Doubly Blessed

Doubly Blessed
Patient Name : Ciambella Twins

David and Jill Ciambella knew when they went to obstetrician Kyle Crofoot, MD that morning that he would confirm Jill was pregnant. Dr. Crofoot had been on vacation when Jill first recognized the signs, but she had wanted to wait to see ‘her doctor.’

Jill thought she knew what to expect having had a son, Nathan, nearly four years prior. She knew Dr. Crofoot would perform a sonogram and she would have the first picture of her child. That is a special moment, she remembered fondly of her first sonogram of Nathan. The visit began just as she expected. Jill and David stared intently at the small black and white screen trying to see their baby, when Dr. Crofoot announced, “You are having twins!”

“We were completely shocked; neither of us have twins in our families,” Jill explains with the surprise still evident in her voice. She left holding the sonogram pictures embellished with two conversation bubbles drawn by Dr. Crofoot that read, “Hi, Big Brother.” The Ciambellas left his office that day with news of an unexpected blessing—they were having twins that they knew “were gifts from God.”

Even as the news settled in, Dr. Crofott’s caution to prepare for the possibility of bed rest at twenty weeks, sounded in Jill’s thoughts. They prepared for the coming twins, as much as they could. They saw double everywhere they looked. They researched the level of care provided by the different hospitals and chose to deliver at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children & Women because of the superior Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). As prepared as possible, the Ciambellas waited.

On the evening of January 19, 2004, during her thirty-first week, Jill began to have contractions. “Not too concerned, I drove myself to the hospital while David cared for Nathan,” Jill remembers. When she arrived at Arnold Palmer Hospital, she learned she had already dilated to three centimeters and her labor had begun.

Medication stopped the contractions and bands around her stomach monitored the twins, all the while Jill maintained strict bed rest. Several days later, on Wednesday evening, Dr. Crofoot examined Jill again; everything seemed quiet. However, by eleven o’clock that evening, Jill’s labor resumed, progressing through the night. Her parents went to keep Nathan, freeing David to come to Arnold Palmer Hospital. Dr. Crofoot watched the monitors. The twins’ heart rates were erratic. “One of my biggest fears was being realized. I did not want to leave my babies in a hospital,” shares Jill. “I know how you feel about this,” Dr. Crofoot began, “but your babies will be better off in the hands of Arnold Palmer Hospital now.” Dr. Crofoot performed the emergency Cesarean section, delivering first Cooper, 3 lbs 5 oz., and then Carson who weighed 3 lbs 12 oz.

The next five weeks were difficult for Jill. “Having to leave my babies in the care of strangers made me very sad.” Cooper and Carson needed assistance breathing, so their neonatologists placed them on ventilators. “I worried. I wondered if they would survive. Would they be sick their entire lives? Would they be shy reserved children because of the separation? I read the books, but I still worried. I had never known anyone to have a preemie.” Living through the experience was difficult Jill shared. “Looking back on the passion, the dedication, the care, of everyone who cared for the boys, they all bought me great comfort through a difficult time.” 

Even though the NICU maintains a sterile environment, even at four, Nathan could come visit his little brothers and bond with them. “Arnold Palmer Hospital is a kid-friendly place. We never felt like anyone thought of Nathan as a nuisance or an imposition; it is truly designed for children.”

Before the Ciambella twins went home, they had to pass the car seat test and David and Jill had to undergo monitor training. “Going home was both really exciting and scary. Carson and Cooper went home on monitors that beeped, but there were no longer nurses and doctors to care for them should something go wrong. But even though I was scared, I was ready to take them home,” Jill says. The Ciambella twins left Arnold Palmer Hospital on March 1, after five weeks in the NICU.

Over a year has passed and Carson and Cooper are two of the healthiest, happiest little babies. They can even sleep through anything. “If I had to leave them with anyone, I am glad I was able to leave them with Arnold Palmer Hospital,” shares Jill. “At the time, we did not know anyone who had a premature child. We share our story so others do not have to feel alone.”