The good news: You're pregnant

Marcia and Eugene Kelly had waited a long time – a very long time – to have children. After almost 15 years of trying and hoping, they turned to in-vitro fertilization, an expensive and somewhat painful last hope. Fortunately, it worked. But, because Marcia was 38 at the time, her reproductive specialist, Dr. Paul Lin, knew she would need careful monitoring, as women having babies later in life are at the highest risk of a problem pregnancy. It was at one of Marcia's many routine exams that she heard some even more surprising news: Twins were on the way.

More good news: You're having twins

When Marcia and Eugene found out they were going to have twins, they were equally thrilled and apprehensive. Multiple births are far more common with in-vitro fertilization, and they present a special set of concerns. Twins are often born prematurely, which brings a host of health issues for the new babies. Still, after almost 15 years of trying to get pregnant, and knowing it would be unlikely they'd try again, the Kellys felt they had received a double dose of good luck.

Then, some frightening news

Just 20 weeks into her pregnancy, Marcia went in for another routine ultrasound. After the exam, the technician said, “Don't move, don't get off the bed. You're not going anywhere.” The doctor came in, examined Marcia and confirmed the technician's suspicion. Marcia had entered into active labor and one of the twins was visible at the opening of the cervix — at least four weeks before the “age of viability” when premature babies have a reasonable chance of survival.

The high-risk obstetric team goes to work

Because Swedish delivers more babies — nearly 8,000 each year — than any other hospital in Western Washington, they've seen it all, including difficult pregnancies. The team kept Marcia as immobile as possible in her hospital bed, while constantly monitoring her condition. Their measures worked, and her first baby stayed in the womb where his lungs and vital organs could develop more fully. Despite their best efforts, baby Chad was determined to enter the world.

Chad Kelly is born weighing just 21 ounces

Just shy of 23 weeks, baby Chad entered Marcia's birth canal and was delivered by Swedish's high-risk delivery team. Remarkably, his twin brother did not follow in Chad's footsteps. Medications and minor surgery were used to shut down the delivery process, while Chad was rushed down the hall to Swedish's NICU, its Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Round-the-clock care by preemie experts begins

Every premature baby needs special care, and Chad was no exception. His lungs still needed more time to develop, and he also had a condition common with severely premature babies — patent ductus arteriosus, where one of the baby's heart valves doesn't fully close. While many are surprised to hear this, a children's hospital isn't the only place where newborns can receive complex care. In fact, a number of pediatric specialists practice at Swedish, and a pediatric cardiac surgeon was called in and performed a successful procedure to repair Chad's tiny heart.

For Marcia and Eugene, the wait goes on

Chad's fragile health wasn't the Kellys' only worry. They still wanted to hold off on the birth of their other baby for as long as possible to improve his chances for survival. In one of the most remarkable and unusual cases seen at Swedish, Chad's brother spent another 20 days in the womb, until Marcia developed an infection that required that the baby be delivered by an emergency C-section.

Cole Kelly, the younger big brother is born

By comparison to Chad, Cole was a stocky two pounds, three ounces at birth. But, like Chad, he also received 24/7 care in the Swedish NICU. Under the direction of Dr. Terrence Sweeney, the director of neonatal services at Swedish, the NICU staff put the babies on respirators to compensate for their underdeveloped lungs, gave them antibiotics to fight infection, and introduced nutrition to the babies through an IV drip. Dr. Sweeney notes that, “Once we get through those first weeks and the babies are on nutrition and well on their way to growing towards normal size, the families can finally sit back and take a sigh of relief.”

After four months, an amazing family reunion

Because Cole was more developed at birth, his stay in the NICU was a relatively short 86 days. After he went home, Marcia and Eugene wore a path between their north Seattle house and Swedish – taking care of a newborn at home and tending after their other son still in the hospital. Finally, 119 days after his very premature birth, Chad also came home, and the family was truly together for the first time.

A happy ending and a happy beginning

Today, Chad and Cole are developing right on schedule and appear to have no lasting problems from their early arrivals. They're constantly running, playing, and getting into all kinds of little-boy mischief. “If I hadn't gone to Swedish, I don't know if I would have them right now. I don't know if I'd have this family,” Marcia Kelly says. “They're the most loving little boys. They're full of life, they're so sweet. I know they're a miracle.”
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Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
Dr. Terrence Sweeney

Dr Sweeney
A medical center is only as good as the people who work there. So why do some of the best choose to do their good work at Swedish? For Dr. Terrence Sweeney, the director of neonatal services, it was an easy decision. “It's hard to imagine a better setting if you want to be part of an institution that's committed to clinical care and cutting-edge medical services,” he says. “Since Swedish isn't primarily a teaching hospital, we can devote the majority of our time to one-on-one patient care. That means those patients and their families see experienced, highly capable caregivers, not those in training.”