Family home after medical emergency with infants

Posted at 10:11 AM, Nov 26, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-26 11:11:06-05

Oliver and Rebecca Zornow have lived through any parent's worst nightmare.

Just twenty-two weeks into their first pregnancy, their identical twin girls were diagnosed with a very serious condition. Twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome is when one twin gets an over-abundance of blood and nutrients, and the other doesn't get enough.

Rebecca had to have an emergency C-section at just 24 weeks. Lydia was born first. Madeline was born two minutes later.

"Madeline weighed a little over a pound, but Lydia was only 14 ounces," Rebecca says. "As soon as they were born, they each had a separate team of doctors, nurses and specialists working on them."

Lydia only survived for five days.

"One the day she died, I laid her on my chest, and we sang and talked to her," Rebecca says. "It was so hard knowing there was nothing more doctors could do. We told her we loved her and that none of this was her fault."

While grieving Lydia, they had to find the strength to rally around Madeline, who was still critical. Together, the three of them spent 106 days at Children's Hospital.

"We had an amazing team working with us at the hospital," Rebecca says. "It's so hard going through something like that, because you feel so helpless and alone."

That's why Rebecca and Oliver decided to chronicle their journey. They began blogging and making interactive videos from the hospital showing their experience in the neonatal intensive-care unit (NICU).

They became a beacon of hope for other new parents going through similar challenges around the country.

"We got messages, and were able to communicate with others," Rebecca says. "Just feeling the empathy from them made a difference, and that's what we want to provide for other people as well."

It's their way of turning their heartbreak into something positive. While still trying to balance the joy of Madeline's growth, with the pain of losing Lydia.

It's only fitting, that Madeline was released from the hospital just in time for Thanksgiving.

"We are so thankful for the family we do have," Oliver says. "And the people who helped us get to this point. There was a lot of people, and a lot of work that went into making that happen. Now, we start a new chapter at home."

The family recently got noticed by People magazine for the way they've shared their emotional journey live via Periscope and other websites.