ATLANTA -- Robin and Michael Hamby, both 34 and from Ladonia, Ala., never swayed in their decision to proceed with a pregnancy of conjoined twins in the face of tremendous odds. The babies, Asa and Eli, who share a heart, were born today at 7:32 a.m. at Northside Hospital in Atlanta. Here's a working timeline, starting with the latest news, of the day's events.
Around 10:55 p.m.: In a text from Robin, the conjoined twins continued to show improvement.“Vital signs are better than a few hours ago,” the mother said. “They are resting easier right now and not working as hard to breathe.”
Around 9:20 p.m.: In a text from Michael, came the most hopeful news of the day about the Hamby conjoined twins and their shared heart.
“The cardiologist says he didn’t see anything life-threatening with the heart,” the father said.
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The doctors still are trying to figure out how the twins’ three lungs are functioning together, he said. Asa and Eli still were intubated, he said, but it wasn’t clear whether they would need surgery.
“They are sleeping right now,” Michael said. “They really haven’t done much but stabilized them. They plan on doing more tests through the week.”
Around 5:10 p.m.: Michael’s sister, Emily Berdeaux, gave an update on the conjoined twins.
Michael and his aunt Dale Davidson, a nurse for more than 30 years, were meeting with the cardiologist to determine how to approach solving the twins’ trouble with getting enough oxygen, Emily said.
“We’re sitting on pins and needles like everyone else,” Emily, also a nurse, said in the waiting room. “But what we’re so psyched about is the fact that something like 45 percent of conjoined twins are stillborn and we’re going on 11 hours and their vital signs are still stable. So considering the circumstances, they are doing phenomenally. I’m sure they will have more challenges, but for them to do this well, it’s very hopeful.”
Emily called her conjoined nephews, Asa and Eli, “a divine gift from God.” And she emphasized why her brother and sister-in-law chose to share their story.
“No. 1, as anybody that knows them, they see this as a ministry,” she said. “There hasn’t been one video they posted on Facebook where they have haven’t given God the glory. Also, as Robin said today, this helps the community get used to the boys. So when they do come home, it’s not going to be a shock to everybody. They will embrace them.”
Around 12:20 p.m.: Asa and Eli were wheeled into Robin’s room for family and friends to see what grandmother Peggy Hamby called “a miracle.”
After folks oohed and aahed over the conjoined twins for a few minutes, the paternal grandfather, David Hamby, led the group in prayer before the conjoined twins were taken away again: “Lord, please heal these babies. I want to see them grow up to big and strong like their daddy and their papa.”
David’s voice cracked with emotion, then he concluded, “Thank you in the name of Jesus.”
Later, he explained why he made sure to reach out and touch his grandsons’ heads while he prayed.
“I just felt like I could give them some strength to fight,” he said.
Around 10:15 a.m.: Robin talked on her cellphone with one of the doctors attending to Asa and Eli in the neonatal intensive care unit.
The doctor told her, she said, “There is an issue with the right side of the heart. The left side is perfect. The right side has like an extra atrium and an extra ventricle, and there’s two aortas. One of the arteries is like switched, not in the right place because of having extra ones, but he said that their vital signs are stable.”
Asa and Eli will be transferred via ambulance to another hospital in Atlanta, where specialists can do more extensive testing on the heart, Robin said. Before then, the conjoined twins were going to be brought to Robin’s room so the family and friends could see them.
“They’re stable enough to do that,” Robin said.
Around 9 a.m.: A nurse told Michael Hamby, the father, that the babies had to be intubated because they need more help breathing. They also were given medication for their joint heart.
“Because they weren’t oxygenating really well,” the nurse said, “they’re a little concerned there might be something going on with the heart.”
After hearing the concerns about the twins' heart, David Hamby shared his thoughts from the waiting room. He was wearing a T-shirt emblazoned “Two souls sharing one heart.”
“Once I saw them crying, I was really hopeful, but this is putting a little fear into me now, that they might not make it,” he said. “I’m still processing that now. I’m processing a lot.”
Asked how he is feeling, Michael said, “I’m still scared. They’re doing good, but ”
He didn’t finish the sentence.
“Y’all keep on praying for them,” Michael said as he left the waiting room. “Things still can happen.”
After 7:50 a.m.: Conjoined twins Asa and Eli Hamby were born alive at 7:32 a.m. today, weighing 9 pounds, 10 ounces. Both were crying, and Robin Hamby, their mother, was doing fine. At the time, the only complication the nurse reported was the babies needed bag masks to support their breathing.
Robin said she had worried that the babies would be whisked away as soon as they were delivered by Caesarian section, but she did have a chance to see them after the birth.
“They were so cute, and I was like, ‘Where did they get those chins from?’” she told family members, to laughter. “That was my first thought, and they sounded like little kitty cats crying.”
Family members expressed relief when they first heard about the arrival of the twins. “It’s joy, relief,” said Cindy Kirby, Robin’s stepmother.
“Now, I’m waiting to hear that they’re OK with everything else,” said David Hamby, Michael’s father.
Michael Hamby came into the waiting room with more details.
“They are doing good, color good,” he said. “Breathing on their own. They put a tube in their umbilical cord to put IV fluid in them.”
The twins were undergoing various tests to determine the extent of their health.
“We’re still not out of the woods,” Michael said.
After the delivery, family and friends were buoyed when Michael showed them video of the twins he recorded on his cellphone.
“They look like normal babies,” said David Hamby. “You have to take a second to realize there are two heads there.”
The twins’ other grandfather, Robin’s father, Jerry Kirby, sighed and said, “I’m relieved a good bit. Still a million questions, but glad that we’ve got to this point.”
The Rev. Tim Harris, pastor of The Verge Church in Columbus, summed up the feeling in the waiting room: “God’s will was done, and I’m certainly glad it lined up with what we were hoping for.”
Around 7 a.m.: Before the birth, about a dozen family and friends gathered around Robin Hamby as the sun rose over her Atlanta hospital room Thursday morning. Rev. Harris led the gathering in prayer.
“Lord, You say we have not because we ask not,” he said. “So guess what, Lord? We come asking today. We ask You because, ultimately, Your will is going to be done. We say that these babies are going to be fine, these babies are going to be healthy, these babies are going to have very few if any complications. We just declare that by Your stripes.”
Click on this story throughout the day for updates.
HOW TO HELP
Money is being raised to help the Hambys pay for their conjoined twins’ medical expenses.
“It’s amazing and humbling,” Robin said. “The world talks about how everybody is caught up in their own selves, but that’s not the way God calls us to be, and there are so many people who do look past themselves. They’ve been really awesome.”
Donations may be made:
To the Hamby Twins Benefit account at any branch of Wells Fargo.
Online at YouCaring.com.