Father's Day a double delight for twins dad

Father's Day a double delight for twins dad

Father-of-three Steven Carpenter will spend this Father's Day changing nappies and juggling feeds, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Steven and his wife Jess, of Forest Hill, this week celebrated a major milestone—the discharge of daughter Bella after 127 days in Mater Mothers' Neonatal Critical Care Unit. 

Bella, and twin sister Bailey, were born more than 15 weeks premature after Jess went in to early labour. 

"We found out at our 12 week scan that we were having twins and that was a big surprise as we didn't know of any multiples in the family," Jess said. 

"At 20 weeks we found out we were having two girls which was another big surprise as we already have a four-year-old daughter, Brooke." 

At 24 weeks and four days gestation, Jess went in to premature labour and the terrified mum was rushed by ambulance from Toowoomba to Mater Mothers’ Private Hospital. 

"It was lights and sirens the whole way; it was pretty scary because I knew Steven was trying to follow us in the car and we were going so fast,” Jess said. 

"I had no idea what was going to happen; I’d been told that if I had the babies in Toowoomba, they would die and because my labour with our daughter Brooke was so fast, part of me thought we wouldn't make it."

As the ambulance sped towards Brisbane, a team of doctors and nurses monitored Jess' condition, fearful that they would have to deliver the twins in transit. 

Once at Mater, Jess was placed in the care of obstetrician Dr Rod Allen who took steps to boost the twins' development and slow down labour. 

"Rod was amazing; he spent the night at the hospital to keep an eye on me."

After making it through the night, everyone was hopeful Jess would last another couple of days before delivering the twins, but Bailey had other ideas. 

"I'd sent Steven home but just after he left I knew something was wrong so I text him asking him to come back. I didn't tell him something felt wrong because I didn't want him to panic.

An emergency caesarean was needed and Steven made it back to Mater just in time to welcome his daughters to the world. 

Bailey was born first, weighing just 670 grams, with Bella delivered four minutes later, weighing 710 grams. 

The twins were rushed to Mater's Neonatal Critical Care Unit (NCCU)—a unit that would quickly become a second home for Steven and Jess. 

"I hadn't really caught on to what was happening or how serious it was; I just thought they were small babies and people have small babies all the time," Jess said. 

Within a few days, the reality of the uphill battle faced by both her daughters hit Jess. 

"It wasn't just that they were small; it was that there were so many things that could go wrong and it seemed that every day the NCCU team broke more and more bad news and what would and could happen."

At just one week old, Bella—whose weight had dropped to 600 grams—suffered a perforated bowel and required emergency surgery. 

"We were told there was only a 50 per cent chance that she would survive the operation, let alone everything else she faced," Jess said. 

But Bella had a fighting spirit and made it through the operation without any major setbacks. During her time in NCCU, she also had more than 20 blood transfusions, suffered a heart murmur and spent almost nine weeks on a ventilator. 

After 99 days in hospital, Jess and Steven were able to take Bailey home. But the couple continued their daily trips to Brisbane to visit Bella. 

"I didn't hold them both at the same time until Day 100 after Bailey had been discharged."

On that day, joy turned to fear when, just moments before staff surprised the girls' parents with a cake to celebrate the milestone, Bella stopped breathing and needed to be resuscitated. 

"There were lots of moments where we thought we may not take both home; Bailey was doing so well and Bella seemed to have a bad day every second day,” Jess said. 

Then, on Wednesday, after 127 days at Mater, Steven and Jess walked out of the Neonatal Critical Care Unit for the last time. 

"Bailey has been doing really well at home and now Bella is doing fantastic; she's probably going to have a few little problems along the way but everything is working quite well,” Jess said. 

"Bella will still need to see a cardiologist and both her and Bailey are on oxygen and probably will be for about six months.” 

The twins also suffer from Retinopathy of Prematurity, a potentially blinding eye disorder that primarily affects premature babies, which is being monitored on a weekly basis. 

"It’s wonderful to have them both home; I won’t complain about sleepless nights. I don’t think anyone would at this point,” Jess said.

“We’ve been so lucky that our family and friends and my work made it easy for us to be with the girls when they needed us,” Steven added. 

"I don’t even know what words to use to describe the staff at the Neonatal Critical Care Unit; they were amazing, fantastic,” Jess said. 

"Dr Rod Allen was amazing, our paediatrician Dr Paul Woodgate went above and beyond for us; Bella's surgeon Dr Chris Burke was wonderful and the nurses were just awesome. It was like being part of another family.” 

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A fight for survival ... Bailey weighed just 670 grams when born on April 30. 

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First cuddles ... Steven and Jess celebrate the first 100 days with Bella and Bailey. 

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