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Challenge: NICU Parenting

Identical Twins - Innovative Technique 16 years ago!

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Sixteen years ago, identical twins Carter and Graham were born as 30 weekers at one of the top teaching hospitals in the US. We did not realize how fortunate we were until hurdle after hurdle arose with these two little 3 pound baby boys. Graham was slow and steady while Carter had a dramatic progression enduring complications, surgeries and poor lung development. Carter's lung development became so critical that in order to save his life, a brand new at the time innovative treatment using a high frequency oscillating ventilator was introduced. This oscillator delivered 1,000 breaths per minute into his tiny little body which made him continuously vibrate. Being a technology only in the testing phase and only having been used at one other teaching hospital in the country at that time, Carter was featured on the evening news with a quiet crew coming to cover the procedure on TV right there in the NICU. The high frequency oscillator saved Carter's life those few agonizing days and due to other preemie successes following his treatment, the oscillator has been regularly used with the most critical preemie patients over the past 16 years.

I have never forgotten the resident doctor on rounds the day the oscillator was introduced. I was so scared for Carter's life and for the future health of both of these little twin boys. This tall handsome resident looked at me and all he said was, "I am a 29 weeker identical twin". I have hung onto that all these years and wish I could find him to thank him for the hope he gave me that day.

Graham and Carter were in the NICU for 60 long days. Their story did not end there however. Graham continued to be the steady eddie but Carter ended up back in the hospital two more times over the next two years. One time for contracting RSV weeks after arriving home from the NICU and again for a febrile seizure. Both times he was in the PICU for a week.

Today, Graham and Carter are strong, healthy 16 year olds who attend a rigorously academic school, sing in an 18 boy traveling a cappella group and are nationally ranked squash players. Over the years, the boys have learned in small doses the reality of their early years but there is one reveal that they will not know until they turn 18! It will be their biggest surprise to FINALLY find out who is older...Carter or Graham????? We have never wanted them to have any false sense of hierarchy.

In gratitude, I enjoy giving my time now as the vice president of The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Women's Committee. We raise money that we give away as grants annually to the doctor's who continue to work tirelessly to make the lives of sick children and their families better.

Feeling Thankful,

Katharine, Bobby, and two older brothers, Miller (21) and Duncan (18)



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