A family of fighters
Doctors said they’d die...but I knew my twins would live
True fear hit me when, in January this year, I went into labour. Not fear about the pain of childbirth or my new life as a parent.
I was terrified I’d never be a mummy at all.
I’d had two heartbreaking miscarriages when I fell pregnant with twins in July last year.
‘What if I lose them, too?’ I’d cried to my then partner Jason, 29.
But the pregnancy had gone to plan… Until, at just 24 weeks, I’d gone into labour.
Rushed to Northampton General then Birmingham Women’s Hospital, I was given devastating news.
‘It’s very rare for twins to survive if they’re born this early,’ a doctor warned gently.
When I was told to expect stillbirths, I felt like my world was ending.
After that, it all happened quickly.
Just two pushes and, one minute later, my daughter Harley was born, followed by my son Jackson.
Harley weighed just 1lb 11oz, but her heart was beating. Jackson weighed just 3oz more, and gave a little cry as he arrived.
They were alive.
But, within seconds, my tiny twins were whisked away. I felt empty. My body had been protecting my babies for almost six months. But now, there was nothing more I could do, other than place my trust in the
They were born just six days after the abortion limit
doctors who were fighting to save them.
They told me Harley and Jackson had been born just six days after the abortion limit.
If they’d come a week earlier, there’d have been nothing doctors could have done to help them. But medics rallied round. Scared as I was, I felt something very strongly. ‘They’re fighters,’ I insisted. At just 9 days old, Jackson needed a life-saving operation. His bowel hadn’t developed properly, and now part of it had collapsed.
Doctors warned me that he had just a 2 per cent chance of coming through the gruelling, three-hour surgery.
The wait was heartbreaking. But, to the doctors’ amazement, Jackson pulled through.
Harley had problems, too. With too much fluid on her brain, her head had swelled to four sizes bigger than it should’ve been.
Doctors had to give her three lumbar punctures to reduce the fluid. Then, at 2 months, she had to undergo emergency brain surgery.
‘I know they’ll survive,’ I said to Jason when doctors warned us their chances were slim.
The day I got to hold Harley, she was 1 month and 3 days old, and still fitted into the palm of my hand.
It was another month and three days until Jackson was well enough for me to hold him.
It felt like a miracle.
They really are my babies,
But we weren’t out of the woods yet. And sadly, under huge pressure, Jason and I split up. I was now a single mum – but I knew I’d cope somehow.
a fighter, too.
You see, aged just 12, I’d suffered a stroke, and had been left paralysed from the waist down. I’d used a wheelchair until two years before falling pregnant, when I’d begun teaching myself to walk again.
Maybe I’d passed that determination on to the twins. I hoped so…
At 4 months, Jackson’s bowel collapsed again, and needed to be rushed to Birmingham Children’s Hospital for more emergency surgery.
I had to go with him, of course. But leaving Harley on her own with the nurses broke my heart.
Then, two days after Jackson and I returned to Northampton General, Harley needed surgery, too.
Fluid on her brain had returned, and doctors decided she needed a shunt.
She was transferred to the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford.
This time, I had to leave Jackson on his own.
Once again, I was torn between two tots.
But being reunited with them again was joyful!
My babies were discharged on 21 June – five months after I was told they wouldn’t survive. Now, they’re 9 months old. Harley weighs 11lb 7oz and Jackson’s 12lb 14oz.
They’re having physio and doing well.
We’ll learn in time if their premature birth has led to any further problems.
But all that matters to me now is that they’ve proved everyone wrong.
I knew my amazing babies would make it.
We’re a family of survivors.
I’d fought back from a stroke in childhood myself