TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Two hearts and two smiles, two little girls that one mom and dad almost never met.
"They were going to be born and they are going to die in birth," Tracy Lee said.
"It was terrifying," her husband Brian echoed.
Tracy and Brian Lee had been trying to have a baby for years. Their prayers were answered almost four years ago.
Tracy was 22 weeks along with twins. but before she could deliver, both little girls were in distress and the chance of their survival was slim.
"You understand the doctors are telling you zero to one percent, and you are praying for the most every time you talk to a doctor," Brian explained. "The prognosis got worse."
"It was scary, it was the scariest thing I've ever dealt with," Tracy described.
Tracy was moved from their local hospital in Defiance to Mercy St. Vincent Hospital. Brian says it was a parent's nightmare. Doctors had to prepare them for their death, rather than their life.
"We had to choose if Tracy's water broke not to do anything with Maddie to save Mckenzie," Brian explained. "Save one child at the mercy of the other. We would pray every day."
"They had blankets and clothes prepared to take their picture for lasting family memory of the babies that wouldn't be born," Tracy described.
Thanks to the Neonatal team at Mercy St. Vincent Hospital and those prayers, the girls were stabilized long enough to make it through those critical last few weeks.
Tracy and Brian were clinging to their new little family and found a close sanctuary on the hospital's campus, their new "home away from home."
"When they get here, they are scared, they are tired, they don't know what to expect, they're unsure what the outcome is going to be," Manager at Home Away from Home Michelle Issacs explained. "So we help them deal with those issues and use some of their fears."
Home Away from Home reaches out to family members of patients in their ICU or Neonatal care units that live over an hour away. Brian and Tracy were able to stay close by while their daughters, Mackenzie and Maddie, fought to stay alive in the Neonatal Care Unit.
"People here help you,' Brian described the people at Home Away from Home. "If you needed something you would be sitting out here and they would come talk to you say, 'hey, how are you doing.' They would sit down to talk to you. They've seen it, they know it."
Home Away from Home has 15 private rooms with a kitchen, playroom and a living room, all at no cost to the families. They only ask for a donation.
"We've had family from Turkey from Jordan from England, Alaska, Hawaii, Japan. I mean they come from everywhere," Issacs said. "It's really interesting from their perspective and how we help support them."
"If it wasn't for this place, we would've spent anywhere from a couple hundred bucks in days just for gas," Brian explained. "A place like this saved us so much money and time. It allowed us to spend more time with the girls."
Brian and Tracy stayed at Home Away from Home for almost four months as the girls gained strength. Tracy says it is hard to think of the days after they were born, when the girls were so fragile and hooked to wires.
"They were lifesavers for us," Tracy said. "This is our family story. I love my husband but how we've ever gone this long without them, I will never know. They are our family story they are our happily ever after's."