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Twins journey home takes a country mile

Published:  05 June 2020

The White family had double the reasons to celebrate this week, with fraternal twins Lawson and Staaten heading home to Julia Creek 107 days after their eventful birth at Townsville University Hospital.

The twins’ mum Amanda, who hasn’t slept in her own bed since a routine appointment back in January, said she was delighted to be homeward bound.

“At my 24-week scan I travelled to Townsville for a quick check up only to be told that I shouldn’t go home as I could go into labour at any time,” Amanda said.

The first-time mum, who is also a sole business owner living rurally, said the news was ‘daunting’.

“I stayed in Ronald McDonald House until my next appointment a week later when we learnt that Staaten had blood flow issues that, combined with my medical issues, meant I was on bed rest in hospital for the next four weeks.”

Arriving into the world at just 28 weeks and four day’s gestation, Lawson (1.4kg) and Staaten (920g) were whisked away to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) just minutes after they were born.

Amanda admitted the neonatal experience was not an easy one.

“Every day, half day or hour can be different,” she said.

“The boys were closely monitored the whole time which was really reassuring but there were blood transfusions, issues with breathing, infections and a few other complications along the way.”

After finally getting the all-clear from clinicians, the family readied themselves for home. Though Amanda was initially a little concerned Staaton would be on oxygen for a little while longer, they were excited to be heading home together as a family.

Unfortunately, another setback delayed their journey, leaving them in Townsville for several more weeks.

“I was just about to bring Amanda and the boys home when clinicians discovered Lawson’s head was growing rapidly due to the fluid building up in his brain,” the twins’ father Adam said.

“Lawson had surgery to have a shunt put in his head to enable the fluid to drain from his brain; this is permanent, so no football careers ahead and that’s fine by us.”

Amanda said she was excited to ‘just be a mum’ and looked forward to the ‘normality’ that lay ahead.

“I was involved in every care except those that were medical or those in the middle of the night, but there’s still an element of being disconnected when your children are receiving medical care,” she said.

“I’m really excited to have the boys detached from all monitoring, to leave the four walls of a hospital room and find some sort of normality and enjoy properly bonding with my babies.

“If the twins were born on their due date, they would be three weeks old now; Lawson is a big boy weighing more than 4kg and Staaten too is becoming more of a chubby checker already weighing more than 3kg.”

Amanda said becoming a mother under these circumstances, coupled with COVID-19 restrictions meant for a lonely journey; however, she said she was beyond grateful for the support from the Ronald McDonald House team, the medical care of the Townsville University Hospital NICU team and support from family and friends from afar.

“Being a first-time mum at 40, having conceived twins naturally, and then going through the intense NICU experience in these times, while having the stress of keeping my business afloat isn’t something I had envisaged,” Amanda said.

“But now we’re out the other side I know I’m lucky to be a mum and having two healthy boys in my arms is certainly more than a dream come true.”

As the only level six tertiary-referral centre for newborns outside of Brisbane, the Townsville University Hospital neonatal unit coordinates and undertakes the retrieval of sick babies from across North Queensland.

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