The simple fact that Tanya Duncan was pregnant with twins was by itself enough to make her pregnancy high-risk, but right from the start her babies had bigger problems to deal with.
At her 16th week, Duncan and her husband, Chase, came to see Dr. Lindsay Maggio at High Risk Pregnancy Consultants, part of AdventHealth Medical Group. They learned that one of her two babies, then known as “Baby B,” was quite small.
One of the tests performed in these cases, a type of ultrasound that can measure blood flow, found Baby B wasn’t getting enough blood. It was a worrisome sign to Dr. Maggio.
“I was concerned the baby wouldn’t survive until she would be big enough to be born,” she says. Doctors also noticed that Baby B had only two vessels in her umbilical cord, one fewer than the usual three, which could limit her ability to grow.
Then something unusual happened, something Dr. Maggio had never seen happen before: The problem went away. Baby B started getting more blood and grew at a healthy pace.
“I couldn’t explain it to her,” Dr. Maggio said.
Dr. Maggio saw Duncan once a week for most of her pregnancy, but does not take credit for her patient’s unusual recovery.
“It was all her body and her placenta dictating what happened,” Dr. Maggio says.
Then, at 33 weeks and four days, scans showed the blood flow issue had reappeared. Dr. Maggio wasn’t willing to hope lightning would strike twice and suggested her patient should induce labor.
Duncan’s labor started the next day, and her identical twin girls Ainsley and Kinsley were born on April 6 at AdventHealth for Women in Orlando. The twins spent several weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, or NICU.
It’s not an unusual amount of time to spend in the NICU — as a rule of thumb, babies born prematurely typically stay there for the number of weeks equal to the number of weeks they were born premature. Both babies are healthy today.
In total, Ainsley spent 32 days while Kinsley, earlier known as Baby B, spent 45 days. The Duncans were also grateful for the care their babies received from the NICU team.
“The nurses and doctors were extremely nice and informative,” she says. “[They] kept us up-to-date on a daily basis. I couldn’t have asked for a better team of professionals to care for my children.”
The family specifically noted the work of a NICU nurse, Elle Melton, BSN, who was always consistent and compassionate with the Duncan twins, and a joy to be around.
“I knew that the twins were in good hands with her and that was something that we really needed,” Tanya said.
Melton says building trust and a strong relationship with parents is an important part of caring for newborns.
“While they’re not our children, we will care for them as if they were, so that parents feel comfortable that their girls are in good hands even when they can’t be there,” she says.
In this case, Melton had something in common with Tanya Duncan: Both have Korean mothers, so they talked about shared experiences and what their respective babies might look like. It’s small talk, yes, but in a stressful place like the NICU, where babies are attached to wires and monitors, even a minor human connection is a salve as potent as any medicine.
Ultimately, Melton’s goal is to help families recover their sense of normalcy. Parents often feel trapped in crisis mode, but nurses can help reassure them that, yes, their babies will leave the NICU and enjoy a normal, healthy life.
Though Dr. Maggio had many hard conversations with the Duncans, Tanya’s fortunate recovery made them easier.
“We had a really happy ending to what could have been a terrible outcome,” Dr. Maggio said.
Meanwhile, Duncan’s children are more than six months old and doing great.
“I’m still trying to adjust from having no babies to having two but I wouldn’t trade it for the world!”
Dr. Maggio believes in giving women the information they need to take the lead in their pregnancies. AdventHealth for Women believes that giving women choices improves their physical health and inspires fulfillment in mind and spirit, as well.