FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Charlie Davies was ready to be a father. In fact, he couldn’t wait to be a father, his heart already overflowing with love for his unborn twins. Perhaps they could sense his eagerness. Perhaps that’s why they entered the world last Thursday morning, almost three months premature.
They just couldn’t wait to meet their parents.
Davies and his wife Nina had announced in December that they were expecting twin boys. The due date was June 11, and they expected an arrival between mid-May and mid-June. But the situation developed rapidly within the past three weeks, and the spring babies quickly became St. Patrick’s Day babies.
Rhys Arthur and Dakota Charles were welcomed to the world on March 17, 2016.
“They definitely tried to come into the world a little too early,” Davies said with a relieved laugh. “Rhys and Dakota are fighters, just like their parents. They’re progressing and that’s all you can ask for.”
Davies’ world was turned upside down on March 2.
As the New England Revolution prepared for a trip to Houston and the season opener, Davies was dealing with the fact that Nina’s water had broken with one of the twins. She was experiencing intense pain and was forced to remain in the hospital. The doctors feared an infection.
The situation eventually stabilized, but Davies spent his nights beside Nina’s hospital bed, doing all he could to support his best friend, a woman he calls “a warrior” and “the toughest person [he’s] ever seen.” When he wasn’t at Gillette Stadium, Davies was at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
Last Wednesday night, the situation took another turn. Nina again experienced intense pain, and when that pain lasted past midnight and into the early hours of Thursday morning, the doctors informed the Davies’ that the risk of infection meant delivering the babies immediately was the best course of action.
There was considerable risk delivering Rhys and Dakota just six months into the pregnancy, and their first few days weren’t without complications. Lung problems are common in premature babies, and the Davies’ twins were no exception. They remain in the neonatal intensive care unit at Brigham and Women’s, but their progress has been steady. As Davies said, they’re fighters.
“They’re under the best care in the world, with the sweetest, most professional nurses and doctors that anybody would want around their children,” Davies said. “That’s very comforting to know that they have the best care that you would want for your children. We’ll just take it day by day, week by week and watch them grow.”
Rhys and Dakota took a massive step on Tuesday night as the Davies twins were able to go skin to skin with their parents for the first time. That type of contact isn’t permitted unless the health of the babies is stable, making it a monumental moment for a number of reasons.
“It’s one of those moments when you feel the baby against your skin, it’s indescribable the feeling that comes over you,” Davies said. “My heart feels so big. I have so much love and happiness in my body just because of these little babies that we created and how special they are.”
With the health of the babies improving every day, Charlie and Nina are finally able to breathe a sigh of relief for the first time in almost a month. Charlie has returned to training with the Revs, but his thoughts remain with his newborn children and his wife, whose strength he stands in awe of every day.
“Everything she’s been through in her life has prepared her for this moment and she’s the best,” Davies said. “She’s doing well. She’s a little bit sore in the morning, but she’s powering through.
“I didn’t think it was possible to love someone more than I do Nina, but it’s grown exponentially to infinite when I see what she’s gone through.”
Davies knows a thing or two about strength himself. A little more than six years ago he almost lost his life when the automobile he was a passenger in split in half during a horrific crash, killing another passenger. His story is well documented; he had shattered bones, brain injuries. He had to relearn to walk.
It was more adversity than most of us will encounter in our entire lives. Yet Davies called the past three weeks and the complications with his twins “by far the hardest time [he’s] had to go through in [his] life.”
“Everything that I’ve encountered in my life has helped me prepare for this moment,” Davies said. “It’s given me the strength to deal with this situation. It’s extremely difficult and stressful, but I feel like I’ve been prepared for this moment. This is when I need to be my strongest. It’s by far the hardest time I’ve had to go through in my life.”
Shortly after Rhys and Dakota were born last Thursday, while they were still battling through their initial complications, one of the nurses in the neonatal intensive care unit at Brigham and Women’s summoned Davies. Eager to hear any updates on his twins, he listened intently.
“I have something I need to tell you,” the nurse whispered gently.
Davies cringed and braced for bad news as the nurse leaned in closer.
“I’m a season ticket holder,” she said.
A wave of relief washed over Davies and he couldn’t help but laugh. In total eight nurses rotate through care of the Davies twins in the NICU at Brigham and Women’s, and two are Revolution season ticket holders. Another told Davies that her brother is a huge Revolution fan.
It may not seem like much, but it offered comfort at a dark time. In that moment – one of the most stressful times of his life – Davies felt the touch of the Revolution family.
“We have the best caregivers around our babies; a couple of Revolution fans,” Davies said with a smile. “That’s definitely a plus knowing that the Revolution family extends to the medical world. It’s made me feel even more comforted and supported. It’s a difficult time, but it’s also a very happy and blessed time, as well.”
Davies has also found comfort in the Revolution locker room. Within the past three weeks Davies said that every single player and coach has called or texted their support, and that kind of backing has only made him feel even more at home at Gillette Stadium.
“They were all there for me throughout these past three weeks,” Davies said. “It means a lot. Those are the guys you want to play for. When you have teammates like that, that says it all.
“It couldn’t be a better situation for me to be in and a better group of guys. I’m very fortunate to have teammates and coaches that care so much about my family and myself. All I can do is repay their support with goals on the field. I’m looking forward to helping this team get back on track.”
Davies doesn’t know when Rhys and Dakota will be able to come home, but right now he’s happy enough to see them continue improving each day. And although they’ve only been in the world one week, Davies can already see the family blood in their fighting spirit.
“With these little guys, they’re feisty just like me,” Davies said. “I don’t think of the end product or when they’re coming home. I’m just hoping for them to keep progressing and just take it day by day, week by week and continue to be with them.
“We see them every night, so we’ve gotten our schedule down of being able to be with them. We can call the doctors 24 hours a day and check on them, so you always have that comfort in the back of your mind knowing that if you ever feel uneasy, you can just check in.”
In the meantime, Davies – who suffered a mild hamstring strain in the home opener against D.C. United – has returned to the training field and plans to be in New York City this weekend when the Revs visit NYCFC at Yankee Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Davies said he’s ready to get back on the field and score some goals, and he wants to help the Revs push past their slow start and grab their first win of the 2016 season.
But regardless of what happens on Saturday, in truth, Davies has already won.
“The past three weeks have been very challenging and stressful,” Davies admitted. “But in the end, it’s all worth it. I wouldn’t change anything.”