UPDATE 5/17/23: Nicole LeBlanc shared images of her baby girls Maria Therese and Rachel Clare on Wednesday on Instagram, stating, “May 16th, 2023 Maria Therese and Rachel Clare were born alive and were baptized and confirmed.
They lived for about an hour until they took their last breath.
“My girls were loved and held until their final moments and all that they knew their entire lives was love from Austin and I. God designed them so beautifully in my womb and it was an absolute honor and privilege to carry them for as long as I could.”
LeBlance and her husband learned their daughters were conjoined at 10 weeks and refused abortion knowing there was little chance their girls would survive after birth.
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UPDATE 5/16/23: The aunt of Maria Therese and Rachel Clare, conjoined twins who share a heart, announced their birth via their mother Nicole LeBlanc’s Twitter account in the late afternoon Tuesday. She said that the girls were “born baptized and confirmed” before they died.
“Hello everyone- this is Nicole’s younger sister, Mia,” she wrote. “I’m writing on behalf of her and Austin to inform everyone that the babies were born baptized and confirmed. They breathed until their last breath and are now in the arms of Our Lord, for those praying for us, thank you”
Hello everyone- this is Nicole’s younger sister, Mia. I’m writing on behalf of her and Austin to inform everyone that the babies were born baptized and confirmed. They breathed until their last breath and are now in the arms of Our Lord, for those praying for us, thank you 🕊️🕊️🙏🏻
— Nicole LeBlanc🇻🇦 (@nicolita_d) May 16, 2023
The twin sisters were diagnosed at just 10 weeks as conjoined. They shared a heart, a liver, a diaphragm, bowels, and one umbilical cord in one gestational sac. Though doctors told their parents, Nicole and Austin, that their daughters would not survive and advised them to have an abortion, the couple refused.
Austin explained, “God has a plan for everything and there’s always a purpose for everything.”
Continue reading below for their interview with Live Action News.
Update 5/16/23: Conjoined twins Maria and Rachel’s scheduled C-section has been moved up from June 2 to May 16. According to their mother Nicole’s Instagram account, “[T]heir growth is starting to slow down now and so is their heart. We are now preparing to meet our babies on Tuesday, May 16th. They will be 32 weeks along then. Definitely nervous, but we are putting all of our trust in God! We are praying for them to be born alive so they can be baptized right at birth. I have already received my first steroid shot to help with their lung function.”
The hospital just called me from the preemie department and told me that since they will be born at 32 weeks, their lungs are still immature and with their shared heart will make things more difficult. I’m making all of the preparations for the cemetery and funeral home now.
— Nicole LeBlanc🇻🇦 (@nicolita_d) May 15, 2023
She explained that the C-section will begin in the afternoon and asked for prayers.
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05/01/2023: Twin sisters Maria Therese and Rachel Clare are taking social media by storm — and they haven’t even been born yet.
Maria and Rachel are conjoined twins who have been given little to no hope of surviving long after birth. They share the same heart, along with other organs, and, therefore, separation is considered to be impossible.
Heartbroken and shocked by the news, their mother and father have welcomed a mission amid their grief: to share their daughters’ story in order to save other children who are at risk of abortion.
From excitement to heartbreak
The twins’ mother, 24-year-old Nicole LeBlanc, told Live Action News that she and her husband, 24-year-old Austin, had been married for five months in January 2022 when they started trying for a baby. But it wasn’t until October 2022, after months of tracking her cycles and taking prenatal vitamins, that Nicole finally learned she was pregnant. After months of feeling discouraged, the couple was thrilled, and when her morning sickness became unbearable, Nicole wondered if she was pregnant with twins. She had planned to keep working throughout her pregnancy, but the nausea was so bad that she couldn’t eat or drink, and was vomiting all day. By the time she underwent her first ultrasound at seven weeks, she had lost 10 pounds.
Wishing to avoid the more abortion-friendly Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan, she found a Catholic hospital and a Christian doctor, who told her during that first ultrasound that it looked like she was having twins, but only one heartbeat was detectable. They would have to wait for the next ultrasound to find out if there were indeed two babies.
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Then, at 10 weeks, Nicole experienced such intense pain in her abdomen that she went to the emergency room at 2:00 in the morning. It was there that she and Austin learned they were having twins — but that the twins were conjoined.
“The technician said, ‘You’re having twins’ and I started crying,” she said. “I was so happy and so excited. ‘But your twins are very, very special because they are conjoined twins and they share one heart and one liver.’ And I was just in complete shock. I was just crying because I knew that they were going to die. I just knew — because how can one heart be shared for two people?”
This is not how I would imagine I would announce this. But I’m pregnant with twins. My twins are conjoined and share 1 heart and vital organs. There is a very high chance of miscarriage and there is nothing that can be done except wait. Please pray for me. #CatholicTwitter pic.twitter.com/JLc3yGDJQw
— Nicole LeBlanc🇻🇦 (@nicolita_d) December 13, 2022
The following day, a more extensive ultrasound was carried out, revealing that the girls shared a heart, a liver, a diaphragm, bowels, and one umbilical cord in one gestational sac. They also showed signs of having chromosomal abnormalities. The doctors told Nicole and Austin that the pregnancy was not viable, and the chances of miscarriage were even greater than the chances of survival. They asked the couple if they wanted an abortion.
“So I said, ‘What’s the point of getting an abortion? We are completely against abortion. … This is not what we’re going to do,'” she explained. During the ultrasound, the babies had been jumping in sync with each other. Austin told her, “Look at our babies. They are alive. They are human and they are fine.”
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After choosing life for their conjoined twins, Nicole was sent to Michigan Medicine. The hospital she wanted to avoid for pregnancy care was now the best option for her babies. She was about 17 weeks pregnant when she underwent an ultrasound there.
“Everything looked fine,” she said. “Michigan Medicine said I could go to 35 weeks. Everyone was saying I was going to miscarry and now they were telling me I could have a live birth at 35 weeks! There were no signs of miscarriage. Doctors said that they couldn’t be separated — but they were alive!”
The delivery plan
Nicole had wanted to have a natural pregnancy and delivery, but those plans were set aside to ensure the best care for her babies. She would need a C-section, which has been scheduled for 35 weeks.
“Chances are they will have to do the long incision up and down my belly and that means I can only have C-sections for future pregnancies and can’t have as many babies as I was hoping to have,” she said. “I don’t know if having a lot of babies will be possible. I broke down crying, ‘This is not what I wanted.’ I wanted to do things differently. I told God, ‘You’re in control. I’m just going to give this other cross to you. So He’s been taking care of me.'”
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At 20 weeks, the twins underwent a fetal echocardiogram, and it was determined that the heart they share has four chambers, but two left aortas. Nicole returns to the hospital every two to three weeks to check the twins for signs of heart failure, and to make sure the fluid and placenta are good, and so far, they have been doing well and continue to grow.
“April 21st was my last appointment. Everything looked fine. They were jumping, growing appropriately. They are growing hair, and Baby B is about three pounds and Baby A is a little smaller. It’s all a miracle how I’m still pregnant,” she said. “It’s God that’s taking care of these babies. A lot of people were right — doctors don’t have the final say. Only God does. It doesn’t matter that they have one heart; it’s God who decides when we will be born and when we will die.”
Support and criticism
After Nicole announced that she and Austin are expecting conjoined twins, social media users responded with both support and criticism.
“We received a lot of support at first,” said Nicole. “People had a lot of questions and concerns like, ‘Why are you keeping them? What is wrong with you?’ At the beginning when they were first diagnosed, I didn’t respond, but now that they are bigger, people assume they are suffering and that I’m selfish for letting them suffer. The cardiologists have said its not something that’s painful for them. They aren’t suffering at all. I’ve asked multiple times. They are fine. They are content; otherwise, they wouldn’t have been growing to 29 weeks.”
She added, “Someone else said, ‘That’s really messed up of you [to keep the babies].’ I don’t think people understand. The doctors don’t think they will live very long. They were wrong about them miscarrying, but the prognosis is still the same. They may live five minutes. They could be stillborn — there’s a very high chance. It could be minutes, hours, days, weeks. Maybe months if God blesses us that way.”
She also has responded to the claims that she is letting her babies suffer by reminding people that “we live in a time of modern medicine.” She said, “I have a team for palliative care already set up. … If they do experience discomfort when born, there is medicine to give them to make the comfortable. Just like any hospice patient.”
Nicole said she knows that God is looking out for her girls, and she and Austin are incredibly grateful for the prayers they have received. Austin, who converted to the Catholic faith in 2020, told EWTN that he and Nicole “get together every night and we pray the rosary. That’s one of the biggest things … and just knowing that God has a plan for everything and there’s always a purpose for everything.”
A new mission
Nicole and Austin decided to go public with their daughters’ story of being conjoined in order to show the world the worthiness of every human being inside the womb. Nicole said she has always been pro-life, but now she has a new mission.
“I know my mission now is to continue spreading my babies’ story and to help babies with fetal abnormalities,” she explained. “My hope for sharing my story is that we save as many babies as possible from the evils of abortion. My babies have made it to 29 weeks. Everything is going fine right now. I have to use their story and be their voices. They are alive in me, and this is, scientifically, a great chance to share, because a lot of the pro-choicers have no idea what they are talking about. They diagnosed my babies as being conjoined at 10 weeks! How can you tell me this is not a human or these are just electrical impulses? Scientifically, this case is really unique.”
The babies’ birth
With the C-section about 40 days away on June 2, Nicole and Austin are praying that the girls will be born alive. “The greatest gift I could receive would be to bring them home to my mom’s home in a nice peaceful environment where they can do hospice,” she said.
She recently connected with a mom on social media who has twins who also share a heart and a liver. Her babies are now eight months old, and at home with their family. Nicole is praying for a similar miracle for her girls, who will be baptized at birth.
“They have their baptism gowns already,” she said. “So we are trusting in God, clinging to the rosary. Prayers and Masses — that’s what’s keeping me going.”
Nicole is worried about the C-section, but is keeping her trust in God. “God has the final say — not the doctors,” she said. “That is something that has given me a lot of comfort. You don’t know the bounds of human resistance. Austin tells me, ‘Look at our girls. They have one heart and the fact that they’re still here, they want to be here. Let nature take over. Let God be in control.'”
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