Dou­ble trou­ble

Our girls were caus­ing us worry be­fore they were even born

Chat - - CONTENTS - David Smith, 33, New Brighton

Watch­ing the im­age come into fo­cus, I gave my wife’s hand a squeeze. For a mo­ment, the room was silent. And then…

The sound of a very strong heart­beat filled the air. Only, it sounded out of time. ‘There are two heart­beats,’ our sono­g­ra­pher smiled. My jaw nearly hit the floor. ‘Twins?!’ my wife Jayne, then 25, gasped.

That was our very first scan, back in De­cem­ber 2015.

We were so ex­cited to get the first glimpse of our baby. Or ba­bies! Twins didn’t run in our fam­i­lies, and doc­tors wanted to mon­i­tor us closely. But Jayne’s the sort of per­son who likes to be clued-up. So, back home, she got re­search­ing.

One con­di­tion that kept crop­ping up was twin-to-twin trans­fu­sion syn­drome (TTTS).

It’s a con­di­tion of the pla­centa that af­fects iden­ti­caltwin preg­nan­cies, stop­ping nec­es­sary nu­tri­ents to help growth go­ing to one twin.

Terrifying­ly, it could mean they wouldn’t sur­vive.

We just had to hope that wouldn’t hap­pen to us.

But at the 18-week scan, our con­sul­tant at Liver­pool Women’s Hospi­tal no­ticed a dif­fer­ence in size be­tween our girls.

‘It could be noth­ing, but we’ll see how they go,’ she said.

Yet, just two weeks later, she con­firmed that one of our girls was 25 per cent smaller.

‘I’m afraid it looks like TTTS,’ she ex­plained.

Dev­as­tat­ing.

One twin was sur­rounded by too much am­ni­otic fluid, the other had barely any. She had a de­creased blood vol­ume and a se­vere lack of nu­tri­ents, too. Strug­gling to grow or move. ‘Will they be OK?’ we asked. ‘We can mon­i­tor them, hope for the best,’ we were told.

If not, they’d need to op­er­ate. Ter­ri­fied, Jayne got in touch with Tamba – the Twins & Mul­ti­ple Births As­so­ci­a­tion – and they gave us ad­vice.

At 24 weeks, we were rushed to King’s Col­lege Hospi­tal in Lon­don.

The only thing that could save our girls now was laser ab­la­tion – which in­volves clos­ing ev­ery ves­sel con­nect­ing the twins, to pre­vent the flow of blood from one baby to the other.

There was a chance they may not sur­vive. But our sur­geon did his best to keep us calm.

He put a tiny cam­era in Jayne’s side, brought the im­age up on screen.

That’s when I saw a tiny hand. Would this be the last time I’d see my girls alive?

After the laser surgery, all we could do was wait.

At the sono­gram, a few hours on, I prayed for two heart­beats. Si­lence.

But then... Two heart­beats filled the room. What a re­lief!

Ruby and Annabelle ar­rived by Cae­sarean in Au­gust 2016.

They spent a cou­ple of days in the NICU but quickly be­gan to thrive.

Now aged 3, both girls are cheeky lit­tle madams.

But I’m just so thank­ful to have them alive and safe.

We’ll never for­get how they came into this world, how aw­ful things could’ve been.

Which is why we work with Tamba to spread aware­ness.

Rais­ing twins is no mean feat – and though they may be dou­ble trou­ble, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

I prayed for two heart­beats. There was si­lence...

Jayne and our lit­tle madams!

Proud Daddy!

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