Any prospective parent anxiously awaits the birth of their new baby. Chris and Susan Peloquin of Weston were no exception. But their excitement was doubled when they learned they were having twins.
The twins were a little anxious as well, however, and decided to arrive 12 weeks early, on May 3, 2001.
Although their arrival brought great joy to their parents, the twins were very underdeveloped and were immediately admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit under the care of Dr. Jody Gross, Marshfield Clinic Neonatologist on staff at Saint Joseph's Children's Hospital. Because of immature lungs, they were both put on ventilators. Chris and Susan longed to hold both of their children, but because of their low birth weight (Ben weighed only 2 lbs. 7 oz. and Anna was 2 lbs. 5 oz.), they were unable to hold them for several weeks. Extreme premature babies are always very sensitive to touch and sound at first, but Chris and Susan were dismayed when they found out that Benjamin was so sensitive that one small touch would be harmful. While Anna gradually improved and came off the ventilator, Benjamin continued to struggle and the doctors discovered that he had severe bronchopulmonary dysplasia (an abnormal development of lung tissue) and put him on the drug Pavulon. The medication would paralyze his voluntary muscles so he couldn't fight the ventilator to allow his lungs to heal.
Once Ben started the medicine, his condition appeared to worsen. "On the Pavulon, Ben looked like a wet noodle and it was very scary," shared Susan. The magnitude of his condition really hit home when one of the NICU nurses asked if baptism had been considered for the twins. After a particularly worse turn of events, neonatalogist, Dr. Edward Denny suggested that it would be a good idea for Chris and Susan to come down to the NICU and spend some time holding Ben, which, until then was unthinkable because of his fragile condition. "We couldn't hold him because he was so unstable. Now, his condition had deteriorated so badly, the doctors didn't want him to die without giving us a chance to hold him," said Susan.
Ben's mom and dad followed the advice of Joan Filbin, NICU nurse, and had the twins moved into the same warmer for the baptism. Amazingly, Anna started to have a very calming effect on her brother. "No sooner was Anna next to him than she reached up and began to stroke Ben's cheek. As she did, his oxygen saturation numbers started to improve," said Joan. That same day, Susan got to hold Ben for the first time. "Joan taped all of Ben's tubes to me and the rocking chair, and I got to hold him for about 20 minutes," said Susan. After that, Anna was placed in Ben's warmer once every day, which miraculously continued the healing in her brother. "The nurses put a little sign above the warmer that said, "Quiet please, my sister and I are sleeping," remembered Susan.
Four days later Ben was taken off the Pavulon. His eyes were focusing on people and there seemed to be a glimmer of hope.
But the race for Ben's life was still far from over. Ben had to have a lab draw done, which made his oxygen drop dramatically. This time, Ben didn't bounce back - in fact his numbers continued to decline. Even after several attempts to resuscitate him, it looked like Ben was dying. Ben truly was in need of a miracle. "I called on the only power that could help," said nurse Filbin. "And I said, 'Benjamin, in the name of God you open your eyes and you take a breath.' And Benjamin opened his eyes and took a breath, and then another and then another." In fact, Ben's breathing was so good that physicians decided not to put him back on the ventilator. According to Susan, this was the first time she had seen Ben's face. "No tubes, no tape - just two big brown eyes and a little smile," she reminisced.
That same day, Anna was ready to go home. Ben came home a week later on July 13. He required oxygen and a heart monitor, but only needed them for a short time. A week later he needed hernia surgery, but came through with flying colors.
Today, Ben and Anna are 4 1/2 year olds, and although they are quite small for their age, they are completely healthy! They both attend Good Shepherd Preschool three days a week. Anna enjoys dance lessons, coloring and playing with her dolls. Ben loves anything involving a ball - especially golf. "He's a very active little boy," said Susan. "We were once told me that he would 'probably never run cross country' because of his lung problems, but you would never know it when you watch him play today!"