Ordinarily, giving birth to twin boys would be cause for celebration. However, on the evening of April 27, 2008, Kristin and Derrick Morgan’s twin boys, Noah and Ethan, were born prematurely at 27 weeks and one day. It became clear that they had a treacherous fight ahead.
Having seen Dr. Graeme Smith, Professor and Head of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC), through the pregnancy, Kristin and Derrick had driven straight to KHSC’s Kingston General Hospital (KGH) site from their home in Stirling after Kristin experienced pains on that Sunday morning. For a few hours it seemed the medical staff might be able to stop the labour from progressing, however, Kristin was soon prepared swiftly for an emergency Caesarean section.
The soon-to-be parents felt totally unprepared. “It was very scary and frightening”, says Kristin. “We had no prior experience with premature babies. I hadn’t even read that far into the book to know what to expect for birth in general. I was just enjoying being pregnant!”
Born at two pounds and nine and a half ounces, the twins faced difficult odds for survival and were moved to KHSC’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The nurses took pictures of the boys and encouraged Kristin and Derrick to name their sons. “They wheeled me in after about an hour so I would have a chance to actually see them”, says Kristin. “We didn’t know what was going to happen but we could at least now call them Noah and Ethan.” Over the following days and weeks the boys endured a rollercoaster, suffering from issues typical for premature babies. However, the boys showed great resilience. “They were rock stars”, Kristin says proudly.
During this difficult time The Morgan’s credit the hospital’s staff for their remarkable support. “Dr. Smith was incredibly optimistic and provided so much comfort during the most terrifying time of our lives. The nurses in the NICU also loved the boys like they were their own babies. One of them even told us that they had been born at 27 weeks which was really helpful, and they just made it feel like home. The care we received was phenomenal. We’ll be forever grateful for that.”
After three long and uncertain weeks, Kristin was finally able to hold Noah and Ethan together for the first time, a reunion she describes as the high point. The boys then progressed relatively smoothly and, after more than ten weeks in hospital, the whole family was finally able to return home. For the next two years Noah and Ethan were followed closely by KHSC’s Special Infant Clinic who continued to provide support. “They were wonderful and it was great to have that follow-up to know the boys were meeting all of the milestones that they needed to.”
Despite their difficult start in life, Noah and Ethan are thriving and active, playing on the same hockey team, enjoying skiing and starting football. The twins also have a passion for music. You’ll find Noah on the guitar and Ethan the piano. “They’re in the top three or four in their class for height and size now,” says Derrick. “So they definitely caught up.” They also get involved in fundraising for KHSC where they can, even raising proceeds specifically for the NICU. “I don’t really think you can put a value on the importance of it,” says Kristin. “Our boys wouldn’t be here today without that level of expertise close to home, and knowing that the people there are angels, I don’t think you can support it enough.”
Noah and Ethan are also taking well to another role – that of big brothers. At eight years old they welcomed their little sister Allie into the world. This time though, Kristin and Derrick were thankful to return to KGH at a full term 39 weeks and six days. “It was nice to have that experience,” laughs Kristin. “I even remember a few of Dr. Smith’s residents saying that the universe owed us a full term baby!”
The University Hospitals Kingston Foundation (UHKF) is grateful to the Morgan Family for sharing their healthcare journey. Their generosity and willingness to serve as ambassadors for the 2020 Kids for Kids Hockey Tournament will help raise awareness of KHSC’s pediatric program.