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My birth & NICU with twins - Keriann Marie Speller

 

I am generally quite open on my Instagram account, but there is one thing I haven’t shared that I have been asked about quite a lot, which is ‘my birth story’ I have always been fascinated by birth stories and TV programmes such as 'One Born Every Minute'; thinking how incredible women are, and wondering how would my birth would go; if I was ever lucky enough to get pregnant.

 

So after IVF, my first cycle stopped due to OHSS (Ovary Hyper Stimulation Syndrome) and our embryos were frozen so we could take a break; unfortunately the risk of becoming hospitalised and putting my body in severe danger was getting increasingly high. Three months later we did a frozen round and became pregnant with Indie and Jude (long story cut short!). My pregnancy was deemded high risk immediately and I was put on aspirin at 12 weeks to prevent pre-eclampsia (which my mum had when carrying me), and by around 28 weeks I had started to swell massively, and I’m quite petite, so it was very obvious to see!

 

I had around 4 hospital admissions during pregnancy and a few interesting stays, with one Doctor telling me the spots in my vision were due to me needing an eye test, which is ridiculous as my vision wouldn’t change, like anything else in pregnancy; it’s not permanent! So I was put onto high blood pressure tablets and the dosage was raised quite a few times. I had a fair few trips to triage too. 

 

At 32 weeks I had my check up scan and the normal twin tests, as well as a meeting with the twin specialist. My blood pressure was taken by the machine and the lady said it was perfect, which shocked me but that’s the result that was passed on to the doctor (if it was done manually I think the twins would of been delivered that day). I went on to explain that the swelling was really bad, and in a nut shell she said “buckle up that’s pregnancy love” but gave me another appointment for 2 weeks time to be “safe” and booked my c-section in for the 5th July 2018. In the meantime the twins remained breach and transverse throughout my whole pregnancy which was very painful on my ribs, with two heads on one side!

 

The day came and I finished up with a client (my final client) and my mum came to take me to the hospital. I couldn’t do much by now, my whole body was swollen including my hands and my face, even around my eyes. I told my mum to wait in the car but she didn’t as mums know best(!) so she joined me and we went straight in to see the consultant. The first thing the consultant said was "how are you?" - my answer "I've had enough" I am not a quitter may I add, I am on the whole, very determined!

 

She asked me to immediately sit on the bed and she did my reflexes on my knee, from here it took a turn and became blurred very quickly. In fact writing this brings tears to my eyes because everything that came next I felt I watched from outside of my body.  I remained so calm, anything they did to me I just breathed through and didn’t ask any questions - if it meant my babies were okay, as far as I was concerned, they could do what they wanted to me! 

 

The consultant did my first steroid; she thought I was about to faint as I was so quiet! A call was made and she took me straight through to the delivery suite, through the nurses entrance, and within seconds two doctors and a few midwives came in. My mum sat down and I said don’t worry I can sit in my clothes for the heart rate checks, thinking I could just pull my top up. I was quickly told it wouldn’t be these kind of observations and was stripped, given a steroid injection, scanned in the room and told I had to immediately go into full pre-eclampsia protocol; which trust me, is not very nice! Everyone in the room was very kind, explaining they were sorry this was the case. I still hadn’t told James, my partner, and didn’t get the time to as I was put onto all sorts of machines, catheterised and not allowed food or drink (only 0.65 ml of water every hour). I had to have my urine tested every 15 minutes, blood pressure and temperature taken, and given double cannulas. I was assigned a midwife to stay at by side 24/7

 

Next came magnesium, now this is not fun! It is administered through the cannula by the doctor, the only way I can describe it, is feeling like your body is on fire from the inside out, and spreading. They give you fans and cold flannels and keep you as calm as possible to stop any chance of a seizure. The magnesium was continued on a lower dosage for the next few days. 

 

The plan was to have the twins the next morning so I could be stabilised, and they could prepare the twins lungs via more steroid injections. At this point, James was finally called in, and my mum left and would return the next morning early ready for delivery. 

 

BUT this didn’t happen.....

 

At around 4am the doctors and midwives were fussing over the babies readings, with one of the midwives saying she 'would be back in 5 minutes' and 'not to as worry, it will probably sort itself out'.....she came back in, put her hand on my knee and said “Keriann we need to get these babies out now, do not panic, but we will need to pull the emergency buzzer and a lot of people will come in”  - and my god did they! People rushed in from all over the hospital and within minutes I was in theatre. Before I knew it, I had a spinal block (which I hardly remember, I just know it didn’t hurt) and I tried to do everything in my power to relax. 

 

It was pure mayhem around me so they had started before James walked into theatre as there was no time to waste, he came in and I was so out of it I didn’t realise he had joined me!  He found it really hard seeing me shake from the spinal block but I stayed quite calm. I found the c-section was fine, I was numb mentally and physically so I didn’t feel bothered by it. Afterwards, a midwife told me that my mum had broken speed limits to get to me but she missed me by minutes, so ended up listening to the wall, praying to hear one of her grandchildren cry.  My mum told me later that she did hear their crys and eventually watched the teams run the twins into NICU. 

 

Jude was born first, 4 minutes before Indie who did get a little bit stuck. They didn’t get to show me the twins (my dream was to see James holding them both next to me, showing me our babies)  but they were too sick. Jude was really poorly and needed a lot of resuscitation after suffering a punctured lung, which to this day haunts me; perhaps James even more so as he was watching, but thankfully he managed to cut Indie's cord, take her picture and hold her hand. 

 

The twins were taken to NICU with James and I was taken to recovery for a while. I was asking about their weight and what they looked like - it was like I hadn’t had them, it was like I had just been operated on, and then taken away. I finally then went back into the room attached to theatre and back onto 24 hour watch and continued treatment. I had the best midwife throughout the whole experience, Elise had to hand express into syringes which she took into NICU for when my babies were off CPAP.

 

The twins were taken to high dependency, born at 5.18 & 5.22am, and late that night with everything still attached to me, I went to meet them. I was so sick that day, but I kept being told I should of seen them by now. But I couldn’t function (which still to this day breaks my heart), and it was upsetting that the doctors and midwives made me feel like I didn’t want to see them. I actually struggled with this a few months after the birth, but after the shock had settled, my lovely fellow twin mum from NICU reminded me of how she saw me wheeled down that day, and even told me I was too sick to be down there; she made me feel so much better, bless her.

 

I hardly remember going in that night, so I took myself off of the morphine the next morning and went back to see the twins and it was incredible. I bonded with them instantly and cried my eyes out with happiness!  I started my recovery to become stronger for the twins, but I had a lot of swelling to loose, in fact two days later I was in NICU and Doctors (I thought I had never met), saw me and couldn’t believe how different I looked as my whole body and face and around my eyes was so swollen. 

 

We stayed in NICU for 2 weeks, but after 3 nights James went back to work as we wanted to save his time off for at home. It's hard to enjoy your babies in hospital.....and let’s just say I had an a almighty breakdown.  I cried my eyes out on the ward; I was still in pain, my milk came in and I had SEVERE sweats which I blamed on the air-con, but it was in fact my swelling going down. At 3am that night I walked down to NICU to be in my safe place with my babies. I hardly held Jude as he was too weak so we left him to recover as much as possible, but at this time he did a poo all over himself, so they asked if I would hold him, and he ended up asleep on my chest, so tiny and full of wires. I just cried and cried; he made me feel like I was safe and loved.

 

After this, I had a few nights of staying home which were horrific; the second I walked out of the hospital I cried, it felt so painful leaving them. The first night I called to check on my babies and Jude was put back into Vapourtherm which means back onto antibiotics, and unfortunately at this stage you have no idea how long for. I was a state, so James helped keep me calm and in the morning he got me a special bag from NEXT for my breast milk, so I was distracted for a little while. If I could have, I would of sprinted to the hospital, I was so eager to get in every day. I have a very special group of friends; Alex, Lili, Faye, Lindz and Becky who helped to pull me through this time, and my god I needed it, now after all of this, they really are truly special friends and we've got a bond that can never be broken!

 

I managed to exclusively express through the NG tube and thought nothing of it, other than I couldn’t do anything else for them. But the nurses said it was amazing the amount of milk I was producing which made me feel so proud. I would keep squares of material down my top and swap with the twins so I could smell them and express the maximum amount possible. 

 

Daily you have the doctors do the rounds and you never know what they will do or change. You never get your hopes up as you have no idea how long your children will be in at this point; for all you know it could be forever, which is seriously how it feels! But things can change very quickly with babies which Jude proved, and the day they said I could dress Indie was the best day ever, as I felt we were getting closer to the rooms towards the exit (NICU mums you know this is huge!) 

 

From this point the twins were moved out of incubators into cots, so I got to put my twins together and it was heaven! Twins belong together and in clothes! The next step was trying to get them to take bottles for a full 24 hours which is testing, and it does become hard not to get frustrated. Once they had done this and had passed the car seat test we could finally go home as a family.

 

I was still having my checks (which I totally forgot about) and most of the time didn’t listen as I wanted to spend every second with the twins. Obviously this whole story is in a nutshell, but when you are in what I like to call 'Big Brother' and the real world doesn’t exist you live every second praying and hanging onto the nurses and doctors every word for help, hope and direction. They really are truly incredible and luckily my hospital have an amazing miracle babies group who continue to raise money for the amazing NICU unit.  

 

Regardless of what I went through, the twins are my miracles and I would do it all again in a heartbeat! 💗💙