On 9 November 2016 I went for my routine 24 week scan. I was pregnant with twins and was so happy to have reached 24 weeks because I knew this would mean my babies would have a better chance of survival. The sonographer said they were both growing perfectly, weighing around 1lb 6oz.
Two days later, I went to my friend’s birthday party. Standing in the kitchen, I suddenly felt a trickle. After several trips to the toilet, it was becoming obvious that something wasn’t right. I told my partner we needed to get to the hospital.
I drove home to get my notes but by this point my leggings were soaking wet - my waters had gone. I cried all the way to the hospital while my partner tried to reassure me things would be ok. The thought of the twins arriving that early absolutely terrified me.
The midwives and doctors confirmed my waters had broken with twin two. I stayed in hospital overnight and the following morning the doctor told me it was very likely contractions would start in the next 48 hours. He also told us what to expect of a 24 week baby.
It was scary listening to what he had to say but the doctor then added that some women can go weeks after Preterm Premature Rupture of Membrane (PPROM) before giving birth. His words gave a little bit of hope to hold on to. Every day mattered. I was still leaking fluid but I kept drinking plenty of water to replenish it.
I was given two lots of steroids to help the babies’ lungs, and put on antibiotics to try and prevent myself and the babies getting an infection. I got to go home after a few days because contractions hadn’t started, but I had to remain on bed rest. The doctor also wanted me to come to the hospital twice a week for blood tests to check for infection and scans to check the fluid around the babies.
Every day I continued to leak fluid. It was clear at first, then brown, then red. I ended up being admitted one morning when I woke up in a pool of bright red blood. I thought that was it, and that we had lost our babies. Thankfully the midwife checked the heartbeats when we got to hospital and they were both beating away nicely.
It was hard to be on bed rest but still having to go into the hospital for check-ups. I started having back pains at 27+2 weeks gestation. I had a hot shower to try and ease the pain and we went to the hospital early Friday morning around 1.00am.
The doctor hooked me up to a monitor and then later scanned me. My cervix was still closed and they didn’t think the babies were on their way. I asked for painkillers because the pain was getting worse and worse - as was the bleeding.
The doctor came to see me around 9.00am. He said I was suffering from muscle pain and that I would get to go home later on.
“There is absolutely no way I’m going home in this amount of pain!” I thought to myself.
My partner and I sat in silence most of the morning. I was in agony and tried to ease it with a hot water bottle and Deep Heat. I went to the toilet around 12.30pm, and I felt the urge to push and jumped off the toilet in absolute anguish.
I walked back to the bed and the midwife came in asking if I was ok. I told her I couldn’t even use the toilet. She rushed off and came back with another midwife and a doctor and they asked me to get on the bed. I was in so much pain it felt like this was an impossible task.
The nurse checked me over.
“I can see the babies’ hair!” she said.
Suddenly, we were in the lift on the way up to delivery. The room was full – there were around 15 midwives, doctors, neonatal team, consultants and two travel incubators.
It felt like a dream. I was in so much shock - our babies were coming at 27 weeks. The doctor was trying to put a cannula in my hand, struggling to find a vein. I got hold of the gas and air, and tried to take my mind of the pain.
Within the next hour I gave birth to two beautiful boys. Joshua came out first and did a little cry - I couldn’t believe how tiny he was. After another 21 minutes his brother George arrived. They had to break his waters because he wasn’t quite ready! He arrived bottom first into the world. They resuscitated them both, before rushing them off to the neonatal intensive care unit.
We had no idea how poorly they were. We were in complete shock but also full of joy. We had two tiny, but amazing and beautiful baby boys. We were left in the recovery room and I got up and went for a bath. The only thing I could do to help at this point was express some milk - I asked for some bottles so I could start.
We had to wait six hours before we could meet our baby boys. The consultant came in a couple of times to inform us how they were doing. She told us Joshua weighed 2lb 2oz and George weighed 2lb 7oz.
We had no idea what to expect when we went up to see them. They were two tiny pink little babies whose faces were hidden due to the ventilation tube and had wires coming out from everywhere.
We were told the next 48 hours was the honeymoon period and that problems would start once they started weaning them off equipment. They were right. Joshua was ventilated for 10 days in total and George was ventilated for six days. They tried to take them off the ventilator on the same day but as they turned the settings down on Joshua he stopped breathing.
I will never ever forget that night, we witnessed the emergency alarm being pulled and around 10 nurses and doctors entered the room. We were taken to the family room and we have never been so scared. I thought our beautiful boy was gone.
The next 16 weeks was an emotional rollercoaster. I made sure I expressed every three hours to provide the boys with the best start. Setting my alarm to pump in the night was heart-breaking, and I would often pump in tears whilst looking through photos on my phone. They wouldn’t tolerate 1ml every hour when they were born but suddenly they were taking full feeds from me, and having bottles of 150mls.
We had several problems with the boys during our stay: jaundice, brain bleeds, numerous blood transfusions, Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) and countless infections. The emergency alarm was pulled for a second time when Joshua stopped breathing again at two months old.
Our boys used all the breathing equipment at one point or another. They did ventilation, BIPAP, CPAP, vapotherm and low flow. Joshua came home on 0.02 oxygen and he is now on 0.01 overnight as his oxygen levels are not quite high enough yet.
We spent 16 long weeks in neonatal. We made good friends with the other parents in similar situations, and formed close bonds with the nurses and doctors. We will never be able to thank them enough for saving our boys lives.
Luckily, the boys have been well since coming home. We had a short stay when Joshua had a hernia operation. George also had a day visit with bronchitis. They are now eight months old, enjoying weaning, and have just started rolling over and finding ways to move. They are such happy boys, and I’m so grateful they will never remember their terrifying start in life. We feel incredibly lucky to have two amazing little boys born at 27+3 weeks.
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