20 July 2023

When Charlotte Preston's twins were born at 31 weeks, she knew she had a long journey ahead of her.

Faced with her boys, Arthur and Arlo, being in two different hospitals 50 miles apart, life was a real juggle in the early days and months of twin parenthood.

That's where Twins Trust was able to help Charlotte, who is also mum to Sofia, eight.

Charlotte, who lives in Essex, called our helpline, Twinline, and was able to get support just when she needed it. Her twins were born on 26 March 2022.

The mum-of-three shared her story: "My twins were born early at 31 weeks so they had a long NICU stay. Arthur had a fairly straightforward start to life. Arlo had a nine-week stay in hospital with three separate ambulance transfers to a level 3 NICU, where he would stay for two to three weeks each time.

Charlotte said: "We had 100-mile round trips, with one twin in hospital near our home and the other one was in hospital a long way away. There was a lot going on."

Charlotte's husband, Aaron, took two months off work so the family could support each other with the twins and care for their older daughter, Sofia, too.

Two twins sit on the floor laughing

Charlotte added: "Initially I had help over the phone with support from Twinline. It was a tough old time. My husband had two months off work because logistically we couldn’t do it any other way. We had a lot of support from grandparents, who were fantastic.

"It was hard because even once Arthur was home from hospital we still had Arlo in another hospital. Arthur wasn't born at the hospital that Arlo was at, so Arthur wasn't allowed on the unit where his brother was. They were still running on a Covid policy and they were worried about infection. My eldest daughter didn’t meet Arlo until he came home at the end of May 2022. He was two-months-old then."

Speaking about why she contacted the Twins Trust helpline, Charlotte said: "I called Twinline as I was desperate to speak to somebody who had gone through the same thing. It was an overwhelming time. I think I called again once Arlo came home from hospital.

"The twins were premature but there was a huge difference between them. Arlo was tiny and was on so many antibiotics. He was 2lb 9 at birth but lost most of that during his first nine weeks. He came home a very tiny baby. There was a lot of worry."

Charlotte said Arlo struggled with feeding too and this caused her a great deal of anxiety.

She said: "In August 2022 I reached out to Twinline again and said I was really struggling. Sleeping was absolutely awful and I didn't have a routine. One was bottle fed and one breast fed. I was dreaming of being on the same schedule. I always had one baby awake and really struggled with that. It knocked my confidence. At the time I felt 'I should be able to do this'.

"It was really nice to know somebody was there and that there was support and someone to talk to."

Thanks to Twins Trust, a visit from a Norland nanny was arranged for the family.

Charlotte said: "It was so valuable. She spent a day with me and gave me confidence and reassured me everything I was doing was right. She was so knowledgeable - it was fantastic.

"Twinline is such a lifeline.

"A year on with many of Arlo's health issues behind us, the boys are going from strength to strength. Along with their incredible big sister, they bring us so much joy on a daily basis."