Twins Miles and Walter Erickson were born 11 minutes apart on different days—February 28 and 29, 2016. To celebrate their first leap year birthday (and fourth year of life), the Erickson family hosted a giant leapfrog-themed party to express their gratitude for this milestone—because it wasn’t too long ago that Summer and Ryan Erickson feared their prematurely born boys might not survive. “I thought I would be teary on this day, but instead I felt so blissful and amazed at how far we’ve come as a family,” Summer says.
We want everyone to know what a great place this is.
Fourteen weeks before her due date, Summer checked into Alta Bates Summit Medical Center expecting to spend the rest of her pregnancy on precautionary bedrest. Instead, she went into preterm labor and gave birth to Miles on February 28 and Walter on February 29. Both weighed just over 2 pounds, a decent weight given their age but still tiny and fragile.
The labor and delivery staff whisked the twins off to the neonatal intensive care unit, where they spent the next 69 days. “You go through every emotion you can imagine,” Summer says. “Not only were the babies little warriors, but the nurses, doctors and staff who worked around the clock to fight for their health and survival were warriors too.”
When the Ericksons finally got the green light to bring Miles and Walter home, they took advantage of ABSMC’s NICU Post-Discharge Program, a series of classes designed for parents of preemies. The philanthropy-funded service provides education and a compassionate support network during the critical transition from NICU to home and 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 the confidence they needed to care for Miles and Walter, who weighed 5 pounds at the time of discharge.
When planning the twins’ first birthday party four years ago, Summer and Ryan chose a Golden State Warriors theme to celebrate how their little warriors—as well as the Warriors basketball team—had reached significant milestones over the previous year. On the blue-and-gold invitations, the Ericksons requested “no gifts,” suggesting that guests instead donate to ABSMC’s NICU to help “provide babies in need with the critical care they deserve.” The family has continued this generous tradition every year.
For the boys’ first leap year birthday in February, the Ericksons held the party at the ABSMC NICU to reunite with the team who cared for Miles and Walter four years ago. Party guests donated gifts to the NICU Family Advisory Council, raising more than $2,700. As a member of the council, Summer is passionate about its mission: to remove obstacles that can keep parents and family members from spending valuable time with their babies and to provide resources that help ensure everyone goes home safely.
“We are the grateful ones,” says Ann Erickson, the twins’ grandmother. “Look at what you gave us! We get to sit with Miles and Walter every day, and we want everyone to know what a great place this is.”