Ready for an elfie!

a cou­ple An early de­liv­ery in Carly of plas­tic car­ri­ers gave a mem­o­rable Christ­mas…

Real People - - REAL PEOPLE - Carly Wil­liams, 28, Wrex­ham, North Wales

Santa’s lit­tle shockers

More knack­ered than the elas­tic on Santa’s undies, I sank into bed.

‘Merry Christ­mas, dar­ling,’ I yawned to my boyfriend, Gareth, 28.

It was the dy­ing em­bers of Christ­mas Day 2014, but we’d hardly had a chance for sea­son’s greet­ings. Only to­gether since Novem­ber 2013, we still had sep­a­rate Crim­bos. We were both de­voted to our fam­i­lies, and noth­ing could keep me from my 73-year-old nan Mar­garet’s per­fectly crispy roasties!

So, me and Gareth would get up, swap pressies and head to sep­a­rate cel­e­bra­tions. Then, when Christ­mas Day fi­nally wrapped up, we’d come to­gether like Band Aid.

We’d been mak­ing sweet mu­sic since meet­ing at the se­condary school where we both worked. I was an art teacher, while Gareth taught PE. But, the first time we spoke, it was all chem­istry!

As win­ter thawed to spring in 2015, though, it turned out there was more than a tur­key in the oven. We’d vaguely talked about want­ing chil­dren some day but, when a pair of lines popped up on the test strip, we were floored.

It was com­pletely un­planned, un­ex­pected and bril­liant!

I went for my first scan.

‘Oh, OK, there’s one,’ the sono­g­ra­pher said, run­ning the probe over my stom­ach. ‘And there’s an­other one.’

Gareth burst into happy, stunned laugh­ter.

My heart sank.

Shak­ing slightly, I felt tears prick my eyes. Twins?!

My mum’s cousin had a match­ing pair, but it’d never oc­curred I’d be landed with dou­ble help­ings. Yet there they were on the screen. Two ba­bies – nine weeks gone al­ready. How would I cope?

Over the next few hours, though, my shock turned to de­light.

Find­ing out we were hav­ing a boy and a girl was the ic­ing on our sur­prise cake!

‘Gethin,’ we quickly agreed for our lit­tle boy, but choos­ing a girl’s name was more dif­fi­cult.

Gareth had a huge fam­ily full of girls – Bron­wen, Seren, Ffion, An­wen – all the best strong, Welsh names were taken. ‘We’ve got plenty of time,’ we agreed.

My due date in Oc­to­ber seemed so far off, but try telling my bulging stom­ach that! By 8 July, my back­ache took my breath away as I taught a class.

I was 24 weeks ex­actly – the le­gal cut-off for a ter­mi­na­tion in Eng­land – but had a huge bump that was leav­ing my back on fire!

Deal­ing with teenagers could be a pain, all right, but this brought tears to my eyes. It was so bad that at break time, I was sent home.

My mum,

Al­i­son, 42, came round and pointed to­wards my bump. ‘I think you need the hospi­tal,’ she gasped. My stom­ach was mov­ing in a strange way.

Tens­ing. Al­most like… con­trac­tions.

‘You’re in labour,’

a doc­tor at Wrex­ham Maelor Hospi­tal told me. I was four months early! I was rushed to a de­liv­ery room and, af­ter a fran­tic dash from work, Gareth – flanked by a swarm of nurses – burst in into the room.

‘It’s like the ba­bies waited for me,’ he smiled weakly, squeez­ing my hand.

About 20 spe­cial­ists crowded round. I was told the ba­bies would be so pre­ma­ture, they had just a 15 per cent chance of sur­vival each. But I forced the ter­ror to the back of my mind. My ba­bies needed me calm. Ev­ery­one waited tensely as I pushed our daugh­ter into the world. Born still in the am­ni­otic sac, which is in­cred­i­bly rare and thought to be re­ally lucky, a deaf­en­ing si­lence clung to the room as my tiny daugh­ter emerged. Af­ter what felt like a life­time, the sac was bro­ken and she splut­tered out a cry.

‘She’s an Amelia,’ I re­alised, re­lief flood­ing me.

And our Amelia was alive. I caught a glimpse of her wrig­gling body be­fore she was hur­ried away.

Just 10 min­utes on, Amelia’s brother was born. Smaller, he weighed just 1lb 5oz to his sis­ter’s 1lb 6oz. He was qui­eter and stiller. But alive.

It wasn’t un­til a cou­ple of hours later that me and Gareth got taken to the neona­tal in­ten­sive care unit for our first proper look at the twins.

I’d imag­ined meet­ing our chil­dren would be an ex­cited game of spot­ting our fea­tures – who had whose chin, eyes or fore­head – but, peer­ing into their in­cu­ba­tors, all I felt was shock.

‘They don’t even look like ba­bies,’ I whis­pered to Gareth.

Co­cooned in a tiny plas­tic bag each, they looked like some­one’s un­der­cooked chicken din­ner.

Each baby was a jum­ble of bones un­der trans­par­ent, tis­sue-pa­per skin.

As the ba­bies weren’t able to reg­u­late their tem­per­a­tures, the bags were used to keep them warm.

Be­neath, though, you could see every thread-thin wire burst­ing from their bod­ies.

We were rushed to Ar­rowe Park Hospi­tal on the Wir­ral for more spe­cial­ist care and put up in free hospi­tal ac­com­mo­da­tion, thanks to the Ron­ald Mcdon­ald House Char­i­ties. It meant we never left the twins’ side, apart from to sleep.

Even then we were wo­ken by a phone in our room if there was an emer­gency. And there were so many. Both ba­bies con­tracted sep­sis, while Gethin suf­fered a bleed on the brain and col­lapsed lung, and Amelia had to be re­sus­ci­tated af­ter a valve that was not clos­ing prop­erly made her heart rate plum­met.

Grad­u­ally, the twins be­gan to sta­bilise.

They were moved into an in­cu­ba­tor side by side. Just know­ing the other was there seemed to calm them as they en­dured re­ceiv­ing oxy­gen, in­ter­ven­tions and tests.

At seven weeks, we fi­nally got in on the cud­dles.

Care­fully ma­noeu­vring the wires hook­ing them up to their ven­ti­la­tors, I took each of my tiny ba­bies in turn and held them against me. They were still lit­tle more than a hand­ful, but feel­ing their heart­beats against my skin was a dream come true. In the Septem­ber, Amelia needed surgery to save her sight as she was days from go­ing blind. Fi­nally, just a week be­fore Christ­mas, we brought our ba­bies home.

Gethin was still on oxy­gen and both chil­dren were still frag­ile as glass baubles, but we were fi­nally able to be­gin life as a fam­ily of four. Although they didn’t know 25 De­cem­ber from any other day, we show­ered them with toys. Then, dressed up in tiny nov­elty Baby­gros, we took them to my nan’s. ‘You’ll be eat­ing these soon enough,’ I laughed, pil­ing more pota­toes on my plate. I even raised a glass of Buck’s fizz.

The twins are now three and, save for both be­ing short-sighted, have no last­ing health is­sues from their early ar­rival. They’re thought to be some of the ear­li­est twins ever to have sur­vived.

Not that you’d know it. They speak English and Welsh, run me ragged and are the hap­pi­est, most per­fect pair. Gethin is a proper lit­tle boy, ob­sessed with cars and mo­tor­bikes. Amelia is small but fear­some – she is def­i­nitely the boss of this fam­ily. And a fam­ily we are. The twins have tied me and Gareth to­gether for ever, like a bow, and we’re due to get mar­ried in 2020. There will be presents piled high un­der the Christ­mas tree this year, but our twins are the best presents ever – and de­liv­ered in record time.

Look­ing at them, all I felt was shock

The twins on their first Christ­mas Now, you wouldn’t be­lieve how early they came into the world

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