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Giving birth at 27 weeks: A family’s journey of heartbreak and joy

Danielle holds her premature babies on her body in a photo on the left. On the right, a photo of her babies now
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Written by Marie Sanderson

Danielle Richards has cried both sad and joyful tears at 27 weeks of pregnancy.

In December last year, she and her husband lost their son Josiah. He was stillborn. Then, in July 2020, the family welcomed twins, also at 27 weeks.

Elise was born weighing 908 grams and David was born weighing 1088 grams.

The twins are happy and healthy, home now with Danielle and her husband Akeem.

Danielle’s journey has been anything but ordinary. She went into preterm labour at 21 weeks of pregnancy, meaning she was in and out of Sunnybrook’s High Risk Obstetrics Unit until the twins were born.

Akeem Richards visits with his child in the NICU.

The twins stayed in Sunnybrook’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for 34 days before transferring to Michael Garron Hospital.

On top of that, she developed a brain condition that required her to have fluid drained from her spine.

Asked about her time at Sunnybrook, she breaks into a huge smile. “I remember every single staff person by name.”

She lists the names of nurses in High Risk Obstetrics who held her hand when she missed her husband due to visiting restrictions during the pandemic. It’s the same for the care team in the neonatal intensive care unit – she can name them all, from nurses to respiratory therapists to social workers.

One individual that left a mark was her maternal fetal medicine specialist, or high-risk obstetrician, Dr. Amir Aviram. “Dr. Aviram understood how difficult it was experiencing a pregnancy after loss and during a pandemic. It still brings me to tears remembering how we felt supported, so well informed and cared for.”

The twins stayed in Sunnybrook’s NICU for 34 days, then moved to Michael Garron Hospital for a few weeks. Danielle often thinks about her time at the hospital.

“When I was feeling down, staff always tried to brighten my day. They were professional but still warm and tried to gain insight into our lives. One nurse in particular asked the name of my first son. That meant a lot.”

Josiah, the name of Danielle and Akeem’s first son, means ‘God heals’. “We had faith we would have more children.”

About the author

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Marie Sanderson

Marie Sanderson is a Senior Communications Advisor at Sunnybrook.

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