Take it to the limit

Luci’s twin ter­rors

Real People - - CONTENTS -

The of­fice loos, my knick­ers around my an­kles, and a shout from the other side of the locked door… ‘Well?’ my mate, Vicky, was call­ing. ‘I can’t go back to the ware­house un­til I know!’

She needed to know? I was the one whose whole fu­ture was on the line. Would a sec­ond blue line ap­pear in the lit­tle win­dow of the plas­tic stick I held in my trem­bling fin­gers?

I was 24 and I’d been with my fella, Joseph Barker, 24, for three years. We’d got to­gether when we were both 21. He’d been my saviour when I’d lost my mum, Deb­bie, to lung can­cer two years later. He showed me I still had ev­ery­thing to live for.

A year on, we were jan­gling the keys to our first home to­gether – a lovely lit­tle flat, all open plan.

We’d had the talk. Kids? Def­i­nitely. Some day…

Well, it looked like some day had just ar­rived…

How had this hap­pened? Well, the usual way of course. But I was on the Pill! Had I missed one?

I re­ar­ranged my­self and slid back the latch on the loo door.

Vicky and my other mate, Lynsey, knew the an­swer to the big ques­tion the minute they saw my face.

‘Oh, my God!’ they hissed. I car­ried the tester home in my hand­bag and tucked it into a box of Smar­ties to sur­prise Joseph.

‘We’re go­ing to need a big­ger flat!’ he squeaked when he could speak again.

But, once the shock sub­sided, we were grin­ning. It didn’t take long to get used to the idea.

I’d al­ways loved kids. When I was a teenager, I used to babysit my brother’s lit­tle girl, Chloe, ev­ery Thurs­day af­ter school.

There were a few shaky mo­ments. I put her nappy on back to front a cou­ple of times! But I soon got the hang of it.

As she grew, I loved tak­ing her to the park and rustling up fish fin­gers for tea.

Joseph was a com­plete novice, though. He’d hand his nephew over to me when we de­tected eau-de-poo waft­ing from his Baby­gro…

And the sur­prises weren’t over for us yet. At our first scan, our mid­wife said, ‘I’ll just check

there’s not an­other one.’ ‘An­other one?’ I gog­gled. ‘Ah, that’s OK...’ she went on. Phew!

‘... There’s only two.’ TWO?

Joseph’s eyes went glassy. ‘We’re def­i­nitely go­ing to need a big­ger flat!’ he stam­mered.

‘And what about my Mini?’ I wailed. My grey and black Mini Cooper wouldn’t fit a dou­ble buggy in the boot!

‘I sup­pose that ex­plains why you al­ready look like you’ve eaten a mas­sive roast din­ner,’ laughed Joseph. He was right. Three months gone and I was al­ready start­ing to show.

But the 16-week scan de­tected twin-to-twin trans­fu­sion syn­drome. One of my ba­bies was get­ting more nu­tri­ents than the other, so I was booked in for reg­u­lar check-ups.

Four weeks later, we were told they were iden­ti­cal lit­tle boys.

As I bal­looned, we picked the name Char­lie for twin one and Har­vey for twin two.

At 22 weeks, I was due to walk our lo­cal Race For Life in me­mory of my mum. But that morn­ing, when I got up, I felt fluid gush be­tween my legs.

At Leeds Gen­eral In­fir­mary, the doc­tors had wor­ry­ing news. Char­lie’s sac had burst.

‘We need to keep you in,’ a medic told us. ‘All we can do, re­ally, is make you com­fort­able.’

If the twins ar­rived now, they prob­a­bly wouldn’t sur­vive.

But they hung on, stayed put. Af­ter five days in hospi­tal, I was dis­charged for bed rest at home.

‘Don’t overdo it!’ cau­tioned the mid­wife. ‘No work, and def­i­nitely no sex!’

I spent the next week on the sofa, hardly dar­ing to move. ‘I’m so bored,’ I moaned. ‘Let’s go to the car­a­van for the week­end,’ Joseph sug­gested.

Our fam­ily had a car­a­van near Scar­bor­ough. The per­fect re­treat. But, when we sat down in the on-site café, I felt a fa­mil­iar leak. The chair was soak­ing wet!

‘Peo­ple will think I’ve peed my­self,’ I hissed as I wad­dled back to the car­a­van.

The next morn­ing, there was blood in my knick­ers, so we drove back to Leeds and went straight to hospi­tal.

I was 24 weeks and one day gone. Just a day over the le­gal abor­tion limit.

‘It’s still too early,’ I blubbed to Joseph as sud­den pain crashed over me. ‘But I need to push.’

I was bun­dled into a wheel­chair and the mid­wife lit­er­ally ran me down the cor­ri­dor to the de­liv­ery suite.

‘I can see Char­lie’s head,’ she gasped. The room was sud­denly full of peo­ple.

At 9pm on 21 May 2017, Char­lie was born, weigh­ing 1lb 6oz. Har­vey fol­lowed 16 min­utes later, even tinier at 1lb 4oz. Then the room cleared.

Joseph and I stared at each other in shock.

‘Did that just hap­pen?’

I asked him shak­ily. I hadn’t even seen my ba­bies be­fore they were taken away.

At mid­night, we were shown to neona­tal in­ten­sive care. Both boys were cov­ered in wires and hooked up to ven­ti­la­tors. Har­vey was un­der a UV lamp, like a baby chicken!

Our boys looked so tiny and frag­ile…

The next few weeks were a blur of scans, blood tests and in­jec­tions. The punches just kept com­ing. The boys were so pre­ma­ture that they had prob­lems with their eyes, their lungs and their hearts.

At four days old, Har­vey suf­fered a bleed to the brain. We sat numbly as doc­tors warned they might have to switch off his life sup­port. Mirac­u­lously, he pulled through.

Af­ter four-and-a-half months, we were fi­nally al­lowed to take the boys home. But weeks later, on Hal­loween, Har­vey col­lapsed.

As I looked on, cry­ing, he stopped breath­ing in the am­bu­lance. It felt like a life time, but was only a minute un­til he started again.

He was still in his tiny or­ange-and-black jump­suit with ‘My First Hal­loween’ on the front. His lungs were so weak, he was in hospi­tal for seven more months.

It was ag­o­nis­ing to see Char­lie meet his mile­stones, sit­ting up and start­ing on solid food, while his brother was on oxy­gen in the chil­dren’s ward.

Bring­ing Har­vey home again for good, in May 2018, was the best feel­ing ever.

Now, at 17 months, they’re both thriv­ing, de­spite hav­ing weak lungs. Har­vey has to be given oxy­gen at home, and his sight is im­paired.

But I smile when­ever I catch the pair of them hold­ing hands in their pushchair.

Char­lie is a cheeky lit­tle devil who likes to pull at the tubes on Har­vey’s face, gig­gling like Woody Wood­pecker.

Har­vey is a con­tented, happy lit­tle boy. Maybe he knows how lucky he is?

Me and Joseph have talked about hav­ing an­other baby, but not for a long time yet. I’m back on the Pill and mak­ing sure I take it prop­erly!

Know­ing our luck, we’d end up with an­other two. Dou­ble

dou­ble trou­ble! For now, my beau­ti­ful boys are all we need.

Luci Hall, 26, Leeds

I was one day over the abor­tion limit

See­ing dou­ble! I had a huge baby belly

Against all the odds, the boys pulled through

We had to wait four weeks to hold them

Char­lie (left) and Har­vey are do­ing well

The first pic­ture of our boy Char­lie, 1lb 6oz

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