MOUND, Minn. — For about 25 weeks, Dana Rogney had what she calls a completely normal pregnancy. With her husband Jef, Dana was preparing for the arrival of twins sometime in the late summer and taking all of the additional necessary precautions brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
But in these unique times, few things are truly normal.
Everything looked good in mid-April when Dana had an ultrasound and met with her doctor. On the evening of April 26, Dana was feeling some discomfort when she went to bed at their home in the Twin Cities far western suburbs.
“I had some lower back pain starting at 9 p.m. the night before,” recalled Dana, 31, who is a pre-kindergarten teacher. “My stomach felt a little weird, but not anything unusual, but my back pain kept me uncomfortable through the night. Then I went to the bathroom and the babies decided to come out.”
It was about 5 a.m. April 27, when the Rogneys' son James made an unexpected and premature arrival, landing in their toilet. Dana’s workplace training in CPR and first aid for small children kicked in immediately.
“He wasn’t breathing very well so I opened up his chin and tapped on his chest a little bit and he started breathing,” Dana said. Jef, awakened by the noise, held James and called 911 to summon an ambulance from Ridgeview Medical Center in nearby Waconia, while their daughter Vera arrived via a breech birth five minutes later.
“The paramedics came about 10 minutes after that, so we did all of the delivery ourselves,” Dana said. “I think I was on autopilot, but it worked out. Jef was a little panicked at first but he stayed calm and held onto James while I was getting Vera.”
Officially, James Robert Rogney weighed 2 pounds, 3 ounces and was 14.4 inches at birth. His just slightly younger sister, Vera May Rogney, was 2 pounds, 1 ounce, and 13.8 inches. Born nearly 15 weeks premature, the twins have been at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis since their arrival. Their progress has been slow, but steady.
“They have their good days and their bad days. The little girl is doing a little better than the boy. They both have some complications but they’re doing well for the circumstances,” Dana said. “We feel very fortunate, and also overwhelmed. We’re still in shock a little bit but we do feel very fortunate that they made it as far as they did. Everybody is amazed by their story and all of the nurses say that this is the first time they’ve heard a story like this.”
The new normal at hospitals means Dana and Jef, and no other family, can be there from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. They made frequent trips home to take care of their two cats and a dog. The Rogneys are hopeful that the twins can be transferred to the Waconia hospital, closer to their home, sometime in the next month or so.
The family has set up a website detailing the twins’ surprise arrival, with a blog to update their progress, and a place where people can donate money via PayPal and Venmo to help offset medical costs. The Rogneys have been pleased by the donations, and the number of friends who have stopped by their house, even if they cannot get closer than 6 feet.
“Everybody is just dropping things off at our porch. No hugs, no contact, no visitors, so that’s kind of hard,” Dana said, admitting that asking for help is a bit awkward, but the generosity is encouraging. “We’ll take whatever (donations) we can get and we’re very appreciative of that. It will go toward ambulance bills and care for the twins.”
As for the twins, their original due date was Aug. 5, and if their progress continues, they Rogneys expect to have James and Vera home, again, about then.
“They’re doing well. Everyone is calling them miracle babies. Our girl is doing very well and is already off her ventilator. Our boy is doing as expected for his age,” Dana said. “Each day is kind of up or down. We’re finding out new things, but things are getting better, too.”