Mother with conjoined twins refuses abortion, defies doctors’ dire prognosis
CHICAGO, IL, September 7, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A mother of unborn identical conjoined twin girls says she cannot wait until the day she can finally meet them both and hold them in her arms.
Since July, Amanda Schulten has been blogging the story of her pregnancy with the twins, who doctors said wouldn’t live nearly as long as they have.
“Mommy loves you both so very much,” Schulten wrote on her blog after finding out about the dire prognosis. “We will get through this together, I promise.”
The Chicago area woman, who became a Catholic at Easter this year, had her first ultrasound on April 1.
¨The nurse told me I’m having twins! I was so excited and didn’t believe her at first,¨ Schulten said. ¨I kept telling (my fiancé) Petey the babies looked like they were hugging each other it was so cute! I was only 13 weeks, so the babies were really tiny!¨
Schulten recalled that she had waited to tell her parents that they were having twins because “no one believed us on April Fools Day.”
The night of April 2, Schulten did a lot of research, learning for the first time that the pregnancy was high risk. She also received an “urgent call” to see her doctor on April 4 to go over the results from the ultrasound.
“I went to the appointment by myself not thinking anything bad was going on,” Schulten said. “I found out I was having conjoined twins!”
The doctor told her that the babies would not survive and that “termination” was the “best option.” In spite of an uncertain future for her conjoined twins, Schulten refused an abortion.
“I broke down, I wasn’t thinking about abortion,” she said. “I was thinking will they survive, not I want them to die!”
“Doctors kept telling me they aren’t going to survive much longer. So every day I would wake up thinking is today their last day.”
Schulten would subsequently receive the news that her children have only two kidneys and two legs, one of which is clubbed, and that they share the same heart and liver. One twin has one good arm and a half an arm while the other has one good arm.
“The list kept getting worse as the test results would come back,” she said. “I felt so alone and helpless.”
Then, one morning, Schulten went to church.
“I prayed for least an hour, crying and praying to God. I swear he heard my prayer because afterwards I felt so at peace with the situation,” she said. “It was like he told me not to worry and leave everything up to him to handle. He was saying I will carry your cross Amanda.”
“After that day I told myself I am never giving up (my daughters) Hope and Faith!”
“Every time I go to an ultrasound, I pray before I go that they will be two separate girls,” Schulten said. “I always say God please perform this miracle! I know you have the power to do anything!! If you do this everyone will believe that you are real and you will have so many people wanting to follow this faith.”
Doctors have informed Schulten that she will have to deliver between 34 to 36 weeks. An ear, nose, and throat doctor will be in the delivery room ready to insert tubes down the babies’ throats to help with their breathing.
Schulten has requested baptism for her children “as soon as they’re born.”
“I had no faith before this and now look I have God in my life,” she said. “I can see my life changing for the better with having the babies because, it has brought me so close to God.”
An obstetrician who handles high-risk pregnancies at the University of Chicago Medical Center is caring for Amanda, and her family and church, St. Charles Borromeo in Hampshire, are supporting her, according to the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper.
Schulten and her fiancé have delayed their wedding due to financial constraints.
On August 29, Schulten was admitted to hospital.
“We were told they would never be here now at 34 weeks,” she said. “I’m so proud of them, if only they knew how happy they make me feel.”
Schulten’s story is making waves even in the mainstream media, with the self-described “pro-choice editorial page” of the Sun-Times defending Schulten’s “right to choice.”
“Pro-choice means pro-choice, not pro-abortion,” the September 2 editorial said.
While the editorial questioned what kind of life is ahead for the children, it also reached a surprise conclusion.
“If Schulten was not convinced by such arguments, so be it. The call was hers to make — and hers alone,” the editorial said. “We defend her right to choose. What she chooses is her business.”
As “John Paul II wrote in Evangelium Vitae, ‘life is always a good,’” Priests for Life National Director Father Frank Pavone told LifeSiteNews when asked about the case. “There are no circumstances, including the problem of being conjoined, that reduce the value of a person’s life.”
Pavone said Schulten’s love and “yes” to the life of her children is encouraging.
“‘They’re going to die anyway,’ some say. But aren’t we all?” he said. “That’s a pretty weak argument for killing someone. Love in these circumstances is seen when we give ourselves for the other, in this case, two children in serious need, whether it be for months or years.”
Schulten’s blog offers ways to donate to help with baby clothing and diapers, medical bills and a place to stay close to the hospital after the girls are born, and baby furniture. Because survival rate is low for conjoined twins, Schulten is also preparing for funeral and burial arrangements. She hopes to raise enough money to also donate money to her hospital.