Khloe and Keegan Fuqua
Double the blessings
Casey and Kyle Fuqua always knew there was a chance they could have twins.
"When I was pregnant the first time, I kept asking my doctor to tell me there were two babies because I always wanted two kids," Casey says.
In August 2013, Casey and Kyle welcomed their oldest daughter, Kambri, into the world and less than a year later, she was asking Dr. Kelly Wilson, Shannon OB-GYN, the question in reverse.
"When we got pregnant the second time, we were hoping for one," she says. "I went in for an appointment and Dr. Wilson told me we were going to have twins."
Even though the Fuquas knew the chance was there, it was still a shock to learn they would welcome two more baby girls into the world. Casey had a smooth pregnancy and continued routine checkups.
"I never had any trouble," she says. "I went in for a normal checkup at 33 weeks. Kyle had just got home from a three-day trip, and he met me at Central High School, where I work, and we went to the appointment together."
During this appointment, Dr. Wilson informed Casey she was already dilated and would need to be admitted to the Shannon Women's & Children's Hospital.
"Things got very real, very quick," Kyle recalls.
A short while later, Casey was in the delivery room and Khloe and Keegan Fuqua made their appearance, seven weeks premature.
"It was so different from our first delivery with Kambri," Casey says. "There was a team for each twin and extra people watching the monitors. It made us feel very secure knowing everyone in the room was there to take care of you and your babies."
Khloe was born naturally, but Keegan flipped and a C-section was required for her delivery. There are always risks associated with premature births, especially with twins. At birth, each twin weighed just over four pounds. Khloe was immediately rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) due to respiratory issues, and her sister soon followed.
"I didn't get to see Khloe because her sister had not been born yet," Casey says. "I didn't really know what was happening at the time. Kyle was going back and forth. I didn't get to see them in person until about eight hours after delivery. I was scared to hold them because they were so tiny. They were hooked up to equipment to help them breathe because they were forgetting. They were also having trouble nursing. It was a different experience, but very memorable. Dr. Wagnon and all the nurses told us everything was going to be ok, and I never questioned their judgement. They were very reassuring."
The majority of premature infants are born with underdeveloped lungs. The twins needed assistance breathing and were placed on Vapotherm machines. Tammy Van Stockum, BSN, RNC-NIC, cared for them during their stay in the NICU.
"Khloe and Keegan had premature lungs, or hyaline membrane disease, and needed breathing assistance from the Vapotherm," Tammy says. "The first few days after birth, preemies are missing surfactant, which lubricates the lungs. Their lungs stick to each other making it very hard to take breaths. The Vapotherm delivers high-pressured, humidified air through a warmed nasal cannula. It provides more oxygen than a regular nasal cannula, does not dry out the mucus membranes and prevents them from being placed on a ventilator. The twins also had apnea. Preemie babies breathe irregularly and sometimes, during breaks between breathing, they forget to start again. This is an apnea. We hook them up to an alarm that notifies us in the NICU if they do not breathe after 20 seconds. We will stimulate them to get them breathing again."
The twins spent a total of 17 days in the NICU. All of the equipment used by the Fuqua twins and other premature babies born at Shannon is provided by the Children's Miracle Network.
"If we did not have this type of equipment available in the NICU at Shannon, we would not have been able to keep the twins here," Dr. Michael Wagnon, Shannon pediatrician, says. "The Vapotherm allowed them to receive the necessary respiratory therapy. As they weaned off the oxygen, they were transferred to the Giraffe incubator which was big enough for both of them. Getting twins side-by-side is always nice because they always seem to progress better when they are together."
Reuniting the twins was a goal of Casey and Kyle's from the start, and they were ecstatic to watch their daughters naturally move toward one another and hold hands.
"It was amazing to watch them together," Casey recalls. "You can tell they have a very special bond."
The Fuquas are thankful the twins were able to stay at Shannon and for the care they received during their stay.
"It was hard not being able to bring the twins back home and be with them constantly, but it made it easier to have my family here and have someone to take me back and forth to the hospital," Casey says.
"My job requires me to be out of town a lot," Kyle adds. "Being able to come home and go up to the hospital with Casey to visit and feed the girls was very nice instead of coming home to an empty house because they had to be transferred somewhere. We knew everyone by name and they knew us. They were very helpful and showed us everything we needed to do. They made us feel like we were family and by the end of the twins' stay we did know each other very well. They accommodated our family and opened the blinds for them to see the girls. It was different taking care of them because they were so tiny, but they helped us through every step."