Sydney couple Renee Young and Simon Howie always knew the birth of their conjoined twins would be special, but welcoming them just in time of Mother’s Day made their miracle birth all the more exciting.
Although the couple wasn’t expecting their daughters to be born for another six weeks, Renee gave birth by an emergency caesarean just two hours after her waters broke at home on Thursday. She was rushed from her home to Blacktown Hospital by ambulance where her twin girls were born, before being transferred to the Children’s Hospital at Westmead.
While their “little Aussie fighters” are still in intensive care, medical experts are shocked by their exceptional progress.
“They are breathing perfectly on their own and feeding,” says their proud dad Simon. “They even had their first bath last night.”
The pair had already decided on names for their girls before they were even born, giving them the very fitting names of Hope and Faith, the positive mantra that helped them through Renee’s difficult pregnancy.
Renee and Simon, who are parents to another seven children, discovered during their 19-week ultrasound that their unborn babies were both girls and that they would be born with a rare condition called diprosopus.
The condition means that the girls have separate brains but identical faces on one skull and will share the same body and organs.
“Even though there is only one body, we call them our twins,” explains Simon. “To us, they are our girls and we love them.”
Carrying the rare form of diprosopus , the twins always carried risks and while Renee and Simon knew they had to prepare for the worst, deep down they also believed their little girls wouldn’t give up easily.
“They are little Aussie fighters,” says Simon who adds if anyone is struggling it’s him being left in charge of the rest of the pair’s seven children while Renee recovers.
“It’s hard taking the younger kids to the hospital and staying there for 12 hours at a time but everyone has been awesome and are doing their best to help us,” he said.
There are a number of details about how the babies will now function that remain unclear, but doctors have been monitoring Renee throughout her pregnancy and will continue to watch her and her miracle daughters closely in the first crucial weeks of their lives.
The girls are conjoined in such a rare way that there has only ever been 35 similar cases recorded in history, and only 16 in the last 150 years. Sadly, none of those babies have survived. According to reports, the last known case was in 2008 in a poor Indian village.
Renee and Simon say they are prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.
“We have no idea how long they will be in hospital,” Simon explains. “We just want to bring them home, happy and healthy to make our family a little bit bigger and a bit more chaotic.”
Read more about Renee and Simon’s journey in this week’s Woman’s Day, on sale now! See more of the twins in the A Current Affair video below.