David Moller lays cradled in his 6-year-old sister Diana's arms sucking vigorously at the formula-filled bottle. David might appear a bit smaller than most other 5-month-old infants, but that's because David is a "preemie" and his delivery was not routine.
The baby now sucking, burping and occasionally smiling up at Diana had made recent medical history. Newspapers around the country carried stories of Patricia Moller's pregnancy, the loss of David's twin brother, Daniel, and the subsequent early birth of David that saved his life.
The 31-year-old Valencia woman's pregnancy was complicated by something called twin-to-twin syndrome, which occurs when the fetal placentas become fused. As a result of the syndrome, one twin receives most of the nutrition and oxygen from the placenta. One fetus then transfuses blood and fluids into the second fetus.
In the 27th week of Patricia Moller's pregnancy, Dr. Khalil Tabsh was forced to remove Daniel in order to save David at Northridge Hospital. Moller's operation, called a hysterotomy, was the first performed on twins. The chances of Daniel's survival were not good, and he died two days after delivery.
David was born three months early, 12 days after Daniel, when his mother's amniotic sack ruptured. His birth weight was 4 pounds, 3 ounces and quickly dropped to 2 pounds, 3 ounces. A ventilator was used to help David breathe. It was hope, wait and see for a while, but today, David is fine.
Another Story Told
It has been a few months since newspaper reporters and photographers flocked around Moller's hospital bed and attended press conferences as Tabsh tried to make medical terminology and procedures understandable to the layman.
Diana no longer sees her mother on television. Yet the Mollers say there is another story here.
"I think it's important to get back to people, to tell them how our story progressed, to let them know that things worked out well," Patricia says. "That David came out perfect and our family has grown closer. That we're back to normal. People need to draw strength from this, to feel that their own lives aren't so bad."
Patricia and Randy Moller apologize for the brown soil in front of their new home. Both say almost simultaneously: "We've been busy."
The Mollers purchased their two-story home less than a year ago. Patricia is pleased that she has managed to get the kitchen decorated in bright red, white and blue between watching over David, attending to 2-year-old Amanda and helping Diana with her school work.
During the unusual pregnancy, the difficult hours of deciding whether to deliver the first twin in order to save the second and the tense, uncertain days following David's birth, the Mollers were determined to be optimistic. Randy, 33, read books and tried to learn as much as possible. "I read whatever I could about preemies and the odds of survival, and there were times when I was scared," he says.
Patricia's religious upbringing helped her to cope with the situation and the odds. "I drew faith from her faith," Randy says.
Things have worked out well, in general, since David's birth, Patricia says. Hospital bills that totaled over $200,000 were covered by insurance. Then two weeks after David arrived home, Amanda fell 15 feet out of an upstairs bedroom window. "There were paramedics and we spent the night in the hospital, but Amanda ended up with only a few stomach scratches."
Before her last pregnancy, Patricia and Randy worked in the insurance business, but both have since quit. Randy will soon open a hobby shop with an indoor track for radio-controlled cars.
"I used to race slot cars," Randy says. "I was tired of the insurance business and a kid down the block said I ought to open a track and I thought it was a good idea--unlike selling insurance, there's no pressure and stress in it." Patricia plans to join her husband in this new venture once things get more settled at home.
A 'Miracle Child'
The Mollers look upon David as "a miracle child." Doctors had discussed the possible medical problems associated with David's birth and delivery. "They said he could be retarded and have physical deformities," Patricia says. But she refused to think David would be anything less than perfect.
Randy lifts the baby. "He's the easiest to deal with, sleeps well, is eating strained fruit and he's a real good baby, a champ."
David is surrounded by little elephants on the bumpers of his crib. Above his head a musical mobile plays.
"There he goes, smiling at them," Patricia says.
"We've always wanted a boy. Now we have everything."