Twins Wes and Ila Waller were born Sept. 6, 2013, at 28 weeks’ gestation. Wes weighed 2 pounds, 13 ounces, and sister Ila was 3 pounds.
One week earlier, baby A’s water broke, and I was on hospital bed rest until they arrived. Both babies immediately were taken to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) on the St. Paul campus of Children’s Minnesota, where they remained for the next 47 days. Both babies were put on CPAP to help them breathe; however, Ila was having a harder time breathing and had to receive intubation for two days.
The nurses warned my husband, Owen, and me that being in the NICU is like being on a roller coaster, and they were right. Shortly after Ila was born, she experienced supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), an abnormal heart rhythm. Her heart was beating a lot faster than it should, but with medications and time her heart rate went back to normal, and she hasn’t had any issues. Both babies were jaundice and had to “sun tan” under the lights for a few weeks. They had small brain bleeds and a condition called retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), which affects the eyes. Both conditions are common in preemies, and eventually both outgrew them.
Owen and I were amazed at the resiliency of our little babies. On Oct. 23, Wes and Ila got to come home!
Today, the kids are busy and bright 2½-year-olds. People often are surprised to learn that they were preemies.
Wes is a handsome little guy who loves all kinds of sports. He will throw just about anything and enjoys playing catch. He likes to wrestle and roughhouse, but he also has a gentle touch taking care of his baby doll and his sister whenever she’s sad. He always has a big smile to offer and a genuine laughter that is contagious.
Ila is a beautiful little girl filled with personality. She’s a people-pleaser and likes to make sure everyone is happy. She loves her dolls, blankets and stuffed animals. She’s a big fan of the movie “Frozen,” and we often hear her singing songs from the film when she’s playing.
Recently, Wes and Ila were tested at the NICU follow-up clinic for their 2-year-old checkups and are performing at the level of a 4-year-old.
We’re fortunate and blessed to have happy, healthy and thriving children. We couldn’t be prouder of our twins.
Kristine Waller is the mother of Children’s Minnesota NICU graduates Wes and Ila Waller.