Mia and Scarlett Lavelle-Redrup defied all doctors' expectations when they survived their miracle birth, and became the most premature twin girls ever to survive in Britain.
They were both born weighing just over a pound when their mum Stephanie was just 24 weeks pregnant, and had a four month battle for survival in hospital, including operations and contracting the potentially fatal meningitis.
But they survived against all the odds and are about to celebrate their third birthday at home with their relieved parents.
Mum Stephanie Lavelle-Redrup, 24, a beautician, from Surrey, who lives with her husband Wayne, 24, a floor layer, says: "Each day I look at my girls and I can't believe how lucky they have been. They have battled through so much and come so far. When they were born so tiny I didn't think they were going to survive. I feel like the luckiest mum in the world."
Stephanie was thrilled when she discovered she was expecting twins at her 20 week scan:
I had no idea that I was pregnant with twins, so when the sonographer said she could find two heartbeats during the scans I was in complete shock. I'd been thrilled when I fell pregnant, but I never expected to fall pregnant with two babies. Once we had got over the shock we were looking forward to the birth.
But just four weeks later, Stephanie went into premature labour, and headed to Primley Park Hospital in Surrey where doctors gave her an injection to try and stop her labour and she was transferred to the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth.
Doctors then broke the devastating news that her twins were unlikely to survive.
"The doctors said the injection hadn't worked and they couldn't stop my labour progressing," says Stephanie. "The twins would have to be born, but it was so early, that they warned me that they probably wouldn't survive as their lungs weren't strong enough. It was devastating news.
"We had been so excited about the twins arriving, and now we were being told they weren't going to make it. I couldn't stop crying."
Just 13 hours later, in October 2009, Stephanie gave birth to her daughters Mia, who weighed just 1lb, 6oz, and Scarlett, weighing 1lb, 9oz.
They are believed to be the smallest twin girls ever born in Britain to survive. Both premature baby national charities Bliss and Tommy's said they were not aware of any twin girls ever having been born smaller than Mia and Scarlett in the UK.
"I couldn't believe it when I saw the twins. They were so incredibly tiny," says Stephanie. "Their arms just looked like twiglets.
They looked like two tiny little birds lying there. Their skin was translucent and I could see all their veins.
They had survived the birth, but doctors warned that they could die at any time as they were so fragile. After four weeks, the twins, now two, were still battling hard, and finally opened their eyes for the first time.
"We hardly dared hope that they were getting better and the doctors insisted that we take each day as it came. But they were surviving," says Stephanie.
"When we were able to hold them for the first time after two months it was just the most incredible feeling. They both felt as light as a feather."
But a month later Mia took a turn for the worse. Doctors discovered she had a hole in her intestine and she had to have an operation to repair it at Southampton General Hospital. Then a week later Scarlett was diagnosed with meningitis, and she was pumped full of antibiotics.
After a week battling after her operation, Mia started breathing on her own and she finally turned a corner. Scarlett also started breathing for herself a week after that.
At the end of January 2010, the twins were both allowed home, weighing 4lbs each.
"They both just looked like little dolls, but they had done it," says Stephanie.
They had been born so tiny and survived. They were such little fighters. It was the first time the twins had even seen each other - as they had battled separately in hospital.
They initially needed injections to strengthen their lungs once a month and they now have to have six month checks on their sight and hearing. Mia wears glasses and has to have speech and language therapy, but they are doing well.
They were both bridesmaids at their parents wedding in March last year.
"Doctors won't know if the twins' development has been affected until they reach school age, but they are doing well so far," says Stephanie.
"Scarlett is the bossy one whilst Mia is the quieter one, but they are like two peas in a pod. They are such bright happy little girls and I'm very proud of them. They were born so small they shouldn't have survived, but they fought through and survived. They are my two little miracles."
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