My story begins on the 23rd March 2020, a date most of you will know and remember as the day Boris Johnson put us officially in Lockdown. I, however, will remember it as the day I gave birth to my twin boys, Henry & Adam!
Pregnancy with MCDA twins (they each had their own sac but shared a placenta) had been relatively easy for me, I had very little morning sickness and was completely unaware I was carrying twins until my husband (Steve) and I went for our 12 week scan. To say we were shocked was an understatement! We were informed they were identical twins and advised to see a consultant at LGI (Leeds General Infirmary) for 2 weekly check-ups to ensure the boys didn’t develop TTTS (Twin to Twin transfusion syndrome – simply put it’s where one twin takes more oxygen, blood, nutrients than the other). The boys never showed any signs of TTTS and so my pregnancy was relatively low risk other than the fact I was carrying two!
I went into labour at 33 weeks + 4 in the early hours of the 23rd March and travelled over to St James’s Hospital (Leeds) where I had a pretty positive birth experience considering things didn’t exactly go to plan! I arrived at the hospital at around 3am and was told I was 3cm dilated and by 5am I was 10cm dilated! I was doing well on Gas & Air but Twin one (Henry) decided to turn his head and it was advised that forceps would be needed. I was advised to go to theatre and have an epidural in case Twin two (Adam) decided to mess around and they may need to do a C-Section. My whole pregnancy I had dreaded the idea that one would come vaginally and the other would come via C-Section and yet in the moment I found I was quite relaxed about it all, as long as they arrived safely I honestly didn’t care.
Henry arrived with the help of forceps at 7.43am and Adam arrived 28 minutes later in exactly the same way at 8.11am. I remember laughing as I was told Adam had turned his head in the same way that Henry had and thinking “Wow, the twin rivalry has already begun!” In utero Adam was the loud one, he kicked the most and caused me the worry when his movements stopped whereas Henry was quieter, we don’t have many scan photos of Henry towards the end because his head was down and always turned away.
Needless to say they came out and behaved in the same way, Henry who weighed 3lbs 14oz was quiet and showed no signs of being unwell, Adam who weighed 4lbs 6.5oz came out and needed to be placed onto a type of ventilator that helped expand his lungs so he could breathe properly. They were both a little Jaundice but otherwise healthy.
In fact by day 2 they were doing so well we were told we would be moving back to a hospital closer to where we live (we are based in Skipton), Steve and I were ecstatic. We were cocky almost and so proud of ourselves and the boys! On the 25th March 2020 we were transferred to Harrogate District Hospital and all was fine, I had been discharged from StJames’s and as we had been advised that the boys may continue to be in the SCBU (Special Care Baby Unit) until their correct due date (7th May) I decided to not be admitted on to the hospital ward and instead head home each night to get a better nights sleep!
The 26th March is when things started to go wrong. We had called the ward at 6am to check in on the boys and all was well, we told them we would be heading in for 8.30/9am as we knew that was when the Doctors did rounds and I wanted to pack some clothes up for the boys and enjoy a hot shower before we drove over.
En route I got a call from Harrogate to say that Henry was being taken to LGI, they had found blood in his nappy and they were concerned. We arrived at the hospital as Henry was being placed into a pod to transport him to LGI, due to restrictions neither Steve or I were allowed to go into the ambulance with Henry so Steve drove behind them and I stayed with Adam. I was on quite a strict pumping routine as the boys were on formula to begin with until my milk came through and would be tube fed until they got a little bigger.
Waiting to hear what was going on with Henry was awful, mum guilt kicked in badly. How could I sit here with Adam when Henry was poorly in another hospital?
Henry was diagnosed with NEC (Necrotising Enterocolitis)which affects the bowel area (in simple terms). Due to lockdown restrictions the hospital had a one parent policy in the neonatal/ICU wards which meant we had to decide who would be with Henry and who would stay with Adam, in the end we decided as I was able to do more for Adam in terms of feeding that Steve would be with Henry. I can’t tell you how upsetting that was, to be made to choose between my boys was heart breaking. I struggle with that every day. We had been told I’d be allowed onto the ward if things took a turn for the worse so I found myself hoping I wouldn’t see Henry then that meant he was ok. It really was a crazy and confusing time, especially when I could see people moaning on social media about how they couldn’t go to the pub!
Over the next few days Henry had antibiotics and surgery but nothing could prevent the Sepsis (E-Coli Septicaemia) that had taken over his body, I got a call whilst I was at Harrogate with Adam and I managed to get to LGI to hold my boy in my arms as he passed away at 6 days old on the 29th March 2020.
After Henry passed we channelled everything into getting Adam home and keeping him well. We organised Henry’s funeral whilst I breastfed Adam in Hospital, we actually ended up having it in Harrogate as Leeds weren’t allowing funeral services to go ahead and Skipton had gone down to parents only. Harrogate allowed us to have our parents there which was a great support.
We made it through the funeral and the following months clinging on to each other, I was so grateful Steve was furloughed and we could just stick to our bubble and not see anyone or have to deal with people.
We had conversations about whether we would want anymore children as when we found out we were expecting twins we agreed that would be it, 2 children would be enough for us, but against the odds (I had only just stopped breastfeeding and I was on the pill) we found ourselves pregnant in September 2021. Terrified, scared, anxious were just a few emotions swimming around in my head. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I had a dating scan around 6 weeks and had to go on my own (which was daunting) and the sonographer had no idea what had happened to Henry (I couldn’t believe it wasn’t on my notes!) So I faced some awkward conversations and it was the same at the 12week scan (thankfully Steve was able to be with me for that appointment), I couldn’t believe the hospital (Airedale, my local hospital) didn’t have it on their system, I mean Henry hadn’t died 10 years ago it had been that year.
My pregnancy this time round has been filled with nervousness rather than excitement, I’m scared to allow myself to feel happy incase something goes wrong, I’m 36 weeks pregnant so my baby girl is due anytime and yet I feel panicked and scared. It’s hard to feel excited. I just want and need her here, but more importantly I want and need her to stay.
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