Lisa and Darren Hansen were a newlywed couple who wanted to start their family as soon as they could. It took a lot of work and more time than they thought it would but the Hansen couple not only conceived but they were pregnant with twins! The thrilled parents-to-be were incredibly excited to grow their family by two but before they could jump for joy, the doctor gave them some very unsettling news.
The Hansen couple had to learn to deal with some very unlikely odds that were stacked against them and work on their positive thinking. They did everything they could to make sure that their babies came to term and were as healthy as can be. Throughout her ordeal, Lisa Hansen wrote a blog and posted videos that went viral with their viewer count. There were people who followed Lisa throughout her entire pregnancy and felt as connected to her as if they knew her. Darren was away at work many months of the pregnancy as he took a job before they knew they were pregnant. It was up to Lisa to remain positive, busy and productive over the months in the hospital.
Darren and Lisa are a story of perseverance and how just being positive can make a difference in our perspective and life. Lisa wrote, “We are told we need to see a specialist and she tells us she has never in her whole career seen our kind of twin, it’s that rare,” she said. “She tells us she is concerned and explains why. It’s hard not to be scared. All we can do is start to make a plan to give our kids the best chance possible.” This is exactly what Darren and Lisa did for their twins, planned and kept their heads up.
Lisa and Darren Hansen
The beautiful couple that is Lisa and Darren, married in March of 2010. The successful, good-looking couple looked like they had a love at first sight kind of connection, but in fact, Lisa said, “I told [him he wasn’t] my type shortly after we met,” she continued, “But I was like a little bug attracted to a bright light.” We know the feeling, Lisa, we know the feeling.
Lisa and Darren chose to live on Vancouver Island, in British Columbia, Canada. As soon as they were married, the two started trying to have children. They knew that they wanted to expand their family and wanted to do it as soon as possible. It turned out that it would be quite a waiting game. It was only three years later, in 2013, that Lisa became pregnant. Cheers all around!
Nine weeks in
Nine weeks into the pregnancy, Lisa and Darren went for the routine nine-week scan to see their little one. It was during this scan that the couple found out that they were not only pregnant but that they were pregnant with twins! They heard two heartbeats on the monitor and were in total shock that their three-year wait was rewarded with double the babies. Sadly, the same appointment delivered unsettling news to the couple.
Darren and Lisa went for two more scans at the Women’s Hospital in Vancouver before they were officially told that their little ones were monochorionic-monoamniotic twins. Other than being a mouthful to say, what being monochorionic-monoamniotic twins occur when a fertilized egg had already been settled in Lisa’s uterus before splitting in two and becoming twins. “We were blessed with twins! Then we found out they were rare monochorionic-monoamniotic twins! What an emotional roller coaster,” Lisa stated.
Lisa’s pregnancy went from something happy to something very worrying as it meant that it was a high-risk situation for both the babies and for her. She said, “were given the option to abort because of the high risk and stress.” Lisa and Darren decided to keep the babies despite the risks involved. During her early days in the pregnancy, Lisa wrote to her babies: “We loved you and wanted you even before we saw you.”
To shorten the extremely long name that this condition has, it is known as MoMo. “Monoamniotic twins are identical twins that develop inside the same amniotic sac. Monoamniotic twins are always identical. These share a placenta within their mother’s uterus, but have two separate umbilical cords for nourishment. Monoamniotic twins are rare, occurring in approximately 1 in 35,000 to 1 in 60,000 pregnancies. Monoamniotic triplets can also develop, but this is extremely rare.”
The danger in MoMo twins comes from the fact that they share the same amniotic sac. Sharing the amniotic sac means that they could have their umbilical cords tied up, which leads to issues such as pinching the cord which means depleted supply of nourishment, as well as developmental restrictions. The babies share the same blood supply as well, meaning that there is an added weight to the circulatory system.
Lisa and Darren could have chosen to be terrified for the entire pregnancy, but they decided to look on the positives rather than the negatives. They wrote a letter to their babies telling them just how special and unique they really were. Only 2 perfect of babies who are monochrionic are also monoamniotic, so there was that! Once the babies got to 24 weeks, some of the pressure was off as the risks were lessened.
Today, the survival rate of MoMo twins can reach 90 percent as long as the entire pregnancy is monitored. Lisa was no exception and at just five months pregnant she moved into the hospital to have round the clock monitoring of the twins. Part of the monitoring was to undergo stress tests four times a day in addition to ultrasounds three times per week. This was hard for Lisa but she would do anything for her babies.
Lisa realized just how serious the situation was when she was monitored as close as she was. “We are told we need to see a specialist and she tells us she has never in her whole career seen our kind of twin, it’s that rare,” she said. “She tells us she is concerned and explains why. It’s hard not to be scared. All we can do is start to make a plan to give our kids the best chance possible.”
Support and concern
With Lisa in the hospital 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, many of her loved ones and others who heard of her situation sent thoughtful gifts and support her way. There were many who went above and beyond the make sure that Lisa was taken care of and happy. Her family and friends sent her cards, flowers, as well as came to visit her on a regular basis when she was in the room. It helped Lisa stay in good spirits and remain positive.
While Lisa was in the hospital pregnant with the twins in a high risk pregnancy, Darren was away at work in Province. He took the job before the couple knew they were pregnant. Lisa was meant to come with Darren to Province but when they discovered the pregnancy and the special circumstances, Lisa had to stay behind. This was without a doubt a very hard time for the couple.
Darren and Lisa had a dog before they were ever pregnant. Their elderly fur baby sadly passed away while Lisa was in the hospital and Darren was away. The couple was heartbroken to learn of his passing. “At 30 weeks we were heartbroken to say goodbye to our very senior and sick fur baby.” Anyone that has a dog knows how painful it is to lose a dog, it is like losing a loved family member.
Blessing in disguise
Lisa had a lot of time on her hands in the hospital and decided to keep busy in the best way she knew how – volunteer at the Families In Recovery ward that was just one room away from hers in the hospital. This activity kept Lisa sane and moving around a bit while keeping her in the hospital and in the safety of monitoring and everything she needed for her own babies.
As another activity in order to keep herself busy and in the right mind, Lisa started a blog about her experience and shared everything from her thoughts to her experiences throughout her pregnancy and time in the hospital. “Nine days till I get to see our babies and six till I get to see Darren! I am so excited. I try to remain calm and not get worked up but it is hard, I feel calm but my body is wound up.” Those who followed the blog lived everything along with her.
Lisa was 32 weeks along when she gave birth to her twins by way of cesarean section. Baby number one was born weighing in at a tiny 3 pounds 12 ounces, while the second baby came in at a little bit heavier 3 pounds and 14 ounces. Lisa and Darren named their twin baby girls River and Piper. We love the names they chose!
Before River and Piper could be cuddled by mom and dad, they were transferred to their own persona incubator to get much needed light therapy to handle their jaundice. They were in the incubators for a while but Lisa and Darren could hold their little ones pretty soon after they were born. They were so anxious to meet them, we could only imagine!
Testing the twins
Now that they were out of Lisa, the twin girls were still in need of monitoring and testing to make sure everything was functioning normally and that they were on the road on the developmental chart. Piper and River had to undergo blood work and x-rays to make sure that their systems were running smoothly. Before the twins could go home, they would need to gain some weight and learn to eat from a bottle.
“Twins are tough cookies to take care of. I estimated the amount of ‘down time’ in the 12 hours I cared for them, and it was three. Three hours to eat, pump and sleep because I can tell you this, that’s all this girl is going to do,” Lisa wrote in a blog post. “Holy smokes, I am going to be a tired mama, but oh so happy, I can’t wait.”
After 14 weeks in the NICU at the hospital, Piper and River got to go home! Each and every day the girls grew stronger and more alert and were developing beautifully. It was at this time that Lisa’s Christian Life Fellowship group threw her a baby shower to celebrate the twins! They wanted to wait until the babies were born given the unique situation.
Lisa posted a thrilled post of Facebook, stating, “The twins were born prematurely at 32 weeks to avoid the risk of umbilical cord compression and entanglement. A week after birth they were transferred from Vancouver Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU) to Abbotsford NICU and now they are COMING HOME.” The new mom gushed to her readers about how much she was looking forward to having a baby girls home and putting the last scary months behind them.
Lisa’s blog and social media presence shared their story with the world and the world responded. Lisa posted two videos about her experiences during her pregnancy. Together, the videos have been viewed over two million times! There are many people who have walked this path alongside Lisa the entire time, thinking of her and being there for her as she spills her heart out on the digital pages of her blog.
As part of the global attention and the readers on Lisa’s blog, many readers had their own comments for Lisa, all of which were sweet and encouraging. One reader wrote, “Beautiful, sweet babies. God bless you for sharing. They are so precious! Prayers for your family always. Enjoy every moment.” Another reader wrote, “Such a touching story of your family welcoming your two miracle baby girls into the world. May God bless your family and you on a new addition to your family!”
The girls are growing and Lisa is still making sure that they are right on track. She wrote at the time of the girls’ first birthday: “Our whole journey together started out like a roller coaster ride but now it’s like a cruise into the sunset.” She continued, “That doesn’t mean every moment is easy but with all the scary stuff so far behind us now, it feels like easy sailing.”
Lisa recollected that “When the girls first started pretending to hear each other’s heartbeats with a play stethoscope, they placed it on the big toe. Why? Because, it’s where their hearts were constantly monitored while in Neonatal Intensive Care for 6.5 weeks. They say kids don’t remember being infants, but I think a part of them does.” How amazing that the girls remember things without even realizing it!
River and Piper
Just look at those grown up girls! The sweet girls look like what they went through in the womb was just a piece of cake for them! They have no recollection of being in serious danger and are thriving and smiling every day. Lisa wrote, “My kids are just awesome,” as well as “But they are your typical toddler, full of beans and yep, super fun emotional outbursts called tantrums too.”
A new addition
Lisa and Darren announced to the world that they were pregnant again in July of 2016! River and Piper were going to be big sisters to a little brother and the entire family was as excited as can be. That is, until this pregnancy too was darkened by another unsettling issue that was linked to her baby. Here we see them before they got the news.
When Lisa found out that she was pregnant again, she wanted to know that if she was having another set of twins, as is likely. The doctor said that she was initially pregnant with twins but that only one was detected at that point. Lisa lost one of the twins in the very early stages of the pregnancy. Still, there was one healthy baby boy that was developing normally.
Lisa took the news of the one lost twin hard, “On the drive home it really hit me and I just cried thinking about our lost baby and my survivor who will grow up without the amazing twin bond that my girls share,” Lisa explained. “I know they won’t feel that loss that I feel for them but it still hurts because I see what my River and Piper have.”
Getting through it all
Despite being sad about one lost baby, Lisa knew that she needed to focus on the living one that was growing in her belly at that very moment. She decided, once again, to focus on the positive. “I have learned that it is so much easier to deal with grief by being grateful,” Lisa posted on Facebook. “I am thankful, so thankful for the tiny squirming little baby I saw.”
Party of five
Lisa and Darren welcomed their son in February 2016 and the new family of five is as happy as can be. Lisa wrote, “It’s all about enjoying every moment, no matter how big or small while rolling with what life dishes out.” The Hansen couple focuses on their children first and know that every day is a blessing for their not-so-little anymore family.