Irish twins Amy and Katie Jones-Elliott are set for the Guinness Book of Records – after they were born 87 days apart to their proud and relieved Waterford parents.
Mum Maria has hailed the pair her ‘little miracles’ as officials from the Guinness records organisation prepare to confirm their new world record – by three days.
The Irish Mirror newspaper reports that Maria went into labour four months early last year when she gave birth to Amy - but Katie did not arrive until three months later.
Doctors told Maria and husband Chris they have achieved the medical equivalent of winning the lottery, with both girls surviving and healthy.
The beaming mum told the paper: “I call the girls our little miracles. As I held Amy for the first time I stroked my bump and prayed to God. I just wanted my girls to be together and safe and well.
“Usually you experience nothing but joy at the birth of a new baby, but it was so achingly bitter-sweet as both of their lives hung in the balance.
“Amy was fighting for life in an incubator and Katie was struggling to survive in my womb. It was the hardest three months of our lives. But Chris kept saying, ‘Where there’s life there’s hope.’”
The happy couple were thrilled when first told they were having twins.
Maria said: “I always felt I was going to have twins – even when I found out I was pregnant Chris said ‘that’ll be twins, then’ as they run in the family.
“During the scan I was looking at the screen and because I’d had two other pregnancies I expected to see a round circle with a tiny blob – but this time there was a line going through it.
“I said, ‘What’s the line?’ and the nurse said, ‘Oh, congratulations. It looks like twins.’”
The report says the pregnancy went smoothly until Maria got to 23 weeks and five days.
She said: “I felt unwell at work with extreme pressure on my abdomen but I thought that must be normal as I was having twins. But I was worried enough to get an appointment with my GP who told me to go straight to hospital.
“To my horror when I got there just hours later my waters broke. I was immediately admitted.”
Told that she was in labour, Maria was also warned that both her babies could die. She said: “The doctors told me there was very little hope of them surviving as they were so premature.
“I thank God Chris was by my side. I was sobbing and in shock but I refused to give up. I kept saying, ‘This is not going to happen – I’m not going to lose them.’
“I willed my babies to fight for life. I prayed to God, day and night, asking him for a miracle.”
Two days of labor followed at Waterford Regional Hospital in Ireland Amy was born at exactly 24 weeks – almost four months before her due date of September 21 last year.
And at just 1lb 3oz, she was dangerously small. Maria said: “Amy was rushed to intensive care. I was exhausted but it wasn’t over – there was another child and so I had to focus.”
Then Maria’s contractions finished. She said: “They stopped dead – it was like I’d never even given birth.
“The doctors said they had never seen anything like it. It should have been a joyful time but it was horrific. I had one baby in intensive care and one inside me, clinging to life.
“They tried to induce me the next day but nothing happened. Eventually Chris and I said enough is enough. Let nature take its course.
“I made up my mind I wouldn’t leave hospital unless it was with both my girls.
“Even if it meant that I would have to lie in bed for the full three months I had left of my pregnancy – I would do whatever it took.”
Even as she worried over Katie, Maria had to wait four days to see tiny Amy.
Maria said: “I burst into tears when I saw her in the incubator – she was just so, so tiny and vulnerable. She was covered in tubes. All I could see was her mass of black hair.
“I touched my bump and made the vow I would get Katie out safe and well and the girls would be together. I visited Amy in intensive care every day, while praying that Katie would survive.
“I couldn’t enjoy being a new mother at all and continuing on with a pregnancy not knowing which way it was going to go was so, so hard. But I steeled myself. I was given a task to do and I was going to do it.”
After five long weeks, Maria was allowed to hold Amy.
Maria told the Mirror: “She was so tiny I could barely feel her on my chest. She loved it. Her heartbeat stabilised as I held her. I couldn’t even speak. I kissed her head and held her.