Two early deliveries - Gemma's story

Gemma's Story Hero

Both of Gemma's pregnancies ended at 31 weeks after giving birth to two beautiful girls. Gemma tells us what life is like on the neonatal unit and how it feels when you end up being there twice.

I have two beautiful daughters, both born at 31 weeks.

My oldest, Freya, who is now seven, was born by emergency caesarean and weighed just 3lbs 9oz. Ava who is now four, was born naturally at 3lbs 10oz.

With Freya my waters broke at 29 weeks. I was in slow labour for 12 days, and was kept in hospital to make sure she was checked every day. In both pregnancies I had very bad cholestasis (mild itching caused by increased blood supply to the skin) and would itch from head to toe. I would have to have cold showers to cool myself down. It would usually occur from 34 weeks but I got it very early in both. My doctor said I kept the hospital on their toes, I think they all got to know my case.

When I had Freya I was a first time mum, not knowing what I had or what I had to face. She was in intensive care for seven days and ventilated to help her breath, I cried every time I saw her, listening to the bleeps and the noises. Seeing the other tiny babies not make it made me so sad. Every time the machine went off I would jump to check her to make sure she was ok.

When the time came to have kangaroo care couldn't bare it and ran off crying. My midwife was there that day and came to me and asked if I needed time, I said it wasn't time I needed I was scared to bond just in case she didn’t make it. I was already heartbroken waiting to be a mummy, I just wanted to take her home and be a family.

The next stage was feeding, my milk hadn't come in properly and they needed to feed her so they suggested a milk donor. At first I was adamant that I wouldn’t but the more I read it the more it made sense. I needed to give my little one a start and stop thinking about myself. I felt helpless that I couldn't produce milk quickly enough, I felt like I wasn't a real mummy, but I had to stop being selfish.

The milk helped her gain weight, her breathing settled and we started to see her grow. She was home in four weeks weighing 4lb 7 oz.

Ava was a little star from day one, straight onto CPAP. I didn't question everything this time round, I knew what I had to do straight away. I still worried every day but I was more settled. I had my odd days where I felt guilty leaving Freya at home to be at the hospital, but coming home to spend time with her while me and my husband swapped places wasn't that bad. Ava was home within four weeks weighing 4lb 7oz.

It has been hectic ever since! We are so lucky that they’ve had no problems. I count my blessings every day. There is not a day that goes by that I don't think off all the little ones I meet on my journey in there.

This is a poem a friend wrote for me when Freya was first born:

A life is a gift from the good lord above,
A life should be cherished, a life should be loved

A child we have, a sweet baby girl,
Arriving so early, into our world

Ten weeks later and she’d been fine,
But life has no rules and no sense of time

Her fight now begins just to take one breath,
We sit and we stare, just watching her chest

So tiny, so fragile I just don't understand,
How I could hold a life in the palm of my hand

The wires, the noises, life is not fair,
But reach down towards you and stroke your hair

A single tear now rolls down my cheek,
I pray for your strength but you look oh so weak

I just want to hold you, with you on my skin,
So you can feel my heartbeat, my love deep within

I'm terrified, I'm scared and just can't explain,
How you look so peaceful but so much in pain

But life has a way of making you blessed,
As the day finally comes when you lay on my chest

No wires no noises, you breathe on your own,
I wish for the day, we can take you home

Now you lay in your cot so peaceful at last,
The battle is over it’s all in the past

Now we look forward to watching you grow,
I whisper "I love you" but I just do not know

What life has I store as I'm new to this game,
Now the next thing I whisper to you is your name

As I hold you so tight
Lay you down in your cot, and kiss you good night.

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