From 3 months we knew the pregnancy wasn’t going well. I was told that my sort of twins were high risk but no-one seemed willing to tell me what that meant. Strict instructions that despite my wishes, definitely no home birth, possibly (probably) a c-section – I was not impressed! My husband delivered our first in the bathroom and I thought medics seemed a little unnecessary.
With every check-up there was a different potential problem. It might be twin to twin transfusion (it wasn’t), Sophie might have a heart problem (she didn’t), there were “soft markers” for downs (both girls normal), there was an unexplained growth or tumour below Evie’s eye (nope – she’s gorgeous) and on it went. Trips to Kings, twice weekly scans, fears throughout but, they were right about the pregnancy; Evie wasn’t growing. Just before the 7 month mark the mood changed suddenly during my second check that week and an hour later, I was in theatre with my very shocked sister in scrubs in front of me and my hard to convince husband (it was April fool’s day) driving far too fast back from a Birmingham meeting.
My desire for a natural birth evaporated and my only wish was for the girls to be safe. The room was packed with staff – I think up to 30 people worked on me and my girls that morning. On delivery both girls cried (to my immense relief) and my husband arrived just in time to meet them before they were rushed up to the TMBU.
Next time I saw them I was wheeled on a bed into the scariest place I’ve ever seen. Screens with flashing lights, beeps and buzzers, tired looking parents and most importantly of all, incubators holding my little girls. None of it made sense to me, I was given information but my head was still spinning, my husband took in far more than I could. What I did notice was that for the first time since we’d found out there were problems with the pregnancy, no-one was trying to hide anything from me or patronise me, I was being treated like an equal by the experts, like someone with an active part to play in whatever was happening.
All our attention was on Evie; she was the reason they’d been delivered. Sophie was bigger, stronger but on day two we nearly lost her to a ruptured lung. They caught it and they saved her. She was intubated and on morphine for days but all she has to show for it now is a scar you practically need a magnifying glass to find.As the days past, the TMBU quickly turned from the scariest place I’d ever been to my second home. I knew the staff, I knew the meaning of the flashing lights and each different buzzer or alarm. I understood the routine, the charts, the stats shown on screen and I felt like we were part of it all. I stopped seeing the incubator and tubes and I saw simply my two daughters; fighting to live with everyone around them helping them do it. Apart from the lung, Sophie was fine. Evie on the other hand had a list of “minor” issues; a bleed on the brain, high blood pressure in the lungs, low blood pressure in the bowls, a heart mumour…. and she beat them all.
For six weeks the staff on the ward nurtured my girls; my mother-in-law called it “the window on the womb” and she was right. I couldn’t do it so the TMBU staff took over and no-one could have done it better.
On Friday the thirteenth they were discharged, perfect in every way. Three years on and it’s hard to believe there was ever a problem; they are what people describe as ‘spirited’ children!! The TMBU and its staff have my eternal gratitude for the lives of my daughters (hence my EBA involvement), it’s a debt I will never be able to repay.