Casey Vanderstoep was excited to be a first-time mom.
It was the middle of the pandemic, so her husband, Peter, was not able to attend on the day of her first ultrasound. During her appointment, Casey was surprised to learn she was not having one baby – she was having two.
“We were in complete shock. You never think it’s going to happen to you, but it was happening to us, we were having twins,” Casey said.
Casey had what she described as an amazing first 20 weeks of pregnancy. Her only real complaint was that she was tired all the time. Otherwise, she continued being active, working out, and doing projects around the house. She loved being pregnant, but things changed quickly.
One day, she started leaking fluid. Assuming it was normal, she didn’t think much of it. For peace of mind, she reached out to an on-call doctor through her obstetrician’s office.
Later that night, her water broke. She was only 20 weeks and two days pregnant. She describes it as “bursting” in the middle of the night. Casey and Peter quickly packed up and headed to CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital – New Braunfels.
Upon arrival, Casey continued leaking an unbelievable amount of fluid. The medical team immediately started an IV, and she was put on magnesium. If she was going to deliver the babies that night, they wanted Casey to have the benefits of magnesium to protect the babies’ brains.
“The next day, my doctor came by. He told me there was no evidence of any contractions and that I was not going into labor,” said Casey. “That was the good news. The bad news was that I needed to go on complete bed rest.”
Casey was on bed rest and magnesium from March 8 to March 23 at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa – New Braunfels. The goal was to transfer Casey to CHRISTUS Children’s for specialized care when she reached 23 weeks, but it happened a little earlier. She was transferred via ambulance to The Children’s Hospital at 22 weeks and four days along.
Casey was transferred through the highly specialized pediatric and maternal emergency transport team at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. This dedicated Maternal Transport Team has the ability to safely and quickly deliver care to pregnant women who are experiencing complications and need a higher level of care, which is what Casey needed, as the delivery of her babies was imminent.
For a few days, things were moving along well. Casey was able to go outside in a wheelchair to have a short reprieve from the bed rest.
At about 24 and a half weeks, Casey began having painful contractions. Nurses hooked her up to monitors and started administering magnesium again. She also received a second dose of steroids for the babies’ lungs. She contracted on and off for four to five days.
Casey was now 25 weeks and two days into her pregnancy. One of the babies was in distress and had a heart rate that kept dropping. Her physician, Dr. Jacqueline Battistelli, decided to prepare Casey for caesarean delivery.
“This wasn’t my birth plan and it wasn’t at all how I imagined it,” said Casey. “But I felt at peace with it. Of course, I was a little scared, but I also was calm. I just knew it was time, and I kept reminding myself that it was a miracle these babies had made it this far. I had faith in God that everything was going to be okay.”
Camryn and Chandler were born in April 2021, both weighing one pound, 10 ounces. They were immediately taken to The Children’s Hospital’s Level IV neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for care.
Before giving birth, Dr. Cody Henderson, a neonatologist at The Children’s Hospital, had informed Casey and Peter there was a high chance Chandler would need to be intubated at birth. When Casey’s water broke five weeks prior, it left little amniotic fluid surrounding Chandler for the rest of her pregnancy. To their surprise, neither of the babies needed to be intubated. It was the best news Casey and Peter had received up to this point.
In the NICU, Casey and Peter had the good fortune of meeting a nurse, Bailey, who they formed an instant connection with.
“She was an absolute Godsend to us and was the one who encouraged me to hold my babies,” said Casey. “Camryn was just four days old and Bailey came over and asked me if I wanted to hold her. I didn’t think it was possible at this point. But she said, ‘No, let’s do it. We’re going to make this happen,’ so she did, and I got to hold Camyrn on day four. We did skin-to-skin and she was so small.”
Today, the babies are both doing well and growing stronger every day. They were able to go home in the summer of 2021. Doctors have performed scans on the twins’ brains and have done eye exams. Neither baby has shown any signs of problems, which is miraculous for babies born at 25 weeks.
Casey credits the team at The Children’s Hospital for saving her babies’ lives.
“They are the reason my children are here. The care they gave us every single day was unbelievable. I thank them from the bottom of my heart,” said Casey. “The Children’s Hospital is home to us now. These are probably the nicest people I’ve ever met. This has been the hardest journey, but so worth it. We have our girls, and it’s because of the wonder team of caregivers we were blessed with.”