Thomas and Aaron's battle started when they were just over five weeks old.
Both twins made their own unique journey into this world and were born prematurely last year in the state's extended lockdown.
Although Thomas is now watching from up high, both boys are remembered for their strength and courage.
This weekend, Bendigo couple, Natasha Thomas and Matt McFarlane will come together for Life's Little Treasures' Walk For Prems.
A charity that supports and provides tailored information to families of prematurely born or sick children.
Although the walk will be heading virtual this Sunday due to COVID-19, Natasha hopes to raise money and awareness for the charity that has been lifesaving to her family.
The unexpected journey of heartache and joy
For parents Natasha and Matt, they knew something was wrong on May 21, 2020.
Natasha was 22 weeks pregnant.
At a routine check-up, her doctor noticed she was 3cm dilated and discovered Thomas' membranes were bulging.
She was quickly rushed to Melbourne's Mercy Hospital - the couple was told they may lose their baby before the weekend was through.
A few days later, Natasha was booked in to attempt a cervical stitch.
Unfortunately, she said the moment her legs were placed into the stirrups Thomas' waters broke and her cervix snapped shut.
With the stitch now deemed an infection risk, the procedure was off the table.
The couple was returned to the ward with no idea of the pain the next few days would bring.
We had lost our sweet little angel in the gentle and quiet way he had lived his life inside me.Natasha Thomas
With each daily scan to check in on the boys, it had become increasingly more difficult for the doctors to locate Thomas.
It was during the last scan Natasha and Matt received the harrowing news that haunts every parent's nightmares - Thomas had passed away.
"We had lost our sweet little angel in the gentle and quiet way he had lived his life inside me," Natasha said.
Thomas was born the next day quickly and quietly and was delivered into his loving parent's arms.
The couple grieved their first born for eight days and eight nights.
On the ninth day, Thomas's brother Aaron was born, weighing just 748 grams.
"After about 7 hours of labour my waters were broken and Aaron was born wriggling and crying," Natasha said.
Lifechanging support and care
The couple ended up staying at the hospital in Melbourne for 95 days with Aaron.
It was a difficult time. Natasha and Matt were living out of a hotel room, COVID-19 restrictions meant they could only see their second-born son one parent at time and they were still grieving the loss of Thomas.
"We were really far from home and it was during the hard Melbourne lockdown when there was the curfew and we couldn't see family and friends," Natasha said.
"We were there all on our own and it was there, Life's Little Treasures really assisted us."
Founded in 2005, Life's Little Treasures is a charity foundation dedicated to supporting families with premature and sick children.
Natasha said the charity had gifted them a box full of blankets, beanies and books for little Aaron.
There was also something small for Thomas, a beautiful outfit and small book.
The foundation also provided the couple with a $200 gift card that they could use for petrol and groceries.
After 95 days, Aaron was transferred to the special care nursery in Bendigo, where he would spend the next 22 days.
About 117 days after Aaron arrived in the world, Natasha was speechless with relief when the doctors informed her they could take him home.
It took two-and-a-half months to finally stand together as a family.Natasha Thomas
"It was much better to be home because it was the first time we could be together as a family," she said.
"When we were at the Mercy, they brought in a rule that there could only be one parent per 24 hour period so only one of us could be beside him.
"By the time we got back to Bendigo, it was the first time in two-and-a-half months we were both able to stand beside Aaron, that was an amazing feeling.
"It took two-and-a-half months to finally stand together as a family."
Smiley, strong and resilient
Aaron now weighs over 9 kgs and is "kicking developmental goals" daily.
Natasha said he is doing amazing -- now eating some solids with the assistance of a feeding tube, which isn't uncommon for premature babies.
"He is just the happiest baby you have ever met and I can't say that enough, he is a ray of sunshine. He is always smiling at you and he just pushes through everything," she said.
"He is the strongest, most resilient baby and he made his own journey from the start and he will keep doing things his own way, he is an amazing human."
But they haven't forgotten Thomas.
This weekend the Bendigo couple will honour the memory of their first born son, the boy whose life was cut too short, with Life's Little Treasures' Walk For Prems.
Walking for a cause
The Walk for Prems is now in its 12th year and is the largest fundraiser for the foundation - raising awareness for the 48,000 babies born sick or premature in Australia each year.
Although the walk will be held virtually this Sunday due to COVID-19, Natasha hopes to raise money and awareness for the charity that has been lifesaving to her family.
"The walk raises funds for babies like Aaron who are born earlier than they are supposed to be," she said.
"The charity supports parents and families that are going through the journey.
"We would have struggled to get through this journey without family and friends supporting us and I think Life's Little Treasures was just so valuable to us and we are very thankful for their help and assistance."
You can donate to Natasha's walk here.
If you or someone you know needs support, contact:
Lifeline 13 11 14
Talk it Out, 1300 022 946, talkitoutmurray.org.au
Beyound Blue 1300 22 4636, beyoundblue.org.au
Headspace Bendigo 5406 1400, headspace.org.au/
Life's Little Treasures Foundation 1300 697 736, firstname.lastname@example.org
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