Six months ago, Luphinia Digsby of Charlotte, North Carolina, gave birth to her second set of twins.
The 38-year-old mom had the first set 22 years ago when she was just 16 years old and remembers the shock of being a teen and learning she would have not one, but two babies.
She was already eight months along when she found out she was expecting twins because the boy was covering his sister in the womb and doctors didn’t spot her until close to the end of the pregnancy.
“I cried. I’d been preparing for one baby,” Digsby tells PEOPLE.
Thanks to the support of her family, she finished high school and college — and both of her kids did, too.
Her daughter Dquaneice is now a postal worker and her son Dquayvion is in graduate school working on his masters in social work.
With both kids successful and out of the house, the 38-year-old mom thought she was ready for emptynesthood.
Then she met and fell in love with John Sanders, a retired barber shop worker, and the couple started talking about having kids. The thought that she could have twins again was always in the back of her mind.
“Once I had the first set of twins, my doctor informed me there was a high possibility if I became pregnant again, it could be multiple births, but I never thought it would happen,” she says.
When Digsby learned she was pregnant, she went in for an ultrasound, and she was speechless when the technician told her she was pregnant with twins for the second time.
“I asked them to repeat what they said and he said, ‘Yes, there are two in there.’ I started crying,” she says.
That wasn’t the only news she would hear from the doctors.
At her 22-week checkup, she was told that her unborn baby boy had a rare heart condition. Doctors informed her that he had an outpouching of the left ventricle, meaning blood wasn’t flowing properly and he would need surgery.
“I was told that he wouldn’t make it,” she says. “So whenever I didn’t feel movement, I was frantic.”
Sanders got to the point where he couldn’t bear to go to the appointments, but Digsby tried to stay strong.
“I wasn’t gonna count him out,” Disby says.
Doctors even told the couple to consider terminating the one pregnancy and focus on the twin sister.
“It was hard. I cried at every appointment,” she says.
But on August 24, she gave birth to both babies via C-section — a boy they named John and a girl named Johnana.
“I kept waiting to hear him cry,” Digsby says of baby John. “I was holding my breath.”
But shortly after John let out a cry he flatlined.
“I prayed. I heard a strong healthy baby boy just crying and then all of a sudden that’s when we got the flat line,” Sanders tells PEOPLE. “I sat there and prayed and I told little man, ‘I need you, son.’ ”
Doctors were able to save him, but informed the couple that he’d need a lifesaving surgery.
“The operation was unusual because his disease is so rare,” Doctor Paul Kirshbom of Levine Children’s Hospital tells PEOPLE. “There are reported cases in literature, a couple dozen maybe, but it’s something we don’t see very often.”
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It’s been a month since baby John’s surgery and he’s doing great. Last week, doctors told the family that John surpassed all their expectations. He’s expected to live a normal life.
Before his surgery, his parents say John had very little energy compared to his twin. Now, every time they place the siblings next to each other, John immediately reaches to hold his little sister’s hand.
“He instantly turned and grabbed her hand and I felt like he was saying, ‘I’m here.’ I felt like it was him telling her, ‘It’s us, I’m here.’ So every time I see it, it makes me feel good, I feel wonderful,” Digsby says.