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Special delivery

Danielle Richards knows all of the nurses in the High Risk Obstetrics Unit of Sunnybrook’s DAN Women & Babies Program. They were her family during the first wave of the pandemic, holding her hand when she went into preterm labour and had to be hospitalized while her husband Akeem waited anxiously at home due to necessary visiting restrictions.

“I remember every single staff person by name,” Danielle says. That includes the care team in the neonatal intensive care unit, where her twins, born at 27 weeks of pregnancy, spent the first 34 days of their lives.

Elise and David weighed just 980 grams and 1,088 grams, respectively, when they were born in July 2020.

Danielle, Akeem and their children Elise and David.

Like her children’s early arrival, Danielle’s pregnancy was anything but typical. She became pregnant with Elise and David after the couple’s first son, Josiah, was stillborn in 2019. Twenty-one weeks into her second pregnancy, Danielle began experiencing signs of early labour. She spent the next six weeks in and out of Sunnybrook’s 23-bed high-risk pregnancy unit. During that time, she developed a serious brain condition that required her to have fluid drained from her spine.

Maternal fetal specialist Dr. Amir Aviram and his team supported her through it all.

Dr. Aviram understood how difficult it was experiencing a pregnancy after loss and during a pandemic,” Danielle says. “It still brings me to tears remembering how we felt supported, so well-informed and cared for.”

But she’s also smiling through those tears as she regards the end result: one-year-old Elise and David, healthy, happy and at home with their family.