It was an exciting Saturday as my husband Jonny and I settled into our new place to get ready for the arrival of our first children, di-di twins who were due in three months time. I’d spent the day out with my Mum shopping knowing I had to be careful with heavy lifting so stayed away while Jonny took charge. The day was almost done and I was looking forward to crawling into bed but before then, we had my brother in laws 30th birthday to go celebrate.
During the party, we a great laugh comparing the sizes of our tummies against the other ladies there who also were soon due (including my older sister) but hilariously we also compared the pregnant tummies against some of the men who had great ‘beer bellies’. A few people commented on the state of my tummy saying “your tummy is so hard” and “you look all flushed are you ok?” Little did I know until I got home that I had started leaking.
Not wanting to alarm my husband (who had enjoyed the 30th with a few drinks) I messaged my midwife to let her know. She asked a few questions then said she would call back in 30 minutes to see if anything had changed. The decision was then made to go in and get checked so I drove my husband and myself up to my Mums place where all my antenatal notes were before heading to the hospital.
It was during this time that things became more real of what might lie ahead as my midwife assessed me. I was given steroid injections as precaution to help the boys lungs if they were to come early and not long after this my waters broke. They asked if I was having contractions, which I didn’t think I was – However, it turned out I was wrong and I was contracting every 4 minutes. I was given some medication to try and calm my uterus and stop the contractions and the decision was made to transfer us to Christchurch Women’s Hospital by red light ambulance. As we sped away 2 hours up the road at 1am in the morning, I was now 27 weeks to the day (24th April 2016) . It was the most uncomfortable ride, unable to move, with my legs strapped to the bed.
After arriving at Christchurch Women’s Hospital I was assessed and at this point they didn’t think much would happen quickly. I meet a large number of different doctors and nurses, which was all a bit overwhelming and it was hard to take in all the information of what was to come. My Mum drove my husband up to Christchurch and his parents also came to see me. My mother in law ( who was an ex midwife) suggested that I let the midwife know of the frequent urges I had to go to the toilet. The poor midwife was nearing the end of her shift when BANG it was all go! The room filled with medical staff and I was told to start pushing. One of the babies heart rates had started dropping and they were concerned I’d need an emergency caesarean.
Noah was born weighing 1230g (2lb 11), and six minutes later Micah whooshed out like a water slide weighing 1120 g (2lb 9).
The boys where instantly taken to the resus tables where they were placed in plastic bags for warm and ventilated before being taken down to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I was able to say a quick hello to Noah before he left with Jonny following behind, but Micah had caused the doctors a bit of fun by pulling out the tubes they’d put down him to help his lungs so they’d whisked him away straight away! This was the start of our rollercoaster of a journey in Christchurch NICU.
We were told that being boys and twins they had more odds against them so the road could be tough. The twins then set a record for the longest stay in room 1 (intensive care) of 10 weeks! In total, we spent 94 days in Christchurch and 6 days in Timaru hospital before being able to take the boys back to our home on their 100th day.
During our time in NICU, we dealt with the many ups and downs you experience with premature birth such as a heart valve not closing, brain bleeds, viruses and infections which caused huge setbacks on the breathing and feeding front, they also underwent operations and infection after inguinal hernia repair BUT we made it and learnt so much. We were fortunate to be supported by the most incredible doctors and nurses and made life long friends with other neonatal families. There were many laughs and many, many tears but all of this created the memories that we will never forget. This is what thas helped shape two of the happiest, most determined little men who are now 4 years old with no signs of prematurity and who are meeting all milestones expected for their age.
Something that helped us hugely during this time was creating a closed Facebook group where we invited our family and friends into. Each night we would update this with the latest news and developments of the twins and add photos. It meant we were not sharing the same message multiple times a day, and also a great reminder for us as the days all blur into one another its easy to forget. We have now turned this into a hard copy book for the boys so that they know the journey of where they have come from.
The 24th July marks what should of been the boys birth date. On this date 4 years on I am going to chop my hair off and raise funds for two incredible charities, Ronald McDonald House and The Neonatal Trust who we are forever in debt to. I will also be donating my hair to Freedom Hair for them to create a wig from.
We get a lot of positive feedback from families in a neonatal unit who read these stories and feel strength, hope and positivity knowing that they are not alone going through these experiences and feeling certain emotions.
If you would like to discuss sharing the story of your neonatal journey, we’d love to hear from you. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Interested in how The Neonatal Trust supports families going through the stress and anxiety of a neonatal journey?
Here’s a gallery of support examples.