On the date that they were due to come into the world, Drake and Avery Robinson will be 10 weeks old. It seems the pair were on their own time schedule, and it wasn't the one their mother was given.
Josh and Rebecca Robinson, already the parents of a three-year-old, learned at her first doctor's appointment with Dr. Donald Jones in Poplar Bluff that they were to be the parents of twins.
"We'd joked about it," Rebecca says, "because we knew the possibility was high, but I never really thought it was going to happen."
To say that the possibility was "high" might be an understatement. Josh has an identical twin brother and Rebecca has twin siblings, a boy and a girl.
"Josh asked the doctor if he was kidding," Rebecca remembers of that initial visit. "But they said no, that they weren't."
The Robinsons were just beginning to adjust to the idea of twins when they were told there was a problem.
"We found out through blood work toward the end of June that something was wrong," Rebecca explains.
As is routine when twins are involved, a Quad Screen was conducted. The screening is a maternal blood workup that detects any abnormalities in the babies. The screening was done at Poplar Bluff, but the results only concluded that there was a problem. It did not reveal what specifically was wrong.
"We were referred to Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, where we saw specialists at the Center for Advanced Medicine in the Fetal Medicine Unit."
A concerned family waited for the results of the testing.
"We really didn't know what we were going to be up against," recalls Josh.
When the results came in, the couple was told that the babies had something called Reverse and Diastolic Flow. The term indicates that the mother has a placental insufficiency that results in blood flow reversing back to at least one of the babies. In the case of the Drake and Avery, Drake was most affected, and he was in a stressful state as a result. He was not thriving as his sister was.
Doctors estimated that Avery weighed about one pound, but Drake was several ounces behind his sister.
The decision was made to closely monitor the twins' progress. Rebecca traveled to Barnes every other week for checkups, accompanied either by her father, her husband, her sister or her mother.
All was well until a routine appointment on Friday, Sept. 6 turned out to be anything but routine. Rebecca was 27 weeks along in her pregnancy.
"I went to St. Louis that day with my dad," Rebecca recalls. "They were going to do a Doppler ultrasound to measure the blood flow and the heart rates of the babies, and then we were going to look for baby furniture when we were done."
But the shopping trip was put on hold when testing revealed that little Drake was under considerable stress. His weight was estimated to be at one and one-half pounds, while his sister's was just over two pounds -- a significant difference when dealing with unborn twins. It was decided that Rebecca would be admitted to the hospital and remain there until her delivery date, which was not supposed to be until early December.
And so began a stay of nearly six weeks. It was, for the family, the most upsetting time of the pregnancy. Nearly four-year-old Aiden at home missed his mother, and was transported as often as possible to see her. Parents and siblings made trips back and forth.
In the interim, ultrasounds became almost commonplace to figure growth progress. Periodic Doppler testing also determined the welfare of the babies, especially Drake. The babies received two rounds of steroids to improve their lung growth.
"That's the maximum does of steroids that they will deliver," Rebecca notes.
Rebecca was thoroughly examined on Tuesday, Sept. 24. The Doppler ultrasound indicated that everything was going well. But in just a couple of days, that would all change.
On Friday, Sept. 27, the reverse blood flow was showing up again on Drake, and doctors concluded that it was beginning to also show up with Avery. The decision was made to deliver within 24 hours.
On Saturday, Sept. 28, at 9:51 a.m., Drake Conner Robinson arrived weighing in at 2 lbs., 11 ounces. His sister, Avery Lea, following two minutes later, weighing 3 lbs, 8.5 ounces. For the next 52 days, St. Louis Children's Hospital would be their home.
"Drake was not breathing when he was delivered," Josh explains. "But they quickly inserted a breathing tube, and he was fine."
Both babies received oxygen for 10 days. They were initially fed breast milk, but eventually a high-calorie formula that was fed to them through a tube until they learned the technique of sucking.
Once Rebecca was released from the hospital, she came home for brief periods to see Aiden, but returned with a family member or with her husband, to sit by the twins' incubators. They were allowed to hold them periodically and eventually to feed them.
"We were able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House during the times when we'd go up to visit and stay with the babies, which was wonderful," says Rebecca. "They were so accommodating."
On Nov. 16, the Robinsons were told that the babies might be able to come home within two or three days. Before they could be released, they had to prove that they could ride safely in a car seat for an extended period of time.
Avery passed the test with flying colors, but her brother did not. Because he was so premature and so much smaller than his sister, he would drop off to sleep in the sitting position and his airway would be cut off. He would stop breathing.
Finally, on Tuesday, Nov. 19, Drake was deemed mature enough to make the ride safely. A loving hospital staff bid the pair farewell, and the Robinsons headed to their Bloomfield home.
The babies have adapted well to their new surroundings, thriving every day. Avery has passed the six pound mark, and her brother weighed in at five pounds on Tuesday.
"They're healthy eaters," says Rebecca. "So far, they've been good about one finishing a meal before the other wakes up."
Josh, who is Assistant Water Dept. Superintendent for the City of Dexter, is back to work full time, and Rebecca plans on returning to her position as sales representative for NewWave Communications in Dexter after the first of the year.
"The City of Dexter was amazingly understanding during all this," Josh says. "They were totally understanding when I needed to be off. They made the situation so much better than it might have been elsewhere."
"Through this all," chimes in Rebecca, "we have been so blessed with the generosity of this caring community. We've received help from so many resources, and we are just so grateful for every single one. We cannot adequately express how much we appreciate every prayer and every gift that has come our way."
© Copyright 2013 Dexter Daily Statesman
By NOREEN HYSLOP, Managing Editor
The original publication.