Milton Keynes grandmother gives birth to miracle identical twins smaller than her hand
One of the little girls weighs just 15oz and the other is 1lb1oz
Meet Daisy and Lily, the miracle Milton Keynes twins that have so far astounded doctors by their will to survive.
Mum Cheryl Guile, 38, found out she was unexpectedly pregnant with twins on her granddaughter Summer's first birthday.
"Once we got over the shock, we were over the moon," she said.
But elation turned to fear when Cheryl gave birth prematurely last Wednesday, at just 24 weeks gestation, following days of drama in MK.
Her partner Ray's home on Stacey Bushes had been completely destroyed in a fire two weeks ago, and 38-year-old Cheryl and her three children were preparing to move into a new council home.
"I was really stressed by the fire and then waiting to see if we'd been accepted for the new house. I think it all got a bit much and then my waters broke prematurely. I was 23 weeks and four days pregnant," she said.
Because MK Hospital had no facility to cope with such tiny babies, Cheryl was rushed to the John Radcliffe in Oxford. After monitoring her for a few days, doctors diagnosed the beginnings of an infection and carried out an C-Section with no notice.
"There wasn't even time to get Ray...I was on my own. The room was full of doctors and nurses and specialists - there was a team for each baby," she said.
The identical twins were delivered just one minute apart. Daisy weighed 1.1oz and Lily just 15oz.
"They were smaller than everyone expected," said Cheryl. "The doctors warned me they had just a 20% chance of survival. I was allowed to see them briefly then they were whisked off to NICU."
Here, the little girls amazed doctors with their resilience. Today, five days on, Daisy is already breathing unaided for some of the time and Lily is stable. Brain scans have so far shown no damage by the early arrival.
Cheryl is pumping breast milk for the babies two hourly and they are being given it in tiny amounts down a feeding tube.
"They are just so tiny. They are the same size as our hands and their little hands are the same size as our fingernails. Their skin is so fragile, just like tissue, that we couldn't touch their faces and bodies, but today I was allowed to cup their little heads in my hand. It was amazing," said Cheryl.
"When we heard what the odds were, we were terrified. But watching them fight has been incredible. We know it's early days but we are so happy with how well they are doing so far."
Cheryl, who works as a part time support worker in a Salvation Army homeless hostel in MK, is staying full time in Oxford to enable her to continue getting precious breast milk down the twins.
She is currently in a side room but hopes to move shortly into the charity-run Ronald McDonald House, which provides accommodation for parents with children in the Oxford hospitals
"Obviously I can't leave the twins and we don't drive so it would be impossible to get milk to them every two hours. I'm really grateful that I can be here with my girls but it's stressful trying to organise moving house when I'm not there," she said.
The family has to leave their current temporary accommodation by the end of the week and the keys to the new house, at Wolverton Mill, must be picked up from MK Council in a few days' time.
"There's no carpets in the house - just concrete floors - and there's no cooker so they won't be able to cook meals. I'm trying to organise everything from hospital but it's difficult - and expensive," said Cheryl.
Her children, Dylan aged 15, Stephanie, 13 and nine-year-old Charlie are being cared for by Ray and other family members. Eldest daughter Sophie, mum to Cheryl's granddaughter Summer, lives independently.
Ousedale school has pitched in to help by paying for the children to get to school and back by taxi during the upheaval.
"They've been amazing. They even pay for Charlie to go in the same taxi and he doesn't go to Ousedale," said Cheryl.
Meanwhile the family is coping the best they can and praying that the twins continue to make good progress, she said.
"I just want everyone to keep their fingers crossed and pray for out little girls."