What Kept You?

updated 02/24/1997 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/24/1997 AT 01:00 AM EST

JANET PASAYE WAS BACK IN HER ROOM at the Columbia Hoffman Estates Medical Center in suburban Chicago, after watching the Super Bowl on Jan. 26 with her husband, Ray, when she saw her newborn for the first time. Delivered by cesarean section just six hours earlier, Jacob had weighed in at 6 lbs. 1 oz. But to Pasaye he looked like a lineman. "I was like, 'Oh, my God, he's so big,' " she says. "I was used to Joshua."

Joshua had been born prematurely on Oct. 26, 92 days earlier. Yet, incredibly, he is Jacob's twin. Delivered at about 25 weeks, Joshua weighed just 1 lb. 5 oz. and was so fragile, his parents couldn't hold him. Thanks to a procedure known as delayed-interval delivery, Jacob was given more time in the uterus and a better chance to live. "It's a miracle both of them survived," says Pasaye, 35, of the Chicago suburb of Palatine, Ill. (The previous record between the birth of one twin and another was 36 days.)

Pasaye's ordeal began last October when her water broke at about 22 weeks, while she was in Baraboo, Wis., attending a baby shower in her honor. She went to a local hospital where doctors told her that, should contractions start, they would not be able to delay the delivery and that no baby that young had ever survived. "I didn't want to believe it," says Pasaye. "I wanted a better answer."

Back in Chicago, her obstetrician gave her one. Dr. Jeffrey Postlewaite confirmed that the amniotic sac for just one of the babies had ruptured and referred her to perinatologist Mark Kalchbrenner. Eventually put on medication to suppress labor, Pasaye carried Joshua three more crucial weeks. "What was shocking was his size," says Ray, 45, a food service driver. "But he came out kicking."

Warned that Joshua had just a 25 to 30 percent chance of surviving, the Pasayes agreed to a delayed-interval delivery for the second twin, which required that the cervix be closed with a suture and a labor-inhibiting medication be administered. Although the Pasayes both had children from previous relationships, they had been together seven years without having kids. "I didn't want to have two babies struggling for life," says Pasaye.

For the next month and a half, Pasaye, a project manager at a Chicago print brokerage firm, lay in bed. "If I didn't stay positive, there was no way I was going to keep these babies," says Pasaye. She was discharged from the hospital 12 days before Christmas. On Jan. 25 she stopped taking her labor-suppressing medication—and hours later contractions began. The next day, Super Bowl Sunday, Ray greeted his new son in his Packers cap.

Pasaye brought Jacob home three days later, and Joshua, now nearly 5 lbs., left the hospital last week, though because of weak lungs he is still subject to infection. Despite his difficult debut, his mother doubts anyone will push him around. "I envision Joshua as being a big rugged guy that's going to protect his younger brother," she says. "He's a fighter."


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