After struggling with infertility for three years, Julia Grovenburg and her husband Todd seriously considered adopting a baby from a foreign country in order to complete their dreams of having a family. But in a final and desperate attempt to have children of their own, the couple gave it one last try and on one lucky Sunday afternoon in July 2009, Julia’s pregnancy test finally came back positive. However, because Mrs Grovenburg, 33, and her 34-year-old husband had been trying so hard to conceive, she actually became pregnant twice within two weeks, shocking the world with their unusual pregnancy news. Julia Grovenburg, 33, and her husband Todd, 34, had been trying so hard to conceive that she became pregnant twice within two weeks, a phenomenon known as ‘superfetation’. As one of only 11 women ever reported to get pregnant while already pregnant, Mrs Grovenburg’s pregnancy was eventually identified as ‘superfetation’, meaning two babies are conceived at different times, born on the same day yet – medically speaking – are not considered twins.


Now, after having just celebrated her babies’ first birthday, the mother, who lives in Fort Smith Arkansas, details her struggles through such a rare pregnancy and the difficulties she’s had to face raising two non-twin babies at the same time. ‘When Todd and I first decided to have children I was really looking forward to being pregnant,’ Mrs Grovenburg said. ‘I wanted the baby clothes and the congratulations cards and I wanted to get that pregnancy glow everyone always bragged about. ‘But instead of flowers and balloons, news of my pregnancy came with sympathy cards and prayers. ‘For while I couldn’t be happier that I was finally able to have a baby, pregnancy was the most stressful time of my life because no one, not even my doctors, knew what to expect. ‘It’s common knowledge and written down in medical books that you can’t get pregnant while you’re already pregnant, but somehow after years of trying to conceive I was the exception to the rule. ‘I got pregnant twice in two weeks.’ After taking hundreds of home pregnancy tests over the years in the hope of falling pregnant, the couple finally got the positive results they wanted and scheduled a doctor’s appointment for the following week.


But rather than walking out of the doctor’s office as proud expecting parents, the couple were more discouraged than ever before. For while Mrs Grovenburg was in fact pregnant, their doctors were baffled by the image on the ultrasound showing two separate babies in two separate sacks, yet one much large and more developed than the other. Right away, based on their size difference, twins were ruled out of the picture. Yet at a loss for words the doctor couldn’t explain what was happening inside Mrs Grovenburg’s womb. ‘Initially at our first ultrasound the technician suggested we were 11 weeks pregnant,’ Mrs Grovenburg explained. ‘But since I’d been taking pregnancy tests routinely every month Todd and I knew that number wasn’t accurate because I’d had my period in between the time frame. ‘We thought it was more like eight or nine months.’ Without hesitation the nurse ran to find Mrs Grovenburg’s doctor for a second opinion, but his observation was more alarming than anyone expected. ‘Our doctor rushed in to see what was going on and he frantically tried to explain what we were looking at on the screen,’ recalled Mrs Grovenburg. ‘In our doctor’s 30 years of experience he’d never seen anything like it’ ‘He said, “Well Julia, you’re not having twins but you are having two babies.” ‘Our doctor found the news too incredible, like it was some medical breakthrough he’d discovered in his office. ‘But Todd and I were scared because we had no clue what this meant for us or our babies.’ According to the rhythm of the heartbeats and the visual displayed on the ultrasound, both babies had gestational ages about two-and-a-half weeks apart from one another. And worse yet, their due dates were so far apart that that if Julia went into labour early she could risk losing one or both of her babies.

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‘In our doctor’s 30 years of experience he’d never seen anything like it,’ said Mrs Grovenburg.’Which, as a first-time mum, didn’t exactly make me feel comfortable.’ Without hesitation the couple started planning for the worst and brainstorming a laundry list of possible genetic disorders and deformities. And without any previous experience or even knowledge of the terms of her pregnancy, Mrs Grovenburg’s medical team was no help at all. ‘When I got home from that appointment I broke down in tears,’ explained Mrs Grovenburg. ‘I didn’t know if “two babies, not twins” meant my babies were split in half, if they were missing limbs or if it was some type of disease I was carrying that made me get pregnant twice. ‘No one could answer my questions because I didn’t even know what or who to ask. ‘No one had witnessed this type of pregnancy before and in a weak moment I wished I wasn’t pregnant.’ But after taking matters into her own hands and researching “two babies, not twins” on the internet, Mrs Grovenburg pulled up a term called ‘superfetation’, an instance where two babies are conceived at different times, have different gestational ages yet are born on the same day. Her doctor had never heard of it before. Mrs Grovenburg’s doctors were baffled by the image on the ultrasound showing two separate babies in two separate sacks, yet one much large and more developed than the other. ‘When I mentioned superfetation to my doctor, he looked at me like I was crazy,’ said Mrs Grovenburg.’But the fact that I went home to do research and he didn’t made me more upset than anything. ‘I ended up transferring to a specialised children’s hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas, where even though the team of doctors had never delivered superfetation babies, they’d at least studied the rarity of it in medical journals.’


Given the babies’ two-and-a-half-week age gap, Mrs Grovenburg’s due dates were December 24, 2009 and January 14, 2010. But with doctors still unsure if she’ be delivering one or both babies at a time, the main concern was to get as close to full term as possible. After a very stressful yet normal pregnancy, Mrs Grovenburg gave birth by Caesarean section to two healthy babies, Jillian and Hudson, on December 2, 2010. ‘There wasn’t a rush to get the babies out quickly but because Jillian was developing so rapidly our doctor thought it would be best to move forward with the delivery,’ explained Mrs Grovenburg. ‘I ended up having a Caesarean section because Hudson was still so underdeveloped we didn’t want to risk him having a natural birth. ‘And despite Jillian being older, Hudson was actually born first. But even though both babies share the same birthday and were only born seconds apart from one another, they will always be considered different ages. ‘When I mentioned superfetation to my doctor, he looked at me like I was crazy’ And over the course of the last year Mrs Grovenburg can attest that, though hard at times, her babies’ age difference is very evident in terms of their developmental stages. ‘They’re still very young but everyone can tell that Jillian is the older one,’ tells Julia. ‘When it comes to Hudson’s growth and development he is, categorically, two-and-a-half weeks behind everything Jillian does in terms of crawling and teething. ‘Sometimes it breaks my heart to watch Jillian move so quickly and Hudson take a back seat, but then I have to remind myself that they’re not progressing at the same level for a reason. ‘And when it comes to personalities they really couldn’t be any different. ‘Jillian is the feisty and wilful one who’s always ahead of the game and Hudson is the comedian who likes to cuddle and laugh all the time. ‘They’re both beautiful, healthy and smart babies, it’s just disconcerting at times as a mum that you feel guilty celebrating one’s baby success because you can’t celebrate the other’s. ‘Sometimes I’ll only really count it once they can do it together.’ But at their doctor’s request and medical point of view, he’s advised Mrs Grovenburg and her husband not to consider the babies to be twins but rather two separate babies of two different ages. ‘They’re twins, but they’re not twins,’ explained Mrs Grovenburg. ‘And if it sounds confusing that’s because it is.’ Yet proving the point that her babies will forever be siblings rather than twins, Mrs Grovenburg even celebrated their birthday separately as a way to illustrate her babies as individuals. Celebrating with two separate birthday cakes and two separate Happy Birthday serenades, Mrs Grovenburg got a glimpse of what the future may bring for Jillian and Hudson’s unique connection. ‘Right now we know their development is at two separate stages so we’re very good about calling them siblings rather than twins,’ Mrs Grovenburg said. ‘But as they get older and really start to even out their growth we’re not really sure what will happen. ‘As they come to understand their special bond, Todd and I will probably leave it up to Jillian and Hudson with whatever label they want to call themselves.’We’re not naïve to the fact teachers, friends and even family will call them twins – it’s inevitable and it doesn’t bother us. ‘But we will leave that official title up to the kids.’

By Ashley Van Sipma from www.dailymail.co.uk