Dylan and Oscar are twins, but unlike most other twins they don’t share a birthday, as they were born two days apart.
Their mum Joanne Reilly, from Swinton, Manchester, was shocked when her waters broke early at 24 weeks.
She gave birth to a baby boy weighing just 1lb 10oz on 10 January 2019, who she named Dylan. But then her labour suddenly stopped progressing.
Initially, doctors hoped Reilly, 32, might be able to carry the second twin to full term.
But Oscar was keen to join his twin brother and was born two days later on 12 January, weighing 2lbs.
“I had a lovely pregnancy and I was enjoying every second as everything was running smoothly with no cravings and barely any sickness,” says Reilly, who works as a police officer.
“I had a scan a week before my waters broke and everything was fine so I was very confused and panicked when my waters had broke at 24 weeks and five days.
Reilly went straight to St. Mary’s Hospital with her partner Anthony, 44, and a few hours later she was in labour.
“Dylan was born at 4.43am but he was in a poor state and needed resuscitating for 30 minutes,” she says.
“We almost lost him which was very traumatic.”
Though Reilly was preparing to start pushing again to welcome her second baby, hours later, nothing had happened.
“Time passed but nothing happened and the doctor said I have to stay on strict bed rest to try and keep the other baby in for as long as possible,” she says.
“I was shocked as I didn’t know know that was possible. In a way, I just wanted Oscar to come too as it felt weird having one but not the other.”
The new mum was unable to visit Dylan in NICU, but she was given an iPad to watch him in the incubator.
“I really wanted to see Dylan but I knew I had to follow the doctors’ orders to do what is best for Oscar,” she says.
“Every hour counted towards his development so it was vital for me to stay on bed rest to ensure he was given the best chance.”
Two days later, Dylan was joined by his brother Oscar, who was born at 10:39am, when Reilly was 25 weeks pregnant.
“Fortunately, he was born without any health complications,” says Reilly.
“We always say the extra two days did Oscar the world of good as he had zero complications and was taken off the ventilation first.”
It was two weeks before Reilly could hold her twins and the brothers were only put into a cot with one another for the first time after three months in NICU, with their parents worrying they may not form a special bond having spent so much time apart.
But the family needn’t have worried as 19 months on the twins are thriving and have an unbreakable brotherly bond.
“I had nothing to worry about in terms of their bond as they are very much aware that they are twins - they can’t settle without one another,” says Reilly.
“If one leaves the room, then the other will cry. They also love to annoy one another.”
Looking back on the twins unusual delivery, Reilly says though having children in the NICU for so long was a stressful experience, she’s grateful both babies were healthy.
“We are very fortunate to have had premature babies who had no health complications,” she adds.
“It is horrible seeing your tiny baby in an incubator and there is nothing you can do.”
Professor Basky Thilaganathan, consultant obstetrician and spokesperson of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said delayed birth of a second twin, such in the case of Dylan and Oscar, is rare.
“Delayed birth of the second twin is only warranted in case of preterm birth and usually when they do not share a placenta. This is uncommon, but is not unheard of,” he says.
“With a birth near term (more than 34 weeks in twins) such inter-twin birth delay is not recommended as it may put the twins and mother at risk. You can have a maximum interval of around 20 to 30 minutes for babies which share a placenta and slightly longer for those which do not share a placenta, as long as the second baby is continuously monitored.”
Additional reporting Caters.