Under normal circumstances, giving birth to twin girls on December 24 would be the perfect early Christmas gift for first-time parents. But Callie and Cayden Reid were born prematurely at 27 weeks. They spent their first four months fighting for their precious little lives in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Kingston General Hospital (KGH).
On December 24, 2014, Stephanie Montroy was preparing for the holidays and shopping for some last-minute Christmas baking supplies. She was 27 weeks pregnant, and had seen her doctor the day before.
“I was experiencing a lot of cramping,” she said, her doctor reassured her it was “just pregnancy.”
But Stephanie knew that something wasn’t right. She followed her intuition and some advice from her mother and called KGH, and was advised to make her way to the hospitalfor an exam.
“They checked me out, and then I felt this huge burst,” explained Stephanie. “The doctor just said, ‘You better get your family in here. Something’s happened.’”
That burst was Stephanie’s water breaking, 17 weeks ahead of schedule. “I don’t even think it dawned on me that I was going to be in NICU,” said Steph, “I was just thinking about being a mom.”
Stephanie was immediately given medication to try and postpone the delivery as long as possible, but her baby girls, Cayden and Callie, were born on Christmas Eve, Cayden weighing 1lb. 8oz. and Callie at 2lb. 1oz.
“Their hands looked just like adult hands, scaled down,” said Stephanie’s partner, Joe Reid. “They had wrinkles on their knuckles and everything, but the whole thing was the size of a thumbnail.”
After a few precious moments with their mother in the delivery room, Cayden and Callie were whisked to the NICU where they were hooked up to special live-giving technology to help them breathe and to measure their vital signs.
After a few weeks, their daughters’ had stabilized to a point where the new parents could participate in their care. Kingston is home to one of only eight NICU departments in the province of Ontario that is outfitted with the equipment that Cayden and Callie needed to survive.
Government funding alone cannot supply all the equipment needed, so the NICU also depends on the generosity of community donors to fund lifesaving equipment.
“[Donations] buy lifesaving equipment that keeps up with growing technology improvements,” said Stephanie. “And without that equipment, our babies may not have survived.”