Three and a half year-old twins Mason and Finley Roche aren’t just the cheekiest, most lovable kids around – they are also the toughest fighters their parents have ever met.
When Peter and Keshia Roche decided to add to their family in order to give their daughter Makenzie a sibling, they never expected identical twins. The exciting news was discovered at just 7 weeks’ gestation, giving them a huge secret to keep for five weeks before sharing the news with friends and family.
Keshia’s pregnancy takes a dangerous turn
But then came some even more unexpected news: during a routine 12-week ultrasound a discrepancy in the nuchal thickness of each twin was revealed. As a result, Peter and Keshia were informed that this result placed the babies at high risk for both Down Syndrome or twin to twin transfusion syndrome.
Further investigations eventually ruled out Down Syndrome, however Keshia’s pregnancy was deemed incredibly high risk for complications because both twins were sharing the same placenta. From then on for the remainder of the pregnancy, Keshia and the boys were monitored closely at the maternal fetal medicine clinic at the Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital.
Keshia underwent weekly ultrasounds, which by 21 weeks had turned into bi-weekly ultrasounds. During this time there were ongoing changes in the levels of amniotic fluid between each twin, placing them at borderline twin to twin transfusion. Each ultrasound appointment was stressful, and the couple prayed that their babies would stay put for as long as possible.
Mason and Finley make their early – and dramatic – arrival
During another routine scan at 29 weeks’ gestation, it was discovered that Mason and Finley had developed stage 3 twin to twin transfusion. A decision was made to perform an immediate delivery, an outcome that would give both boys the best possible chance of survival. Mason and Finley would eventually spend a total of 55 days in the neonatal intensive care and special care nursery.
While still at the hospital the tiny infants underwent brain ultrasounds, which revealed that both boys had intraventricular hemorrhage’s (bleeding on the brain). The distraught parents were warned that it was highly likely the boys would have some degree of disability, the risks of which increase significantly for babies who are born prematurely.
But both of the boys were fighters, and they were eventually able to go home with their parents after nearly two months in the hospital. When Mason and Finley were just six months of age, Keshia and Peter decided to pack up their army lifestyle in Brisbane, moving back to their hometown of Warracknabeal for ongoing family support.
Mason and Finley’s cerebral palsy diagnosis rocks the family
Keshia sought early intervention therapy through her local maternal child health nurse when the twins were just eight months old, and they began attending physiotherapy sessions on a weekly basis. After five months of therapy – and at the tender age of just 13 months – Mason and Finley were both formally diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
Finley was diagnosed with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy gmfcs 3. This means that all of Finley’s limbs are quite stiff, which creates difficulty carrying out everyday tasks. Mason was diagnosed with diplegic cerebral palsy gmfcs 4, with a mixed tone of spasticity and dystonia. Masons lower limbs are more effected than his arms, and the mixed muscle tone makes daily life a challenge.
Active Rehab assists the boys with therapy and equipment
Mason and Finley are about to undergo their fourth treatment of Botox. This is injected into the muscles of their legs – which are considerably tight – in order to relax them. After approximately two weeks the effect of the Botox is at its peak, which allows the boys to move much more freely and comfortably in conjunction with regular physiotherapy.
The diagnosis of cerebral palsy hasn’t slowed the twins down. Their cheeky personalities, strength and determination already has them kicking goals at life, despite their challenges. Mason and Finley both require assistance with physical tasks, using a Nurmi Neo walking frame for assistance with short distances, and they’ve also seen the recent arrival of their manual wheelchairs; Little Wave Click.
Funky in colour and style, these wheelchairs provide enhanced independence, allowing the twins to participate in activities with their friends and family – particularly in the child care setting. Self-propelling is a learned skill, and the boys are improving every day. The combination of Nurmi Neo walking frames and Little Wave Click wheelchairs has also made life much easier for Peter and Keisha.
Mason and Finley’s parents are incredibly grateful to Active Rehab Bendigo, impressed by the customer service and the prompt delivery of their quality equipment. They’ve also purchased other therapeutic equipment through Active Rehab, including a Shuttle Discovery pram, Squiggles stander and gravity chairs; which have been of huge benefit to the boys’ wellbeing and development.
You can follow more of Mason and Finley’s story at Team Roche on Facebook .