When English couple Luci Hall and Joseph Barker welcomed their twins after only 24 weeks of pregnancy, they feared the worst. The tiny mites barely weighed more than a bag of sugar. In fact, they were so tiny that they would need to defy extreme odds just to survive.
Hall and Barker are a couple in their mid-20s who live in the city of Leeds, U.K. Before quitting to focus on being a mom, Hall worked an office job. And in early 2017 her dreams of motherhood seemed to be coming true, as she found out that she was pregnant.
However, when Hall went for her routine test at 12 weeks, she was given some surprising news. The sonographer revealed that her family was set to double in size. That’s right: it turned out Hall was expecting twins.
Hall’s pregnancy did not prove plain sailing though. The mom-to-be had to endure a long procession of scans after receiving news that her unborn babies had twin-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS). In this uncommon condition, one twin receives more blood than the other, which also means it gains more nutrients.
Hall recalled how hearing that bombshell had felt. “My whole pregnancy was a nightmare,” she told British newspaper the Daily Mirror. “It wasn’t what I had imagined when I dreamed of starting a family.” And that wasn’t all – worse was yet to come for the expectant mom.
Just 20 weeks into her pregnancy, Hall discovered that her waters had broken. She entered the hospital immediately, where it seemed her babies would be arriving much earlier than planned. Indeed, the two made their very premature entrance just a few weeks later, just five-and-a-half months after they were conceived.
In May 2017, Hall and Barker welcomed their sons Charlie and Harvey. But there wasn’t a lot of time for mom, dad and the babies to bond. As Hall told the Daily Mirror, “When they were born they were both rushed straight to intensive care. I didn’t get to hold them or see them. Joseph just got to quickly take two photos.”
A few hours later, Hall did get to see her babies, and what she saw stunned her. The newborns were of such minuscule size that they could have rested in her hand. Tragically, though, the outlook for them was grim – and the doctors urged Hall to prepare for her twins not to make it.
In most cases, babies born in the 24th week do not have great prospects, as Dr. Asma Kalil confirmed. The U.K.’s Twins and Multiple Births Association spokesman told Kidspot, “Of babies born at 23-24 weeks, only about 50 percent would survive and 50 percent of the survivors would have some sort of disability.”
Certainly, doctors did not offer Hall much hope. She told the Daily Mirror, “Their chances of survival were so slim that we were told to take it hour by hour. They told us not to think about the future because it was so uncertain.”
But the boys had no intention of simply giving up. And after the twins had spent nearly a month in intensive care, Hall could finally give them a cuddle. Describing the feeling, she told the Daily Mirror, “It was amazing. It gave us both so much hope because we knew then that they were getting stronger.”
And the twins continued their fight, enduring months of procedures and tests, until towards the end of September 2017, they were ready to go home. Just when it seemed there was light at the end of the tunnel, though, more bad news was coming the couple’s way.
It turned out that Harvey was not done with the hospital, as he started to struggle. Indeed, by Halloween, it had become clear he would need to return. And in fact, it would be seven long months before he could leave.
As you might imagine, Hall found that period pure torture. She told the Daily Mail, “It was awful and separating the boys was heartbreaking. They had been together every step of the way and tearing them apart was horrendous.”
However, it’s clear that the treatment Harvey received in the hospital did him some good. By August 2018, he proved to be the bigger of the twins, weighing half a pound more than his 20-pound brother. Indeed, both seemed to be progressing fine, with the youngsters now able to fill out outfits designed for nine-month-old infants.
Consequently, the boys’ mom was thrilled with the progress that they had made. “They’re doing so well,” Hall told the Daily Mirror. “They’re amazing. I couldn’t be more proud of Charlie and Harvey, they’re my heroes.”
Not only that but the boys had been able to regain their special relationship. Hall explained that Charlie had grown to enjoy visiting his brother in the hospital. She told the Daily Mirror, “At first he was restless but then he started to hold Harvey’s hand and really look after him. They’ve definitely got that twin bond back since Harvey came home.”
Moreover, after seeing her babies born so young, Hall found that she had developed strong views on abortion. The law in the U.K. permits the termination of a pregnancy at will at any time up to 24 weeks. This was something Hall had taken for granted.
However, Hall now found herself appalled at the idea of pregnancies in the 24th week being terminated. She told the Daily Mail, “The thought of anyone getting rid of a baby that late is just awful. When I came home I signed a petition to have it changed.”
Be that as it may, twins Charlie and Harvey show that with medical help even the tiniest babies can grow to be thriving infants. And Hall is justifiably proud of her bonny boys. “They are both little fighters, they proved everyone wrong,” she said.