Hey there! I’m Kelli Gruen, a freelance graphic designer, proud stationery creator, wife, mama and a recent Austin transplant coming from San Diego. My husband and I packed up our things, grabbed our kiddos, loaded our fur babies and moved on over to the ATX just about a year and a half ago. We have absolutely loved getting to know and explore this amazing city. Surprisingly, or not, there are many parallels between San Diego and Austin. The laid back lifestyle, big city, charming suburbs, endless outdoor activities, fantastic food, craft beer, family oriented vibes, and down right beautiful places to call home. We are so lucky!
I met my husband Jeremy while we were both in college. We dated for 7 years before we said our eternal “heck yeahs.” Weeks before our first wedding anniversary we became the proud parents of not one but two beautiful girls. Yep, twins! One of the most common questions about having twins is about our reaction when we found out. Let’s just say I nearly fell off the table. As the doctor and nurse left the room Jeremy and I sat there and just laughed, then we cried. We had no idea about the journey that was about to be ours. So began three of the most painful, emotional, yet valuable years of our lives.
I lived an amazing 30 years before our story of parenthood began. I traveled, graduated college, had amazing family and friends, but nothing, absolutely nothing, could have prepared us for what we were about to endure. I’ve learned and lived more in the last three years, than I ever did in my entire 30 years of life before becoming a mom. Through the pain, the, I still wouldn’t change a thing. This is our life. Our journey and we are thankful to have come out on top.
Just weeks after hearing that we were having twins, our world was shaken by learning the news that we had some potential problems. It was explained to us that our girls were a very very rare type of twin known as Monochorionic Monoamniotic or “MoMo twins.” The only type of twin more rare than MoMo’s are Conjoined twins. They explained that our girls shared one placenta and one amniotic sac. This means they had actual skin to skin contact. The greatest risk to MoMo twins is cord entanglement and compression. It’s believed that there is only a 65% survival rate with MoMo twins making it to birth. Because of these statistics and advancements in treatment plans for mothers carrying these type of twins, Jeremy and I, along with our entire team of doctors decided that I would go stay in the hospital for inpatient monitoring when I was just 24 weeks. After 60 long days, at 31 weeks 4 days pregnant our girls were born via emergency c-section. Our Baby A, Ashlyn, was desatting and it was time for the girls to make their debut. They were born with two true knots and cords tangled beyond recognition. Weighing in at only 2.7 & 2.14 pounds, the girls were immediately taken to the NICU.
Our journey continued along as we did the “NICU shuffle,” two steps forward, three steps back. Finally, after 55 days we were able to bring our Baby B, Brielle, home. 25 long days later Ashlyn joined us. Our 140 day hospital journey, from inpatient to NICU was finally over. We were finally complete and could begin picking up the pieces and moving along with our “Normal” life. Or so we thought.
We noticed very early on that our identical twin girls, didn’t seem all that identical. We had many appointments and saw many specialist. At one year old our sweet Ashlyn got her first big diagnoses. They explained to us that she had something called Goldenhar Syndrome. Strangely, this didn’t explain many other things going on with our baby. So the appointments, specialist, test, scans and procedures continued. It wasn’t until January of 2016 at 17 months old, Ashlyn got her second big diagnoses, Caudal Regressions Syndrome (also known as Sacral Agenesis). Thats right, we have identical twin girls but one has two rare disorders while her sister has none. Who would have thought?!
Jeremy and I have spent the last 2 years learning about and advocating for our daughters conditions. We are the parents of a special needs child. Something we both never considered or thought would be our story. But here we are. I can truly say that we have never been happier. Our daily lives are filled with giggles, sweet smiles, warm snuggles, crazy messes, tears and tantrums and we wouldn’t change a darn thing.
Ashlyn and Brielle are our world, but soon they will be sharing the spotlight! We are beyond excited to be expecting our third bundle of joy this September. The girls are going to be the best big sisters, and I can’t wait to see what chapters of life we have to look forward to. We have gracefully embraced and overcome many obstacles in the recent years and we are ready to take on the world!
I look forward to sharing this part of life with you all, and I am beyond thrilled to be joining the AMB team.