In Knoxville, Tennessee, a woman has safely given birth to twins—five weeks apart. This process, which rarely happens, is called an interval delivery.
According to WBIR, Kristen Miller was attending church when her water broke at 22 weeks. At the hospital, doctors did their best to keep her son Micah in the womb for 14 more days, which would have brought her pregnancy term to 24 weeks, the youngest a baby can survive outside the uterus. (A full term pregnancy is 40 weeks, but anytime after 38 weeks is usually fair game.)
Micah’s delivery went smoothly, but his sister Madelyn was still in utero, even though doctors had expected her to arrive with her brother. So the University of Tennessee Medical Center staff waited and did what they could to delay her birth for as long as they could.
Twins aren’t born weeks apart very often. One of the longest separate twin births on record belongs to an Irish couple, who welcomed their babies 87 days apart in 2013. Micah’s chance for survival at 24 weeks was about 50 percent, Sabrina Craigo, the chief of maternal-fetal medicine at Tufts Medical Center, told the Washington Post. Separate births can only occur with fraternal twins because they have their own amniotic sacs and “don’t share a placenta,” but it’s still dangerous.
For Miller, making sure Madelyn had the best chance of a safe delayed delivery meant bed rest without as much as holding her baby Micah for several weeks. Her diligence worked.
“We made it five and half weeks before Madelyn decided she wanted to come into the world. Thirty-eight days,” said Kristen.
Image via WBIR.