Leinik Ayau’s NICU Story

3 years on Sunday, 4/18/2018- at 25 years old I was 23 weeks pregnant with spontaneous fraternal twins. I woke up to contractions and immediately drove myself to the hospital. Informed that I was in active labor- a whirlwind of doctors and nurses came surging in trying to develop a plan to save my babies, and myself. 
I think to save myself over the years, I’ve blocked out some of these memories- but their story needs to be shared in order to help the next Mama out there.

A neonatologist came in with these somber eyes, and I knew what she was going to say. “We’re looking at a 30% survival rate- and that will not be without severe deficits.” I was lost, broken and scared for their lives. 
Born via traumatic caesarean, my keiki(children) were born weighing in barely over a pound each. 

Kanahāokalani Anthony Shayne Ayau Kamakana and Keawe Isabelle Asako Ayau Kamakana, began their journey at Kapiolani Medical Center- where we would live for the next 9 months. 
While I was in recovery, I called to ask if I could talk to them or see them, and I was reassured that, “Jesus is working miracles down there and you have to be healthy for them.” It would be two weeks before I could hold them in my arms. 
I have never seen stronger or braver humans in my life. Procedures, surgery’s, blood draws etc. They held on!
Unfortunately, I had to return to work two weeks later and 4 weeks before maternity leave lapsed because bills were still needing to be paid. I would spend every night with them and when I couldn’t my Mom would visit for several hours and read (every book in the waiting room) to them.
Watching twins grow together, in a scary sterile environment separated by plastic and tubes was hard but they knew the other was there- that they were never truly alone. This was that incredible “twin factor” the primary nurse would talk about. The ability to feed off ones energy and vice versa.

Staff said that my son was not getting better and that we were now presented with options:
Decline support and allow him to pass comfortably in hospital or the choice to take him home on hospice. 
When I tell you my heart broke, it shattered into a million pieces. I knew in that moment that I would be a mother to an angel and a special needs baby and no longer a “set” of healthy twins. 
He fought bravely and fiercely to stay with his sister but we lost my son on November 27,2018. 

My baby girl Keawe would be discharged from the NICU almost two weeks later, and right before Christmas. Bittersweet all the way. We knew we’d be coming home to matching outfits, cribs and a double stroller and it broke us to look at it. 

As a mother of a special needs baby, I find strength within myself I never knew possible. It hasn’t been easy and I cry daily. I remind myself that, if they fought as hard as they both did to be here- I damn well better do the same. 

My daughter will be 3 years old 4/18/2021. A date which we never thought we’d make it to. A message to all parents experiencing the NICU during these times especially- HANG IN THERE. One day at a time, and you will get through it.

Mahalo Nui loa