Hypertension and other health related issues forced Rebecca Villanueva to prematurely deliver twin boys on Feb. 28.
Thirteen weeks shy of completing a full-term pregnancy, Baby Preston was born weighing 2 pounds. Twin brother Niko came into the world at 1 pound, 5 ounces.
Baby Preston spent 87 days in the neonatal intensive care unit at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital, brother Niko was there for 105 days.
With one household income, the family of now six couldn’t afford the 25-minute drive from their Chula Vista home to the hospital to be with their 27-week-old twins, who among other health scares had patent ductus arteriosus, double hernia, brain bleed and multiple blood transfusions.
The father, Kleber Toala, is an electrician and tried to make commuting work with his salary, but the family needed more financial assistance.
“I was trying to go back and forth, back and forth a couple times a day,” Villanueva said. “With gas prices you just can’t do it. You can’t keep going back and forth multiple times a day.”
The couple saw a woman at the hospital with a Miracle Babies bracelet and asked her about the program.
After learning the San Diego- based non-profit organization provides emotional support and financial assistance to families with critically ill newborns, Villanueva asked her social worker about the program.
Miracle Babies, as it does with nearly 400 families a year, stepped in to provide financial support for the family, providing them with a one-time allotment of $500.
“We got a referral from a social worker at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital detailing the need,” said Kevin Robertson, executive director of Miracle Babies. “The family wanted to spend the money to help with gas to get back and forth from the hospital and also to buy a deep freezer so they could store breast milk for the babies.”
Miracle Babies contributes about $200,000 a year in financial assistance to families, Robertson said.
Villanueva said the assistance Miracle Babies provided was a great help because they didn’t have to stress about making ends meet.
“We were limited on funds and it totally helped to be able to put gas in the car without having to worry about pulling from our grocery money,” she said.
Villanueva also has a 14-year-old son and a 3-year-old boy who also was born prematurely.
Villanueva said although she’s been through the process of dealing with a premature child before, it is still a terrifying situation to go through.
“It was very, very scary,” she said. “Every day was something new with the twins.”
Villanueva said her babies truly are miracle babies.
“They’ve gone through so much, if they’re not miracle babies, I don’t know who is.”
The babies are reportedly in good health. Now at 5 months old, Niko weights close to 9 pounds and Preston is a healthy 10 pounds.