Leap year 2016, twins Miles and Walter Erickson were born 11 minutes apart on different days — February 28 and 29. Now for their first leap year and fourth birthday, the Erickson family is throwing a giant party. It will be reminiscent of the boys first birthday — the doting relatives and friends, the cameras clicking, the boys’ faces smeared with cupcake icing.
But Miles and Walter’s start in the world was not ordinary. Their parents Summer and Ryan Erickson had feared that their prematurely born twins might not even survive. Watching them grow, Summer felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude. “I thought I would be teary, but instead I felt so blissful and amazed at how far we’ve come as a family,” she said.
Summer checked into Alta Bates Summit Medical Center 14 weeks before her due date expecting to spend the rest of her pregnancy on precautionary bedrest. Instead, she went into preterm labor and gave birth to Miles on Feb. 28 and Walter, on Feb. 29, 2016. Both weighed barely 2 pounds, a decent weight given their age but still tiny and fragile.
The Labor and Delivery staff whisked the boys off to the Newborn Intensive Care Unit, where Miles and Walter spent the next 69 days. “You go through every emotion you can imagine,” remembers Summer, “Not only were the babies fighting little warriors, but the nurses, doctors and staff worked around the clock to fight for their health and survival.”
”When the Ericksons finally got the green light to bring Miles and Walter home, they took advantage of Alta Bates Summit’s NICU Post-Discharge Program, a series of classes designed for parents of preemies. This philanthropically funded program provides education and a compassionate support network during the critical transition period from NICU to home, and often for years afterward. The classes taught Summer and Ryan how to monitor their sons’ diet and watch for irregular breathing. But most of all, it gave them confidence for the task ahead. Miles and Walter, each 5 pounds at the time of discharge, were ready to go home.
When Summer and Ryan planned the twins’ first birthday party, they chose a Golden State Warriors theme to celebrate how their little warriors (and the Warriors basketball team) had reached such milestones over the previous year. On the blue and gold invitations, they requested “no gifts,” suggesting that, instead, guests make a donation to the Alta Bates Summit NICU to help “provide babies in need with the critical care they deserve.”The family is continuing in this generous tradition, throwing a big party for the leap year birthday and donating gifts to the NICU Family Advisory Council. As a member of the council, Summer knows the importance of the group which strives to remove obstacles that may keep parents and family members from spending valuable time with their baby or babies to provide resources so everyone can go home safely.
The Ericksons invited all the staff at the NICU and find it most fitting to give back for the blessing of two healthy twin boys and a NICU staff that showed exceptional care and love at their time of need.