Jay and Megan Rooney were excited. Their twins were due Dec. 13, 2014 and they were planning a special Christmas with their first-born children.
The twins had other ideas. “We planned on winter babies,” Megan said. “They decided to be summer babies.” The two boys – J.P. and Will – were born prematurely on Aug. 28. Will weighed 1 pound, 8 ounces; J.P., weighed 1 pound, 13 ounces. Meghan’s 24-week appointment was routine, but she started having contractions soon after. The babies were born at 5:15 am, Aug. 28. “It was surreal,” Jay said. “I didn’t think going to bed that night that I would wake up with two tiny little boys.”
It was a time of great anxiety as the boys were whisked to the SSH Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The boys faced myriad challenges that come with being premature. They had to go to Boston Children’s Hospital for certain procedures. “I didn’t realize the magnitude of what we were up against,” Jay said. “It hit me after a few days – we have a long road.”
In the weeks that followed, the NICU team became “our second family,” Megan said. “They took care of us, sat and cried with us.” In particular, the couple singled out Meagan Urbach, R.N., NICU and Carolyn O’Rourke, NICU and Pediatric Respiratory Therapist. They fondly recalled the Halloween and Thanksgiving parties NICU staff prepared for the family.
Sadly, J.P. could not overcome his many health challenges. Before he passed away, the family had him returned from Boston to the SSH NICU. “They put us all together so we could be a family,” Megan said. “They made a very hard situation as easy as possible.” At J.P.’s Memorial Mass, “everyone from the NICU came,” Jay said, “even after working a shift.”
Finally, after 121 days in the NICU, Jay, Megan and Will came home on Dec. 27. Will is doing much better now and reached ten pounds by January. The family is grateful and they’ve chosen to thank the NICU caregivers by making a gift to South Shore Hospital.
“I grew up across the street from South Shore Hospital,” Jay said. “It’s unbelievable what goes on every day in the NICU. It’s a whole other world, and we’re so grateful it is there.”