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Two Beautiful Daughters Come from Difficult Twin Pregnancy

It was clear from the start that Marjorie Bransfield's twin pregnancy would be extremely difficult. She was 45 and both babies were in the same amniotic sac.

Mono-mono twins and parents New dad Mitchell with daughter Lucca, and mom Marjorie holding Astor as they leave the hospital to bring the babies home for the first time.

She was carrying "mono-mono" twins -- two babies sharing one chorion, the membrane that surrounds the fetus, and one amniotic sac. Past outcomes in this type of rare, high-risk pregnancy were discouraging: as many as half of babies in mono-mono pregnancies do not survive because their umbilical cords become entangled. However, Marjorie and her husband, Mitchell, underwent in-vitro fertilization and were determined to have children.

The odds of Marjorie getting pregnant at 45 and conceiving mono-mono twins were almost inconceivable. In babies conceived naturally, 1 in 10,000 are mono-mono twins, but the odds are almost impossible to predict for in-vitro pregnancies.

The first obstetrician she saw increased her stress by dwelling on every possible thing that could go wrong. Next, she came to see Mahmoud Ismail, MD, professor of obstetrics/gynecology and co-director of the University of Chicago Medicine Perinatal Network.

Mahmoud Ismail and Marjorie Bansfield An expert in high-risk pregnancies, Dr. Ismail closely guided Marjorie's successful twin pregnancy.

"I was a basket case, but I knew right when I met Dr. Ismail that he was exactly the answer I needed after the hysteria I was going through," Marjorie said. "He was very calm and impressed me with his intuition about how to see my babies through this difficult pregnancy."

Under Ismail's direction, the babies' fetal heartbeats were monitored frequently and ultrasounds done often. At 29 weeks, she checked into the hospital so the twins could be monitored around the clock.

At 34 weeks into the pregnancy, with 18 medical professionals in the delivery room, Astor Marguerite, 4 pounds, 2 ounces, and Lucca Valaria, 3 pounds, 15 ounces, were welcomed into the world.

It was also a proud moment for Ismail, a father of six, including triplets, who is a nationally recognized expert in high-risk obstetrics.

"Marjorie's pregnancy presented many potential problems, so we needed to monitor her very intensely," Ismail said. "She got her twins to 34 weeks because she did everything possible to protect her babies, including letting our team keep a close watch on her."

Bransfield said she was astounded by the commitment of her doctors and nurses. Despite the difficult pregnancy, she now has two beautiful daughters. Marjorie added, "This is worth a billion dollars."

April 2009

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