A mum of once-conjoined twins has been able to hold one of her sons alone for the first time since the boys were born 13 months ago.
Nicole McDonald has shared the highs and lows of her sons Jadon and Anias’ story with friends and followers on Facebook.
But she told CNN this week, rocking Jadon in her arms was “one of the most profound moments of my life.”
It has been a long and tough road for Nicole, her husband Christian, their eldest son Aza, three, who put their faith in doctors this month to separate Jadon and Anias, who were born joined at the head.
On a GoFundMe page set up to help with the medical battles ahead, Nicole details how she felt when doctors broke the news her twins were conjoined at after a routine ultrasound when she was 17 weeks pregnant.
“I was informed that I was pregnant with craniopagus twins, which in normal language means twins who are joined at the head,” Nicole says. “I was given the option on many occasions to abort my precious babies. I kindly declined. I had heard their heart beats … they spent their life listening to mine. It was my job as their mother to give them life and I decided that I would give everything up, if need be, to do so.”
Mum’s quest for help
Nicole says she cried for hours after the diagnosis.
“My mind was flooded with questions, with doubts, with fears, but then, with hope,” she says. “I began researching and called in our troops (our amazing family that keeps everything going even when things seem impossible) and I set my mind on things above.”
Nicole found a surgeon in New York that had previously separated 17 twins like hers worldwide.
The twins were born via an emergency caesarean section on September 9 last year.
On the GoFundMe page Nicole explained her longing to see her boys surgically separated.
“Until they are separated, my boys will never sit up,” she wrote. “I won’t be able to put them up on my shoulder and hold them. They will struggle with eating. I can’t just swoop them up and snuggle them. All the things you take for granted with a typical baby, I yearn for.”
Twins separated at last
Earlier this month, after many procedures and health scares, Dr Goodrich and his team completed surgery to separate the boys.
Nicole updated Facebook with step-by-step breakdowns of the procedures involved.
“By morning, there will be two babies, in two beds,” she wrote.
In another post that followed, she excitedly announced, ” And then there were two”.
Later she even shared a photo of Jadon and Anias in their separate beds, still with a long road to recovery ahead of them.
“Finally reunited,” Nicole wrote. “How surreal. I now realise that I always saw you as separate because seeing you like this is really nothing different to me.”
While baby Anias has a few more complications to overcome, Jadon has opened his eyes and has even shared his first solo cuddle with mum.
“My Jadon, in your eyes, I found the spark that reignited my hope,” Nicole wrote. “Hello my brown eyes. I’ve missed seeing you see me.”