Jenna and Jillian Thistlethwaite arrived healthy on May 9, 2014, weighing almost five pounds each. The twin girls were monoamniotic, meaning they shared the same amniotic sac. Twins usually have their own amniotic sac during pregnancy. Also known as 'mono mono' twins, monoamniotic twins are the rarest form of twinning and carries the highest risk. This condition occurs in about one in 35,000 to around one in 60,000 identical twin pregnancies.
"It's the rarest form of twinning and it carries the most risk," Dr. Melissa Mancuso, director of the fetal treatment center at Akron Children's Hospital said. "Because they're sharing the same amniotic sac, their umbilical cords can become tangled as they're growing and moving which can cut off blood supply to one or both twins," she added
‘Twins Jenna and Jillian Thistlethwaite, first made headlines after they were pictured holding hands during their birth. Now at two years old, they still share a remarkable bond.’
Sarah Thistlethwaite, a math teacher from Orrville, Ohio, says she and her husband Bill Thistlethwaite were thrilled to find out that they were having twins. They already had a one year old son named Jaxon. Nineteen weeks into Thistlethwaite's pregnancy, an ultrasound confirmed that her twins were monoamniotic. Upto 24 weeks gestation, the girls faced only a 50% survival rate. So, Sarah decided to take time off from work and spent 57 days on bed rest due to her pregnancy being high risk.
Sarah delivered the girls at Akron General Hospital at 33 weeks via Cesarean section. Seconds after nurses held the babies up to show their parents, the two newborns quickly clasped hands. They were born 45 seconds apart. The twins were born perfectly healthy and soon began showing signs that their close bond would continue outside the womb. They spent sometime in the neonatal unit before they were allowed to go home.
Now 2 years old, Jenna and Jillian are showing different personalities. Jillian is the daredevil while Jenna is more cautious, but they're still extremely close. "Sometimes if my husband goes to the store, he'll take one twin and I'll keep the other," Thistlethwaite says. "When that happens, they both get really upset and ask for each other. They're definitely really close. They're like two peas in a pod. They always take care of each other. They like the same foods, they both love swimming and being outside, and they love to play with the same toys." Thistlwaite continues.
Just like any siblings, the sisters like to get each other into lots of trouble. "We try to buy two of everything to minimize competition, but still, they usually find one to fight over, even if they're exactly the same. If Jenna does something bad, I'll ask her about it and she'll say, 'No, Jillian did it!'" Thistlethwaite says. "But they look so much alike that sometimes I really can't tell which one of them is in trouble," she added.
While they may fight, they also take care of each other. When one is upset, the other tries to comfort her by rubbing her back, hugging her or offering a pacifier. Thistlethwaite knows her daughters are lucky to have been born with a built-in friendship. She says she can't wait to see how they support and push one another through life.