sit down with us again for a question and answer session.

We had been offered the option of terminating the pregnancy both in Knoxville and in Philadelphia. One of the questions we had that morning was for them to explain to us exactly how they would terminate, if we chose to do that. They answered us very honestly, and we knew immediately we could not do what they were offering. They did say that a c-section might be an option at this point, since I was so far along, but that we would have to get someone to agree to do it. We later learned when we got back to Knoxville that it would be very risky, the babies would not stand a chance, and it would have to be by vertical c-section. We quickly decided this was not an option for us, as well.

We are now 28 weeks, going into June. We spent the last few weeks in a state of shock and possibly denial. We just got back from seeking a second opinion in Washington DC. Our goal is to have a safe delivery and give our boys every possible chance at survival. We need to be in a hospital that we can find peace and comfort with the doctor’s ability, as well as their experience. This just doesn’t happen very often, so finding an “expert" in conjoined twins is not like finding the best cardiac surgeon that does heart surgery all the time. The most experienced might have delivered two sets of conjoined twins.

We have been so fortunate to get the help of other parents of conjoined twins. We first contacted the Shaws via email. They were so quick to jump to our aide. We talked to them on the phone for at least and hour that first conversation, and she asked if she could give our number to a friend of hers that also helped her when she was going through exactly what we are going through. The next day The Buckles called us, and they were so wonderful to us. They also spent a couple hours with us on the phone that next night. It is because of the Shaws and the Buckles that we found the courage to get a second opinion, and go to Washington, D.C.

The doctors in D.C. did give us the same diagnosis for the boys that we got in Philadelphia, and we were expecting that. We were searching for answers as far as to how to best deliver and what will be safest for me and the babies. We also want to have more children, so that is also weighing in on our decision. We did learn more about delivery as well as my current health and related complications to this pregnancy that we were not aware of. We were treated so well in Washington, everyone from the staff to the doctors were absolutely amazing to us. We felt at home there and it was sad when we left. The doctors there felt we should be able to do this safely here, and we respect them so much we felt it necessary to come home and seek that option out. We also want to be near our families and friends. We want to sleep in our own beds and be able to bring the boys home to their beautiful nursery if they are healthy enough to leave the hospital. Everyone we encountered in D.C. we will always hold dear to our heart and be forever thankful for having them be a part of this awesome journey.

We are now faced with a few important decisions. Huge decisions, actually. We will have to decide when to deliver and where to deliver. We will talk to our doctors here this week and decide if we are comfortable enough to stay here to deliver, or if we will be returning to Washington, D.C.

We want what God wants, above all. Our babies are miracles to us, no matter if they survive minutes, hours, days or weeks. They have made us stronger and made us rely on each other for everything. They have brought us to our knees in prayer, and made our faith in God stronger. They have touched many people, people we do not even know are praying for us and Joshua and Caleb every day. Even though they can not be separated, that doesn’t change the miracle of the gift they are to us. We want only the best for them. They are God’s babies, and we want his will for them. We trust in God to lead us through this and we thank him for allowing us the opportunity to love these babies.

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