Our story, as with the birth of any preemie, is very dramatic. My pregnancy started out in an interesting way as I miscarried at eight weeks. I went to the OB to check and she let both my husband and I know that we were still pregnant with twins. What a shock! From there on, everything seemed flawless.
One evening I was a bit uncomfortable. Going through this for the first time, I assumed that everything was normal and all would subside. But when my pains became cyclical, my husband called my OB.
When I arrived at the hospital I was immediately sent to Labor & Delivery. I was put on many monitors and told that I was six centimeters dilated. The doctors put me on a drug called magnesium to stop the contractions. Their purpose was to give the babies steroids to enhance their lung ability after birth. Luckily, I was able to make it through the shots before I was rushed for an emergency c-section.
Cameron Alexis (Camy) arrived first weighing in at 1 pound 15 ounces and 13 inches in length. The doctors quickly showed me this little doll with large eyes. Camy was rushed off to be intubated as she was unable to breathe on her own.
Cameron Alexis, at 5 weeks old (born at 25 weeks 4 days, 1.13 lbs.)
Brandon Francis (Brando) came one minute later weighing in at 2 pounds 2 ounces and 13 inches in length. I was unable to see Brando for awhile as we found out later that everyone was worried about his survival. Brando was born with his eyes still fused and seemed very lethargic.
Brandon Francis, at 5 weeks old (born at 25 weeks 4 days, 2.2 lbs.)
Intubation for Camy lasted about three weeks. She was very slow and steady with her progress in the NICU. Camy did have issues with apnea, bradycardia and feeding, but never gave us a large scare. She was attached to many monitors and feeding tubes. One of the most amazing memories I have was watching Camy get fed — she held down a quarter of a teaspoon of milk — we were on our way!
Brando's ride through the NICU is just what everyone told us to expect — a rollercoaster. He constantly battled with apnea, bradys and feeding issues. He wore "the mask of Zorro" while being treated for jaundice and still had fused eyes. Brando was up one day and down the next. So his successes were truly special. Brando also had retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). His eyes seemed fine while at the hospital, but on our first visit at home, we were immediately sent to Yale-New Haven Hospital for treatment. Every week we drove to the hospital to get Brando's eyes checked. For some reason, his ROP receded and he never had to get surgery. His only issue is his peripheral vision.
Camy and Brando were given Birth to Three services which played a large part in their development, and they both continue to receive physical and occupational therapy.
As I look back on this very surreal period of my life I realize that it was truly a gift. I gained a wonderful new family at the NICU, friends that will last a lifetime and a strength of spirit that drives me to this day. Camy and Brando are happy, healthy 4-year-olds who inspire me to live as they do — with an unbridled spirit.