INTO THE LIGHT
One of the happiest sounds in the world for Mayleen Garcia Habib is that of her three-year-old daughter Yvonne playing peek-a-boo with her seven-month-old brother, Adrian in their home in southern Sydney.
For months, as Adrian hovered between life and death in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at The Royal Hospital for Women in Randwick, Mayleen had hardly dared to dream that such an idyllic scene would ever be possible.
After being cared for in the hospital’s Maternal Fetal Medicine department, Adrian was born prematurely at 25 weeks with his twin brother Nicolas. Not only were they tiny – 955 and 764 grams respectively - they were born with Twin Transfusion Syndrome.
The syndrome meant the identical twins shared a placenta, and the prognosis was grim. Rather than absorbing the nutrients from his mother’s placenta, Nicolas was transferring them all to Adrian. Tragically, while Adrian had stored an enormous amount
of amniotic fluid around his sack, Nicolas had almost none.
Mayleen, an IT consultant with Westpac, could only watch and pray as Nicolas and Adrian were kept alive with the NICU’s special ventilators, cribs, and machines that monitored their vital signs. “They were covered in wires, tubes and medical tape, “ Mayleen says. “Their tiny faces were covered in a snorkel-like mask attached to their head and mini sunglasses covering their eyes. They were so small. Their skin seemed so paper thin. Their arms and legs so small and fragile. It was agonising not being able to hold them, to give them all my love.”
There was far worse to come. When Nicolas was just eight days old, Mayleen and her husband Chris were told by Newborn Intensive Care Unit staff that they needed to prepare themselves to say goodbye to their baby son.
“It was without doubt the worst experience of our lives. We tried to pull ourselves together and we began preparing for Nicolas’s baptism, which was arranged with great sensitivity by the hospital. My husband and I were finally able to have our first cuddle with Nicolas. We were able to bathe him, dress him, and be close together as a family. He passed away peacefully in my arms on March 29, when he was eight days old.”
Mayleen and her family’s story finally emerged from the darkness when they brought Adrian home after almost four months of round-the-clock specialist care in the NICU. “Every day with Adrian and Yvonne feels like such a gift,” Mayleen says. “Seeing their faces makes me so happy.”
Today, they call Nicolas their angel, and they treasure a small cast made of his hand. “He will always be a part of our family. We will always love him and miss him dearly.” In the meantime, as Mayleen has watched both Yvonne and Adrian continue to thrive, she has been determined to raise money to help buy more live-saving equipment at the NICU. She has raised more than $4000 so far – and counting – an amount which has been generously matched by her employer, Westpac. “Although we never knew this place existed before this experience, and never imagined we would be here, we feel so blessed to have been in the care of The Royal Hospital for Women.
We hope our gift helps other parents as much as they have helped us.”
To donate to The Royal Hospital for Women Foundation or Mayleen’s page click here