Twins the size of small rockmelons – how our neonatal ICU cares for the most precious of babies

Sally Anderson cuddling her 5 weeks old twins Beau and Isla

Going into spontaneous labour nine weeks before the due date was not how Sally Andrews envisaged becoming a mother.

On 19 October 2021, Sally and her partner Craig welcomed their twins Beau and Isla into the world with each baby only weighing as much as a small rockmelon.

“Their skin was basically transparent. It was confronting and everything felt surreal, even holding them for the first time,” Sally reflected.

Straight after birth the twins were moved to Westmead Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit – otherwise known as NICU – and placed in humidicribs under close observation.

Martin family enjoying kangaroo cuddle time

“Having the twins arrive so early was a reality check,” the new father of twins Craig said.

“I wanted to know every tiny detail of what was happening with the kids, and the level of support we received from the staff was just amazing.”

Having spent most of the pregnancy in lockdown, it was hard for Sally and Craig to go through an ordeal without having loved ones nearby but, thankfully, NICU nurses and doctors became pillars of strength for the Martin family.

“The staff at NICU were extremely supportive, talking us through every step of the bubs’ journey,” Sally said on Thank U NICU Day, Friday 26 November.

“They reassured us again and again that everything happening to the twins was normal for prematurely born babies.

“It was comforting to know that I could call even in the middle of the night, and the nurse would happily give me an update. We couldn’t be more grateful.”

Capturing precious moments

Craig and Sally’s families have been enjoying daily photo updates about the “baby steps” Beau and Isla are taking to meet the extended family, hopefully by Christmas.

“My older kids are nine and seven years old. They are so excited to meet their new siblings,” Craig said.

“We are very positive and look forward to taking the twins home – all thanks to the amazing staff at NICU.”

NICU nurses Nicoletta and Ysabel helping Beau, Isla, and mum get comfortable
NICU registered nurse Nicoletta

Registered nurse Nicoletta Bellino has been taking care of Beau and Islah since their birth during her first year as NICU nurse.

Growing up in a big family, she has been accustomed to caring for her younger siblings.

“I was used to holding newborns, but I will never forget the day I held a premature baby for the first time. I was in awe. It didn’t feel real,” Nicoletta said.

“These babies have their whole amazing lives ahead of them. I feel lucky to be able to help them at the very beginning of their journey.”

Friday 26 November is Thank U NICU Day which is celebrated nationwide to thank and acknowledge all NICU and Special Care Nursery staff.

We thank Westmead Hospital’s NICU staff for the miracles they create every day, making sure western Sydney’s smallest patients are well taken care of.