GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Every parent will tell you they know when something is wrong with their child. Action 2 News This Morning reporter Kristyn Allen has that parental instinct, and it likely saved the lives of her twin daughters.
Kristyn was supposed to return to work on March 18 after a few months on maternity leave. That all changed when her newborn babies got very sick.
In an emotional interview, Kristyn spoke with Sarah Thomsen about her family's fight and how they're doing today.
"I just try to focus on the light at the end of the tunnel and hope. I just want to be a family of five in one place again," Kristyn says.
That's slowly happening.
On Dec. 21, Kristyn gave birth to fraternal twin daughters Brielle and Braelyn. They were born healthy and joined their big sister, Bailey, at home.
"Now when you look back and see everything we've been through, it's a lot," Kristyn says. "When you're doing it, you're just doing it because you're a mom and you have to."
When Braelyn was three weeks old, she contracted a respiratory virus. That put her in St. Vincent Hospital for 10 days. She was home for just two weeks before another respiratory illness -- RSV -- hit her hard and fast.
"I just knew that she was really sick, and that's what they said, she had really sick lungs," Kristyn recalls.
Brielle also struggled to breathe and she was taken to the hospital.
The situation with Braelyn became critical. Doctors decided she needed a special machine to help her breathe.
CLICK HERE to learn more about RSV and how it impacted Kristyn's daughters.
A medical team from Children's Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee arrived to transport her by ambulance. Her condition was too serious for her to fly.
Kristyn will never forget the doctor who pulled her aside.
"This is going to be the hardest thing she does all day. She needs to make it. And he said, 'If we pull over, there's a problem.'
"And so I drove down there, because I wanted to have a car, and I followed them, followed the ambulance, and it was the longest two hours of my life. And just watching, every time I saw the ambulance's brake lights, I must have said 100 Hail Marys the whole way."
Two days later, doctors decided Braelyn's only hope was surgically attaching an ECMO. It's a machine that pumps blood out of her body, oxygenates it and then recirculates it. It gives her little lungs a chance to heal.
It was risky.
"They asked me if I wanted to baptize her and I said, yeah. In my mind, I just kept telling myself we're just doing this. We're going to have another baptism, but I'm just going to do it," Kristyn says.
Each hour, a nurse used a flashlight to check for clots. Doctors discovered a small brain bleed.
"I mean, you hear that and think it's over," Kristyn says.
Kristyn's husband, Greg, says, "You know it's critical, but you don't know how that it could be gone just like that."
Doctors continually monitored brain activity, and very slowly Braelyn's lungs began to clear.
Kristyn, Greg and family members take turns keeping watch on Braelyn while she's at Children's Hospital.
"I called my sister and said, 'I know you're trying to shield us from this, but want to know how close she was to not making it?'
"She goes, 'I bet you 3 of those 4 nights I was there. She was lucky to be alive,'" Greg says.
Faith, family and friends have surrounded them with hope and love.
"And she's [Kristyn] been so strong through this, and I just don't know how she doesn't break," Greg says of his wife, Kristyn.
Kristyn says, "It's definitely challenging to have three kids and to have them in two different places. I feel like I'm always playing a game of who needs me most," Kristyn says, in tears. "I feel like I'm always failing somebody."
Kristyn is focusing on the positives. Her strong-willed little girl is improving every day. Braelyn came off a ventilator last weekend.
"She's holding her own right now and we're happy," Kristyn says.
Kristyn and Greg say it is important for parents to follow their instincts when someone doesn't seem right.
"I have not held Braeyln since February 6th," Kristyn says. Just before our story aired, that all changed. Kristyn was able to hold Braelyn on March 18.
This family of five hopes to come together again very soon.
Kristyn hopes to return to work in April.