Born Very Early

By Jaymie Andrew

Before I became pregnant I was very busy, very social and spent a lot of my time exercising. I worked full time in central London, taught several fitness classes in the evening and spent every weekend away from home.

I added a pre and post natal course to my qualifications and expected to continue exercising at the same pace through most of my pregnancy. This was not to be, my pregnancy changed my whole life in more ways than I expected.

Early on I had a few issues and so had 3 scans before my dating scan, each scan was positive and we were happy that our little one was ok. I had my dating scan at West Mid at 13 weeks and as I had had 3 scans before the sonographer said ‘’oh so you know it’s a twin pregnancy already then?’’ I didn’t and the shock was immense, I wasn’t actually pleased to start with, but after a few days I realised just how lucky I was, and to top it off my twins were identical boys, a true blessing. This changed everything. I was advised not to exercise the way I had been, to be careful and take things easy. Unfortunately I developed low blood pressure which caused me to faint  or feel very faint anytime I was stood up, it got so bad I couldn’t walk the 8 minutes to the station in the mornings and had to be driven everywhere by my husband. I had this feeling somewhere that I was going to have these babies early so I decided to fatten them up the best I could and rest as much as possible. I drank protein shakes daily and apart from the little walking I could manage I put my feet up. This was not the way I expected to spend my pregnancy, nor would I ever have recommended this to anyone, but I am so glad I did it this way.

At 27 weeks I started to feel a little pain in my lower tummy and lost a tiny bit of blood, so on my ante natal apt at the hospital the following day I mentioned it to my nurse who tested a few things and sent me through to triage, I was admitted at 27+1 and later that day went into labour. I was transferred to Wexham Park hospital that night by ambulance. West Mid are unable to take babies before 28 weeks. I was terrified and in a lot of pain. I was given steroid injections and also a drug to try and stop labour. I was also given pethadine to help with the pain, it was brilliant, I felt amazing and it got rid of the fear too. I fell asleep and awoke the next day with the babies still inside. Thankfully the labour stopped but I did have a very nasty kidney infection which is what had started the labour off in the first place. I was given antibiotics and kept on the ward for 4 days. Although still feeling quite poorly I was let out the day before Christmas eve, unlucky for me I left with a nasty bug. I spent much of Christmas day with my head down the loo but still managed a Christmas dinner and a few mince pies. Boxing day wasn’t too bad so I decided a trip to Westfield was in order the day after. We were there for 3 hours and I didn’t leave the toilets once, I was so poorly, we made our way home slowly and I spent the rest of the day rushing to and from the toilet, I could not stop being sick. It became so bad I couldn’t actually leave the bathroom in the end so my husband insisted we went back to triage. I was admitted that night and sent to St Peters Chertsey the following afternoon in labour with my waters leaking on one of the babies. I arrived on Labour ward at 28 weeks and 3 days pregnant convinced my babies were coming. Then all of a sudden contractions stopped and everything calmed down again. I was moved down to the transition ward and spent the next few days being scanned, examined, poked with needles and fed disgusting food. I was shown around the NICU, which is a level 3 and although very scary a brilliant unit. After spending new year’s eve alone on the ward and no sign of the babies coming I was sent home on Tuesday the 3rd Jan, it was so good to be home after two weeks in hospital. I went for a walk the next day and after two weeks of bed rest it felt great to be out and about. I sat watching one born every minute that night with my mum, she had flown over from her home in Spain 6 days before expecting to meet the babies. She was booking her flight home for 7am the next morning. She didn’t make it. Daniel my husband had gone back to his night shift after several weeks off sleeping in the hospital with me, this didn’t last long. It was quite peaceful, I was having what I thought were mild Braxton hicks and I could feel Reo (baby A) very low down almost nudging me but I thought it was all fine so went to bed. I was awoken at 1.30am in horrendous pain, but as I had been in lots of pain for a few weeks I took two paracetomol and went back to sleep, except this time the paracetomol didn’t work and the pain just got worse and worse. When the pain stopped and then started again I realised this was it and Mum called labour ward at St Peters to tell them I was coming in and then Daniel to get him home from work. I was so scared the babies were about to arrive , we even contemplated calling an ambulance, but we knew they would only take me to West Mid and my only option there was a C section whereas St Peters had a twin specialist who was prepared to let me give birth naturally. Also if my babies were coming now I wanted them in that NICU. Daniel must have raced home as he arrived 15 minutes after he was called and we jumped in the car, me screaming like a woman possessed and off we sped, fortunately there isn’t much traffic at 2.30am so we arrived at St Peters in no time.

As I got into the delivery room I begged for pain killers, I specifically said all through my pregnancy I wanted no painkillers at all, it’s very easy to say this when you are not in labour! I had gas and air to calm me down and then I was given an epidural, this didn’t work due to me moving around too much so they did it again, this time it worked everywhere except my left hand side stomach and top of leg so I had to stay on the gas and air to deal with that pain. The top consultant was called in and I had 14 people in the room with me, a million miles away from the calm natural peaceful birth I originally wanted, but to be honest I couldn’t have been happier. Going into labour has to be one of the scariest moment s of my life and the team I had with me in that room made me feel so safe and I knew my babies were going to be well looked after, they filled me with a confidence I never got from anyone at West Mid.

At around 5.30am I was told to start pushing, having had no ante natal classes I didn’t really know what I was doing but after many hours of watching One Born I figured it out. With my mum on one side and my husband on the other at 6.36am on the 5th Jan at 29 weeks and 4 days I brought Reo into the world weighing 2lbs 9 ozs, I didn’t get to see him as he was taken away immediately but I heard him cry which was wonderful. They had to help him breathe at one point with a tube and then he was taken into intensive care and put in an incubator. At 7.15am Rocco was born in his sack, the waters were cut after he came out and he jumped in the air and cried out, he seemed to look straight at me. He weighed an impressive 3lbs 7ozs. He was also taken away soon after the birth. I had written a long birth plan with all these ideas about how I wanted everything to be and in the end none of it mattered but the one thing I really did wish could have been possible was to cuddle my babies straight after they were born, it was very hard going through all of that and seemingly having nothing at the end of it.

I was finally able to meet my babies once the epidural had worn off around 4pm that day, seeing them in their incubators hooked up to so many wires was heart breaking. There were alarms going off constantly and if you don’t know what they are for it feels like something awful is happening all the time. I was able to cuddle the babies by placing my hands inside the incubator and holding their head and bum at the same time, they felt so tiny and delicate I was scared to touch them for fear of breaking them. The worst thing for me was going home at the end of the night and not taking my babies with me. I was expressing milk so had to get up in the night and this was horrible. After about a week the boys were moved from intensive care to high dependency and by this time we understood what all the alarms and machines were for so everything was less scary. We took care of the babies ourselves when there, changing nappies, feeding through their tubes, and we had skin to skin cuddles every day which was amazing. We made friends with all the other parents who really help you through the days, plus all the nurses and doctors were friendly supportive and took very good care of our babies. Although it’s incredibly difficult seeing your babies in the NICU and exhausting going backwards and forwards to the hospital daily, you almost get used to it, it becomes your normal so when the babies went into cots and started to learn to suck I worried we would be sent home. I was used to the machines and nurses there and didn’t want to leave the safety of the unit. Slowly the babies started coming off all their monitors and breastfeeding took off so I was asked to stay in the parents’ room and try to feed the babies through the night. The first night I didn’t sleep at all, so scared something would happen, but eventually I got used to it and managed to feed both babies myself and get a few hours sleep too. Finally the Drs gave us the all clear and after 7 weeks exactly we were able to go home. I cried when we left, sad to leave all the friends we had made, scared to leave the safety of the unit and almost missing my life that I had come to know.

It didn’t take long to get used to being at home, we loved taking the babies out for walks and to the garden centre for lunch. I was worried at first as I didn’t know what to do with such small babies, was I allowed to take them out? They seemed happy enough so I carried on and am glad I did as I don’t feel restricted on where I can go with the babies now.

Buying clothes for the boys was one of my greatest pleasures as they had spent so many weeks in just nappies kept warm inside their incubators. My friend bought a set from Mothercare for premmie babies, it had a nappy cover, vest, hat and mittens with a lovely blanket that they still use today. After that we bought tiny baby from Mothercare and also petit petit from Mamas & Papas, Tesco and Asda also do tiny baby so we did have quite a lot of choice.

The boys have gone from strength to strength, they are 4 months old now and both over 11lbs, they smile and laugh and make Daniel and I so happy, they are my little miracles and I am truly thankful every day that everything turned out so well. I think putting my feet up, giving up the exercise and drinking those protein shakes helped keep the babies in for that long and helped them grow to good weights. Nothing in my pregnancy went as planned or even close to how I imagined but in the end it all worked out ok because I just went with the flow. I am very lucky that I had a positive birth experience and that even though my babies spent 7 weeks in hospital the people around us made sure it wasn’t traumatic or too stressful. Being pregnant with twins and having them so early has just made me appreciate what is really important in life and I think ultimately has made me a better, more chilled out person, plus I get two gorgeous babies to cuddle all day