Karen Lapthorn’s second pregnancy came with surprises (“You’re having twins!”), concern (“You need to see a specialist”), and fear (“Things are not going well”). Just 28 weeks into the pregnancy, she and her husband Kelly welcomed two tiny baby boys. Nathan arrived at just under three pounds and Charlie at a pound and a half. They were immediately surrounded by a team of doctors and nurses. Both boys were rushed out of the delivery room.

In the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Karen stood back from the incubators where the boys lay hooked to ventilators and monitors. The nurses drew her in.

They showed Karen and Kelly how to lay a comforting hand on an impossibly small body. With their guidance, the Lapthorns mastered the skill of changing a diaper without tangling the monitor leads, and learned how to hold a not yet two-pound baby. The more she learned, the more confident Karen became. She says, “NICU nurses, I came to understand, do not care for babies – they care for entire families. They built me up when I felt hopeless and helped me find reasons to celebrate, even on the difficult days. I began to feel like a mother again.”

Lapthorn Family 3.1

Lapthorn Family 2.1


After 100 days of commuting between house and hospital, both sons came home. At home, nurses and medical professionals trained Karen and Kelly how to use Charlie’s at-home oxygen equipment. A trip to the pediatrician’s office included two baby carriers, an overflowing diaper bag, a full canister of oxygen, and an apnea monitor.

Through Help Me Grow, Ohio’s early intervention program, a therapist came to the house to assess the twin’s progress and teach the family how to help them grow and meet milestones. The Lapthorn’s say, “We set goals as a team and worked together. Nathan and Charlie grew stronger and healthier each week.”

There is no parenting book to prepare you for the sleepless nights anticipating the next challenge of a preterm baby. But the Lapthorns are grateful for a community of amazing people and services ready to help when the next challenge appears.

Lapthorn Family 1