The baby was born 11 weeks early with his twin brother and weighed just 1lb 1oz, but he appears to have miraculously recovered - however, six months on, he remains in hospital and away from his family

The baby was born 11 weeks early with his twin brother and weighed just 1lb 1oz, but he appears to have miraculously recovered – however, six months on, he remains in hospital and away from his family

Premature baby who weighed just 1lb when born still fighting for life in hospital

Chester Graves was born 11 weeks early with his twin brother Otis in July 2021 and weighed just 1lb 1oz, but he seemed to make a miracle recovery – however, six months on he’s still in hospital and away from his family

As Kelly Graves settled in for her 12-week scan, she was told her twins appeared slightly different in size.

But after being assured it was probably nothing to worry about, the 33-year-old mum thought nothing further of it.

She headed back home with her husband Bill, 35, and kids Phoebe, 10, Florence, eight and Albert, five and waited for her next scan. But at 16 weeks, she started to worry.

“It was a 25% size difference, which is when it becomes a concern,” Kelly told The Mirror.

Knowing one of her babies was significantly smaller than the other, Kelly said she did everything she could to get her smaller baby to grow – including eating protein and drinking as much water as possible.

Chester weighed just 1lb when he was born

Chester and Otis have had a difficult start to life

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But as her pregnancy progressed, little Chester still wasn’t growing as much as his twin brother Otis.

“Week in, week out, we were told that Chester wouldn’t survive. We were told to be prepared,” Kelly recalled.

“I just tried to stay positive. I kept thinking to myself, ‘he’s going to be fine as long as we keep tracking him’. But he was only ever growing 25g a week.”

Then at 28 weeks, Kelly’s waters broke and, after going to Southend Hospital, she was rushed to Addenbrooke Hospital in Cambridge.

She recalled: “I’d planned to deliver at 32 weeks because it was safer, but once I got to Addenbrooke, we realised Chester’s heart rate was declining.


“They gave me the talk about whether or not I wanted to have the C section then, which could potentially put Otis at risk.

“My maternal instinct kicked in. I had to give Chester a chance.”

After a dicey delivery, the boys were born on 15 July 2021 – but arriving 11 weeks early, they were tiny.

While Otis weighed 3lb 7oz, Chester was a minuscule 1lb 1oz, and his life was hanging in the balance.

“Otis was as fine as you can be for being delivered that early,” Kelly said, explaining he was incubated and put on a CPAP machine to help with his breathing.


Chester spent Christmas Day in hospital

Chester, however, needed much more help getting oxygen into his body and was put on a ventilator.

“We were told ventilation was successful and it was a case of wait and see. The first week is a bit of a ‘honeymoon period’ for premature babies and they can often seem like they’re doing amazing,” Kelly said.

Kelly and Bill had a nail-biting wait in hospital for the first weeks of their sons’ lives – but after Otis improved and was transferred to Southend Hospital, they had to juggle visiting both boys.

“If I’m honest, that first month of their lives I was on autopilot,” Kelly recalled. “We were staying in a charity hotel and just going through the motions.

“I don’t know how we coped with that drive from Addenbrooke back home. We had to see Chester, then see Otis for an hour, and then go back home to see the other kids.

“All this was happening while Chester wasn’t very stable. My sisters and our parents were filling in with childcare where they could.”

Kelly added Bill had to do all the driving while she was recovering from her c-section, putting even more strain on the family.

Finally, 46 days after the twins were born, the family received some good news when Otis was allowed to come home from the hospital.

“It was so nice to bring him home to meet the children as they weren’t allowed to visit him in the hospital due to Covid,” Kelly said, adding she thought Chester “wouldn’t be far behind.”

She said: “I thought it might just be another month, at most up until their due date in October.”


Chester has been in the NICU since he was born

But as the days passed, Chester was still fighting for his life in NICU – battling necrotising enterocolitis (NEC), which can kill premature babies, and sepsis.

To make matters worse for the parents, little Otis began to show signs of being unwell too.

“I thought he had just colic, but then he started to get a nappy rash and it just wouldn’t clear up.

“We took him to hospital and he was in for 10 days with what looked like an ear infection,” Kelly said.

The parents had another agonising wait to find out what was wrong with Otis, before learning he had a rare zinc deficiency.

Luckily, after being given zinc supplements, Otis recovered well. But all the while, Chester was still in the hospital.

“We never thought it would go on this long,” Kelly said, adding she was sure Chester would be home with the family for Christmas.

“I just wanted the day to be over with. We made it special for the kids but while we were decorating the tree, it felt like something was missing,” she added.

While Kelly and Bill have to juggle being at the hospital with Chester and looking after the other kids, they’ve both been out of work – putting enormous financial and emotional strain on the family.

A friend of the family has set up a GoFundMe page to help them through this difficult time.

“Up until this point we’ve been ok and making it work with savings. Bill can’t return to work because Otis isn’t allowed in the hospital when we’re visiting Chester,” she explained.

As for Chester, who now weighs 11lbs, his rollercoaster start to life has thrown the family in all different directions – and he’s recently been put back on ventilation due to unstable oxygen levels in his blood.

“His heart has had to be working extra hard to pump blood, so now his heart is enlarged,” Kelly said.

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“It came as a shock. He was doing really well and his oxygen had gone up, but he became really poorly on New Year’s Eve.”

Currently living at Addenbrooke Hospital with Chester, Kelly is hopeful her family will be reunited soon.

“Chester has done amazingly well with his growth, and there are positives to take from this. He’s made miraculous recoveries before and he’s a fighter.”

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