The Twins - Abby & Lena

Abby and Lena Jarvie were born on May 20, 1992 in Salt Lake City Utah, 3 ½ months premature. Abby was first born and weighed 2 Pounds 1 1/3 ounces and was 12 inches long. Lena came shortly after weighing 1 pound 5 ounces and 11 inches long. At birth dads wedding ring fit all the way up their arms. They were kept in small trays that had plastic wrap over them to keep from dehydrating them. Shortly after birth it was noted that both Abby and Lena had heart murmurs and required emergency surgery to save them. It was difficult first weeks fight for life both requiring surfactants to develop their lungs and Lena came down with Pneumonia and an abscess in her neck that required surgery to correct, and Abby who pulled out a tube in her head that caused a burn so bad that they had to rush a burn team specialist in to stop the burning of her skin. By the end of the week Abby weighed 1 pound 5 ounces and Lena dropped to 9 ounces, yes less then a pound of butter to put it into perspective.

After two months the girls were able to return to Montana Abby came first class with a nurse and Lena a few weeks later on a air ambulance. Back in Montana they spent a few more weeks in the hospital until their lungs were strong enough to not require breathing machines. Finally on their actual due date we were able to bring them home and care for them at home. The next few months were very difficult because of being born so early they had to be fed in the dark and no noise to over stimulate them. When they reached 1 year of age we began to notice that they were not developing like a normal child. We took them to a new born ICU screening to learn they were diagnosed with Spastic Dipelgia Cerebral Palsy. The doctors felt that at that time they would not walk or be able to carry on a conversation. We started physical therapy right away and began a life long determination to prove the doctors wrong.

Since they were 1 year old they have seen a physical therapist twice a week to work with them to be able to develop to their full potential. Two years ago Abby had to go through a major surgery to her legs, one leg had to be cut and rotated, and then 7 surgeries to lengthen and move muscles and tendons. Her two year recover has been very and very hard for her to keep up with school. It was a wonderful change in life to be introduced to therapeutic riding here in Montana, it has not only helped with Abby’s recovery, it has given her a sense of pride to ride a horse and control a horse even better then her parents. Lena was to have a surgery on her heal cord to help her walk but with the drive to ride horses she now does not require that surgery because the tendon has lengthened due to the riding.

For two children the doctors said would never walk and carry a conversation they have left them scratching their heads. We never put a limit on what they can achieve this last summer Abby and Lena now 13 years old had the opportunity to sing the National Anthem to a crowd of 4,000 at the East West Shine Game. We as parents know they have a long road ahead of them but with their determination and good positive support from us as parents and the grace of God give then the power to overcome any hurdles that they may come to cross later in life. Thank you to all the Therapeutic Riding clubs across the Nation that give the opportunity to have a therapy children can enjoy and once the session is over they look forward to the next week when they can do it again.



Gary & Cindy Jarvie