Rachael Geehan and fiance Aaron Uecker were given a 1 percent chance of their unborn twins living when she went into labor at 23 weeks last fall.
“The doctor told us we could do comfort care and hold our babies until they passed in our arms,” said Rachael from Denver earlier this week.
Sitting in a Billings hospital, the couple was left alone to make a decision: Stay put and lose their children or go to Denver and hope for a miracle.
“The doctor came back in the room and Rachel said ‘We’re (Rachael and Aaron) going for the 1 percent’,” said her mother, Dianne Geehan.
Meet that miracle: Lincoln and Eleanor Uecker, twin siblings who as of Tuesday, were scheduled to arrive home Friday at the Columbus Airport via Angel Flight.
The fact that Geehan was pregnant was one small miracle in itself. She and Uecker had been trying to have a baby for a couple of years and underwent two rounds of in vitro fertilization. The pregnancy was difficult from the beginning, with Geehan suffering through complications and a near miscarriage.
Last September, Geehan felt that something was not right and headed to a Billings hospital, where it was discovered that she was in labor. Once they made the decision to go to Denver, she and Uecker boarded a jet and arrived at the Denver Presbyterian Hospital where an entire team of specialists was waiting.
Geehan was put on bed rest. On Sept. 25, Lincoln SeanKelly Uecker was born at 23 weeks and five days. He weighed just 1 pound and .43 ounces and measured 12 inches long. Doctors then sutured Geehan’s uterus closed to try and keep the second baby in her as long as possible. When she developed a fever, doctors decided Lincoln’s sister needed to join him.
On Oct. 15, Eleanor AnneMarie Uecker was born, weighing in at 2 pounds, 1 ounce and measuring 13.5-inches long.
“The difference between the babies was night and day,” said Dianne Geehan.
Lincoln’s eyes were still fused shut and he was on a ventilator for weeks. Eleanor was breathing on her own within an hour.
Serious Medical Challenges
In the four and three months since their births, both babies have faced serious medical issues.
Lincoln has suffered brain bleeds, hernias, heart surgery and a super bug called Klebsiella which led to him being placed in isolation. The bacteria reached his spinal fluid which put him at risk for additional brain bleeds. He also has periods during which he “holds his breath,” as Rachael describes it on her Facebook posts. When he stops breathing, he must be stimulated to start again. While that has improved, it still occurs and is something of a worry to his parents once he is home.
Eleanor has fared much better. Her list of ailments include contracting e-coli, having several blood transfusions, hernia surgery and a possible future heart surgery.
Ready for Home
It’s been four months since Rachael has stepped foot inside her Columbus home. Aaron and her mother have rotated shifts in Denver, as both work at the Stillwater Mining Company and work four days on, four days off. Dianne Geehan said while the entire family is excited for the twins to come home, there is fear with Lincoln’s breathing issue. She also said although the twins have come a long way, both babies are still very sick and will need to be protected from visitors once home for several months.
As of last week, Lincoln’s weight had climbed to 6 pounds, 13 ounces while Eleanor weighs 6 pounds, 10 ounces.