22 Weekers Week: Luna & Ema's Story
Author: Kayla Ibarra, mother of Luna & Ema, 22 weeker advocate and co-founder of TwentyTwoMatters
It’s important to me to start my story off when everything was “normal” (or our normal anyway). My husband Medardo and I got married in 2015 and were eager to start our family. And within our first year of marriage, we successfully conceived our son Noah who was born on October 19th, 2016 weighing 8lbs. He was completely healthy and perfect in every way! When Noah was a year and a half, we decided it was a good time to try for our second (and final) baby. Once again, we got pregnant very quickly. At our first ultrasound, the tech initially saw one healthy little baby bouncing around. But shortly after she said “Kayla, there’s TWO. It’s TWINS!” My jaw hit the floor. Twins? 3 kids? We called my husband and son in who were waiting in the waiting room. My husband was thrilled to find out we were having twins. Everything in the pregnancy progressed like normal. I was running an in-home daycare at the time and everything was going smoothly. We even found out the twins were girls!
And then, on September 23rd, 2018 at 21 weeks and 5 days pregnant, EVERYTHING changed. I put Noah down for a nap and went to the washroom. When I wiped there was a TINY smear of pink blood. I called my midwife who instructed me to go in to make sure I didn’t have a bladder infection. I told her I didn’t want to but I’d go if she really wanted me to. I checked into the triage and my midwife called up letting them know I was there. I sat there for 4hrs and was growing increasingly uncomfortable. I was having what I thought were Braxton Hicks contractions. I called my midwife and told her the nurses hadn’t seen me yet and I was super uncomfortable. She was floored and upon calling the nurses said that they “forgot I was there”. I was rushed into the back where they did a urine test and called down for an ultrasound. I remember the nurse on the phone with my midwife saying “the urine is clean” and I instantly started crying. Something hit me and I KNEW this was labor. I started bawling my eyes out as I was finally wheeled to the ultrasound room. While getting the exam done, I kept telling the tech I was having contractions. She kept telling me to relax and all would be fine. I stood up and BAM, my water broke. They called the doctor on call who came and confirmed that my water had indeed broken.
Through my tears I said “what’s going to happen to my daughters?” As she was wheeling me back upstairs, she said “The babies will be born today and they will die”. They will DIE?!
Tears still swell in my eyes when I speak those words. When I got back upstairs my mother in law, sisters in law, husband and midwife were already there. Everyone surrounding me, crying. They began asking the doctor, “What do we do? What can we do?” Again, she told them “There is nothing that can be done. The twins will be born today and they will die.” The way she spoke was so cold and matter of fact. My sister in law kept telling me “We need to pray” and I remember blurting out “I will not pray! I am angry. I am angry with my God. How can He allow this?” Little did I know, He was just starting this beautiful story. We all began to work on trying to find out who would help us, which hospital would help us. We found out London, Ontario intervened at 24 weeks. We begged the Dr to call London and see if they would consider seeing me and she denied our request. I asked for pain medication and she told me “this is going to be quick. Let’s get it over with.” I decided to pray, to tell God I was angry. All of a sudden, after praying, my contractions stopped. Just like that! After arguing with the doctor and my labor stalling, she agreed to leave me be. She told me she wouldn’t let me see the twins or hear their heartbeats because it was a “waste of time”. I was then moved to a regular room to rest.
The next morning the high-risk OB came into my room. He told me all the risks if I didn’t deliver the twins. Baby A’s feet were touchable. He told me I could die and it was pointless to try and keep the twins because no surrounding hospital would help until at least 23 weeks. He told me he wouldn’t call London to even ask unless I made it to 23 weeks which he didn’t have faith I would. I told him I refused to start labor again and as long as the twins are in me, they are breathing and safe. He also denied me medication that would help the twins' lung and brain develop. I laid in the hospital bed with on and off labor for 4 days. I couldn’t get up to pee or move because every time I did Baby A would come out a little more. I spent those 4 days in the hospital BEGGING them to call London (they refused every single time) and begging them for the medication (also denied every single time). I laid there crying, praying and crying some more.
And then on September 27, full labor began again at 22.2 weeks. My mind is all over now. I feel so defeated. I lost. This 4-day battle was about to come to an end and I was on the losing end. My life was about to be shattered. I was going to birth my daughters and hold them as they died. None of my family was there yet and I was alone. As they were wheeling me to the labor room, my sister showed up. I wanted to jump out of my skin into her arms. “I’m in labor” I yelled as she grabbed my hand. All of the sudden a new doctor walks into the room while they are getting me setup and spoke these words: “Kayla, I read your chart. I know you desire to have these babies saved. I’m going to call surrounding level 3/4 NICU’s and let the decide if they are willing to take you.” For the first time in 4 days I felt hope. Finally, someone was going to JUST CALL and see! Within 15 minutes he came back in my room and said “TWO hospitals agreed to take you! We’re going to London and I’m coming with you!!”
As we were preparing to leave (within seconds of the great news) I yelled back to my sister, “Call my husband!!” As we raced down the highway to London it hit me that FINALLY someone is willing to TRY and save the lives of my babies. Once I arrived to London, everything was a blur. They realized my oxygen was super low and it was discovered shortly after that I had pneumonia. The previous hospital couldn’t have and didn’t discover this because in those 4 days I was in their hospital, they never fully examined me or appropriately cared of me. As a result, not only were my daughters going to die in that hospital, but apparently wasn’t too far behind.
I met with the Neonatologist in the NICU a few times who also tried to convince me to let the girls go. By the second meeting with this doctor, I wasn’t very pleasant and I remember yelling “DO YOUR DAMN JOB AND SAVE MY DAUGHTERS!” Oddly enough, this doctor would become dear to my heart and loved by my family. We are all set up for the birth and my husband still isn’t there. The minute I am about to push, he rushes through the doors. I hear someone say, “Baby A’s water is still here! She’s coming out in her water! We thought she ruptured?!” I was frozen. For sure Luna’s water ruptured and now it was completely sealed again!! Baby A, who we named Luna, was born at 9:12pm weighing 14oz and was 11 inches long. She came out kicking and had the tiniest little cry. The goal then became to keep Baby B in but that just wasn’t possible. The minute Luna was out, her sisters heart rate dropped. Baby B, who we named Ema, was born crying at 9:29pm, weighing 1 lb and was 12 inches long.
They were here! They were alive. They were stable!!! We were told we would probably have 12-24 hours with the twins. But before I could be with them, I needed a bunch of testing done for my pneumonia and such. I finally got to meet my warriors, and what a meeting it was!
My life changed FOREVER September 23-27, 2018!
I was damaged. But when I looked at them, I knew it was worth EVERYTHING I had just gone through. Luna and Ema spent 115 days in the NICU and came home BEFORE their due date! The
y are completely healthy in every way and are typical1 yearolds. Most people have no idea that they were born at 22 weeks (18 weeks premature) unless I share it with them. We went from 0% chance of survival to 12-24hr chance to celebrating almost 2 years of life.
Through my work with our organization TwentyTwoMatters, I’ve come to realize that babies born this premature aren’t abnormal or rare. When given the chance, they WILL thrive. We work daily with parents to save their children and give them the chance at life that they truly deserve.
You can follow Kayla and her twins on Instagram at instagram.com/mrskayla_ibarra , on Facebook by searching for TwentyTwo Week Warriors and by following her blog at https://mkibarra16.wixsite.com/imperfectmotherhood. You can also follow her organization, TwentyTwoMatters on Instagram and Twitter with the handle @TwentyTwoMatters.