Losing those boys was heartbreaking. Everything about it was hard

The emotional turmoil, the blaming myself for doing too much, the telling others, the explaining to my almost 3 year old what had happened.

Rachel's boys

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November 2016

Rachel

We had our first child, Adam, in 2010 - no pregnancy problems except additional monitoring due to my pre-existing diabetes.

Two years later I became pregnant again, it was bad timing as I'd just started a new job, but we were happy at the thought of another child.  At six weeks I started bleeding heavily, by the time I had a scan there was no trace of the baby left.  

We were very upset, even though we'd only had a couple of weeks to get used to the idea, we'd planned everything out in our heads in that short time.

Four months after my miscarriage I found I was pregnant again.  I was scared, but a scan at six weeks showed there were two heartbeats - it felt like a bonus to make up for losing the previous baby!  

All progressed fine - the 20 week scan showed we were having twin boys - we even started work on an extension at home to make room for us as we grew from a family of three to a family of five.  

As time went on I felt more positive, until I noticed some slight bleeding at 22 weeks.

I went to triage just to put my mind at rest, there they found my cervix was open, my membranes were bulging and I was admitted as they expected me to go into labour imminently.  Contractions started that night and came and went.  I was given steroid injections and pain relief.  

Two days after I was admitted my first twin boy was born at 22 weeks and 5 days.  The neonatal team didn't attend his birth as his gestation meant he stood very little chance of survival.  

I felt him move around until the waters around him broke. Then nothing.

Nearly 36 hours later my second twin was born, at 22 weeks and 6 days.  This time the neonatal team did attend as he was almost 23 weeks, a grey area for survival.  But like his brother, he couldn't survive outside my body.  

Because we'd not decided on names for them at this point, we stuck to their nicknames of Bill and Ben.  They both looked just like their big brother.

Losing those boys was heartbreaking.  Everything about it was hard.  

The emotional turmoil, the blaming myself for doing too much, the telling others, the explaining to my almost 3 year old what had happened, the going home to a building site that was being expanded to accommodate the babies that would never come home.

Throughout this we had great support, from our GP, the midwives (especially and including the bereavement midwife Chris Navin), our consultant, the organisation SANDS and the new friends we made through it.  

Also from our existing friends, I hadn't really acknowledged how many of our friends had been through this or similar until they reached out to us during this time.

The following year I became pregnant again twice.  Both times the six week scan showed no heartbeat "yet" - both times I miscarried at seven weeks.  It was tough as during this time many of my friends became pregnant and gave birth to full term, healthy babies.  

I wasn't jealous as such, just very sad it wasn't me.

After the third loss I was given tests and found to be a carrier of a blood clotting disorder.  With this and a referral to an amazing consultant, Mrs Ahluwalia, we mapped out a plan for any future pregnancy.

The next year I found I was pregnant again.  We threw everything at me - heparin injections, HCG injections, aspirin, an insulin pump to tightly control my diabetes.

Between 13-15 weeks I had cervix scans due to my experience with the twins.  My cervix was shortening, so they put in a cervical suture/stitch.  I spent the following few weeks resting both in hospital and at home, to give this pregnancy the best chance.

Unfortunately at 21 weeks a scan showed that my cervix was funnelling and the stitch was the only thing keeping the baby (another boy!) in place.  I was put on hospital bed rest, on a bed tilted backwards (in the hope gravity might be on our side).  

At 23 weeks my waters started to go and I was given steroid injections.  At 24 weeks I was transferred to a hospital that had a level 3 unit that could care for very small babies.  

At 24 weeks and 5 days I arrived at St Mary's hospital where the staff explained that my waters had significantly decreased, I was showing signs of infection and it was in my baby's interests to be delivered as soon as possible.  

The staff were very helpful and understanding, the consultant who talked us through all this, Jenny Myers, was fantastic and sympathetic- especially when the position of the baby looked like he may not survive the birth.  

I was induced and by the time I was ready to deliver I had another great team with me, a midwife called Diane Anderson and Alex Heazell, the consultant who runs the Rainbow clinic.

Just having people there who understood what we were going through - having already lost babies at a similar stage - was a great comfort at a really stressful time.

My little boy Hugo was born and rushed off to the neonatal intensive care unit.  He weighed just 702g (1lb 8) at 24 weeks and 6 days gestation.

This was the start of a long journey, he was tiny, had numerous problems and needed bowel and heart operations.  But the St Mary's neonatal team were incredible in the way they cared for him (and us).

He eventually came home after 7 months (217 days or 31 weeks - a long time no matter how you measure it!).  He's now 14 months old and is doing really well.  Hugo wouldn't be here without the ante natal team and NICU at Wythenshawe and St Mary's hospitals.  

I would never have chosen these experiences, but we will forever be grateful to the incredible people, both staff and other parents we've met on this journey.

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Please note that the opinions expressed by users in Tommy’s Book of #misCOURAGE are solely those of the user, who is unlikely to have had medical training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of Tommy’s and are not advice from Tommy's. Reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment from a qualified health care provider. We strongly advise readers not to take drugs that are not prescribed by your qualified healthcare provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor, midwife or hospital immediately. Read full disclaimer

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