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Murphy becomes a Florida lawyer in the maternity ward

Senior Editor News in Photos

Complicated pregnancy with twins has her confined to the hospital

Sworn-in in the maternity wardEvery six hours – at 8 a.m., 2 p.m., 8 p.m., and 2 a.m. – Lex Murphy lies perfectly still on her hospital bed while technicians perform the scans that will determine whether she needs an emergency C-section.

Life has been like that for the 27-year-old Florida State Law grad for the past month after a rare and complicated pregnancy with twins reached 25 weeks and she was admitted to Tampa General.

“Some days they’re acting up a little bit, so they put me on the monitor 24/7 and I just have to lay there like a log,” Murphy says. “It’s really crazy.”

Neonatologists call Murphy’s condition “monoamniotic monochoriotic,” or “MoMo.” It means the twins share the same placenta and the same amniotic sac and it’s extremely rare. Worldwide, only 12 to 16 of every 1,000 naturally conceived pregnancies results in twins. Only 1% of twins are MoMo.

MoMo pregnancies stand only a 50-50 chance of surviving to 25 weeks. After that, hospitalization and close monitoring are the only recourse until surgical delivery. If everything goes as planned, Murphy’s twins will be delivered on May 16 – nearly two months before her original due date of July 11.

Then they face an extended stay in neonatal intensive care.

“If they were twins in their own bubbles, they would be perfectly normal, but the problem is, because they’re in the same sac, they could squeeze each other’s cords,” Murphy says. “It’s really in God’s hands, so there’s nothing the medical team can do other than monitor me.”

Dwelling on the risks or giving in to boredom or despair isn’t Murphy’s speed. The daughter of two attorneys and the wife of another, Murphy considers herself a born litigator and problem-solver whose most important mission is to help people.

A 2018 FSU Law grad, Murphy enjoyed tactical classes like jury selection and depositions. During law school, she was a legal intern with Second Judicial Circuit State Attorney Jack Campbell in Tallahassee.

“I wanted to be an attorney all of my life,” she said. “I have friends who are geniuses at transactional law, but shudder at the thought of being in front of a jury — that’s not me.”

So, Murphy fills her time between scans with her husband’s nightly visits, trips downstairs to a hospital Starbucks — “it’s the only place I can pretend not to be a patient”— journaling about her pregnancy or sharing tips with and encouraging other women via an online MoMo support group.

Murphy spent her 27th birthday in the hospital.

But so far, the most memorable interval between scans was the day nurses led Murphy into a small conference room filled with hospital staff, friends, extended family members, Murphy’s husband and his boss, 13th Judicial Circuit Public Defender Julianne Holt — the latter to preside over Murphy’s swearing-in ceremony to The Florida Bar.
Holt, who was first elected in 1993, is a family friend. Murphy’s father was a senior member of Holt’s administration until he left to start his own firm.

“It was only supposed to be her and my husband,” Murphy said. “I was just in shock. I almost ran out of the room.”

Holt says it’s the least she could do for a prized member of her legal family.

“It was my honor to be a small part of her induction to The Florida Bar,” Holt says. “Patrick and Lex will make us proud as parents and as Florida Bar members.”

It was a fitting ceremony for a young lawyer who took Bar prep courses to take her mind off a risky pregnancy she could do nothing to change, and despite suffering from an exaggerated form of morning sickness called Hyperemesis gravidarum.

“I just made up my mind to do it,” she said. “But I took a no-pressure approach. I decided I wouldn’t be too hard on myself because it had been a rough couple of months.”

Murphy was five months pregnant and still not sure if her twins would survive their first 25 weeks when she sat for the bar exam with a group of expectant mothers.

“Technically, pregnancy isn’t a recognized ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) condition,” she says. “But they were nice enough to sit us across from the bathroom and let us drink water.”

Murphy misread the results when they were first posted online, and mistakenly notified friends and family that she didn’t pass. Then she took another look at the results and realized that, like her twins, she had cleared an important initial hurdle.

“I’m superstitious so I waited for the letter to come and confirm it before I told anybody I really passed,” she said.

The daughter of a Cuban-immigrant father, Murphy is bi-lingual and hopes to eventually put her language skills to work practicing family or possibly criminal law.

“I wanted to be able to serve my local community and speak their language, because getting an attorney that speaks fluently is more difficult than you think,” she said.

Murphy’s first name, “Lex” is short for Alexandra, and yet another sign she was destined to become a lawyer.

“Lex is Latin for law,” she says. “No, it wasn’t deliberate, but it’s a fun fact.”