March of Dimes Campaign To End Premature Birth

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March of Dimes

Dustin and Haley Brooks were excited to be having twins. And then they found out just how dangerous that was going to be

On the initial sonogram, they could only see one of the babies. On the second, they could see there was another. And shortly after that, they found that the twins were monoamniotic-monochorionic, meaning they share the same amniotic sac, and the same placenta, although they have two separate umbilical cords. This type of twins, called MoMo, for short, separate 9-13 days after conception and are, of course, identical. That’s the good news. The bad news is, they are extremely rare, occurring in only 1 in 32,000 live births and have just a 50% survival rate. To complicate matters even further, they are almost always born prematurely, raising the possibility of an increased chance of birth defects.

As a high-risk pregnancy—Haley and Dustin conceived via in vitro—Haley was monitored aggressively throughout her term, which raised the odds of the twins’ survival. When she began having contractions at 26 weeks, though, she was admitted to the hospital and put on bed rest. Claire and Caroline were born at 31 weeks and 6 days, one day shy of Haley and Dustin’s goal of 32 weeks, at 4.2 and 4.3 lbs., respectively. But they were by no means out of the woods yet. In fact, they weren’t even out of the hospital yet. They were in the NICU, which was where Dustin and Haley encountered the March of Dimes.

The fact that Haley and Dustin were able to care for their too-little girls is in large part the result of March of Dimes education programs with NICU staffs in hospitals all over the country to change their policies to include parents in the NICU when medically feasible.

Like so many babies born prematurely whose lungs are under-developed, the girls were suffering from respiratory distress syndrome (RDS). Research funded by the March of Dimes resulted in a surfactant treatment that cuts RDS by more than half.

“You could tell they were having trouble breathing because they would give these little snorts,” said Haley. “But once they got the surfactant, the next day, they turned a big corner. They were breathing freely, and their coloring was great. I’m convinced that treatment saved their lives.”

Despite all the dangers they faced, and the potential for tragedy at nearly every turn, Claire and Caroline are perfectly healthy, happy 4-year-olds who are each other’s best friends, and a head taller than every other child in their class. And Dustin and Haley greet every new day with their daughters with gratitude—an attitude they share in abundance with their March of Dimes community. They currently will serve as 2107 March of Dimes Ambassadors for the Signature Chef event in their hometown of Lubbock, Texas, as well as the planning committee for that event, plus March for Babies. Quite happily.

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