Harley and Harry Crane were given zero per cent chance of survival when they were born at 22 weeks and five days – more than a week before the usual abortion limit. But the tough siblings beat the odds and came home after 140 days in the NICU.
Now 17-months-old, the IVF pair are happy and healthy at home. A year after leaving hospital mum Jade Crane, 41, finally no longer feels “scared” and knows her miracle babies are “staying here”.
Harley, who was born a tiny 500g, is now a “crazy” 24lbs, and is standing up. Her brother Harry was born weighing 520g and has now reached 20lbs and is a little behind developmentally but is “trying to crawl around”.
Parents Jade and Steve, 53, who works in sales, couldn’t be prouder of their twins and are “looking forward” to their future.
Jade, a former mental health nurse and addiction counsellor, from Heanor, said: “We are so blessed and lucky to have them doing so well. It’s so crazy.
“Last year we were really scared. It was totally new to us. They’re here and they are staying here. I feel confident in that now.
“They have gone from strength to strength. Their personalities haven’t changed since birth. Harley is the feisty one and Harry was Mr. laid back. That’s how they are now but amplified. They love each other.”
Jade and Steve had 11 years of treatment before two implanted embryos on their eighth cycle of IVF resulted in twins.
She said: “I couldn’t let myself believe it. I was so fearful of a miscarriage or something going wrong. I literally didn’t do anything during the pregnancy as a result. I was still in disbelief when we got to 20 weeks, and I hadn’t even hit my third trimester when I went into labour so we hadn’t bought anything.”
After leaking fluid, Jade went to Queens Medical Hospital, Nottingham, to get checked in October 2021. An internal examination revealed she was experiencing a premature rupture of membranes – where the fetal membranes rupture before the onset of labour.
At 22 weeks pregnant, the mum feared the twins wouldn’t survive. She said: “They told me they were going to admit me but that I was probably having a miscarriage. The doctor kept saying it was a miscarriage but I said it couldn’t be because I could feel the babies moving. I knew they were ok but was being told they wouldn’t survive at this gestation.”
The abortion law in the UK states that women can terminate a pregnancy up to 24 weeks in most cases – and doctors are not required to medically intervene before.
Luckily for Jade, the facility is a teaching hospital and doctors intervene with babies born 23 weeks and later, she said.
At the time of going into labour, on October 26, 2021, Jade was still 30 hours away from the 23 week mark – but doctors chose to intervene, she said.
Jade said: “My babies were given a zero per cent chance of survival.
“They were alive, moving around, and they cried. Their little cries sounded like a tiny kitten.”
Little Harley and Harry were intubated and taken to the NICU where they remained on ventilators. The twins battled chronic lung disease, a serious gastrointestinal problem called necrotizing enterocolitis and underwent many surgeries.
Harley had to have a stoma bag fitted, which has since been removed, and Harry received injections in his eyes to help prevent premature blindness.
Harry came home in March 6 2022 and Harley joined him a week later. Jade said: “I’m so proud of my babies – they’re little fighters.”
Aside from a week back in the hospital when Harley contracted respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), they are doing well. They came off oxygen in July 2022.
Jade said: “It was an anxious time. You expect them to be back in hospital. A week later Harley was – with RSV. But we’ve had nothing further despite the bag being packed and ready to go.”
The twins corrected age is 13-months-old and Harley is on track with her milestones. Jade said: “She’s standing up. She’ll walk soon. I’m really happy with that. Harry shows a few more delays.
“We have concerns over Harry potentially having a mild form of cerebral palsy. He’s trying to crawl around. He’s a bit more behind but Harley will drag him along.”
The family won’t get any official diagnosis until Harry is aged two but Jade feels “lucky” her twins are doing so well.
She said: “Back then they said they’ll have no quality of life. I remember I asked will they be able to feel love – at the time that’s all that mattered.
“Harley’s the happiest baby you’ve ever met. She’s a charmer, smiley and very interactive. Harry’s a bit more serious.”
Jade and Steve celebrated the twins one year anniversary of coming home by visiting the hospital where they were born. She said: “It’s a home from home for us. We saw a lot of the nurses – they love it.”
Jade added: “I always have that ‘what if’; it’s the PTSD of it all. But we’re so looking forward to summer days out and putting them in a paddling pool for the first time.”