When LaTroya Woolridge of Spring, Texas, was preparing to bring twins into the world, the last thing she expected was that they would each be born under two pounds — and two weeks apart.
On Jan. 17, LaTroya started experiencing excruciating labor pains at just 24 weeks pregnant. With her husband Arthur out of town, she drove herself to Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Hospital.
“It was the most terrifying experience of my life,” she tells PEOPLE. “It was raining that morning and I wasn’t sure I would even make it to the hospital.”
After arriving, she was told she was in active labor. Minutes later, she gave birth to Amara, who immediately began to fight for her life at just 1 pound, 3 ounces.
“Initially, we were told that Amara’s heart tone could not be detected, so when I finally delivered her and saw her feet moving I was filled with joy that she was alive but afraid of what would happen next,” says LaTroya.
Because she was so early in her pregnancy, Dr. Amber Samuel, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist, worked with LaTroya’s obstetrician to keep Amara’s baby brother Arthur III, in-utero for as long as possible.
Over the next two weeks, LaTroya, a high school counselor, and Arthur, 37, an oil rig move coordinator, were filled with “an array of emotions.”
“We both cried several times, yet we also felt a calmness over us because we knew that Amara had the power to continue fighting,” she says. “It also gave me the strength to continue resting so Arthur III would have a better chance at survival.”
On Jan. 31, two weeks to the day after Amara was born, LaTroya had a slight fever so doctors delivered Arthur III via C-section. He weighed just 2 pounds, 2 ounces.
According to Dr. Samuel, delayed interval twin delivery is very rare, with the incidence occurring in less than 1 in 1,000 twin births.
“We know that the prayers our family and friends prayed along with us have been answered,” LaTroya says.
Today, the couple says they are “overjoyed” with how far the twins have come. Still in the NICU, Amara now weighs 5 pounds, 4 ounces while Arthur weighs 5 pounds, 11 ounces.
“We are happier than we have ever been and excited about our parenthood journey,” she says. “We are amazed at the miracle we have watched before our eyes.
Both LaTroya and Arthur say they “plan to do everything within our power to ensure their twins have a healthy, happy, and successful life.”