Having struggled to conceive for years, on the day of our scan (second round of IVF and thousands of pounds later) we were nervous and excited at the same time – although trying to manage our own expectations.

As the gel was gently rubbed over my tum during the ultrasound, the nurse smiled and gently whispered…“we’ve got twins in here.”

Hubby almost fell off his chair and I gasped with delight. I wondered at the prospect of healthy beautiful babies, and perhaps a chaotic and noisy household for the foreseeable future.

And eight years on it’s been just that…and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

But rewind seven years and seven months and it was a very different picture. Nine weeks prem and surviving together in an incubator, my baby boys had arrived far too soon.

I remember the evening well, in fact.

I had just finished work at 6pm, driven home after sitting in traffic for an hour, with swollen ankles and feet like I’d never known before – I was Mrs elephant foot and only able to fit into a pair of flipflops…a rather unique look with a business suit!

We’d finished our dinner, gone to bed as usual with a hot chocolate and whoosh! The flood gates of my waters broke.

Rushed to my local hospital by hubby and with not an overnight bag in sight, I was then transferred by ambulance to Birmingham Heartlands Hospital which specialises in premature births.

In Hospital

Transferred to the ward at 3am. It was quiet and calm, and after a thorough examination, I was given my own room to let nature take its course under the supervision of specialist nurses (best to let the babies stay put for as long as possible). By morning I had dilated to 6cm and in between contractions I was told that the babies were stable. But at 1pm, a c-section was to be undertaken as their breathing was slowing from time to time.

Medical team walking down a corridor. Photography credit: Luis Melendez
Medical team walking down a corridor. Photography credit: Luis Melendez

Let’s get the job done, I thought, full of confidence and just a few nerves.

A very calm experience from beginning to end, my boys were born two minutes apart weighing just 3lbs and 3.3lbs. Like little birds, I was smitten as soon as I set eyes on them.

Sadly, I wasn’t able to experience those special first few moments with my little birds as they were whisked off to intensive care, yet once they were stable, kangaroo care was a cherished time.  

The medical team at Heartlands were excellent and we were reassured that everything was fine. Despite initial concerns on their breathing, they were doing great…but had to stay in hospital until their due date.

The pros of this? I was able to go home, recover and rest knowing that my boys were in the very best hands.

The cons? My babies weren’t with me leaving no time for bonding.

The pros of course outweighed the cons and as I spent most days at hospital with them I didn’t allow it to become a problem.

Each day I wanted to see my boys earlier and earlier and leave hospital later and later – the bonding grew with intensity after day one.

My experience was largely positive

For me, the experience of having premature babies was largely positive. I hadn’t mentally prepared to become a mum that day and was weeks away from handing over everything to colleagues at work, but looking back that all seems so silly now to think of it as an issue.

For others I know that giving birth to a premature baby can be an extremely fraught time with different health and mental hurdles to overcome every hour of those first few days, weeks and months.

At aged 8, my boys are the smallest in their class because of their prematurity and hopefully one day they will catch up with their friends, the main thing is that they’re happy, confident and healthy.

Being a premature mum is a unique experience and the only way I know. If you’re ever feeling overwhelmed, seek support and talk to as many mums as possible – we’re fortunate to live in a time where there are a lot of resources out there – use it whenever may be needed and cherish every moment, a cliché I know, but they do grow up far too quickly. x

Jenny Holden sat on some steps
Jenny Holden

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