October 3, 2011
Parents Steve and Jane Penny, from Wales, were told heartbreaking news that their son Tom, who was born 16-weeks early, had only a ten percent chance of survival
. It was a tiring and rough ordeal, but miraculously he pulled through.
As if going through the woes of possibly losing one child wasnt enough, two years later they received the same news about their daughter, Megan. She, like her elder brother Tom, was born almost three months premature
The nightmare that consumed Steve and Jane two years prior was about to happen again. When doctors told them, she was terrified.
We cant go through it all again, Jane told Wales Online
Tom was born June 8, 1995 after only 24-weeks in the womb. When he was delivered, he weighed only one pound and eleven ounces. He was small enough to hold in the hand of an adult, but due to his size and lack of maturation during the pregnancy, he was rushed to the ICU.
That was one of the hardest aspects of the ordeal for Jane, not being able to hold her child after birth.
They took him straight away because he was quite poorly and needed to be put on the ventilator. Thats heartbreaking when you have just given birth. Normally you get to hug them but I didnt get any of that, she reflected.
Both Steve and Jane felt absolutely helpless as they watched their tiny son fight for life, hooked up to monitors and breathing through a machine. He didnt open his eyes for two weeks and physical contact was limited to a few minutes on occasion. His body was so weak that a drop in temperature in the incubator could prove disastrous.
Despite his slim chance of survival, Tom made it and lived a childhood without many health problems. Then, when the Pennys had their second child the process started over.
Megan was born after only 26-weeks on July 3, 1997. She weighed the same as her brother Tom, less than two pounds.
It was a surreal experience for Steve and Jane, going through the exact same thing all over again. Their son had already beaten the odds and they feared the worst for their daughter, the likelihood of her surviving as well was even less.
The one piece of hope they had was knowing that Tom had beaten the odds and they hoped Megan could weather the storm.
There was nothing worse than any other day but the whole situation had just hit me. This was my baby I had just given birth to and I couldnt hug her or touch her, Jane said remembering a day she spent in the hospital with Megan, crying.
However small their odds of survival, both siblings survived and are living life each day, grateful for the opportunity.
When the two are asked about their premature birth or see photos from when they clung so desperately to life, they find it odd.
Its quite scary looking at the pictures because we have got all these tubes in our noses and mouths. It looks quite scary and sickening, Megan said. I find it weird that we could have died. I think we are very lucky to be alive because a lot of babies dont survive when they are born that early, she added.
The only effect their premature birth has really had on their lives is their small stature. Tom is just over 5ft and 3in, while Megan is 4ft 10in.
Both are pursuing regular teenage lifestyles and Tom is preparing to study economics, politics, and math. They are both intelligent young individuals despite the turmoil they endured as newborns and enjoy daily life, knowing they were quite lucky.
Their father Steve joined a charity with Bliss
, a UK organization working to raise awareness and hope for premature babies. On September 17th he began a 1,200 mile bikeride from Wales to Spain in an effort to raise funds to support research and families affected by premature births.