SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Little Payelon Givens’ skin tells quite a story. That’s where he carries a reminder of his twin sister.
Twins are rare. The CDC estimates about 32 of every 1,000 births involve twins.
Payelon’s mother KisLevonia Givens was carrying twins when she experienced something even more rare: ‘Vanishing Twin Syndrome’
“I found out I was pregnant around five weeks and I started my prenatal care around seven weeks,” said Givens. “When I went in for that visit, I saw two fetuses. And both had heartbeats.”
At the nine-week mark of her pregnancy, Givens learned one fetus was growing larger than the other. It became a possibility one of the twins might not make it.
“I went back around 13 weeks and the second fetus didn’t have a heartbeat,” said Givens.
She grieved. But she knew she still had to do everything in her power to ensure the surviving twin would remain healthy. She was told by doctors at Oschner LSU Health that she would either pass the other fetus at birth or she would absorb it. Ultrasounds later confirmed it had been absorbed.
“It was gone,” said Givens. “It had vanished.”
“Vanishing twin syndrome is where someone starts off with a twin pregnancy, or even a larger multiple pregnancy, and it reduced down to a single pregnancy,” said Dr. R. Edward Betcher, Director of GYN Services, Obstetrics & Gynecology at Oschner LSU Health. “We may see anywhere from about three to four [occurrences] a year.”
Betcher helped oversee Givens’ pregnancy.
“Kis was in great shape, and emotionally and spiritually she was in great position too. She was initially disappointed but moved on to be excited as we progressed on throughout the pregnancy,” said Betcher.
Givens’ delivery day came with questions — some were answered, while others arose.
“When we were in the recovery room, [Payelon’s] nurse came in and we were looking over him,” said Givens. “We saw his birthmark. It was the resemblance of the fetus that had passed. And she was like, ‘Maybe he absorbed it.'”
The resemblance between the last ultrasound taken of Payelon’s twin and the birthmark he carries on his left knee are eye-opening.
“That caught my attention,” said Givens.
After she posted photos announcing Payelon’s birth on social media, it caught the attention of thousands.
“It went viral,” added Givens.
It had people from around the world reaching out and Givens sharing her story with reporters from news magazines overseas.
“I got tons of inboxes from other people that had went through the same thing,” said Givens. “And it kinda touched me because I felt like I wasn’t alone.”
Givens feels as though she’s still holding both twins when she’s holding Payelon.
“Because he’s like two babies in one anyway,” said Givens. “I wouldn’t say he’s giving me the hardest time out of all my kids, but he’s a handful.”
“Vanishing Twin Syndrome” can leave the surviving fetus with an increased risk of cerebral palsy and gestational diabetes. Payelon has neither. Born at 6.2 pounds, he is a healthy baby boy.
“I’m just happy to have him,” said Givens.