By Kim Reader
These premature twin boys who were born before the abortion limit, weighing just 1lb each, have defied the odds after doctors told their terrified parents to prepare for the worst.
Luci Hall, 26, and Joseph Barker, 26, were left terrified when their sons Charlie Barker and Harvey Barker were born at just 24 weeks in May 2017, weighing just 1lb 6oz and 1lb 4oz respectively.
The twins were so tiny and their chances of survival were so slim that medics advised the devastated first-time parents not to make plans for the future.
But the brave brothers, who were so small they fit in the palm of their mum’s hand, proved everyone wrong and are now fighting fit at 15 months old.
Full-time mum Luci, who gave up her job in admin to care for her boys, could not be more proud of Charlie and Harvey, dubbing them her ‘heroes’.
But seeing how well her ‘little fighters’ are doing has made Luci question the UK abortion limit as she says her sons are proof a 24-week-old baby cannot just survive but thrive.
Luci from Leeds, West Yorks, said: “When I went into labour, Joseph and I just weren’t prepared at all. It all happened so quickly.
“It was so early and we were so worried about what was going to happen to them. We didn’t know if they were going to survive, it was terrifying.
“When they were born they were both rushed straight to intensive care, I didn’t get to hold them or see them. Joseph just got to quickly take two photos.
“I couldn’t even get upset about not getting to hold them because I was in shock. I couldn’t quite get my head around what was happening.
“We got to see them three hours later and that’s when it really hit us. They were so tiny, you can’t even imagine a baby that small. It was really frightening.
“Their chances of survival were so slim that we were told to take it hour by hour. They told us not to think about the future because it was so uncertain.
“We were so scared thinking about losing one of them or both of them, it was devastating. It’s not a situation you ever expect yourself to be in when you have your first baby.
“When we finally got to hold them after four weeks it was amazing. It gave us both so much hope because we knew then that they were getting stronger. That really kept us positive.
“They are both little fighters, they proved everyone wrong. And we got to take them home on September 24.
“Harvey has been readmitted once since then but now they are both home and they’re doing so well. They’re amazing.
“I couldn’t be more proud of Charlie and Harvey, they’re my heroes.
“Seeing how well they’ve done does make you think about the abortion limit. I’d never even considered it before, I just accepted it.
“Then the twins came and I saw them in their incubator and suddenly the idea of a baby being aborted at 24 weeks broke my heart.
“The thought of anyone getting rid of a baby that late is just awful. When I came home I signed a petition to have it changed.
“Harvey and Charlie are proof that a baby born at 24 weeks can survive.”
The parents, who have been together for almost five years, discovered they were expecting a baby when Luci was six weeks pregnant and their 12-week scan revealed it was twins.
Throughout her pregnancy, Luci had to have ultrasounds every week as her babies had twin-to-twin transfusion – a rare condition that causes uneven blood flow – so Charlie was getting more sustenance than his brother.
While the twins’ diagnosis was terrifying for the mum and dad-to-be, things only got worse when Charlie’s waters broke at just 20 weeks.
Luci was rushed to hospital but managed to hold onto the boys for another four weeks before giving birth on May 21 last year.
Charlie and Harvey spent four and a half months in hospital undergoing countless tests, scans and transfusions while their ‘helpless’ parents longed for the day they could take them home.
The brave tots were finally discharged on September 24 but Harvey had to be readmitted on October 31 and was only able to come home again on May 29 this year.
Luci said: “People think of premature babies in incubators but it’s not just that, it’s the incubator and oxygen machines and wires and head scans and eye scans.
“Charlie and Harvey had seven blood transfusions each, they both had bronchiolitis. They have been through so much.
“We were watching our babies fighting for their lives. You can’t explain what it’s like to be in that situation, it’s horrendous. It’s like your worst nightmare, I felt so helpless.
“All I wanted to do was hold them and comfort them but I couldn’t do anything. All I could do was be there every day.
“When we took them home we thought all of that was finally over but on Halloween Harvey went downhill really quickly.
“We called an ambulance and he was blue lighted to hospital. He stopped breathing, it was so frightening.
“His lungs were just so weak that his body wasn’t getting enough oxygen and the lack of oxygen meant he had become visually impaired.
“Harvey had to stay in hospital for such a long time, basically the first year of his life. He was so poorly but I couldn’t be with him all the time because I had Charlie at home.
“It was awful and separating the boys was heartbreaking. They had been together every step of the way and tearing them apart was horrendous.”
Since coming home in May, Harvey has gone from strength to strength and is even overtaking his brother.
Charlie, who weighs 20lbs, and Harvey, who weighs 20lbs 8oz, now both wear 9-12 months clothes and continue to amaze Luci and Joseph every day.
Luci said: “My whole pregnancy was a nightmare. It wasn’t what I had imagined when I dreamed of starting a family.
“After everything we’ve been through, it is incredible for us to have our family at home and to be able to spend time together and enjoy it.
“When Harvey had to go back into hospital, the twins lost that special bond they had had since they were born but as Harvey started to get stronger we would take Charlie to visit him.
“At first he was restless but then he started to hold Harvey’s hand and really look after him. They’ve definitely got that twin bond back since Harvey came home.
“Every day Joseph and I are shocked and amazed by how incredibly they’re both doing.
“I am the proudest mum in the world and everything we’ve had to go through just makes me appreciate my boys so much more.”