Kaiser Permanente Northern California members Nathan and Emily MacDonald were beyond excited when they received news that would change their lives forever: They were expecting twin girls.
The young couple, always wanting to have children, had been through their share of ups and downs on their journey to start a family. But with help from the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Center for Reproductive Health in Sacramento, the MacDonalds finally got the news they wanted.
At 24 weeks into the pregnancy. things took an unexpected turn when Emily felt pressure intermittently and knew something was wrong. She and Nathan drove to the Kaiser Permanente Roseville Emergency Department where they learned Emily was in premature labor.
With every second now critical, Emily was quickly moved into the Women and Children’s Center at the Roseville Medical Center, where a team from Labor and Delivery helped her give birth to twin girls Ella and Evie. Due to the shortened gestational period, a team from the Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit was also in the room and immediately began caring for the girls.
The MacDonalds knew the challenges that lay ahead, but were confident that their girls were in good hands.
“They were the tiniest babies I had ever seen in my entire life,” said Nathan. “They each weighed roughly 1.5 pounds. It’s not your typical experience where you get to hold them right after they’re born and you’re just praying that they survive the next 24 hours.”
The twins stayed in the NICU, receiving around-the-clock care for the next 16 weeks of their young lives. The survival rate of babies born at just 24 weeks is around 65 percent, with only about a 15 percent chance of them going home without any of the four major complications of prematurity (bronchopulmonary dysplasia, intraventricular haemorrhage, retinopathy of prematurity, and hearing loss). With twins, those rates are even lower.
“We have neonatal physicians who are here 24/7 who respond and adjust the treatment based on the infant’s needs,” said Mark Ziegler, MD, neonatologist who helped care for both girls. “Ella experienced a small bleeding in the brain that did totally resolve before she went home, and Evie did experience the issue of eye changes associated with premature babies, requiring a laser surgery operation to her eyes.”
However, after 16 weeks, the twins went home healthy and are growing well.
“Thank you for loving my girls. They’re a miracle,” said a tearful Emily.