Better Futures

Regina twins start life with 85 days in Regina’s NICU

Madilyn & Bella

Excitement can quickly turn to fear for first-time parents when faced with their baby’s medical complications. That was the scenario for Janessa Fox and Brandon Buttazoni of Regina. Fortunately for them and their twin daughters, the world-class neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in the Rawlco Centre for Mother Baby Care, at Regina’s General Hospital was in their corner.

“I went in for a routine ultrasound at twenty two and a half weeks,” says Janessa. “That’s when we found out my cervix was short at less than 2.5 cm where the average is between 3.5 and 4.8 cm, which greatly increased the odds of the babies being born prematurely.”

Not willing to take any chances with Janessa’s health, or that of her unborn twins, her doctor admitted Janessa to the Regina General Hospital. Once there, the medical teams tried a variety of methods, including hanging her upside down for short periods, to take pressure off her cervix, and hopefully extend the pregnancy beyond 25 weeks so the twins could be safely delivered.

Fortunately, they were successful and twins Madilyn and Bella were born May 24, 2023, at just over 28 weeks, still about 10 weeks early. Since the twins were so small, weighing only two pounds 11 ounces and two pounds 10 ounces respectively, they needed the specialized care provided by our NICU medical team and spent 85 days there until they were strong enough to go home with their parents.

“Absolutely, we were scared,” admits Brandon. “Fortunately, a family friend is a nurse in the NICU, so she was able to reassure us, and prepare us for what lay ahead.”

As a result of being so tiny, the girls’ lungs were not fully developed and they couldn’t breathe on their own.  Initially, they were intubated to provide them with the oxygen they needed to become stable.  Once stable, they were put on Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) which is used to deliver constant air pressure into the babies’ noses, ensuring their lungs stayed open to prevent apnea, which causes 15-20 second breathing pauses during which the heart slows down to dangerous levels.

In addition, Madilyn picked up a viral infection, which is not uncommon as her immune system was not fully developed.  Fortunately, it cleared up with antibiotics. Moreover, Bella required a blood transfusion due to a low hemoglobin count, which also is not that uncommon in premature babies since their red blood cells can break down too quickly, and they are not able to replenish them fast enough.

Despite these serious health concerns, the girls gradually grew stronger under the watchful eyes of our experienced NICU medical team. Janessa and Brandon were finally able to take their daughters home on August 17, 2023.  Today, the twins are thriving at home. Both weigh over seven pounds and, fortunately, do not require any additional medical care other than follow-up appointments with a pediatrician and a pediatric dietician.

“We’re just so grateful to everyone,” Janessa confides. “The staff at the NICU were amazing, taking the time to answer all our questions and reassuring us, while taking care of our girls as if they were their own. We’re also grateful to Hospitals of Regina Foundation and their donors for supplying all the specialized equipment the NICU needs. Without them, our daughters may not even be here today.”

“It’s so rewarding for everyone at the Foundation to play a role in success stories like Madilyn and Bella’s,” says Dino Sophocleous, president and CEO, Hospitals of Regina Foundation. “Stories like theirs are a reminder of the importance of keeping our NICU equipped with the best technology, so that children across southern Saskatchewan can lead healthy, happy lives.”
  • Regina twins start life with 85 days in Regina’s NICU
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