-- A Washington state couple is preparing for the birth of their second twin -- months after the first twin was born in September.
Nick and Holli Gorveatt welcomed their son Link on Sept. 29, according to officials from the Evergreen Health Medical Center. Born at 23 weeks, the infant is so fragile that his parents are still unable to hold him.
"It's very surreal to be post-partum and pre-partum," Holli Gorveatt told ABC's Seattle affiliate KOMO-TV.
Holli Gorveatt originally arrived at the hospital in Kirkland, Washington, after the twins showed signs of a condition in utero called "twin to twin" syndrome. In that case, one twin draws blood from the other in utero. The condition can leave both twins sick, with one becoming bloated and the other becoming weakened without enough blood supply.
Dr. Martin Walker, director of fetal medicine at Evergreen Health Medical Center, said that without treatment, the syndrome is fatal in 90 percent of cases. While the surgery went well, there was another complication days later. The pressure from the twins put too much pressure on Gorveatt's cervix, and the amniotic sac for Link was unable to be contained, Walker said.
As a result of the pressure, Walker and his team were forced to deliver Link at 23 weeks, right at the edge of viability.
"These tiny, tiny babies are very fragile," Walker told ABC News.
Link is so small that he cannot eat without specialized help and cannot even be picked up by his parents, who have to view him in the incubator.
After Link was born, Walker said he realized that the pressure had been relieved and that it was possible to stop Gorveatt from delivering her second son by manually closing the cervix. Due to the procedure to stop "twin to twin" syndrome, the second twin Logan could remain healthy in utero, Walker said.
"If she had gone into ... full-on labor, there is not much we could have done," Walker explained.
By stopping Gorveatt from delivering her second son, the team could give Logan a better chance at avoiding severe complications from premature birth, including bleeding in the brain. An infant born at 23 weeks has just a 10 percent chance at normal development, Walker noted. If Logan was delivered this week, now at 25 weeks, we would have a 50 percent chance at normal development.
While the team hopes to have Logan delivered at full term, Walker said his odds for survival increase tremendously each day he remains in the womb.
"He will be bigger [than his brother], growth in utero is so much better than growth in the [neonatal intensive care unit]," he said.
Holli Gorveatt said she can already tell that Logan is doing well.
"Logan's good, so he's growing a lot and he's just kicking. He's got fluid, he can move around. He was stuck before," she told KOMO-TV.
Gorveatt will probably remain at the hospital until she delivers Logan, Walker said.