March for Babies: Schmidts are ambassador familyThere was nothing unusual about Amy Schmidt's pregnancy for the first 24 weeks, but then week 25 came and she went into labor.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
There was nothing unusual about Amy Schmidt's pregnancy for the first 24 weeks, but then week 25 came and she went into labor.
An Obstetrics and gynecology doctor at the Fairview Red Wing Medical Center, Amy was at work one night when she decided to hook herself up to a monitor to double-check something she had seen at her doctor's appointment the week before. It was then that she realized she was having contractions about five minutes apart, despite not feeling any of them.
Amy was in labor, but she didn't expect things to progress the way they did.
"I was scared, but I kind of thought they would just stop it and I would be stuck on bed rest," she said.
Instead, she was quickly transferred from Red Wing to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, where a neonatal intensive care unit would be available to properly take care of the babies that were about to be born 15 weeks earlier than expected.
Amy knew that babies born less than 28 weeks old didn't usually do well. She said the survival rate at 25 weeks is between 70 and 80 percent, but the intact survival rate - meaning the child goes on to lead a normal and healthy life - is much lower.
"I just kind of expected the worst," she said.
She called her husband, Craig, who was at home with the couple's first child, Benjamin, sleeping. He quickly left for Rochester and made it to the delivery room with about five minutes to spare.
At 5:15 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2006, a tiny 1-pound, 9-ounce baby boy was born. His even smaller sister followed just three minutes later, weighing in at 1 pound, 7 ounces.
"If (Amy) hadn't caught her own preterm labor, we might not have these babies," Craig said.
Tyler and Kaitlyn were the newest members of the Schmidt family, but their parents feared the newborns could have a whole host of developmental problems because of their premature births.
"For the first couple of days we didn't know what to expect," Amy said.
The twins were given head ultrasounds the day after they were born to see if they had any bleeding in the brain, and the results were the beginning of a lot of reassurance for the Schmidts.
"Every time you got a piece of good news you felt a little better," Craig said.
But there were still hurdles to face.
"After you rule out brain bleeding, there's lung injuries, bowel problems, feeding issues," Amy said, explaining some of the possible complications premature babies can face.
Weeks went by and the babies remained at Mayo, while Craig and Amy drove to visit them each day. Rather than staying in Rochester, the couple tried to maintain their lives in Red Wing so things would stay as normal as possible for their oldest son.
Finally, after 92 days, the twins joined their family at home for the first time.
They stayed closely monitored - receiving regular doctor's visits and being continually checked for any developmental problems - but Tyler and Kaitlyn showed no setbacks in the way they were developing.
"Every time I look at them I think about how different it could've been and how lucky we are," Amy said.
The twins are now 4 years old and still show no signs of being developmentally delayed. In fact, they don't even realize there was anything unique about them as newborns.
"They've seen pictures of themselves when they were teeny-tiny, but I don't think they understand that that's not normal," Craig said.
Despite being twins, the two kids are growing into pretty opposite personalities.
"Tyler is our short fuse. He's either the cutest kid in the world or the angriest kid in the world," Amy said. "And Kaitlyn is pretty laid back, except she's sort of turning into a drama queen."
The Schmidts will share their story about Tyler and Kaitlyn's birth at the March for Babies walk Sunday afternoon because they were chosen to be the ambassador family for the event.
As the ambassador family, they also will lead the walk, which is a fundraiser for the March of Dimes.
The March of Dimes works to help women have full-term pregnancies by researching premature birth, raising awareness of it and supporting medical advances to help reduce the premature birth rate.
If you go...
What: March for Babies four-mile walk
When: 1 p.m. Sunday; registration begins at noon
Where: A.P. Anderson Park, 101 Johnson Ave., Red Wing