Being pregnant with twins, I always knew there was a risk they’d come early – but it never crossed my mind that they’d come at 26 weeks. A whole three months early.
Their birth is a story I’ve never really shared. It ain’t pretty. Today it kinda feels fitting, it’s world prematurity day and I feel I have a bit of responsibility to spread awareness of it, thank the amazing people that saved my babies lives and show off how incredible my kids are.
From the minute I found out I was up the duff I knew I had two little beans in there. I was as sick as a dog – spewing everywhere! In bins at work, outside supermarkets and once simply down myself as I was driving to work. It was too much, there had to be two of the little beauts sucking the life out of me.
I was over the moon (and utterly terrified) when I found out for sure that we were having two. I couldn’t wait to meet them – though I could have held on a little longer than six months! We were warned of the possibility of premature labour. I had to be scanned every two weeks to make sure they were growing and not developing any infections.
On Tuesday 27th January 2015 I had a scan at 3:30pm. It was the first time things didn’t seem right. They weren’t concerned, it was just that twin two (Bean#2) hadn’t grown very much. They asked me to come back for another scan the following week rather than wait a fortnight.
The Beans had other plans.
At 3:30am on the 28th January I woke up the husband because, truth be told, I thought I’d pissed the bed. I hadn’t. It was obviously my waters. To say I started to panic is an understatement. We rang the maternity unit at Gloucester Royal and were asked to come in.
Before leaving the house I went for a wee. I heard and felt something come out of me. I totally broke down and wouldn’t get off the toilet. I was convinced a Bean had come out of me. Eventually the husband got me off the loo and managed to look. It was just the mucus plug. Yep, I asked the same thing you’re asking – WTF the mucus plug?! Being only 26 week I hadn’t had the chats on what happens when you go into labour so I had no idea there was big lump of mucus holding it all in (I told you this wasn’t pretty).
As soon as I got to the hospital I had a scan. Both Beans were alive. THANK FUCK! Me and the husband hugged and cried. Following a swift peek between my legs, the doctor told me I was in labour. The Beans were coming.
Straight away I had a steroid injection in my arse. It would speed up their lung development. I was told I’d have another one in 24hrs, then one every 12hrs after that. I only ended up having the one jab, but it saved their lives. The speed those doctors worked saved the Beans’ lives.
Once in my little room, I was hooked up to two heart monitors. The midwives (all four of them) were having issues tracking the heart rates because they were too small, but they were confident they were there.
The doctors told me all the risks. I didn’t listen. I couldn’t concentrate.
I was then told I need to go on a drip of magnesium to speed up their heart development. As the (very attractive Australian) doctor was explaining this to me and telling me I might feel a bit warm, two massive fans got brought in the room and a bowl of cold water. Firstly I needed a 10 minute constant drip, and then I needed a slow drip until the Beans arrived. After about 30 seconds I spewed everywhere. I felt like I was living on the sun! Psst…a little warm! Bull shit, I was on fucking fire!!! The attractive doctor had slightly miss-sold me!
REALLLLLLY long story short. I went it to full labour at 10:30am on 28th January 2015. Bean#1 was not waiting. She wanted out – she is just as determined now. Bean#2 had no choice. She had to follow her big sister.
I didn’t get to see them for a few hours after they were born. I knew they were alive, especially as Bean#1 had let out the most adorable little cry, and that was enough. It had to be enough.
When I got wheeled down to see them in NICU they were in their own incubators next to each other. They had these tiny nappies on and lots and lots of wires attached to lots and lots of machines.
I wanted a cuddle. The brilliant staff fed me a line that I now know is bull shit, but at the time filled me with so much faith: “Why cuddle them now when they’re all asleep and settled? You’ve got a life time of cuddles ahead of you.”
Bean#1 was weighed at 1lbs 12oz and Bean#2 was a little smaller at 1lbs 9oz. There were no infections; all three of us were “healthy”. They’ve got no idea why they came. Personally I think there were two reasons: 1. They’re super impatience and wanted to meet the world. 2. They knew their mum really needed a cocktail!
Eventually Bean#1 and I were taken to Southmead hospital in Bristol. Bean#2 and their dad followed 12hrs later. Then the real shit started to happen. The expressing of milk, the brain scans, the heart scans, the blood transfusions, the infections, the platelet transfusions, reducing the breathing support… They tell you it’s a journey and that you’ll experience highs and lows, but nothing can really prepare you.
For example, their little hearts used to stop all the time because they’d forget to breathe. You’d have to reach in the incubator and give their little chest a squeeze with your hands. Then they’d start again. It’s crazy how quickly you get used to that shit.
After three weeks we had to leave our little NICU bubble in Bristol. The Beans were strong enough to move back to Gloucester. This was bitter sweet. It was so good that they were strong, but it meant we had to leave them. Bristol has accommodation actually in the NICU ward. When I’d express at 11pm, 3am and 7am I could go and sit with them. That couldn’t happen in Gloucester. But, we were one step closer to home.
Gloucester became our home from the next two months. We stayed with family so we were never too far away (we live in the FoD). The journey continued with its highs and lows, but ‘news’ came as well. Dad got his first double cuddle, we could dress them, then they moved out of incubators into cots, then bathing and introducing bottles instead of a feeding tubes, it was all go. The Beans were getting stronger and stronger.
When the day came (April 2nd 2015) for our ‘conversation’ with the consultant and health visitor, we were not prepared for the news. We could go home – THAT DAY!!!
The Beans and I went home for the first time since the morning of the January 28th (dad was there too, obvs. He’d just been home before). I sat in the back with them on the drive home, my hand on their chests to make sure they were still breathing.
They’re almost three now and the journey has not stopped – I don’t think it ever will. It’s a different journey now. It’s dealing with the sass, the back chat, the playing in the middle of the night, Frozen on repeat, potty training, and so on and on and on…
They’re perfect. Full of health, stubbornness and kindness. Every single day they fill me with pride. They’re only three and they’ve been through more than they should have, but it hasn’t stopped them. They still climb up the slide, dive off the sofa and hide in wardrobes.
I’ll never (ever ever) be able to thank the staff at Gloucester Royal or Southmead enough. All of them were amazing every single day. They pulled us through the toughest time in our lives. They saved the Beans and they saved me. They’re absolute legends. This day is theirs as much as anyone else’s and they deserve a fucking medal.