Parents' joy as twin Katie turns one – 87 days after sister Amy
THE first year in the life of Ireland's miraculous twins born 87 days apart has been a whirl of nappies, night feeds and nervous watchfulness for their parents.
Amy and Katie Jones-Elliott entered the record books last year when they were born almost three months apart.
Eldest twin Amy was born on June 1 when mum Maria went into labour early.
However after Amy was delivered, Maria's contractions stopped and she remained in hospital under round-the-clock supervision until Katie was induced on August 27 – 87 days later – making medical history.
News of the twin's amazing story garnered attention around the world.
But for parents Maria and Chris, from Glenmore, Co Kilkenny, the past year has been one of unbridled joy mixed with concern for premature Amy.
As the family celebrated Katie's first birthday yesterday, Maria told the Irish Independent how Amy weighed just 1lb 3oz when she was born at Waterford Regional Hospital while Katie, in comparison, tipped the scales at a robust 5lb 10oz.
"The last year has been hard. When Amy arrived on June 1, she was 24 weeks premature and I stayed in the hospital until Katie was born on August 27, a year ago today.
"I don't think any doctor in Europe had experienced anything like this before – it was day by day, hour by hour," said Maria.
While Katie was still very small, she was considered a "term" baby, whereas Amy required extra care because of her prematurity.
"When you're dealing with a premature baby and a term baby, it's two babies with two very different needs," explained Maria.
The family's home was on virtual lockdown last winter as Maria and Chris sought to protect the twins from infections.
"With a premature baby there are so many more risks. Cold and flu season is deadly for premature babies so the house was on lockdown for months, we just didn't let anyone in. Santa called to the house at Christmas because we couldn't get out to see him," recalled Maria.
"I only started going out with them in April."
Maria, who is also mum to Olivia (14) and Jack (11), has recently started writing a blog to help other parents of premature babies.
Looking at pictures of a tiny one-day-old Amy, whose entire body could have sat in the palm of her dad's hand, and a one-day-old Katie born months later, Maria said she is astounded that they are here one year later.
"Every hour of every day I look at the two of them and think 'Oh my God, they're miracles'.
"They have their own personalities. Amy is very, very strong-willed. She's a tough little thing. Katie is as laid back as you can get. Amy is so nosey she couldn't wait any longer to be born whereas Katie took her time," she laughed.
The twins had a special cake shaped like two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle on each of their first birthdays.
"There was one half for Amy and one half for Katie and when you put them together they make one big jigsaw. It represents two becoming one, they're still twin sisters," explained Maria.