On Sep. 23, 2015, Jourdan and Matt Moore welcomed their twin son and daughter, Jaxson and Cadence. The babies were born four months early and went on to spend over three months in the NICU.
The experience was difficult for the Moores to say the least, but now the twins are healthy and thriving at home. Jourdan and Matt are sharing photos from the NICU, along with images of their progress, to offer a message of hope to other parents in that difficult situation.
One throwback photo, which went viral on Instagram, shows Matt holding baby Jaxson when he was just 23 days old and weighed one pound, eight ounces. At that point, he could fit inside his dad’s hand.
In the caption, Jourdan explained that just one week earlier, Jaxson stopped breathing and his heart almost stopped. “I watched an amazing team of NICU staff jump into action,” she wrote. “His tiny body was still and gray as one nurse gave chest compressions with her thumbs, another breathed for him with a bag, and a doctor re-intubated him placing the tube down his throat.”
“In that moment I thought I might never see this beautiful scene again,” she continued. “Father holding his son. A week later here we were, enjoying the preciousness of life. And now this father wrestles with and works to keep up with the same little boy who is a non-stop ball of energy and a constant source of joy in our lives.”
Jourdan told The Huffington Post she came across the image while going through old photos and realized it was taken exactly one year ago. “These days it feels like an Olympic sport just trying to change a diaper on the same kid,” she said. “He is strong, extremely active, determined, and I just laugh because when I remember where he has come from, it’s simply astonishing.”
Those first months at the hospital were very trying for the Moores.
“In the NICU you focus on survival day by day, sometimes hour by hour. It’s not a brightly lit nursery with a big window for people to gaze in, like you see on TV,” said Matt. “It’s a dark, quiet, private space designed to encourage the continued development of babies like ours. who needed 16 more weeks for their bodies and brains to develop. The NICU mimics the womb environment as much as possible.”
Although she does not wish the NICU experience on anyone, Jourdan said she’s chosen to focus on the positive aspects of that time in their lives. One positive was that the experience gave the Moores a powerful bond with their babies early on. This was particular meaningful because the twins were born via embryo adoption and surrogacy.
Jourdan suffers from severe Crohn’s disease and cannot carry a pregnancy due to her treatment. After 10 years in a traditional adoption waiting pool, the Moores decided to pursue embryo adoption at the suggestion of a friend.
“There are 600,000+ frozen embryos in the U.S. today,” Jourdan explained. “Couples who have leftover embryos after IVF are faced with a difficult decision: pay annual storage fees, discard them, donate them to science, or bless another family through the gift of embryo donation.”
While many mothers who choose this option carry their adopted embryos, Jourdan’s medical situation meant she needed to find a surrogate. Her close friend Hollie volunteered for the task.
“Hollie has been in my life since the day she was born,” Jourdan told HuffPost. “We grew up close and have been even closer in our adult lives. We were bridesmaids in each other’s weddings. So naturally she will be in our children’s lives forever.”
Today, Jourdan says the twins are doing well at home. “Both are a little small for their age, which is to be expected,” she said, adding that they face a few medical obstacles. Jaxson is nearsighted and wears glasses, and Cadence needs oxygen at night due to chronic lung disease. She also uses a feeding tube to supplement her nutrition until she overcomes oral aversions.
“It is predicted that she will outgrow the oxygen and feeding tube with time,” the mom explained. “Both babies participate in regular physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy to aid in the achievement of developmental milestones.”
Jourdan and Matt want their story and photos to bring comfort to other parents of preemies. “We hope other NICU parents find hope in our story and the importance of skin-to-skin ‘kangaroo care,’ not just for mothers but for fathers as well,” said Matt.
“The purpose of our social media accounts is to spread hope to preemie parents, those struggling with infertility, and spread embryo adoption awareness,” Jourdan added. “If we didn’t expose where we came from, some of our most difficult moments, then we wouldn’t be fully revealing the depth of the joy we are enjoying today.”