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A pregnancy screening this summer changed Chelsea Torres' life.
She’s 17 weeks along with conjoined twin girls she has named Callie and Carter. The babies are fused together at the chest and stomach, and likely share one pelvis.
Their future is uncertain, so to give them the best odds at life, Torres, her husband and their 3-year-old son are moving from Blackfoot, Idaho, to Houston, Texas, next month to be near specialists who have experience delivering and separating conjoined twins.
“I just hope they’ll be able to survive everything,” Torres, 23, told TODAY.
She found out she was pregnant in June, but joy soon turned into concern. Torres was five weeks along when an ultrasound failed to find the baby’s heartbeat. The next three weeks were filled with more ultrasounds and blood tests until doctors finally found a heartbeat and told her the startling news:
There were two babies and there was no separation between them.
“The guy just walked in and said, ‘Your kids are stuck together,’ and I didn’t even know I was having [twins],” Torres recalled.
Her whole family is full of twins, so that part wasn’t entirely surprising. But the thought of conjoined twins was alarming.
“I kind of went into shock,” she said.
Torres’ first doctor told her she’d probably miscarry. Another doctor said there was only a 20-30 percent chance the twins were going to make it and gave her the option to terminate the pregnancy. She and her husband considered it for three days, but said no.
“I couldn’t do it,” Torres said.
The prognosis now is that she has a good chance of carrying the twins to term, she noted. Her official due date is Feb. 21, 2017, and she thinks she’ll deliver via C-section sometime before then.
The next weeks and months will reveal more about the girls’ condition. Images show four arms, but there’s less certainty about the number of legs. At this point, doctors believe the twins have two hearts, two stomachs, and two spines, but their backs come together to share one pelvis. Besides being conjoined at the chest and stomach, the babies may also share a bladder.
The Torres family is relocating to Houston so that Chelsea can deliver at Texas Children's Hospital, where doctors last year successfully separated twin girls who were born joined at the chest and sharing their lungs, diaphragm, liver, intestines, colon and pelvis.
As the pregnancy progresses, Torres is feeling her girls grow.
“They move a lot, they punch around. They’re very active little babies,” Torres said.
She knows there may be difficult decisions ahead as the girls are born and likely face a risky separation surgery.
“I really hope they’ll understand I didn’t do this just to be selfish… I wanted to let them have a life. And if they do become handicapped, I’ll do the best I can as a mom who takes care of them and let them know they are loved.”
The family has set up a fundraising page to help pay for moving and medical expenses.