This Christmas a young Horsefly family will celebrate with their own miracle babies.
Last May 31, Greg and Shelby Goodvin and their two-year-old son Holden welcomed mono-mono twins Camden and Courtlen who were delivered at Women’s Hospital in Vancouver by emergency C-section at 31 weeks gestation.
Technically known as Monoamniotic-Monochorionic, mono-mono twins are extremely rare because they share one placenta and amniotic sac throughout the pregnancy.
Camden and Courtlen emerged into the world within a minute of one another weighing three pounds and 11 ounces each.
“Camden weighed 10 grams more than Courtlen,” Greg said, as he held a smiling Courtlen in his lap.
“They had slight heart murmurs, which is common with most babies,” Shelby said as she held Camden on her lap. “Courtlen’s is completely gone and Camden’s will go away. Both babies had umbilical hernias, which is common in premature babies, but those have been resolved.”
The boys are good babies, their parents said.
“They are really easy going, but their dad is and their big brother is too,” Shelby said.
Sometimes the twins look after each other and have recently begun interacting with one another, Greg added.
Camden and Courtlen have their own cribs, but like sleeping together.
“They have been closer than any other twins can be for so long,” Shelby said, recalling how the first time they were placed on her chest at the hospital they instantly held hands.
“It was a very sweet moment,” she recalled.
In an earlier interview about the rareness of mono-mono twins, Dr. Ken Lim, division head of maternal medicine at UBC and B.C. Women’s Hospital in Vancouver, told the Tribune because they live in the same sac they are at risk of wrapping their umbilical cords around each other and having a still birth.
Lim likened it to the twins sharing a sleeping bag where they roll around and bump into each other.
“Each twin does have its own umbilical cord though,” Lim said.
Mono-mono twins develop when one egg and one sperm form one cell mass that eventually splits into two.
Depending on when the splitting happens, and how much of the placenta and membranes have developed before the split occurs, is when variations such as Monoamniotic-Monochorionic twins develop, Lim said.
Looking back to last Christmas, Shelby said she was really too ill to enjoy it.
“Christmas time was painful because I was so sick with the twins before we knew we were having twins,” Shelby said. “We had just moved into our house in late fall and were really looking forward to hosting Christmas with our family.”
They had to cancel Christmas at the last minute and Shelby’s mom graciously hosted it at her place instead.
“It wasn’t a very festive Christmas,” she added. “I knew something was wrong and I kept asking the doctors if it was twins.”
As it would turn out, it wasn’t until 18 weeks along that they found out they were twins.
“We are definitely looking forward to hosting Christmas this year and glad we will all be home together,” Greg said.
His family lives in Northern Alberta so it will be Shelby’s family from Big Lake that will celebrate the season with them.
“My brother and sister and their significant others, my parents and grandparents, and another elderly couple we’ve adopted will come to our house,” Shelby said, noting the elderly couple don’t really have family anymore so they celebrate holidays with the Goodvins.
Shelby studied events and marketing and loves to plan anything, especially Christmas.
“We will have tons of food, lots of games and sing Christmas carols. My family is very musical so we like to sit around and play the guitar together.”
With a giggle, Shelby said when they got married her mom told Greg she was sorry but she gets Shelby and the kids every year for Christmas.
“Your family is just going to have to wait or they can come and join us,’” Shelby’s mom told Greg.
To compromise, they try and go see Greg’s family before or after Christmas.
Holden, who turned three years old in December, said he wants a chocolate chip pudding and some new bath toys for Christmas.
However, after he visited the layout and design department at the Tribune, and met Anne the Siamese Fighting Fish sitting next to Gaylene Desautels’ desk, he decided he wants a fish for Christmas too.
“My brothers are so cute,” Holden said as his brothers settled in for a family photo.
Holden did not like the nurses holding the babies when they were newborns, Greg said.
“’Those are my brothers,’ Holden would tell the nurses.”
Next year, the Goodvins will participate in the grand opening of a new ultrasound clinic at B.C. Women’s Hospital.
“It’s a brand new facility with high advances in ultrasound equipment that will help a lot of people in our situation with high risk babies,” Shelby said. “We get to be a part of that as our story is being used to promote it. We’ve also done a few interviews and it’s exciting that we get to use our story to promote the hospital and all the amazing things they did for us.”
After they found out they were expecting the mono-mono twins, they had no idea what to expect going into the hospital.
“I ended up being an outpatient and went into the hospital twice a day to be monitored,” Shelby said. “B.C. Women’s Hospital was super flexible with my care and we got to make all the decisions. Nobody was telling us how we had to do things, they were just suggesting options.”
Greg and Shelby hope their story will give others hope too, they said.