Seeing twin babies at Sanford Medical Center in Fargo is a fairly common occurrence. But the story of Olive and Ashton Perry is decidedly uncommon.
Their mother, Heather Perry, had been staying at the hospital for about three weeks after her water broke in preparation for a possible premature birth. And on Feb. 24, Olive let Mom know she was ready for the world.
“(I) wasn’t having any contractions or any signs of active labor progression that day. So my husband decided it was safe to leave, to go take care of our daughter and our dog,” said Heather, who works as a nurse at Sanford Health in Detroit Lakes, MN. “I was just getting ready for bed and I had actually fallen asleep and woke up and felt a lot of pressure. She was there in six minutes and thank God the provider made it in time and family birth center staff and the NICU arrived on time to get her out safely.”
After just 28 weeks in the womb, Olive Perry had arrived — early, but healthy. Her brother, it seemed, would follow shortly.
“Really the expectation is that, OK, let’s give this a couple of minutes and we should be seeing Twin B,” said Dr. Jon Dangerfield, OB/GYN at Sanford Health in West Fargo. “And what was happening in this particular scenario was the patient was completely relieved of all symptoms, had no contractions, had a very stable looking fetal heart rate on the second baby, and the cervix started to close. So everything kind of went into reverse.”
Meanwhile, Chris Perry, father of the twins, was trying to get to the hospital.
“I headed up to Fargo … there was a snowstorm that night, so I had to drive 45 miles an hour. So I was just trying to make it by the time Ashton was born. And I made it by a few days,” he said.
‘Let him keep growing’
Heather and her twins were going through what is called “delayed interval delivery,” in which twins can be born much farther apart than one might expect.
“Dr. Dangerfield explained that if he was full term, we’d go to the O.R. and take him out via C-section, but since he wasn’t and he was staying, we were just gonna let him keep growing as long as he would stay in there. Minutes, hours, days, weeks, months,” said Heather.
Over the next five days, Heather Perry had the unique motherly experience of giving birth to her baby girl, visiting her, and holding her in the NICU while still being pregnant with her twin baby boy.
“We were actually down visiting Olive in the NICU, which was the coolest sensation. I think that when people ask me, ‘What was it like to just give birth and also be pregnant?’ The moment that my mind always goes to is when I would hold her, he would just kick like crazy in my belly. Like he knew that she was so close by and it was just the coolest feeling ever,” said Heather.
Ashton’s time to shine
One of the risks with delayed interval delivery is the possibility of infection, and five days after Olive was born, Heather began having fever, chills and other telltale symptoms of infection. So even though Ashton wasn’t 100% percent sure about following his sister, Heather and her Sanford doctors decided it was best to induce labor.
Ashton Perry was born on March 1, five days after his sister, and sharing an extra special connection with his parents.
“Olive has my middle name and Ashton has Dad’s middle name. And she shares a birthday month with myself and Ashton shares a birthday month with his father, February and March,” said Heather.
Despite being born premature, both twins are healthy and doing well. Doctors expect to keep them in the NICU for awhile to help them safely grow and develop. Then they’ll be able to head home to Detroit Lakes, hang with their big sister Fiona, and start planning some very uncommon birthday parties.
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