By Christine Evans
"You know, there's two." I will remember those words for the rest of my life. I went in for a routine ultrasound the first part of November 1999 and discovered that my husband and I were going to be the proud parents of identical twin girls. How exciting! My life was set. Our family was complete. Well, I know
now that life can change in an instant.
On December 8, 1999 our beautiful, tiny girls were born seventeen weeks too early. Caitlyn Dawn, baby A, was a mere twelve inches long and weighed only one pound, eight ounces. Camryn Michelle, baby B, was fourteen inches long and topped the scale at one pound, fifteen ounces. Both babies were amazingly stable and were transported to Primary Children's Hospital that evening.
The following few months are hard to remember. I felt like I was in a whirlwind of emotions and information. Caitlyn and Camryn were placed in separate rooms because there was concern that their names, being so similar, could lead to mistakes in the administration of medicines. In addition, the NICU was packed, so we took turns going from one room to the other.
My babies were following the typically sad issues that preemies of that magnitude usually face. Both went through PDA ligations of their hearts to initiate correct circulation. Both had intestinal surgery resulting in ostomy bags and lastly the worst news: Both my newborns had Intraventicular Hemorrhage. Caitlyn's bleeds were the worst with grade four on both side of her brain. Camryn had grade three hemorrhage on one side and grade four on the other. The devastating mood had been set.
Nurses and doctors did not offer much hope. I was told that it was my choice to let my daughters go at any time. The time for us to say goodbye did come for Caitlyn. She needed another intestinal surgery to repair a tear in her bowel and had still not recovered from her first bowel surgery. Compared to her sister, Caitlyn was not doing as well. A decision had to be made. We could put Caitlyn through another surgery that she was more than likely unable to survive, or let her go peacefully. On December 21, 1999 after many prayers and blessings, Caitlyn Dawn Evans passed away in the arms of her parents. By her side were her older sister Cassidy and her maternal grandparents.
Meanwhile Camryn was flourishing. On the day of Caitlyn's death, Camryn opened her eyes for the first time. She was bouncing back from everything thrown at her. A shunt was eventually placed to drain fluid from her brain and she was put on maintenance seizure medication. Before being released from the hospital, four shunt revisions were necessary.
After five long months in the NICU Camryn came home. It was May 13, 2000 and she was released with the support of 1/4 liter of oxygen
to assist her breathing. This small amount of oxygen was a welcomed amazement because Camryn had been ventilated for three months following her birth. Our elation was short lived, however because we had to return to the hospital for multiple shunt revisions and infections.
To date, Camryn has had twenty-three shunt revisions, which included
a Craniotomy to try and reduce the number of shunts she needed by encouraging communication within the ventricles of her brain.
Camryn now has three shunts and her surgeries total forty including her PDA ligation and the repair of her bowel perforation among others.
Camryn is approaching three years old and is making great progress. With the help of therapists she is making strides towards crawling and has a high chance at walking in the future. My daughter loves to move and to work. Camryn's determination will be her chance to lead as normal a life as possible.
Submitted by: Christine Evans, AKS: Cassidy and Camryn's mom.