6 September 2022

My girls were born via emergency c-section at 31+5 weeks after I developed severe pre-eclampsia and what appeared to be selective growth restriction with twin 2.

Florence arrived first very loudly, weighing 4 pounds, 11 ounces, and was then followed by her sister Beatrice who was delivered in her amniotic sac, weighing 3 pounds 8 ounces. We were told they had developed acute TTTS during delivery and despite Beatrice being the twin with growth concerts, it ended up being Florence who needed the most support due to taking on too much blood from the shared placenta. We later found out that they suffered from a rare disease called TAPS which is still relatively unknown and not widely discussed even in the twin community. The girls were whisked away to NICU without me being able to hold them and then to make it worse, we were unable to visit the girls on the unit until our COVID tests came back. In addition to this, the hospital we delivered at was unable to provide the specialist support that Florence required and therefore she had to be transferred to a different hospital, so for the first week of their lives, our girls were in separate neonatal units at different hospitals.

Florence under the lights, a few hours after she was born

After a very long six days, the girls were reunited and we then went on to spend a further five weeks in the neonatal unit. We had a lot of ups and downs during that time and I remember feeling so overwhelmed by all the goings on within the neonatal unit. We were fortunate in the sense that our girls progressed well and we didn't have any major setbacks in their journey, however as the weeks went on, I found it increasingly difficult to see all the other babies being discharged and taken home, whilst my girls remained on the unit. I would cry every evening when I left the NICU without my girls and at times, I felt so helpless and alone. Florence was gaining weight well and took to breastfeeding easily, however Beatrice initially lost a lot of weight so she had a bigger hill to climb, as well as having silent reflux which meant her breathing monitor had to stay on much longer than her sister's did.

Beatrice, a few hours after she was born

Eventually, after Beatrice's reflux was treated and she began to feed better, we had finally met the discharge criteria. Then came the fear about taking these two tiny babies home and being solely responsible for them. For the first six weeks of their lives, I had a nurse there to ask if what I was doing was right or to check that they were okay so after the initial excitement of being told we could go home, I began to worry about how I would be a mum to these two little people.

Graduation day at NICU, January 2021

Thankfully the NICU staff were there to build my confidence and remind me of how far we had come as a family, in particular the strength I had shown during those first few days on the unit. The NICU staff were absolute angels and I don't know how myself or my partner would have got through those weeks without them. I have been fortunate enough to be involved in the local support group for the neonatal unit so I am now able to use my experience to help other parents who are going through a similar journey.

Florence & Beatrice on holiday