Matty and Ryan Purkis“Hmmm…this is interesting,” Elanie’s Dr. said while performing an ultrasound during a routine appointment in the summer of 2005. “Your uterus appears to be larger than with your first-born. Let’s go ahead and do an advanced ultrasound.”

“What does that mean?” Elanie asked. The doctor responded, “Well, let’s make sure the due date is correct.”

The ultrasound ended up showing that Elanie was pregnant with twins.

“Holy cow, are you kidding me? Twins? Boys, girls, one of each?”

Those answers couldn’t be confirmed at that time but needless to say, we were ecstatic at the news of becoming parents of twins. We immediately called family and friends to share this exciting news.

A short time thereafter, things started going a little sideways.

Elanie experienced a very difficult first trimester. Nothing compared to the first pregnancy with Kevin when she ate Cheetos and lemons…well, not at the same time. With the twins, she couldnt keep anything down. She was put on meds so that she could tolerate food. Around four months of pregnancy, Elanie noticed some blood and immediately called the doctor to see what that was all about. Tests were done, additional ultrasounds conducted but no one could give an answer as to why that was happening. Numerous trips to the emergency room were made due to this unknown condition.

A few days before Christmas (26 weeks of pregnancy), Elanie’s water broke. It was Ryan’s water that broke…rather…leaked. The water would stop as Matthew was actually plugging up this unknown hole in Ryans sac. After a handful of ultrasounds, Elanie was sent home on Christmas Eve on bedrest.

As time went on, things started getting worse. We found out that one baby was developing according to plan, but that the other baby wasn’t doing so well.

We met with our Neonatal specialist a number of times (an incredibly wonderful, caring doctor), and each time we received different news. The majority of the time, we were faced with bad news: the possibility of one baby having hydrocephalus (water on the brain that can cause mental disabilities) or the fact that we may be faced with losing one baby to save the other. Needless to say, it was pure hell. The worst part was that neither one of us could do anything to change the outcome. Only time would tell what would happen and time wasn’t on our side: these babies wanted to come out.

Fast forward to Friday, January 13th (yes, Friday the 13th).

Tim’s parents had come to visit for the weekend and around lunch, Elanie felt what she thought were Braxton Hicks contractions. At 3am, it became unbearable so we went to the hospital not knowing what would be in store. The doctors and nurses tried to stop the contractions but they weren’t slowing down so at 7am, our twin boys were welcomed into the world-10 weeks prematurely. It all went so fast that we never had a chance to think about what was happening. All we knew was that our twin boys were born and alive.

The only exposure we had to premature babies was what we had seen on TV: babies that fit into the palm of your hand. When Matthew and Ryan were born, they were so much bigger than that so Tim proceeded to yell, “Oh my God El – our babies are huge!”

Hardly, but not too bad. Matthew was born at 3 lbs 7 oz and Ryan was born at 3lbs 2oz.

mother bonding with her newborn baby at the hospital nursery

We were able to see Matthew for a few moments but Ryan was immediately rushed into the NICU – he wasn’t breathing. Matthew joined him in the NICU shortly thereafter and Elanie was taken to a recovery room.

The Dr. came into the recovery room a few hours later and told us, “Well, everything appears to be OK, but your boys are pretty sick – one in particular.”

Not knowing the severity, Tim thought to himself, OK, fine-give them some Tylenol and let’s get out of here! If it were only that easy…

Matthew ended up being in the NICU for 6 weeks while Ryan was there for 10 weeks. During this time, we met some of the most incredible people-true heroes in our eyes. The nurses and doctors at the NICU were beyond wonderful. They took such great care of our boys and we never worried about whether they were in good hands.

During this time, we also met a number of parents who struggled to visit their kids due to financial struggles. That, to us, just wasn’t right. If the only thing standing in the way of parents visiting their sick baby/babies is money, then we have to do something to help. That is how the idea of the Friends of NICU Foundation came about.

We were blessed with great support from our families and unbelievably great friends. Without them, we never would have made it through this challenging time. We will forever be grateful to each and every one of them and it is because of them that we decided to give back by starting the Friends of NICU Foundation. With the greatest appreciation, Elanie and Tim Purkis Founders