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Early Arrivals

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Twin daughters born at 24 weeks finally home with their family.

By Neila Schuhmann

The Gibbs family's roller coaster ride has finally slowed to the gentle pace of a carousel.

"They told us it would be a roller coaster," Anne Gibbs said Monday, nearly five months after the premature birth of twin daughters Julia and Madeline.

"There were times when we'd have a great day ..." her husband Chris says, and Anne quickly finishes his statement, "And the next day I'd be crying my eyes out."

Julie and Maddie were born on Feb. 22 at 24 weeks, though they weren't due until June 11.

"I woke up in the middle of the night on the 18th with what I thought was heartburn, which is very normal," Anne said.

She did the normal expectant mom routine and took antacids and such. But the pain continued to worsen until Anne thought she was having a heart attack.

A couple days in the hospital and several tests later, doctors diagnosed her with HELLP syndrome, which Anne says is a form of preeclampsia - a pregnancy disorder characterized by high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine.

"The only way to resolve it is to deliver the babies," she said. "We did a C-section very fast. They knocked me out, they cut me open, and the babies were here."

Anne says she awoke from the surgery to a team of 20 people caring for her daughters.

Julie, who was born first, weighed 1 pound and 1 ounce. Maddie weighed just 15.9 ounces.

Read more on this story and others in Thursday's print edition.