OGDEN -- When LaShawnda Gray was in the hospital expecting twins, she knew there was at least one other mother whose twins were in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit.
What she wasn't expecting, however, was to find out that there would soon be 13 sets of twins at one time, a record number for McKay-Dee Hospital's NICU. The smallest baby weighs 1 pound, 2 ounches; the largest weighs just over 5 pounds.
"I was shocked," Gray, of Ogden, said. "I had been in the hospital on bed rest for six weeks and I thought, 'Well that's good. There will be at least one other mother in there in the same situation.' When my babies got to the unit, they were one of three sets in my room and the numbers just kept growing."
Since April, the NICU has been unusually packed with twins, said Lori Noorlander, NICU nurse manager. There are now 13 sets of twins, plus other premature babies, so the unit's 32 beds are full and an overflow nursery was needed.
"Having twins in the NICU is not unusual. There is an increase in the incidence of prematurity when there are multiples," Noorlander said. "But having this many twins in the NICU at the same time is unusual. Thirteen sets in the unit at one time is the most we have had."
Some babies require critical medical management, such as ventilator support for breathing and IV fluids. Others are more mature and will shortly meet the criteria for going home by eating all of their food by mouth, maintaining their temperature in open cribs and requiring little or no oxygen, Noorlander said.
"Some of the babies were born in April and May and are still here," she said. "We had three sets born just this last weekend (June 26-27). We have a great team of RNs, respiratory therapists, nursing assistants, neonatologists, neonatal nurse practitioners and many others such as our social workers, care manager, pharmacists, developmental specialists that do an amazing job of caring for all these babies."
Gray gave birth to two boys on June 10: Wesley D. Gray Jr., weighing in at 3 pounds and WeShawn D. Gray, weighing in at 3 pounds, 2 ounces. The boys were named after both parents.
"We've really made some great friends," Gray said. "We've got this little support group of twin parents and we talk about how the babies are growing and all their milestones. It's been really fun to see all of the babies doing so well."
Kathia Gastelum- Arreaga, of Syracuse, said she and her husband wanted a fourth child but were surprised to find out they were having twins. Jacob and Victoria were born May 13, weighing 2 pounds, 5 ounces and 2 pounds, 2 ounces, respectively.
"When they were born, I think there were only a couple of sets but then things just started going crazy," Arreaga said. "It's really been a lot of fun talking with other parents and taking classes together. We've made some great friends and have really bonded."
Arreaga said the parents do activities together and provide support and advice to each other.
"I met another mother who had a lot of questions about twins and the NICU and I was able to talk with her and reassure her," she said. "It's funny, too, because everyone is calling my babies the Twilight Twins after the movie, but honestly we didn't intentionally name them after the werewolf and the vampire."