“There’s two. It’s twins.”
Mary Ellen Kendall and her husband Billy had talked at length about their vision for a family: two kids in rapid succession, but not at the same time. So when the sonogram technician delivered the news of twins 6 1/2 weeks into Mary Ellen’s first pregnancy, the couple was stunned.
“That’s not possible,” was Mary Ellen’s response. “I didn’t take drugs.”
Once the idea of twins sunk in, Mary Ellen, 31, and Billy, 38, went about their days preparing for what they would later find out would be identical twin girls. Although considered a high-risk pregnancy, Mary Ellen experienced few complications. Then, her water broke at 34 weeks.
In the delivery room at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, both babies were breech (positioned for delivery feet or buttocks first instead of the usual head first) and were quickly delivered via C-section. After delivery, babies Gillian and Gretchen were taken to the hospital’s Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to begin services to help them thrive. Gillian weighed in at 4 pounds and 5 ounces, and Gretchen weighed 5 pounds. The twins suffered from jaundice and needed forced air to help them breathe. They got feeding tubes and were constantly monitored for bradycardia episodes during which their breathing would become shallow or stop due to slow heart rates.
Despite the early obstacles, Gillian and Gretchen were transitioned to the hospital’s Special Care Nursery after just four days. In the Special Care Nursery, the girls learned how to bottle feed while Mary Ellen and Billy gained confidence in being parents.
“The services in the Special Care Nursery were amazing,” Mary Ellen said. “The nurses and doctors were always available to answer our questions and be supportive. They had great advice on nursing, pumping, bottle feeding, and how to bathe and dress the girls with all of the tubes attached to them. The team helped us grow confident in taking care of these very small people so that by the time we were all home, we felt capable of caring for them.”
Going home was bittersweet for the Kendall family. Baby Gillian was released after 17 days, but baby Gretchen had to stay behind ― remaining in the hospital for 29 days. When Mary Ellen and Billy couldn’t be at the hospital with Gretchen, they said they knew she was receiving excellent care and not being left alone to cry in her crib. This is just one of the reasons why Mary Ellen considers Texas Health Dallas her family’s preferred hospital.
Looking back now 3 1/2 years later, Mary Ellen also had this to say about the experience:
“Having a hospital that can provide the right support in a difficult situation is so important. The team at Texas Health Dallas provided a loving environment that helped us at every step and helped me especially come to realize that taking care of two is doable.”