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Anna Mclynn, 36, explains how she coped when her twins, Amelie and Isabel were born eight weeks prematurely, one with serious complications.
"I was determined to be the last person she saw before the operation. The surgery went well, but then she went downhill afterwards and ended up on a ventilator. I think that was my lowest point."
"After becoming pregnant by IVF I was very anxious during my pregnancy. At six weeks I began to bleed. I discovered that I had been carrying triplets but one of the babies had died. Then a routine scan at 20 weeks showed that there was a discrepancy in the twins’ amniotic fluid levels.
"From then I was scanned every two weeks. At 32 weeks I was told I needed an emergency Caesarean section as one twin had stopped growing and was in distress. I was lucky because I had been shown around the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU), so I was clear about what would happen to my babies once they were born.
"After the twins were born my husband went with them to the NICU and I fell asleep. When I woke up 12 hours later I was told that when the doctors had tried to insert a feeding tube into Amelie’s throat it wouldn’t go down. She had been born with a congenital condition, called tracheoesophageal fistula, which meant her oesophagus hadn’t developed properly and wasn’t connected to her stomach.
"She had to be transferred immediately from St Helier’s Hospital in Epsom, where she’d been born, to St George’s in Tooting for surgery. I was rushed down to the NICU and got to touch her plastic incubator to say hello and goodbye before she left.
"My husband went with Amelie, while I stayed in hospital with Isabel. But during Amelie’s operation she had a cardiac arrest, so I had to dash to St George’s two days after my C-section so I could be with her. It took nine days before the doctors agreed to operate again and give her the chance to survive.
"This time I was determined to be the last person she saw before the operation. The surgery went well, but then she went downhill afterwards and ended up on a ventilator. I think that was my lowest point.
"The one thing that stays with me is some advice I was given by my neonatal counsellor. She told me to remember good enough is fine, you don’t have to be supermum."
"At St Helier, where Isabel was, I felt really involved with her care. Even though I couldn’t always be there because I had to be at St George’s with Amelie, the nurses tried to make sure I could do some of her feeds. But it was hard travelling between two hospitals all the time.
"The plan was for the twins to come home together, but in the end Amelie wasn’t well enough and Isabel came home first after 38 days. It was good to have the opportunity to learn how to care for a premature baby with just one at home, but I couldn’t wait to have Amelie home too.
"After 54 days Amelie came home, but it was hard to manage the logistics of caring for twins when one is critically ill. In the early days I was always rushing to A&E and going to doctor’s appointments with Amelie, so I spent a lot of time palming Isabel off on other people.
"This caused a lot of psychological problems for me and Isabel and it probably took me around 18 months to start bond properly with her. Eventually, I found a few people who I trusted to care for Amelie, so I could spend some time alone with Isabel. But even now she sometimes plays up to get my attention, particularly at feeding time, which is always a tense time with Amelie.
"Now the girls are three things are a lot calmer and normal, but it has taken a long time for me to feel more like a mum than a nurse. I know I am a much more cautious mum because of Amelie. The one thing that stays with me is some advice I was given by my neonatal counsellor. She told me to remember good enough is fine, you don’t have to be supermum."
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