An engaged couple, Taryn Cumming and Kat Buchanan, have both become first-time mums, each giving birth to their son and daughter, just four days apart.
The same-sex couple from Auckland learnt that they were both pregnant to the same sperm donor within a week of each other earlier this year and would have been due 12 days part, with Buchanan due on November 28 and Cumming on December 10.
However, the couple was in for a surprise when Cumming’s water broke on November 18 and her son Ryan was born on November 20. Buchanan gave birth to her daughter Piper via C-section on November 24.
Even though the week this happened and the ones to follow have been “full on”, they feel very lucky.
Late last year the couple started to research options to grow their family.
In New Zealand same-sex female couples can access IUI (intra-uterine insemination) or IVF (in-vitro fertilisation), but have to foot the bill themselves.
Faced with lower than normal egg preserves for women of their ages, and an “extremely expensive” fertility process, the couple took it upon themselves and located a sperm donor online and did the process of insemination at home.
On March 21 ,they learnt that Buchanan was pregnant and then exactly a week later they found that Cumming was pregnant also.
Following a completely complication-free pregnancy, Cumming was surprised to hear a “pop” of her waters breaking at 10:30pm mid-November, which was a full three weeks early.
Even though things started early, the labor was delayed and she was induced at about 1pm two days later on the 20th.
During the labor the baby’s heart rate started to rise and the obstetrician advised Cumming she needed an emergency C-section, but whilst the doctor was scrubbing down, Ryan began to crown.
“When he came out he was completely flat,” Cumming said. His Apgar score – a measure to evaluate a newborn’s physical condition – was very low.
“He had a pulse, he had nothing else.”
The medical team of doctors and nurses plunged into work on him. Cumming was not aware of the severity of the situation until she looked at her fiance.
“Her face just said it all, it was so sombre. I’ve never seen her like that.”
He needed eight minutes of resuscitation, and was taken straight to the Specialist Care Baby Unit (SCBU). Ryan was put into an induced coma on a ventilator, and had a seizure at three hours old. Shortly after, he was rushed to Auckland City Hospital, “lights and all”, and put in a cooling suit – to help reduce brain injury – in NICU for 72 hours.
Testing that followed on the placenta showed that Ryan was not getting enough oxygen. She doubts he would have been born alive if her waters hadn’t broken early, “It’s amazing it all worked the way it did.”
Whilst this was all going on, Buchanan made a decision, not just for her but for all involved for “everyone’s mental health”, she made the call to have a c-section at Auckland Hospital, as opposed to giving birth at Waitākere Hospital as planned.
On November 24, their daughter Piper was born, happy and healthy. That same day they received news that Cumming could hold Ryan for the first time since his birth – he had to be reheated and woken from sedation. “It was a big day. An awesome day,” Buchanan said.
After 10 days in Auckland Hospital Cumming, Buchanan and Piper were all discharged and ready to go home! Ryan remained in NICU, his bassinet in their New Lynn home was left empty.
“It was very difficult… I cried a lot that first night,” Cumming said.
But Ryan went from strength to strength. An MRI showed he sustained no brain damage, and he had no further seizures. He was discharged home on December 6.
“He’s our little miracle baby,” Cumming said.
Following a “massive” couple of weeks the family of four have been home for a fortnight and are feeling OK, if not overwhelmed.
For the first time mums, Buchanan who is recovering from the cesarean and adjusting to life with not one but two newborn babies has been “full on”, but they are happy.
“From two to four in a couple of days, it’s quite overwhelming.”
With only a couple of days until Christmas, the couple are looking forward to taking Piper and Ryan on their first Santa visit for a photo. They have even thought of it all the way through to the Christmas-themed outfits for the newborns to wear.
They joked they may still be in for a late night on New Year’s Eve, but one quite different to previous years. Either way, “it’s good to be home as a family.”