Like most expecting mums, Canadian mum Kayla Ibarra was not expecting to be told she was having twins. She was also not expecting to go into labour at just 21 weeks or to be told by her doctor that her twin daughters would die.
Kayla wasn’t expecting to be denied pain medication, to be told she would leave the hospital without them. Or to be transferred at the last minute to a different hospital that would change everything.
But all of these things happened. This is her amazing story.
Pregnant with twin girls
It’s important to me to start my story off when everything was ‘normal’. Or our normal, anyway. I had been married to my husband for three years, had a son named Noah, and just discovered I was pregnant again, with twins.”
The first 21 weeks of her twin pregnancy progressed without a hitch. However, on September 23, 2018, everything changed. Kayla had caught a cold from one of the daycare kids where she worked and was feeling pretty down.
She put her son Noah down for a nap and went to the toilet.
When I wiped, there was a TINY smear of pink blood. I called my midwife and told her. She wanted me to go in to make sure I didn’t have a bladder infection.”
‘I knew I was in labour’
While waiting in the ER Kayla started to get Braxton Hicks contractions. Once the doctor tested her urine and said it was clean (no infection), it clicked to Kayla that she wasn’t having Braxton Hicks. She was in labour.
I instantly started crying. Something hit me and I KNEW this was labour. While getting the exam done, I kept telling the tech I was having contractions. She kept telling me to relax and everything would be fine. I stood up and BAM, my water broke.
Through my tears, I said, ‘What’s going to happen to my daughters?’ As she was wheeling me back upstairs she said, ‘The babies will be born today and they will die.’”
Kayla was 21.5 weeks pregnant. Most hospitals will not intervene until pregnancy is at least 24 weeks along. Kayla and her family discovered a hospital in London, Ontario, that may take her. However, the doctor denied her request to get in touch with the London hospital and instead began prepping Kayla for the birth of her babies.
‘This is going to be quick’
I asked for pain medication and she told me, ‘This is going to be quick. Let’s get it over with.’ She told me she wouldn’t let me see the twins or hear their heartbeats because it was a ‘waste of time’.”
Kayla prayed and it worked. Amazingly enough, her contractions stopped. However, she knew she couldn’t keep her girls in for long.
The next morning the high-risk OB came into my room. He told me all the risks if I didn’t deliver the twins. Baby A’s feet were touchable. He told me I could die.
I told him I refused to start labour again. As long as the twins were in me, they were breathing and safe.
I lay in the hospital bed with on and off labour for 4 days. I couldn’t get up to pee or move because every time I did, Baby A would come out a little more. So I lay there crying, praying, and crying some more.”
‘I was going to birth my daughters and hold them as they died’
On September 27th, full labor began again. Kayla was 22 weeks and 2 days pregnant. She was exhausted and knew she couldn’t hold them inside her anymore.
This 4-day battle was about to come to an end and I was on the losing end. My life was about to be shattered. I was going to birth my daughters and hold them as they died.”
As one doctor wheeled Kayla into the operating room, another one came bursting through the door.
She said to me, ‘Kayla, I read your chart. I know you desire to have these babies saved. I’m going to call surrounding level 3/4 NICU’s and let them decide if they are willing to take you.’
Within 15 minutes, the doctor was back in my room and said: ‘TWO hospitals agreed to take you, we’re going to London and I’m coming with you!’”
Kayla arrived at the London, Ontario hospital. She was still in labour. She also discovered her oxygen was incredibly low and that she had pneumonia, two problems that weren’t picked up on beforehand.
However, Kayla wasn’t ready to stop fighting for herself or her daughters just yet. While the neonatologist tried to convince Kayla it was time to let her girls go, she refused.
“I remember yelling, ‘DO YOUR DAMN JOB AND SAVE MY DAUGHTERS.'”
Luna and Ema
That evening, at 22.2 weeks pregnant, Kayla gave birth to two girls. Luna, at 9.12pm, weighing 14 ounces (.39 kg) and 11 inches long (27cm). And Ema, at 9.29pm, weighing 1 pound (.45kg) and 12 inches long (30cm). Compare this to the average baby who weighs 3.3kg and 50cm at birth.
Both girls alive and stable. Kayla and her husband were told they would have 12-24 hours with their daughters before they would pass.
Once again, Kayla’s warriors proved the doctors wrong.
115 days later, Luna and Ema left the NICU with Kayla, her husband and their big brother, Noah. They left before their expected due date and are completely healthy in every single way possible.
In fact, the twins are now nearly three years old and absolutely thriving. Just have a look at these two cheeky girls!
Luna and Ema’s birth inspired Kayla to help other parents who may have gone into premature labour. Who may be sitting in a hospital room crying as they are told their babies won’t make it.
She started TwentyTwoMatters and now raises awareness for babies born at 22 weeks.
We want the world to know they CAN SURVIVE and they CAN thrive. We went from a 0% chance of survival to getting ready to celebrate their third birthday.”