Preemies Bring Families Together
Chattanooga (WRCB) -- Tiffany Hilton tends to her son, 17-week old Gabriel who lays a bit uncomfortable in the neonatal intensive care unit at Children's Hospital.
Weighing just over a pound at birth. Gabriel has been in NICU for 4 months.
Tough to bear, says Hilton.
"The hardest days was leaving him here and going home and knowing he will be here for quite a while," says Hilton.
But young Gabriel isn't alone.
In a rare set of events, Tiffany's sister in-law, Vanessa Tripp had preemie twins Olivia and Sean two weeks ago.
The family reunion, was held daily in the same NICU.
"We can update each other and know what the other is going through and so it is great support to have her there," says Hilton.
Tripp and Hilton shared many experiences including fertilization therapy and two miscarriages each.
Tripp and her husband Tim say it took a team effort to get through what would be a crucial two weeks after the twins' birth.
"It was emotional and a little more than I expected to see them all wired up," says Tripp.
"It was pretty difficult because I'm used to being able to fix things and you have to give up that power and let the doctors do what they have to do," says Tim Tripp.
Vanessa Tripp says at one point the preemie group seemed to reach out to one another in their medical cribs.
While the twins were reaching milestones during recovery, Gabriel's situation looked quite grim.
Not only was he having trouble breathing, but doctors found bleeding in his brain.
According to doctors, babies born under 23 weeks have a slim chance at survival. Gabriel was born in 22 weeks. Doctors gave him a 1-percent chance of living.
"Just knowing he is not supposed to be here medically and he is, is just... Beyond words," says Hilton.
In the last month Gabriel's health has greatly improved.
His brain is no longer bleeding, and most times, he can breathe on his own.
Hilton and Tripp says it's the combined strength of the preemies and each other that have carried them through.
"I have realized I was stronger, and I realized Tim is a wonderful caretaker and an amazing support system," says Tripp.
"You just roll with the punches, you just do it. You really don't have a choice," says Hilton.