The luck of the Irish brought Naomi O’Grady and her husband together during a St. Patricks’ Day celebration seven years ago.
After getting married in 2007, the couple looked forward to growing their family.
“Getting pregnant ended up being a challenge for us, so we turned to in vitro fertilization (IVF) to make our dream of having a baby come true,” said O’Grady.
The couple soon found out they were having twins – a boy and a girl.
“We were thrilled,” said O’Grady. “I knew my husband would be an amazing father.”
The O'Grady "miracle" twins.
But during her pregnancy, O’Grady started to experience complications, like preeclampsia, a rapidly progressive condition that affects at least five to eight percent of pregnancies and is characterized by high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine. Tests showed their baby boy’s growth was slowing down and his vitals were poor. At 30 weeks, the twins were delivered via caesarean section on St. Patty’s Day.
“That holiday now holds a really special place in our hearts.” said O’Grady. “It’s the day I met my husband and now the day we had our precious babies.”
Shane was born two pounds, five ounces, and Gwen was born three pounds 10 ounces.
“The babies had difficulty breathing and were both on oxygen,” said O’Grady.
Not only were the O’Grady’s adjusting to parenthood, but they had to acclimate to the vulnerable and intimidating environment of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
“It was petrifying. We felt guilty and overwhelmed. It was an emotional roller coaster,” said O’Grady. “At the time, it was difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Every day seemed so long and hard, but with the incredible staff and other parents in the NICU at UC San Diego Health, we had a solid support system. The nurses taught me how to take care of my babies, and my husband was my rock – so strong.”
Each day brought more hope. The twins grew and their health started to improve. They were finally able to go home after three months.
“Being in the NICU is a life-changing experience. We made friends with other parents and shared coping methods. It’s so important to let yourself breathe in that environment and allow yourself time to grieve for the pregnancy and delivery you wish you had,” said O’Grady.
Today at 16 months, Shane and Gwen are doing great and are caught up developmentally.
“They are healthy and full of life. They are walking, playing and definitely becoming strong willed,” said O’Grady.
O’Grady suggests expecting couples educate themselves on the NICU and talk to parents who have spent time in that environment to learn about the emotions that come with it.
The O’Grady family will be attending the annual UC San Diego Health Little Grad Picnic Saturday, August 11 at Mission Bay Park.
The event reunites families with medical staff to celebrate the lives of children who have “graduated” from the UC San Diego Health NICU, which specializes in the treatment of newborns born prematurely or sick, some weighing less than a pound.
“I look forward to reuniting with the families and staff we spent so much time with. I will also have such a sense of pride to show off my miracle babies with people who were there from the beginning,” said O’Grady.
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