Premature birth: Lorraine’s story

Wow, what a fab week on the blog, jam packed full of incredible and inspiring premature birth stories. Today is World Prematurity Day and I’m really grateful to have had the opportunity to bring you these moving stories, and to do our bit to raise awareness. 

Today it’s the turn of Holly and Caitlin, a gorgeous set of twins born to Lorraine. What’s more, it’s their first birthday today!  Happy birthday, gorgeous girls ♥

On our 3rd wedding anniversary we got our positive pregnancy test, we were over the moon and couldn’t wait to get our scan booked to make it all seem real.

The day of our 12 week scan came and we were so excited. As we sat in the waiting room my husband Chris looked up at the notice board and saw a sign for multiple birth classes, he pointed it out to me and said ha ha bet we will need those. We both laughed at his “joke” and thought no more of it.

A few minutes into the scan the sonographer confirmed our “joke” was reality. We were having twins!! They were due on 7th January 2012.

From then on I had a very straight forward pregnancy. One incident of unexplained pain at 17 weeks where I was kept in overnight but otherwise nothing that wasn’t textbook.

Our consultant had explained that being a twin pregnancy there was a high risk of premature labour. He told us to be extra vigilant and if there were any signs at all of labour that we were to contact the hospital straight away. He mentioned that it could happen as early as 28 weeks to which I remember Chris going a funny colour as at that stage 28 weeks wasn’t too far off!

My waters broke at 32+3, one day after I told my friend that I wasn’t that dramatic and I would be having a planned c-section in 5 weeks time. I might not be that dramatic but my daughter certainly is!

At the hospital I was told there was a 90% chance I would labour within 48 hours so I would need to have 2 steroid injections 24 hours apart and I was then admitted to a ward.

That night a nurse and doctor were brought up from SCBU to see me and explain what would happen if I were to deliver the girls prematurely. I felt this was a great comfort, just to know what the procedures were and what exactly would be done to my babies.

Then I was given a bit of a blow and told that if I went into labour, there were no cots available for my twins and I would need to transfer to another hospital. I laboured the next night and this was the case; I was transferred by ambulance mid labour to a hospital 25 minutes away.

Caitlin was born at 6:58, 3lbs 13oz and Holly and 7:00, 3lbs 11oz on 17th November 2011 by emergency c-section.

Holly needed a little work to get her breathing but both seemed ok. They were whisked off to SCBU after I had a quick glance at them. I was taken to recovery.

My experiences with SCBU then vary as the girls were moved back to my original hospital at 4 days.

Holly, aged 1 day

Caitlin, aged 1 day

In the first hospital, when I went to see the girls I felt as if I was in the way. I first saw them at 4:30 pm the day they were born as the mid wives on the ward were to busy to take me down earlier. Before I went down I was told Caitlin had hyperextension in her legs which meant that they didn’t bend at the knee, instead the turned upwards. She was to have plaster on her legs the very next day and it would be on for a month but would be changed weekly. The orthopaedic surgeon said she was the smallest baby they had ever worked on! As it happened she only needed plaster for one week and there have been no lasting effects. Both babies had a touch of jaundice but otherwise were in good health (although this was not explained properly to us until we transferred back to our original hospital).

That night that they were born, I explained to the mid wife on the ward that I was hoping to breast feed and as I had delivered so prematurely, I hadn’t made it to a breastfeeding class yet so i asked if she could she help me. She brought me a leaflet with a diagram on how to hand express along with a sterile cup and a syringe and left me to it. Needless to say, I couldn’t get any milk and I didn’t receive anymore help than this despite asking numerous times. I was eventually told that I needed to try more than once a night to stimulate my milk! I still feel bitter that I wasn’t better supported with this as my girls needed my milk and it was the best/only thing I could do for them at this point in time.

The day after they were born a nurse very casually asked if we would like to take them out of their incubators for a cuddle. I asked if we were allowed as there had been no mention of it the day before! Apparently it was allowed so we were ecstatic to get to hold them but still wonder why nobody offered the previous day.

Although my girls were in good health apart from the above, it wasn’t until they were transferred to the other hospital that we were told this and told that they were just in to learn to suck their feeds and get bigger! This was obviously great news and again I wondered why all of this wasn’t explained in the previous hospital.

The difference in care in the two hospitals was so hard to believe.

When they transferred, the first thing the nurse did was give me a tour of the unit, show me what all the monitors were for that the girls were hooked up to, show me the breastfeeding room and set me up with my own box of pumps (as my girls had no suck reflex at this point so I was trying to express). She then showed me how to care for the girls I.e. nappy changes, feeds, cleaning etc. She explained that they were my babies and that I could do as much of their care as I wanted and I could hold them when I wanted etc. It was so much more positive than my previous experience.

From then on I never looked back. I spent all day every day in SCBU doing as much of their care as I could and generally just trying to feel like their mum.

They seemed to thrive in there and were gaining weight daily. Slowly but surely they began to suck their feeds and we felt like there was light at the end of the tunnel. The breast feeding was still an issue as the girls were still very small so struggling at the breast but I was given a lot of support with it. There were a couple of setbacks along they way with both girls and they had to have ECGs as their saturations were low but all was fine although this did keep them in a little longer. At the time any setback no matter how small feels like the end of the world as all you want to do is have your babies home and begin your life with them.

Eventually about 3 and a half weeks after they were born, we were told that it was very likely that we would be allowed to take our girls home that weekend. Normally they ask you to room in for one or two nights but the bed was broken and they asked how I would feel about taking them straight home. I was ecstatic, I didn’t feel I needed to room in and I was finally getting to take my girls home!! So on their one month birthday, 17th December 2011, we got to take our precious girls home. It was the best early Christmas present I could have asked for! So although the babies knew nothing about it, we enjoyed our very first family Christmas.

Now whenever I speak to anyone with a baby in SCBU I tell them that so much changes in a day in there so to keep positive. One day you can feel like there has been no progress since birth and the next they are telling you they are nearly ready to come home.

If I could make any changes to help anyone else in this situation, it would be to have consistency between hospitals and keep the parents informed every step of the way and make them feel at home as essentially it will be home for the parents until they get their to take their babies with them.

Fast forward one year and my girls are celebrating their first birthday today. They are in the best of health and since they left hospital have only been to the doctors once for a cold!

They are two happy little chicks and very social. They have the cheekiest little faces which i just love! They have lots of friends and lots of admirers everywhere we go. They love to play up to their audience and last weekend were dancing in their buggies as we watched the Christmas lights being switched on. I couldn’t ask for anything more, I am such a proud mum x

Gorgeous girls!

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15 million babies are born preterm around the world every year—that’s 1 in 10. More than 1 million babies die due to complications of preterm birth and many of those who survive face a lifetime of disability. Both Tommy’s and Bliss raise funds to help both babies and families who are born prematurely and require special care.    You can find more about what they do, or make a donation, by clicking the links provided.

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