Blog post by Joanna Fisher
My husband and I tried for a baby for nine years - other commitments had prevented us from having IVF during this time. However, when the time was right we pursued IVF. It was a success and I fell pregnant with twins. We found out at the 20 week scan that we were having a boy and a girl and we were delighted. Everything was great and my pregnancy was a breeze.
In April 2014 when I was 25 weeks, I had a discharge which I know can be normal. I went to the hospital anyway and everything was ok. We were travelling from England to Scotland for a Thanksgiving ceremony and I had been a bit achy and tired. We travelled to Glasgow on the Saturday but I didn't feel well and my back was aching, I just put this down to travelling in the car for three hours.
When I went to bed I thought I was having really bad Braxton Hicks and I commented to my husband about this but tried to get some sleep. I was up and down to the toilet but I got up around 4.00am and had had a massive bleed. I woke my husband, but we didn't have a clue where the nearest hospital was.
We arrived at A and E and got checked in, the babies were moving and their heart rates were strong. They didn't have a maternity unit in that hospital but they didn't want to send me back to the hotel before I had been checked out so they arranged an ambulance to take me to another hospital. I arrived and was booked into the pre assessment unit.
It never entered my head for a second that I would be in labour at 25 weeks and when they told me I was two centimetres dilated I couldn't believe it. I had doctors giving me odds of survival which is the last thing you want to hear. Luckily my waters hadn’t broken so they put me on a drip for 48 hours to try and stop the labour. As soon as the drip stopped my contractions started again and I was five centimetres dilated. After that it was just a waiting game.
I was monitored constantly by the nurses, who were fantastic. I had steroid injections for the baby’s lungs, as well as a magnesium sulphate infusion to help prevent cerebral palsy. I managed a week in labour, until my little girl started to get distressed every time I had a contraction. The decision was made to break my waters. I could see the doctors face drop as soon as he had done this and I knew something was wrong. Lola's cord had come down first and she had to be pushed back in and I was whisked off to theatre for an emergency caesarean section. This was very traumatic for my husband, one minute there were 30 people stood in the room and then he was alone.
When I came round from the surgery on 3 May 2014, I had had a beautiful baby boy weighing 1lb 15oz and a beautiful baby girl weighing 1lb 14oz at 26 weeks and three days. Lola was fabulous and didn't even need ventilating. The birth for Ellis was really traumatic as he had been transverse high up in my womb, so had to be pulled out by his legs and he was very bruised. He was really poorly and was ventilated straightaway.
The neonatal team at the hospital were amazing and Lola spent five weeks there before being transported home to England. She was a little star and thrived. Ellis was really poorly and they thought he had a hernia when he was a day old and told us he wasn't going to make it.
He was sent to another children's hospital, but luckily his diaphragm was perfect and was sent back again. He then started to bring up green bile and his tummy swelled, they told us he had developed Necrotising Enterocolitis (NEC) and needed to go back to the children's hospital. They put a drain in his tummy and the NEC was treated with antibiotics. He also had surgery to close his heart duct at ten days old. He had his good days and bad days but came off his ventilator after four weeks and put on to oxygen.
It was really hard being away from home for five weeks in a place which wasn’t familiar. Once I was discharged from hospital we got a room at the Ronald McDonald charity house opposite the children's hospital which meant we were over the road from Ellis, but had to do a 23 mile drive to Lola every day. Ellis was transferred to our local hospital after five weeks but developed NEC again, which was found quickly and treated with antibiotics.
They both went from strength to strength and thrived. They both had the odd infection but fought these off really well. Ellis had Retinopathy of Prematurity in his eyes but this corrected itself and he luckily didn't need eye surgery. They spent a further five weeks in our local hospital before being discharged.
We were made aware of Bliss during our stay on the unit. I found the information on Kangaroo care really useful as it made me understand how important it is, especially as we didn’t get to hold them very often. I also found great comfort in reading other parents stories.
When it came to weaning the twins, I received conflicting advice from different health visitors, but the information from Bliss was excellent, and gave me the reassurance I needed to know that I was doing the right thing by weaning them based on their actual age, rather than corrected age.
They are little miracles and are now healthy 11 month olds. Ellis is always about 2lb lighter than Lola as he wasn't fed the both times he had NEC. It was the most traumatic episode in mine and my husband’s life but also the most wonderful. We have the most beautiful children who make us laugh every day, and we are so blessed and lucky.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this blog post you can all the Bliss helpline for support. Alternatively, if you would like to share your story with Bliss, email email@example.com
If you would like to download any of the publications mentioned in this post, you can click here, or visit our shop to order a printed copy.