A couple from Steinbach is joyfully celebrating their miracle son on his first birthday after a year of fighting for his life.
Sonja and Jaydan Guenther are from Steinbach, Man. and they have been through a lot of ups and downs in their first year of marriage. This included finding out they were expecting twins, to having many medical complications.
"Looking back a year from now and looking how far he's come is definitely mind-blowing and melts your heart a little. The last year has definitely brought a ton of challenges as well as a lot of milestones that have been reached," says Jaydan.
Levi and Lucas, twin boys, were born very prematurely at just 23.5 weeks gestation in Toronto. Sonja and Jaydan flew there for what should have been a three-day trip and simple prenatal surgery.
It turned into the premature birth of both boys and the start of a fight for them to live. Unfortunately, while Lucas fought hard, he passed away roughly one month later while Levi continued to fight for his life.
"Seeing him catch up to just about where he should be at his age now is a huge blessing to us as a couple and a family. To see him get strong and big, it's encouraging. I could watch him grow up forever, it's the best feeling in the world."
The couple took Levi home, flying back to Manitoba roughly five months after he was born, but they still had a way to go with Levi's health.
"Since we've been home, he has lots of follow-ups. Almost every week he has an appointment and it's been a challenge getting him on and off of medicine and oxygen," he says.
Levi has been hospitalized once since being home, from a cold he caught, and he is still on oxygen.
"We've had a lot of support. At times it has been relieving, when one day you can't scrape together the energy, faith, or courage to say a simple prayer before you hit the pillow, knowing there are so many people out there lifting our son up in prayer. It's very encouraging. I don't think we could have done it without the community help and support."
The couple recently heard very good news, giving them another reason to celebrate.
"He had his heart condition when we came home and the doctor told us he thought Levi would be lucky if he made it till he was three years old. We kept doing follow-ups on his heart. My wife called me at work one day and said the doctor just added on decades to his life span."
Making it to this first-year milestone for Levi is exciting for the parents, but also a little bittersweet without their other son.
"His birthday was bittersweet, still feeling like there's a piece of the puzzle missing. It definitely stings at this time of the year. Seeing one grow up but not knowing what it would have been like having the identical one right beside him the whole entire time."
The birthday cake the parents ordered for the occasion had both boy's names on it.
"Other than a few check-ups, it's time to sit back and just watch Levi grow."