Thanks to NICU staff, this couple's babies were able to join the wedding
The shocks haven't stopped coming for a year.
First, Chandra and Tyson Dahl were told it might be difficult to get pregnant.
But a month before an appointment with their fertility doctor, they found out Chandra was carrying.
Then, at the first ultrasound, the technician found two heartbeats.
Chandra's pregnancy went smoothly, if quickly.
Twins Jaycen and Arianna were born prematurely on April 11, about six weeks earlier then Chandra's scheduled C-section. They weighed just under and around three pounds.
"They're so small and so frail. It's the most difficult thing we've ever had to go through," Chandra recalled.
Chandra and Tyson Dahl were surprised by NICU staff who, on the day of the couple's wedding, dressed their preemie twins up as a ring bearer and flower girl. Jaycen, pictured here, and his sister Arianna were born six weeks before Chandra's scheduled C-section on April 11 at around three pounds. As of June 15, Arianna was expected to be able to come home in a couple of weeks.
With the twins being cared for by the neonatal intensive care unit, the couple decided to go ahead with their planned April 24 wedding.
"There was no reason to hold off on it, and I thought it was very important and special to continue going through with it," Tyson said.
"We thought we were just going to have a quick little COVID wedding and then go see our kids in the NICU and get a few more photos while we're in our dress clothes and stuff, and then that special thing happened."
When the family's NICU social worker and the unit's assistant head nurse heard the Dahls' plans, they began their own.
"It started with Gurinder telling me about the date for the wedding, and I remember circling it on this peice of paper, and I was like, there's a girl and a boy, so how cute would it be to have this flower girl and this ring bearer?" Lauren Roberts told CTV News Edmonton.
Gurinder Dhillon added, "They can't really be a ring bearer and flower girl without cute outfits."
Finding a tux and flower-covered onesie in preemie sizes wasn't easy, but the pair did it, and fitted the babies' isolettes with knitted blankets, flowers and a ring box.
"I cried, of course, because that's what I do. It was amazing," Chandra said.
Her husband added, "It was magical. It was more than we could imagine, really."
OPPORTUNITY TO 'DO A LITTLE BIT EXTRA'
The surprise was a continuation of the thoughtful and expert support the Dahl family has been given for two months.
"When we have to leave the hospital, we know we can leave resting because we know that they're in incredible hands. It's not just a job to them," Chandra said. "Even learning about the wedding, they were excited as if they were in the wedding party."
Arianna will come home in a couple of weeks, the staff expect. But until then, the family is welcomed comfortably in the NICU.
"Our first visit with Arianna, they already had a bed for (Jaycen) to have naps in when we visited," Chandra recalled.
Tyson said, "We started at the Grey Nuns and then moved over to the Stollery, but it doesn't seem to matter which one you're at, the level of care and professionalism is top notch."
Dhillon and Roberts said their philosophy is family-centred care.
"We're just there for a brief little snippet, but it's these parents that are going home, starting a life with these kids, so anything we can do to support them and to help out, we're happy," Roberts commented.
"This was just that opportunity, right, to do a little bit extra."
"It's indescribable how much we appreciate it, how grateful we are," Chandra responded.
"These are memories that are going to last a lifetime when these little ones grow up. They're going to cherish them in the way that we cherish them."
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Matt Marshall