- Associated Press - Monday, July 27, 2015

July 27—Having a baby is one of the most rewarding and exciting experiences a mother and father can go through. From conception to birth, it’s a roller coaster of emotion preparing for a new life to grow and enter the world. For most, it is a positive transition with no major issues accept what color the nursery is going to be depending on the outcome. For others, however, birth can be met with problems that will throw parents from joy into panic when something goes wrong.

For Jessica Hines and Craig Covington the excitement associated with having a child came quickly as they found out they were expecting twins. Identical twin girls to join their five-year-old son Trevon, making their family complete. For Jessica it was a gift from God as she had suffered two miscarriages and wasn’t sure she would have more children.

“When I got pregnant I was so happy,” said Jessica, adding she was worried as well because of the prior problems she had had. But she didn’t let that stop her from enjoying her pregnancy and expecting the best.

When it was time to give birth, the babies came a little early. Jessica had to undergo a cesarean (c-section). After they were born, Dakota (5 pounds, 11 ounces) and Brooklyn (four pounds, 14 ounces), everything seemed fine. Jessica said she wasn’t able to see her babies right away, because they had to be taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to be placed on a ventilator, which was common for early arrival babies.

“Their father came into recovery to see me and told me something was wrong with Dakota and that doctors were checking her out,” said Jessica. “I was still really groggy from the medication and didn’t really understand what he was saying.” After waking up a bit further and the medication wearing off, Jessica learned that both her twins had Craniosynostosis.

“I had never heard of this before I had my girls, but later found out it happens 1 in 2000 children,” said Jessica. “In sharing their story, I’m hoping to help spread awareness so others know about this and can get care right away.”

Craniosynostosis is the premature fusion of one or more sutures in the a skull. Without correcting, it could lead to brain pressure, delays, brain damage and in some cases death. Craniosynostosis can also be genetic or can be linked with syndromes.

The twins were born at The Bowling Green Medical Center. Jessica credits the doctors there for catching the issues with her twins right away. “It is very hard to catch at first,” said Jessica. “But the pediatrician on call in the NICU noticed that Dakota’s head shape wasn’t right. She said her head showed signs of Sagittal Craniosynostosis.”

Jessica said during their stay at the hospital, the pediatrician mentioned Brooklyn may also have it, but hers was not as advanced as Dakota’s.

After being discharged, the twins had an appointment set up with a pediatric neurosurgeon. After meeting with Dr. Thomas Moriarty at the Norton Neuroscience Institute, he confirmed that both girls had Sagittal Craniosynostosis with a CT scan.

At 13 weeks old Dakota underwent surgery. They performed a Sagittal Strip Craniectomy, where they open the scalp and remove fragments of the skull. They removed a strip down the middle and a couple strips down the side. Brooklyn had her surgery two weeks later and they performed the same procedure.

“Seeing our girls after surgery was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” said Jessica. “Their heads swelled so much, they didn’t even look like the same baby. After a few days the swelling went down and their head shape was amazing! These two girls are some of the toughest I know. Without their surgeon, our angel in disguise, it would have been hard to get through any of this. He helped us understand what he would be doing and let us know the girls would be fine. There’s no explanation as to why my girls were born with this, but they are momma’s little fighters and always will be.”

Now, at nine months old, the twins are doing great! They are cutting teeth and starting towards pulling up. They are vocal and talk to one another all the time, said their mom. So far they are just like any other baby. The scar from ear to ear is now covered in hair and the shape of their heads is as normal as if they never had the issue.

“I cannot thank the doctors at The Medical Center enough for identifying what was happening to my girls,” said Jessica.

Out of this story Jessica hopes others can learn from her experience. She wants parents to be aware that this condition can happen, and to pay close attention to the shape of their baby’s head and soft spot when they are born. If you suspect anything is different, don’t hesitate to tell the doctors so your baby can get the treatment they need.

To contact Chris Cooper, email [email protected] or call 270-726-8394.


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