Taylor Davis said she feels "blessed" after bringing her twin daughters, Avery Reign Davis and Emersyn Gray Davis, home from the hospital this week.
The baby girls were discharged from the neonatal intensive care unit at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida in Fort Myers, Florida, on Monday. Avery had a 137-day stay in the NICU, while Emersyn stayed for 134 days.
The fraternal twins were born three days apart, and their birth stories might as well be one for the history books.
"They’re 4.5 months, but technically they’re newborns," Davis explained to "Good Morning America." "They were born at 22 weeks, so their due date was March 1."
Back in October, Davis found out from her doctor that her cervix was shorter than normal. Thousands of pregnant women have shorter than normal cervices -- something which can predispose them to premature birth.
She said the doctor gave her orders on Oct. 22, 2021, to go on bed rest at the hospital for the remainder of her pregnancy. Davis started making preparations, but by Oct. 24, she said she felt herself go into labor, and she was rushed to Golisano, about an hour away from her home in Alva, Florida.
"They took me straight to labor and delivery because, in the ER, they said I was completely dilated, completely effaced, and my daughter Avery was in my birth canal," Davis recalled.
- 2December 27, 2021
At the time, Davis thought she was already 22 weeks, but at the hospital, she said doctors compared ultrasounds and told her she was only 21 weeks and 3 days along and that if she delivered early, her babies might not survive or could have long-term health conditions such as autism, blindness or cerebral palsy.
Davis said she and her husband, Mark Davis, 29, considered their options and decided to fight for their twins, despite the odds stacked against them.
"My husband and I were like, 'No, we're gonna do everything we can to save them,'" the 27-year-old mother said.
Davis then went into Trendelenburg position in an effort to delay her twins’ arrival and improve their chances of survival. "My hospital bed literally went to a complete tilt, where my head was all the way down," Davis recalled. "It was terrible, to be completely honest with you. I ate upside down. I slept upside down. I went to the restroom on a bedpan upside down. I did not touch the floor for almost seven days."
Davis delivered Avery on Oct. 29. She weighed in at 454 grams, or exactly 1 pound. Hospital staffers were able to intubate her and get her on oxygen.
"Had I not stayed upside down for those six days, they wouldn't have made it," Davis said. "I'm very happy with my decision. I was not going to just give up."
Davis said it was a "very emotional" time for her throughout Avery’s arrival, which was marked with complications, including sepsis and bilateral brain bleeds. "She had a really bad infection in her blood," she said. "So just the fact that she made it in the first 24 hours with having such a bad blood infection, from being in my birth canal for so long, is a miracle in itself."
After she delivered Avery, Davis said, she then fought for Emersyn. "I tell them that I want to do everything I can to keep Emersyn in," the mother recalled.
"What they did is, they left her placenta inside me. They stitched up the umbilical cord and pushed it back inside me, and I stayed like that for three days until Emersyn broke my water," Davis said, noting that doctors warned her it was risky and that she would get an infection.
Davis did develop an infection -- chorioamnionitis -- which is inflammation within the amniotic fluid. She also developed sepsis and a serious blood clot. These complications then led to Emersyn being born on Nov. 1 by emergency C-section. According to Davis, it was a scary and "extremely traumatic" time, one she thought she might not survive herself.
Through it all, Davis was steadfast in her choice. "I couldn't live with myself if I didn't do absolutely everything I possibly could to save my daughters," she said.
Like Avery, Emersyn received treatment for bilateral brain bleeds and sepsis.
While they were in the NICU, Davis said she "was an emotional roller coaster."
"I was heartbroken," she said. "Having to watch my babies that are barely a pound and they're putting PICC lines in them and doing all these things that a baby should never have to go through and then going through like, feeling like my body failed them and the mother's guilt of that -- and I know it was nothing I could have done. It is what it is. But as a mother, you want to protect your babies, and I just did everything I could with everything being out of my control."
Davis credits a mother’s love for the strength that carried her through the last four and a half months. "It's just instinct. You know that there's nobody in the world that you love more than your babies, and I pulled my strength from a mother's love," she said.
"I get to look at my daughters every day, and we just have such a special bond. It's different because we really fought together."
Today, Davis said her twin girls have exceeded doctors’ expectations and are relatively healthy babies. "They have nothing wrong with them that is what they would expect for 22-weekers," she said.
Davis said Avery has hemangiomas near her eye and is on medication for them. Emersyn will get surgery for a hernia after she turns 6 months old, Davis said, and was given medicine to treat retinopathy -- disease of the retina -- but didn't need surgery for her eyes.
The mom of five said Avery and Emersyn have changed her life and outlook on everything.
"I've always been so busy and with my job and my other children, and I think this was like, the universe saying, 'Slow down, enjoy the moment, I'm going to show you a miracle.'"
Now that the twins have joined their parents and siblings, including brothers Levi and Easton and sister Riley, Davis she's enjoying getting to know them. She describes Avery as "feisty" and "determined," while Emersyn is the "calm" and "sensitive" one of the two sisters.
She also has a message for her twins and for other expectant moms.
"I want them to just know how proud I am to be their mom and how blessed I am to still have them here with me, because that means more than any words could say," she said. "I'm just overwhelmed with how much we've been through and how a lot of people didn't believe that we could do it, but we did it, and we have created so much hope for other moms."
"I want to give moms hope, because a lot of hospitals say 22 weeks is not viability, and they won't even save them or attempt to save them until they're 24 weeks, and they can get transferred to other hospitals and not settle for their local hospital not being willing to save them, because there's other people that will," Davis added.