Friday 20 September 2019

'These two little monkeys were so strong' - adorable twins who weighed just three pounds at birth

Twins Julen and Carla are now thriving
Twins Julen and Carla are now thriving
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

These little twins were born weighing the equivalent of one-and-a-half bags of sugar.

Little Julen and Carla Erler, who were born at 30 weeks last March, spent the first six weeks of their lives in the neonatal intensive care unit.

Today, they are thriving.

Their proud parents Rakel and Maik have praise the staff at the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street for helping their children when they were born.

“Seven months later and who could tell they were born at 30 weeks,” Rakel said.

Last March 5, Rakel’s waters broke at 2.30am waters.

Julen are Carla weighed just 1.5kg when they were born.
Julen are Carla weighed just 1.5kg when they were born.

“The next hours went like a blur and at 9.04am Julen was born followed by Carla at 9.06am born crying and the doctor said ‘she is feisty’,” she said. “I liked that as it was a sign of strength.”

“Both weighed less than 1.5 kilograms (3.31 pounds). We saw them for a second and then they were taken to the neonatal intensive care unit.”

For the next few hours, Rakel could only see her little babies with the help of technology.

“Maik could see them four hours later, but for me, it would be only later that evening.

Maik and Rakel with their twins Julen and Carla
Maik and Rakel with their twins Julen and Carla

“Kim, one of the midwives, brought me a tablet so I could see one of the twins in the incubator. It was Julen, man he looked big on that screen!”

She added: “But very fragile. At 9pm we made the first visit to what would be our “home” for the next six weeks. Washing your hands has never been so important!”

Little Carla, in particular, was fragile after she was born, Rakel recalled.

“Our whole world fell apart when we saw them, tubes, masks, cables...we could not see their faces, neither could we hug them. [They were] too fragile.”

“Carla was sicker than Julen and she was intubated. I could only cry and say ‘sorry’. The next four days were scary as you don’t understand anything.”

The couple grappled to come to terms with hospital life, and things like “learning sounds, numbers on the machines, feeding them through tubes and asking a million questions to all the nurses”.

“You are waiting for the daily weigh-in like you wait for the lotto numbers. We spent the next six weeks talking to them every day so they knew we were there, kangaroo care, feeding, changing their nappies. How much they want to live and grow is incredible.”

However, thanks to the incredible care the family received, the twins are now thriving at home.

Rakel said: “We met many wonderful parents, nurses, nearly miss the NICU once you go home. Very early you realise they are getting the best possible care.”

“These two little monkeys were so strong that the only thing you can do is be as strong. And you see that every day it is getting a bit better, until suddenly it is graduation day. Seven months later and who could tell they were born at 30 weeks.”

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