Baby weighing just 1lb ‘kept fighting thanks to cuddles from twin brother’

·5-min read
The parents of a premature baby believe cuddles from his twin, Otis (far left) is helping baby Chester (right) to survive. (Caters)
The parents of a premature baby believe cuddles from his twin, Otis (far left) is helping baby Chester (right) to survive. (Caters)

The parents of a tiny premature baby believe his survival is down to an unbreakable bond with his twin brother, who was three times his weight at birth.

Chester and Otis Graves were both born prematurely at 28 weeks on July 15 this year, but weighing just 1lb, compared to his brother's 3lb 7oz, Chester was left fighting for his life.

While Otis was discharged from hospital after six weeks, Chester remains in the neonatal unit at Southend hospital, and despite the baby still only weighing 3lb 6oz the family are hopeful he will be reunited with his twin at home in the next two months. 

Parents Kelly Graves, 32, and husband, Billy, 35, from Benfleet, Essex, say they have no doubt that Chester's fight for survival is down to the bond he shares with his identical twin.

Read more: Meet the 'Bubble Wrap Baby' who weighed less than a pound

Chester weighed just 1lb when he was born. (Caters)
Chester weighed just 1lb when he was born. (Caters)

“Since the day my waters broke at 28 weeks we've lived in a whirlwind," Kelly Graves explains. 

"But we are so lucky that Chester is a fighter and despite everything he has been through, he is still fighting in order to come home and be with his parents, Otis and the rest of the family."

Chester’s health problems first became apparent at Graves' 16-week scan, where doctors raised concerns that the babies differed in size by 25%.

The size difference was due to a condition called Selective Intrauterine Growth Restriction, which resulted in Chester not receiving the required nutrients from the placenta, halting his growth.

Chester being fed with a bottle for the first time. (Caters)
Chester being fed with a bottle for the first time. (Caters)

Following the scan, Ms Graves was admitted to the Kings College Hospital in London for laser surgical treatment.

“I had to have endoscopic laser surgery whereby they enter the womb through the side of your body in order to reach the placenta and kill of the blood vessels connecting the two babies," she explains. 

“The surgery was performed to separate the babies in the womb so that if Chester hadn’t survived it would have protected Otis from dying or being left with lasting brain damage.”

After the surgery, the family were warned Chester was still only growing around 25g a week, whereas Otis was growing roughly 100g a week.

“I was told at every scan that he may not survive which was heartbreaking," Ms Graves says. 

Read more: Baby born smaller than dad's hand and given 10% chance of survival, finally makes it home

Twins Otis and Chester together. (Caters)
Twins Otis and Chester together. (Caters)

Thankfully Chester’s condition stabilised, but at 28 weeks Ms Graves' waters broke, and she was taken via ambulance to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, with doctors fearing she may need to deliver the babies. 

“At this point Chester was 485 grams which was close to being deemed viable, but we were told his heart rate kept dipping and that the chances of survival from the caesarean would be low," she continues. 

"We just had to hope that he would keep fighting."

Watch: World's most premature baby born defies odds to reach his first birthday. 

Otis was born first and immediately ventilated following the C-Section, but Chester had to be stabilised, having become very weak.

Medics found a knot in his umbilical cord which had been stunting his growth.

Doctors were able to ventilate the newborn and ever since, Chester has been fighting multiple issues including, Necrotising Enterocolitis, a serious condition where tissue in the bowel becomes inflamed, a hole in his heart and an eye problem which needed surgery.

Though he remains in hospital on high flow oxygen, Chester has steadily improved, with the family believing cuddles from his twin are helping him to fight.  

“It is very bittersweet because we have Otis at home now and everyone says how nice it must be, but it’s also horrible because we can’t feel complete until both babies are back together," Ms Graves explains. 

Read more: Mum proud of 'little fighter' with birth defect which means he was born with one arm and no legs

L-R Kelly Graves, with children Florence, Phoebe, Albert and twin Otis with dad Billy Graves. (Caters)
L-R Kelly Graves, with children Florence, Phoebe, Albert and twin Otis with dad Billy Graves. (Caters)

The twins finally met for the first time since being born on September 22, which the family describe as an incredibly emotional moment.

“It was everything I was waiting for, and although Otis was asleep, Chester was obsessed with him and couldn’t take his eyes away from his brother," Ms Graves says. 

"I have no doubt that cuddles with his twin has helped him keep fighting."

Now the family are focussed on getting the twins back together at home, and reuniting Chester with the rest of his family, siblings Phoebe, 10, Florence, 8 and Albert, five.

"Chester will most likely be on low flow oxygen when he’s home, but we are hoping in around a month or two he can finally meet the rest of the family," Ms Graves continues. 

“The kids have been incredible, they are so young but are just as desperate to get Chester home as they haven’t been able to even really meet him yet due to COVID.”

Chester has now tripled his birth weight, currently weighing 3lb 6oz, but still has to gain a further 255 grams to be discharged. 

"We are hoping in around a month or two he can finally meet the rest of the family.”

To read more, visit @miracletwins_plus3 on Instagram.

Additional reporting Caters. 

Watch: Ashley Graham expecting twin baby boys. 

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting