Benjamin and Levi – 25 weeks
“The smallest footprints are those with the biggest hearts and incredible spirit of resilience and strength”
With excitement and joyous love, we celebrated our growing family to come. Little did we know that our precious identical twin boys, Benjamin and Levi, who were due on May 28th were going to bless us early on February 12th. Due to severe preeclampsia, I delivered our boys 15 weeks early at only 25-weeks gestation. We soon embarked on an emotional rollercoaster known as the NICU–a place no parent wants to encounter but is one where miracles are not just heard of but seen, where you never measure how strong you really are until being strong is the only choice you have, and where battles are fought every single day with every shred of faith & hope, as life is worth fighting for.
Our son, Benjamin (Twin A), was born at just 1lb 1.3 oz and 11-1/2 inches long. His first 142 days of life were spent in the NICU. Benji survived Twin-to-Twin Transfer Syndrome. He underwent surgeries for NEC (Necrotizing Enterocolitis), including having a portion of his small intestine removed, an ileostomy when he was just 2 pounds and an anastamosis at 4 pounds, as well as a PDA ligation. Benji also had ROP (Retinopathy of Prematurity) which, thanks to God, regressed. Three days before his brother Levi’s tracheostomy surgery, I was able to bring Benji home. It was bittersweet. Having to take one of my twin boys home while the other stayed in the hospital just tore me to pieces. I was so happy that I was taking my little one home but crushed that it wasn’t both of my boys.
Our son, Levi (Twin B) was born at just 1lb 6.9 oz and 11-3/4 inches long. Like his brother, Levi survived Twin-to-Twin Transfer Syndrome, underwent a PDA ligation, and had ROP which regressed. Levi also had to have tracheotomy surgery to be able to breathe and G-Tube surgery for his feeds and medications. After 10 long months in the NICU at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, Levi was transferred in December to Blythedale Children’s Hospital to prepare for being able to take him home and weaning him off the ventilator. Levi’s long hospitalization was due in large part to his Chronic Lung Disease due to his prematurity and early ventilation. After 645 days in the hospital, Levi finally came home for the very FIRST time in his life.
I feel beyond blessed to be the mom of two precious miracles who have endured the unthinkable with their God-given strength and their fighting spirit, and by the grace of God and our great medical team, our boys are alive and blessed. Despite all the trials faced early on, our miracle babies are thriving, happy, adventurous and bubbly boys who love to play, smile and be loved. Benji is walking independently and is learning words in both English and Spanish. Levi is sitting up independently, breathing on his own for 12 hours a day on a trach collar, weaning down on oxygen, vocalizing and trying purees. They are our world and our lives are complete with them in it.
Although my twin boys are identical, their journeys are unique. Levi’s lungs needed more time to strengthen than Benjamin’s and that’s okay. A tracheostomy should not carry a negative connotation–because of it, Levi was steps closer to coming home, hitting milestones, engaging in therapies and playtime and having an active and normal childhood development rather than being confined to a crib with an intubation tube. There were decisions that are scary to make, nonetheless needed. Everything we did was for the well-being and in the best intention of our little miracle warriors. Our faith has strengthened as we have seen miracles unfold before our own eyes.
We could not be more grateful and blessed for Hailey’s Hope Foundation. Even after our NICU journey transitioned into a rehabilitation one, their never-ending support, care and genuine love for our family further grew the beam of light in the toughest of situations. Not solely monetary, but in every aspect: the ability to be able to feel comfort and confide in a large support system who knows what goes behind the closed doors of a NICU that not many in the public may know. They are truly a blessing to all, and we forever will be grateful for every ounce of love and support. They will forever be engraved in our hearts, as our extended family. Thank you Hailey’s Hope Foundation, words don’t do justice our love and gratitude.