Couple’s double joy on hold after twins’ premature arrivalavril 5, 2021
After eight years of trying for a baby, a couple were beyond excited when a pregnancy test came back positive in November last year.
Their joy doubled when their doctor said they were having twins, which came as a surprise as only one heartbeat was detected in an earlier scan.
Mr Dante Pagulayan, 37, and his wife Marites, 38, are S Pass holders who have been working in Singapore since 2011.
The Filipino couple have been married for 10 years.
Mrs Pagulayan, a nurse at the Institute of Mental Health, told The New Paper yesterday that they had planned to return to the Philippines at the start of her third trimester this month.
Her husband, who works in IT support, had found it too expensive to have their babies in Singapore, she added.
But their plan fell apart when Mrs Pagulayan was whisked to KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) for an emergency C-section in her 26th week of pregnancy last month.
A typical pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks, with a full-term pregnancy considered to be at least 37 weeks.
She told TNP: “The amniotic membrane (in my womb) was bulging and going to rupture. So the doctors had to deliver the babies for their safety.
“When I knew they were going to be premature, I was terrified and started crying. So many questions (came to) mind. What if they are not healthy? How can I give birth to them when their internal organs are not even fully developed yet?”
The babies were born on March 12, with the firstborn, Kaylee, weighing 1,036g and Kayla just 930g, she added.
“It was worrying because the average weight for newborn babies is about 3,500g. But knowing that (they would be) premature, we had to be mentally prepared.
“When I heard their cries for the first time, I wanted so badly to hold them. But I couldn’t.”
Kaylee and Kayla were immediately taken to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and needed intubators to help them breathe. The couple saw their babies for the first time two days after their birth through an incubator.
Despite wanting to spend more time with his wife and babies, Mr Pagulayan returned to work on March 15 in a bid to make ends meet.
That afternoon, the doctors found Kaylee had a perforation in her small intestine and rushed her to surgery. Two days later, her right lung collapsed, and she needed a ventilator to breathe.
Mrs Pagulayan, who was discharged on March 15, has visited her babies every afternoon since, and her husband sees them after work every night.
“My heart hurts seeing my daughters like this. They are in stable condition now but still rely on continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines to keep their airways open. I hope they will be able to breathe on their own soon,” she said.
With the babies still in NICU, the doctors estimated they will likely be hospitalised for another 80 days.
“I have not carried my babies yet. At first, I could only see them through the incubator. But now I can finally hold their hands,” she said, adding that she hopes to be able to carry them by the end of the week.
Another big worry for the couple is the medical bill, which is estimated to reach about $500,000.
When contacted, KKH declined to comment, citing patient confidentiality.
If she had given birth prematurely in the Philippines, the cost would have been less than $100,000, said Mrs Pagulayan.
“It’s expensive here because we are foreigners. But we had no choice because we could not fly back in time.”
With their friends’ encouragement, the couple started a Give.asia campaign to raise funds a week after their children’s birth. As of yesterday, about 900 people had donated over $79,000.
“My husband and I are overwhelmed by the number of people willing (to help). I’m so grateful and my girls are so lucky,” she said.
Mr Pong Yu Ming, co-founder and chief operating officer of Give.asia, told TNP the campaign will run until the $500,000 target is reached.
Mrs Pagulayan, who is on maternity leave, is mostly alone at home as her husband works every day.
“I’m trying to be as independent as I can be, but my friends and colleagues have been very kind to visit and cook for me on their days off. I couldn’t be more grateful,” she said.