Tillie & Brayden's Story, 25 Weeks   

Miracle Mum, Wendy shares the story of bringing her micro-premmie twins into the world, when so much was against them.

"I already had 3 children to a previous marriage and my husband loved my kids as his own, however it was our dream to extend our family and have a baby together. After a long 9 years of trying, on our last IVF attempt we got the amazing news that we were pregnant, we were overjoyed. At our 7 week scan we discovered we were blessed with twins. We called them womb mates as they had separate sacks and placentas and were considered low-risk twins; we couldn’t have been happier.

Our specialist warned us I had a high risk of pre-eclampsia as I had it in my first pregnancy, I was a O-negative blood group where my husband was a positive blood group and they were his first babies.

At 12 weeks gestation I developed gestational diabetes, severe pelvic pain and had horrendous morning sickness but it was all worth it. At our 19 week scan it was discovered I had a shortened cervix, I had never heard of it before so it caught us off guard. I was started on progesterone and had a swab done to see if I was high risk of preterm labour and told to go home and rest.

By my 22 week scan my cervix had shortened to 0.5cm, and the next day I had an emergency cervical stitch. Our obstetrician explained to us they had done everything they could to prolong my pregnancy and if I go into labour before 24 weeks it is considered a non-viable pregnancy and they won’t intervene to save our babies. With doubt in her voice, our obstetrician said she hoped to see us in one and a half weeks for an appointment to discuss whether I would stay the rest of my pregnancy in Cairns, which is 2 hours from home, or if I would be transferred to Townsville, which is 5 hours from home.

The next one and a half weeks were the longest and most terrifying I’ve ever experienced. Every time I moved or did anything, every twinge, I was worried it would make me lose our babies, but we did our best to put on a brave face and stay positive. We made our doctors appointment at 23.5 weeks gestation, and although the stitch was holding I was 2cm dilated. The swab came back with a very high risk of preterm labour. Because 23 weeks is a grey area, we signed the please resuscitate forms and was given a steroid shot to help our babies. 

That night I was sent by the amazing Royal Flying Doctors straight to Townsville hospital where there was a NICU. My poor husband, mum and kids made the long trip by road. We were so relieved to be in Townsville hospital as we knew no matter what happened our babies had the best chance of survival. I had to stay in hospital on bed rest and my family stayed across the road at Ronald McDonald House. We did the emotional NICU tour and spoke to lots of specialists so we knew what to expect if our twins came early. They were all so supportive and it really made us feel at ease. Our specialist's new goal was for us to make 26 weeks gestation as it would give our babies 90% chance of survival.

At 24 weeks the cervical stitch was causing my body issues as it was ripping through my cervix and no longer working, so it was removed. At 25+1 weeks at 6pm the waters broke for our little girl twin 1. I was taken straight to the birthing suite where my husband met me, and the doctors started the magnesium IV straight away to protect our babies. I was only having mild contractions and they said I was in unestablished labour. By 4am the obstetrician decided I was in established labour at I was now 4cm dilated, although nothing about my labour was what they considered to be a normal labour.

We were given a choice of having a C-Section or to try a natural labour where the babies would be monitored the whole time and I would have to have an epidural in case they needed to intervene; especially with the second twin as he was at higher risk of complications. We decided to try natural as it meant our babies would get the protective magnesium benefits. The epidural didn’t go to plan, unfortunately they had two failed attempts of putting the epidural in and I was in so much pain I refused for them to have a third attempt. It was agreed if I needed an emergency C-section they would give me a spinal block or full anaesthetic and if any other intervention was needed I would only have the gas available as pain relief. My labour went smoothly and my midwife had to chase our babies around my belly to monitor them the whole labour. My husband became an excellent baby heartbeat finder and was my amazing support and rock throughout.

Then at 25+2 weeks, after a long 18 hours in total labour, with the help from the amazing team of midwives, obstetricians, NICU doctors and nurses we welcomed our little girl Tillie into the world at 2.48pm weighing 860g. My husband Mick got to cut the cord and we briefly met our little girl before she was taken away for medical attention. Our little twin 2 wasn’t so keen on wanting to come out so the obstetricians increased the contractions medication to kick start my labour again, they told us if he didn’t deliver in 20 minutes then I would have to have an emergency C-section. He must have been listening because he finally moved into position and 21 minutes after his sister was born we welcomed our little man Brayden at 3.09pm weighing 1kg. Again, my husband got the privilege of cutting the umbilical cord and we got to briefly meet him before he was taken away.

Both Tillie and Brayden were ventilated for 24 hours then they went onto CPAP breathing. There were little setbacks along Tillie and Brayden's NICU journey but they were such little fighters and kept surprising the doctors on how well they were doing and would bounce back.

Nothing could have ever prepared us for what it meant to become NICU parents and the emotional roller coaster this journey would be. In the first few weeks the emotional side of watching our babies having to fight so hard just to stay alive, not being able to cuddle them, feed them and do all the things any new parents get to do with their babies was really tough. Every time one of our twins was having a rough day the mothers guilt crept in because I couldn’t keep them in my belly that little bit longer.

With the amazing support in NICU and Ronald McDonald House this became our new reality and made us celebrate every little milestone Tillie and Brayden reached. Our kangaroo cuddles were the highlight of our day and getting to finally give them a little breastfeed was a magical moment. After 9 weeks in NICU, Tillie and Brayden graduated to special care and we were transferred back to Cairns. Four more weeks in special care, then 10 days before Christmas we got the best Christmas present ever and got to take our beautiful babies home. Tillie and Brayden came home on oxygen and one month later Brayden came off oxygen., with Tillie not far behind.

Both Tillie and Brayden are doing amazing, they have started showing their beautiful cheeky personalities. They're healthy and meeting most of the correct age milestones, apart from gross motor skills. We do physio exercise games every day which we make into a special fun time. They have both just started rolling at 6 months corrected/9.5 months actual.

The experience of having mico-premmies has made us appreciate and enjoy every minute with our babies that little bit more, we celebrate every little milestone and achievement they make and pinch ourselves every day at how truly blessed we are to have our miracle babies Tillie and Brayden. We will be forever grateful to the amazing, dedicated, talented miracle working doctors and nurses within NICU, without those amazing people our beautiful babies wouldn’t be here today."

Thank you Wendy for sharing such an inspirational story. 

Important tags: micro-premmie twins, IVF, gestational diabetes, Royal Flying Doctors, Ronald McDonald House, kangaroo cuddles.   

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