Inspirational Family Award: Briggs Family

The Inspirational Family Award celebrates an extra-special family that has transformed the lives of others, or supported each other through troubled times and come out the other side. This is the Briggs family’s story.

Marie and Keith first met in 1998 when they were 16 years old through mutual friends. Although they met sporadically though the years, their relationship didn’t begin romantically until they began dating in 2004. When they married in February 2014, it was a natural progression for them to begin trying for a family straight away. In March, they saw those two blue lines on their pregnancy test and knew that their dream of starting a family was about to come true. This is their story

Marie and Keith  revelled in all the milestones of a first pregnancy- eagerly checking what size of fruit their baby compared to as it grew and ticking off the weeks until they got to see their baby for the first time. But their euphoria didn’t last long. During a routine midwife appointment, they discovered all wasn’t as it should be. Their baby was struggling. A further ultrasound 2 days later showed that they had lost their longed-for baby.

Murray Briggs was born after an induced labour at 16 weeks plus 5 days. Despite fearing what the experience would be like, Marie and Keith made the decision to hold and spend time with their tiny boy. They needn’t have been frightened because he was beautiful, perfect and more importantly he was theirs!

After saying their goodbyes, they left the hospital broken-hearted and armed with a small, much treasured memory box containing tiny trinkets of love.

A few days later Marie had to return to the hospital to go through a D&C operation under general anaesthetic. The resulting investigation showed that Murray had died of in-utero pneumonia – an extremely rare condition.

Marie and Keith started trying again and once more quickly became pregnant. But again, this pregnancy ended in heartbreak. They had a missed miscarriage at eight weeks. After being discharged from the hospital to miscarry at home, Marie began to experience severe bleeding and began falling in and out of consciousness. She was rushed back to hospital for an emergency procedure to stop the bleeding. The miscarriage took place fifteen days before what would have been older brother Murray’s due date. 

In early 2015, the couple went on to suffer an ectopic pregnancy. Once again, Marie went into theatre for surgery to remove the ectopic pregnancy as, if left untreated, an ectopic pregnancy can be life-threatening. At this point Marie and Keith’s hopes of starting a family were slipping away from them.

Later that year they built up the courage to try again and for the fourth time in two years, Marie fell pregnant. Instead of the joy and excitement they had previously experienced when watching those miracle blue lines appear, the gut-wrenching anxiety was excruciating. Marie felt on constant alert. Because of their history, Marie had regular scans up to 20 weeks and saw or spoke to her midwife almost every week. Hearing the heartbeat at each appointment was extremely reassuring, though it was short lived as the anxiety quickly returned in between visits.

At 41 weeks plus 6 days of pregnancy, Marie went into labour and after 19 hours their daughter Rosie was born on 7 April 2014 through emergency caesarean. They were overjoyed.

When Rosie was 15 months old, they fell pregnant again and to their surprise, with twin boys! The initial feelings of joy were replaced again with anxiety as they were acutely aware how high-risk pregnancy can be, not to mention how high-risk twin pregnancy can be. However, one positive scan after another offered reassurance and Marie began to feel that after her successful pregnancy with Rosie, her confidence was creeping back.

On Valentines’ Day 2018, 7 months into her pregnancy, Marie noticed that the babies weren’t moving as much as they usually did. Marie made the decision to leave work and go to the local hospital to get checked. Alone at the hospital, Marie was told the devastating news that she had lost one of her sons to Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome. Early in the morning of 15 February 2018, at 32 weeks gestation, twin boys Joseph and Thomas were born. Joe was born sleeping and his little brother Tommy was left fighting for life.

Their little surviving twin, Tommy, spent 5 very long and terrifying weeks in hospital. Whilst Tommy was in special care, the family said their goodbyes to Joe and made as many precious memories with him as possible.

The experience of neonatal care had been an exhausting journey for the whole family and then, a day prior to Tommy’s discharge, it was discovered that their surviving son had suffered a severe brain injury as a result of the Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome. Marie and Keith were distraught.

Despite suffering so much heartache, Marie and Keith remain a rock-solid unit caring for their two living children and launching “Joes Toes”, a tribute fund in honour of Joe. So far, their friends and family who they call ‘Joe’s Heroes’, have raised nearly £10,000.

 Our little Joe has given us, and now other families, so much without even being here. He never drew breath, but he has changed us forever; he has reminded us all of how precious and fragile life can be. Every day is a challenge, but he has already shown us that we have a strength within us individually and as a family that can move mountains. We are human and some days are still harder than others, but Rosie and Tommy give us strength, we give each other strength, our friends and family give us strength and Joe, Murray and our tiny little birds give us the strength to keep their memory alive. And for that we are truly blessed.

- Marie and Keith