Our twins' journey through neonatal care - Vickie's story

Vickie's Story Hero

Vickie experienced many problems during her pregnancy with twins, which eventually led to her giving birth at 26+2 weeks to Reuben and Huey.

I had quite a tough pregnancy with our twins. I experienced a sub chorionic haematoma, leading to me bleeding for four weeks, being admitted to hospital multiple times and requiring bed rest.

But on 4 September 2015, when I was 25+5 weeks gestation I had been having a particularly good day. I’d worked in the morning, met a friend for lunch and had my nails done – a true success.

That evening I started to experience stomach cramps so my husband, Dave and I phoned the Maternity Assessment Unit for advice. They said that I could come in to be checked over. Months later, Dave told me that he had been timing my cramps and that they were coming exactly four minutes apart.

Once we got to the hospital I was assessed by the doctor who told us that although they did not think that I was going to go in to premature labour, they wanted to admit me to err on the side of caution. We were then told that there were no beds for the twins - were they to deliver. We were sent by ambulance to another hospital 50 miles away from home, which had level three beds available.

Following admission, I was given steroid injections to aid the babies’ lung development and IV magnesium sulphate to aid their brain development. Two days later, my water broke but as I had not progressed past 1cm dilated it was still hoped that we would be able to delay delivery by a few weeks. I was hooked up to heart rate monitors and assessed regularly.

After another 36 hours and a recurrence of my stomach cramps, I was examined again and found to be 6cm dilated. As Twin One’s heartrate was dipping with each contraction I needed an emergency c-section. Despite my denial and protests that everything was fine, I was rushed to theatre.

Within 45 minutes our twin boys, Reuben and Huey, were born at 26+2 weeks gestation, weighing 1lb 15oz and 1lb 11oz respectively. The boys were taken straight to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and I spent approximately two hours in recovery before being allowed in to see them.

Seeing both boys was absolutely amazing, but also absolutely terrifying. They were so tiny in their incubators, hooked up to so many wires. Huey was initially ventilated for 12 hours and Reuben was on Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP).

We were told by the Consultant Neonatologist that they were concerned that Reuben may have Necrotising Enterocolitis (NEC) and that if this were the case his chances of survival were not good. Luckily this turned out not to be the case and after a few days we got to hold both of our babies for the first time. It was just the most amazing, inexplicable experience.

Days were spent on the unit expressing milk, having kangaroo care and reading to the boys. The staff were absolutely fantastic at encouraging us to be as actively involved in the boys care as possible. We were supported to change their nappies, feed them and comfort them. This allowed us to actually feel that we were their parents, rather than just by-standers.

There were so many times that I broke down, often while trying to express milk. I could never keep up with the boys’ demand and constantly felt that I was failing them. The nurses were genuinely fantastic - comforting me, normalising things and giving me cuddles as required.

We were lucky to be provided accommodation on site, although my husband had to return to work after three weeks, thus doing a 100 mile a day round trip.

After about five weeks, as we were preparing for a transfer to a hospital closer to home, one of the nurses found blood in Huey’s nappy, raising concerns that he may have NEC. Tests were done and it was agreed that both he and his brother could be transferred but Huey was put back in NICU for a week and treated cautiously for NEC, whilst Reuben remained in Special Care. Splitting my time between the two rooms was heart breaking. I felt like I was never giving either boy enough of my time. When they were reunited in incubators next to each other it was such a wonderful moment.

After another three weeks the boys were transferred to another hospital back in our home town. By this time they were no longer in incubators and were able to share a cot, which is what we had been longing for. As time went on, the staff began to speak about discharge more and more frequently, much to mine and Dave’s terror. They were so small and still forgetting to breathe at times – they couldn’t come home yet!

We took over more and more of the boys care; dressing them, bathing them and taking their temperatures. After just over two weeks we were provided with a room for us to stay in with the boys for a few nights prior to them coming home.

The twins were discharged on 20 November 2015, two days before their 37 week due date. I would love to say that it was a joyous experience, but truth be told, it was terrifying. I sat in tears on the journey home, between both their car seats, repeatedly checking they were breathing. As time went on and with the support of our wonderful outreach nurse we became more confident and able to enjoy being at home with our children.

Reuben and Huey are now 22 months old and thriving. They are such happy, loving little boys, full of cheek and mischief. They are the strongest, most tenacious people I have ever met and are a complete inspiration to us.

I now volunteer as a Community Ambassador for Bliss and I have recently organised a Little Heroes Walk and managed to raise almost £1,250. Bliss was a great source of support to us, in terms of volunteers on the unit and information, whilst the boys were in hospital and preparing for discharge. After our experience, it is important for me to be able to give something back and hopefully be able to support families in similar situations.

If you have been affected by any of the issues mentioned in this post and would like support, view our online support pages.