This post is written by Stefanie Sgroi who was a producer during A Current Affair’s coverage of the birth of Australia’s “miracle twins”.
Nineteen days was all it took.
A life of hope and faith.
And it all started with a phone call.
“Hello. We’d like to tell you our story. We’re having a baby with two faces.”
At A Current Affair we’re contacted by hundreds of people with a story every day.
Some are happy. Some are sad. Most of them simply want help. They come to us because they’ve got a problem, and no one will listen to them.
And then there’s Renee Young and Simon Howie.
Their story was extraordinary.
So extraordinary, so unbelievable, that when I hung up after speaking with them, I had to call them back again to confirm what I’d just been told.
“We’re having a baby with two faces.”
It was a Friday afternoon in January.
Renee told me she was 17 weeks pregnant with conjoined twins. Her babies had one body, two arms, two legs, one heart and one head with two completely duplicated faces and two separate brains.
Within minutes, I hit Google.
There were just 35 cases of craniofacial duplication ever recorded and none were alive today. The last known birth was in India in 2008. A little girl named Lali. She died when she was two months old.
This was a one in 20 million pregnancy.
I’m not a mother. I’m not an aunty. I don’t have a lot of friends with kids, but it’s my job to think about a story from every angle. So, naturally, I thought – why are they bringing this child in to the world?
I asked them.
They said if they had one hour, one day, one week or one year with their babies that would be enough for them. Those babies would know love. And I believed them.
Renee told me her obstetrician’s stern advice was to abort and, because the babies were over the three-month mark, he would induce labour and she’d give birth to them stillborn. Just imagine – this mum was forced to choose between giving birth to her babies dead or alive. “How can I do that to my precious babies, how can I not give them a chance?”
Simon made the point that the twins essentially had a deformity that was no different to any other disabled child. Would that be a fair enough reason to terminate?