Tiny, premature twins Ellie and Isaac were born at just 26 weeks. Both had chronic lung disease and spent 42 days in Westmead's neonatal intensive care unit, followed by more than seven weeks in special care, before being allowed to go home with their parents Leonie and Mat.
"The first 48 hours were really touch and go," Leonie remembers. "Both babies were on ventilators when they were born, which helped them breathe. Ellie kept pulling her tubes out and the nurses would have to perform CPR with their index fingers to get her to breathe again. We couldn't hold either of them, and Isaac's eyes were still fused shut.
"The day before the twins were born, one of the doctors gave us a big talk to prepare us for what to expect and how difficult the road ahead would be. So it wasn't so much that it was a shock, but it was hard, especially because you're so helpless. There's nothing you can do and you just have to really trust the nurses.
"I don't know how we would have gotten through it without the nurses at Westmead. They're just the most amazing people. They do so much, and they always give 120 percent support, all the way."
Leonie says one of the hardest parts to go through was the twins' twice-weekly brain scans. Brain bleeds are one of the biggest risk-factors for premature babies.
"Every time we went through it we would be thinking 'are we going to get bad news today?' I would often burst out crying, my nerves would just shot," Leonie says. "The nurses were just so incredibly supportive and encouraging, and they teach you so much. They kept beautiful diaries for their twins, recording the first weeks of their lives.
"A couple of weeks after the babies were born it was my birthday, and without me knowing, my mum called the hospital and told the nurses. In the morning I found an envelope on the end of the incubator. It was a birthday card with the words 'For Mummy love Isaac and Ellie'."
Isaac and Ellie are now energetic children. They both enjoy swimming, and Ellie likes dancing while Isaac plays soccer. The twins have a special bond and are very protective of each other. They started school together in 2010.
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