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Iowa Woman Has Rare Twins — And Didn't Know She Was Pregnant

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An Iowa woman received a pair of surprises last week after she went to the hospital with stomach pains: She was nearly nine months pregnant, and she was carrying twins.

Even more shocking, the twin girls, who were born via emergency Caesarian section last Thursday night to Shelly Magnani and her fiance James Croskey, are monoamniotic twins — a rare birth condition that doctors say happens only in about one of every 10,000 pregnancies, and just one percent of twin pregnancies.

Magnani, of Ankeny, Iowa, went to a walk-in clinic last Thursday with sharp pains in her side. The clinic told her she was about six months pregnant, and sent her to the emergency room at Mercy Hospital in Des Moines. It was there that she discovered she was actually about 34 weeks pregnant — and having twins.

"Things just didn't change that dramatically with her physical appearance," Gregg Lagan, a spokesperson at Mercy Hospital, said.

A C-section was quickly performed. The girls, Anna and Ava, are being monitored in the neonatal intensive care unit, but are doing remarkably well, especially considering the absence of prenatal care Magnani received. They were born weighing 4 and 3 pounds each and are expected to spend two to three weeks in the hospital, Lagan said.

"They're both just little miracles. It could have been so many things that went wrong that didn't," Magnani told NBC affiliate WHOTV.com in Iowa.

Unlike other multiples, monoamniotic twins, or "mono mono" twins, share one amniotic sac and one placenta in the womb. Mothers of mono mono twins are often brought into the hospital weeks before birth so the babies can be monitored for complications such as umbilical cord entanglement.

"You only have one sac and two babies in it, so they're both having to draw on the same food supply. They have to share space. And there are some cases where one of the twins may be needier than the other, and that could cause problems," Lagan said.

But amazingly, Anna and Ava, while tiny, are in good health. Their mom was discharged from the hospital Monday.

"I'm still trying to process. It's crazy how high-risk mono-mono twins can be, and how good they're doing now. It's really a blessing," Magnani told WHOTV.com.

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