For many women, labor pain is the most excruciating pain they have ever felt in their life. But once they lay eyes on their newborn, the pain disappears and is instantly replaced by absolute joy and love.
Yet when one Irish mother welcomed a baby daughter into the world, she was filled with fear because of what was and what should have still been inside her…
When 34-year-old Maria Jones-Elliott and her husband Chris found out they were going to have a baby, they were thrilled about the news. The couple already had two children together, Olivia and Jack, but had always wanted to have more kids.
The First Scan
At 7 weeks pregnant, Maria went in for her first scan, which confirmed that she pregnant. Yet as Maria and Chris looked at the monitor, they noticed something unusual during the scan that they never saw during their previous pregnancies…
A Welcome Surprise
“During the scan I was looking at the screen and because I’d had two other pregnancies I expected to see a round circle with a tiny blob – but this time there was a line going through it,” Maria explained. “I said, ‘What’s the line?’ and the nurse said, ‘Oh, congratulations. It looks like twins.’”
Runs In The Family
“I always felt I was going to have twins – even when I found out I was pregnant Chris said ‘that’ll be twins, then’ as they run in the family,” said Maria. For the next few months, the pregnancy was going great. Unfortunately, the second half of the pregnancy didn’t go so smoothly…
When Maria was 23 weeks and 5 days along, she started experiencing extreme pressure on her abdomen while she was at work. “I thought that must be normal as I was having twins. But I was worried enough to get an appointment with my GP.”
Once Maria got to the doctor, he began examining her and discovered something was seriously wrong. The doctor explained that she needed to get straight to the hospital, and just a few hours later, Maria discovered the terrifying reason why…
Just a few hours later, Maria’s water broke and she was immediately admitted to the hospital, where doctors told her she was in labor. “The doctors told me there was very little hope of them surviving as they were so premature,” Maria said.
For the next 2 days, Maria went through an exhausting labor before finally giving birth to baby Amy on June 1, which was nearly 4 months before her September 21 due date. Amy weighed just a pound and 3 ounces and doctors feared that even if she did survive, she would have long-term disabilities…
“Amy was rushed to intensive care. I was exhausted but it wasn’t over – there was another child and so I had to focus,” Maria said. However, after giving birth to Amy, the contractions suddenly stopped even though Maria was still pregnant.
Letting Nature Take Its Course
The next day, doctors tried to induce labor to deliver Katie, but it didn’t work. The doctors had never seen anything like it, but Maria and Chris had had enough. Instead of trying to induce again, they decided to keep Katie where she was for as long as possible…
“Generally when a woman begins delivering twins, the uterus contracts and expels both babies within an hour,” said Dr. Eddie O’Donnell, a consultant obstetrician at Waterford Regional Hospital who led the delivery team. “But Maria’s uterus stopped contracting and Katie was left in the womb. At first, we began to induce Katie’s birth but Maria’s uterus stopped contacting – a rare event – so we decided it was safer for Katie to stay where she was and let nature take its course.”
It should have been one of the best days of Maria’s life. Instead, she was petrified since both of her girls were fighting for their lives. Maria couldn’t wait to see Amy for the first time, but when nurses and doctors finally allowed her into the NICU four days later, she burst into tears when she saw Amy in the incubator. She was impossibly small and covered in tubes…
“I touched my bump and made the vow I would get Katie out safe and well and the girls would be together,” said Maria, who spent as much time with Amy as possible and praying for her two girls. At times, it was all too much for Maria to bare. But Maria kept thinking about her girls and found the strength to keep going.
“Amy was fighting for life in an incubator and Katie was struggling to survive in my womb,” Maria said. “But Chris kept saying, ‘Where there’s life there’s hope.’” Five weeks later, Maria was finally allowed to hold Amy and her heartbeat stabilized instantly…
A Good Sign
“Her little feet rested on the top of my bump. I remember stroking my bump at the same time, hoping for a miracle. Katie immediately reacted. She kicked and started moving as if she knew. The second time I held Amy the following day she turned and put her head towards her sister inside the womb.”
The Second Labor
On August 27, doctors decided Katie was strong enough to induce labor. An hour later, Maria gave birth to Katie, who was just over 36 weeks and weighed 5 pounds and 10 ounces. Instead of whisking Katie away to the NICU, the nurse handed her over to Maria since she was healthy and strong. Two hours later, the nurses brought Maria and Katie to the NICU so they could reunite the twins after months apart…
“The nurse took Katie and put her in the incubator, facing her sister as they slept and Amy immediately smiled. There was no doubt that they recognized each other.” Once the girls were together, Maria and Chris knew both of their daughters would be alright. 5 days later, the new parents were able to take Katie home but Amy needed to stay in the hospital since she wasn’t as strong.
Registering The Births
On October 16, 7 weeks later, Amy was finally released and allowed to join the rest of her family at home. The only other challenge the couple had to overcome now was registering the births of their twins. “It caused a stir,” Chris said. “Their certificates say, ‘Amy Elliott, Twin One, date of birth 1 June and Katie Elliott, Twin Two, date of birth 27 August’…”
“In medical terms to have both babies and mum come through this healthy and happy is the medical equivalent of a lottery win,” Dr O’Donnell said. “We are delighted for the whole family and couldn’t be happier we were able to play a part in their miraculous birth.”
“I’m so honored to have had these two girls that are so special. For all of us to be here, could I be any luckier,” Maria said about her little miracles, who were born 87 days apart and broke the world record for longest interval between the birth of twins.