When a woman is told she’s pregnant with twins, she expects them to be born on the same day, or within the same 24-hour period. However, that was not the case when Amy delivered her twins 18 days apart.
Amy’s pregnancy had been typical. Other than expecting twins, she had no complications. But at 23 weeks, she began showing signs of preterm labor. She and husband Benny, who live in Dripping Springs, decided to head for the hospital.
When Amy arrived at Seton Medical Center Austin (SMCA), physicians and the SMCA Labor and Delivery staff worked to stop the labor. Amy’s cervix already had dilated to four centimeters, but the team was able to delay delivery for a week.
“The nurses were really great,” recalls Amy. “They took care of me both physically and emotionally.”
On Oct. 6, 2008, at only 24 weeks and four days gestation, Amy gave birth to her daughter Emma. “We wanted the other baby to stay put, but we weren’t sure that would happen,” says Amy. “There was a 1 or 2 percent chance that we could hold off the contractions and delay his arrival. We didn’t know if it would work.”
But it did. Amy remained on strict bed rest in the hospital for almost three weeks before delivering her second twin. “I couldn’t have made it through those weeks without the nurses,” says Amy. “They were so caring and so supportive. Toward the end of my pregnancy, the nurses would come in and talk to me as long as they could. Once, they even brought me scrapbooking materials. They helped take my mind off my worries.”
Amy recalls one special gesture just three days before her second baby was born. “The doctor had ordered that the baby be on a heart monitor 24 hours a day. But since he was only 26 weeks gestation, it kept slipping off and we’d lose track of him,” remembers Amy. “Every time that happened, one of the nurses would have to rush in and work to find him again. But for two nights, in order to let me rest, one of the nurses sat by my bed all night long and held the monitor in place. It takes a really special person to do something like that.”
Amy and Benny’s son, Grant, was born on Oct. 24, 2008, 18 days after his twin sister. He weighed 2 pounds, 3 ounces.
“My obstetrician told me that he’d never seen that happen before,” laughs Amy. “He’s delivered hundreds of babies, but we were his first set of twins born weeks apart.”
Both babies were admitted to the SMCA Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) immediately after birth.
Emma seemed strong and healthy, despite weighing only 1 pound, 6 ounces at birth. She needed only a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine as opposed to a ventilator. (The CPAP machine provides oxygen with slight pressure to help inflate the lungs, whereas the ventilator actually breathes for the baby.)
But when she was just five days old, Emma’s condition began to deteriorate. She was placed on a ventilator, and soon after neonatologists discovered that Emma had a blood infection. She went into kidney failure and her blood pressure plummeted.
When she was almost two months old, Emma underwent surgery to repair a valve in her heart. She had a condition known as patent ductus arteriosus. A valve between her aorta and pulmonary artery had not closed after birth. Surgeons successfully clamped the valve and Emma’s health immediately began to improve.
“Her prognosis went up and up and up,” says Amy with a smile.
Emma’s brother, Grant had contracted the same blood infection while in utero. Doctors began him on antibiotics upon his arrival to the NICU. Grant, too, was strong and only needed the ventilator for a week before downgrading to the CPAP machine. However, Grant also suffered two brain bleeds – grades one and two. Fortunately, they resolved on their own and no intervention was necessary.
Grant was released from the hospital on Feb. 4, 2009. And on March 16, Emma was joyously welcomed home by Mom, Dad and little brother Grant.
Amy still keeps in touch with the nurses from Labor and Delivery, as well as the NICU. “I feel like they’re my second family. I never worried that my kids weren’t getting enough love. The doctors, the nurses – everyone was great,” she says.
“And it wasn’t just the medical care that they gave us,” continues Amy. “It was their guidance and emotional support that helped us get through this experience. They were good at explaining things to us and talking to me. They even helped me laugh when I was down. I’ll never forget them.”