Max and Ben's story

Two brothers ... two different lives

When Meagan and Nick found out they were expecting twins they were over the moon.

“I was literally punching the air with joy”, remembers Nick.

“I’m an only child and I’d always wanted a big family. I wanted our son, Tom, to have a younger brother or sister, and we were getting two in one go!”

Meagan and Nick were ecstatic; they couldn’t wait to meet their twins. But sadly, only a few months later, their happiness turned to despair.

During week 27 of her pregnancy, Meagan began to feel very uncomfortable.

“It didn’t dawn on me I might be in labour,” says Meagan.

“But I got Nick to rush me to Mater. When I got there, they found out I was fully dilated.”

Everything then moved very fast. Their twins were in danger and Meagan was hooked up to a heart monitor.

“The next thing I knew I was getting ready for an emergency caesarean,” Meagan said.

Max and Ben weighed only 1.2 kg and 1.3 kg at birth. They were so tiny.

"The boys were taken into the Neonatal Critical Care Unit straightaway. I didn't really understand what was going on."

Twelve years on, Meagan can’t talk about what happened next without being choked up with tears once more.

“When they were a few weeks old, the boys had a routine brain scan and we were told they both had a bleed on their brains. They said Max would be OK, but Ben was unlikely to ever walk or talk or eat by himself.”

Nick collapsed. Both he and Meagan were absolutely devastated, and the bad news didn’t stop there. The boys were still in critical care, and like many premature babies, their condition could change from one moment to the next with Max, then Ben, in crisis.

“Ben and Max were in hospital for 86 days. When the boys finally came home, they were both off oxygen and breathing for themselves. We didn’t realise then that we were only at the start of our journey.”

Meagan and Nick soon began to see differences in their twins.

Max hit every milestone. Ben didn’t.

“When Ben was 18 months old, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. We understood why he couldn’t do all the things Max could do. Ben could see his brother walking and he couldn’t get up. Balance was a problem. Of course he got frustrated and angry.”

The two boys were close. They wanted to play together, do everything together, but they couldn’t.

It was so hard for Meagan seeing the difference in her boys’ lives—Ben faced challenge after challenge.

“Ben got around by shuffling on his bum. We continued doing his therapy, but he refused to use a walker. He’s very strong-willed. Then aged three and a half, he got up and walked. I called my dad and said, ‘You won’t believe what just happened’.”

Ben’s disability means the two boys have taken different paths. Ben goes to special school. He’s outgoing and fun, and loves going to the races with his grandad above all else.

Max is a caring, loving boy who has no problem with schoolwork. Meagan has no worries about Max’s future.

Like many parents of a child with disabilities, Meagan finds it hard to think about the future.

“I think Ben will be able to live independently, but I know that if anything happens to me or Nick, his two brothers will take care of him.”

In fact, Max has it covered. He wants Ben to live with him forever.

“I say to Max, ‘you’re going to get married one day, and your wife might not want Ben there.’ And he says, ‘Well, I won’t be marrying her then’.”

Meagan and Nick are rightly proud of their boys. They wouldn’t change the past, but they want to change the future.

That’s why they’re sharing their story—they will do anything to stop another family from going through some of the heartache that they’ve gone through.

It’s only with your help and support of Mater’s world-leading medical and research teams, that together, we can continue to ensure that more babies like Max and Ben receive the best possible start to life.

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