Over the past three months, 27-year-old Rebecca Zornow has lived through every parent’s worst nightmare.
Twenty-two weeks into her pregnancy, the Appleton, Wisconsin, woman’s twin girls began showing signs of a rare and potentially fatal condition in utero called twin-to-twin-transfusion syndrome, in which the blood supply of one twin moves to the other, leaving both sick.
“When we first found out we were pregnant with twins, our OBGYN told us about TTTS and mentioned that it happens in rare cases,” Zornow tells PEOPLE. “But I never expected something like that to happen to me and my family.”
At a routine ultrasound, the couple’s doctor discovered that Madeline was getting too much blood, while her twin Lydia was getting too little. Zornow was hospitalized for two weeks before both babies were delivered via emergency C-section at 24 weeks.
Lydia died a few days after birth, but Madeline survived – weighing in at just one pound. Zornow and her husband, Oliver, mourned the loss of one daughter, while the other continued to fight for her life in the neo-natal intensive care unit.
Through their heartbreak, the couple has remained thankful for the moments they had with Lydia and the care both daughters received at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.
“If we hadn t been in a hospital like this one, we wouldn t have been able to meet Lydia and we wouldn t have the other one with us now,” Zornow says.
Now, after spending more than three months in the NICU, Zornow has chosen to share her family’s story with help from GE Healthcare in the hopes that it will help other preemie moms. At 2 p.m. ET on Wednesday, baby Madeline s family will share their emotional journey in a special live event from the NICU of Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin via Periscope.
“If you have no experience with these things, you can be blindsided,” Zornow explains. “I hope sharing my story can help parents who may experience this and also help people understand what their friends or their coworkers are going through.”
During the broadcast, Zornow will give advice to new preemie moms, updates on how Madeline is developing and details on how she remains involved in her daughter’s care.
Then, on Thursday, the proud family will prepare to go home – just one day before Madeline’s original due date.
“It’s all I can think about – to finally be able to have the experience of bringing your newborn home.”