Upon receiving the news, we decided to name the girls in case they didn’t live. We wanted to make sure that we didn’t forget them and wanted people to know for whom they were praying. As for the names…you guessed it…they were named for two great Saints – Our Blessed Mother Mary and her relative Elizabeth. We then started to spread the word and ask for prayers. I wrote a letter to a columnist in our local newspaper and spread the word at the parish where I attended daily Mass. My wife’s family also sounded the prayer alarm. Before long we had teachers praying for the girls with their students, cloistered nuns praying in their convent, monks praying in the monastery, a newspaper columnist praying a daily rosary, neighbors from many different faiths praying with their congregations, priests praying before the Blessed Sacrament and at Mass. Some people who claimed to be “not religious” even started to pray for the girls. My wife Eileen and I prayed a rosary every night and blessed the unborn babies with a first class relic of St. Gerard Majella, which was given to us by a neighbor. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Eileen also put a drop of Lourdes holy water in her orange juice each day. When we had to go to our twice- weekly treatment at the hospital, I would pray the rosary as I sat next to Eileen. We later discovered that some of the doctors and nurses were praying as well.
As stressful as this time was, Eileen and I felt very close to the Lord. There was very little that could be done in the way of medical treatments and we were forced to trust Him! We took one day at a time and didn’t focus on the future. When we got to week 26 of Eileen’s pregnancy, Elizabeth was suffering from congestive heart failure and Mary was anemic. One of our doctors told us that the twins would be dead in a week and that our only hope was an experimental surgery. Although we were hesitant, we spoke to the surgeon and discovered that he had only done a few of these surgeries (without much success) and that he also performed what is referred to as “selective reductions”, a euphemism for murdering one of your twins in the hope that the other will survive. At that point, we decided that we wanted nothing to do with this doctor or the surgery. Once we made the decision, we felt completely at peace and trusted in God’s will.
On October 27, 1997 (28 weeks into the pregnancy), the doctors decided that it was time for Mary and Elizabeth to be born. Elizabeth was the larger twin, weighing a “whopping” 2.5 pounds. Mary weighed in at a mere 1.5 pounds. The next few weeks were very stressful with Elizabeth having to undergo a heart procedure and Mary having several problems with her lungs. The girls continued to struggle with various medical issues over the next few years, but all of them were relatively minor.
Twelve years later, I sit writing this blog in celebration of the birthday of my two miracle girls. Many of the people who prayed for the girls are no longer living, but Eileen and I will always be indebted to them and everyone else who prayed. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that God can’t perform miracles because Mary and Elizabeth are living proof that He can!
For with God nothing shall be impossible. ( Lk 1:37)