The magnificent Jenna Machnik with her identical twin daughters Penelope Ann and Amelia Lucy (2.5 years old).
Jenna and her husband decided to try to conceive a couple years after they got married. She got pregnant and tested early but within a week she got her period. She didn't accept in her mind that it was a pregnancy and decided to just move on. About 6 months later the same thing happened. She got pregnant and within a week she got her period. She didn't want to talk about it and couldn't emotionally reconcile it was a baby so she just said it didn't happen. At that point she had given up trying and wasn't expecting to get pregnant again just a couple months later.
They were very excited but she was very nervous due to her losses. At 18 weeks they were scheduled to go in for a gender reveal ultrasound where they learned they were having not one baby but two. They were shocked and excited and prepared to go see specialists in the coming days. Jenna says she was always expecting for things to go wrong so she wasn't surprised when they said her twins were Mono-Di (one placenta, two amniotic sacks) and that one of her babies was smaller than the other when they should be the same size. They weren't sure at that point if it was Twin-to-twin Transfusion Syndrome or something else so they went home in tears not knowing what to expect. The following week she felt her babies kick for the first time and was greatly reassured. At their next doctor visit they learned that it was likely their smaller baby just had a less secure cord insertion so she was getting what she needed but not at the same rate as the other baby. They were reassured but still needed close monitoring via frequent ultrasounds and non-stress tests to check on their growth. Thankfully, things continued to go well.
Jenna carried to 38 weeks when she was induced over two days. She had an epidural about 30 hours before they were born but it had wore off before her daughters arrived on Valentine's Day morning. When it came time to push she delivered Penelope first vaginally but then Amelia's cord began to prolapse and she was rushed for an emergency cesarean. Things were moving very quickly and she overheard them say she was fine as she'd had an epidural but Jenna screamed "No!" knowing she was feeling everything. She felt them slice her open as she was held down and said she began to picture horror films and acts of torture as she felt them pull Amelia out of her. She was born screaming which was reassuring but Jenna continued to feel everything as they sewed her back up which was very traumatic both emotionally and physically. Back in the room Penelope had stopped breathing, had to be put on oxygen and taken to NICU. Still her girls were there and Jenna felt peace.
Six weeks after her daughters were born, Jenna was home alone with them as she'd encouraged her husband to finally go out for the night and have a beer with his friends. She was supposed to have friends come sit with her but plans fell through so her husband came home and her sister in law stopped by. Within five minutes of their arrival Jenna's heart stopped and she dropped to the floor. Her body seized as she went into cardiac arrest and she woke up 4 days later in a hospital in Boston. Her heart had stopped three times between her home and the hospital and she was ultimately air lifted to the hospital in Boston. They found an aneurysm in her brain but it wasn't big enough to to anything with so they decided to treat her heart and she now has an implanted defibrillator. They don't know why it all happened but she can only guess that it was due to all her body went through during her pregnancy and birth.
Jenna is so grateful to have family and friends in her life who support her and encourage her to create space for herself. She credits that support for allowing to get through the past few years. She has always had serious body issues but says since she's shifted her focus from being thin to being strong things have been so much better. She occasionally allows inadequacies to creep in but then she steps back and realizes that she did all of this, she got through it, it all worked out and she's so grateful. She was determined to be strong and brave enough to be okay with who she is and feels she owes it to her girls to be positive for them. She wants them to know she believes that about herself and teach them that strength as well.