I found out I was pregnant during the COVID-19 pandemic. I was absolutely over the moon! After celebrating with my husband, Roger, it suddenly dawned on us that due to COVID, it was likely that I would be attending quite a lot of my appointments alone. We decided to book in for a 10-week scan at a private clinic so that Roger could come along and sit in on the ultrasound. We arrived at the clinic, and I couldn’t hold in my excitement! We went in for the scan, minutes seemed like hours as we waited for the sonographer to let us know everything was ok. The silence broke when I asked if we had anything to worry about, the answer... ‘Everything’s fine, but I’d like to do an internal scan if you’re happy to’.
The internal scan began and within seconds the sonographer began to smile, ‘Just as I thought, you have two babies, I’m seeing four hands and four feet!” I laughed in total disbelief and Roger was grinning from ear to ear. We felt incredibly blessed to have two babies!
Weeks passed, my 12- week scan came and went in a flash, both babies looking happy and well.
It wasn’t until my 20-week scan that I was referred to a consultant. I didn’t think anything of the referral as I was told that having a consultant is common practise when having twins.
A few weeks later, I saw a consultant for another scan. It was during this that the consultant said he was struggling to see the membrane between the twins, and it was confirmed that I was carrying monochorionic monoamniotic (MCMA) twins.
Monochorionic monoamniotic (MCMA) twins are a rare type of identical twins that not only share a placenta, but also share the same amniotic sac (pocket of fluid).
From then on, I would need to be monitored closely as there was a high chance that I would need to deliver early, at around 34 weeks' gestation.
As the weeks went by, I was regularly checked over with blood tests and ultrasounds to monitor the twin’s growth and it was confirmed that a caesarean section would be the best option for delivery. It was at this point that we decided we couldn’t wait any longer, and we decided to find out their gender, we were having girls!
The day had finally arrived for us to meet our beautiful daughters. I was waiting on the ward with four other expectant mothers, all full of emotion, fear and excitement. My name was called, and I saw Roger, scrubbed up and ready to come into theatre and hold my hand.
The theatre team were brilliant and so reassuring, one of the nurses showed me two tiny, knitted hats, ‘These are for your little ones!’ she said, with a beaming smile on her face.
Everything happened so quickly and before I knew it, I was hearing the much-anticipated first cries of our baby girls.
The nurses explained that Olivia needed assistance with breathing and Pheobe was placed on my chest for our first cuddle. The nurse took Roger’s phone and took a few photos of Olivia so I could see what she looked like.
I was taken from theatre into the recovery area with Phoebe, having still not had the chance to hold or see Olivia. The consultant came over and Roger and I were expecting the worst. We were informed that during his checks the doctor discovered Olivia had an imperforate anus and would need to be transferred to Leicester Royal Infirmary (LRI) immediately for surgery to form a colostomy.
I was terrified for my baby and heartbroken that I couldn’t hold her before she had to have an operation. We decided that Roger would go with Olivia to the LRI while I stayed with Pheobe, as she was having her breathing monitored. Our brand-new little family had been separated and it was unbearable.
Roger updated me on Olivia’s progress while she was at the LRI. Consultants found that she had a heart murmur, a butterfly vertebra and Cloaca Malformation.
Cloaca Malformation is an abnormal congenital confluence of the vagina, rectum, and urethra into a single common channel. Very early in pregnancy, the rectum, urethra and vagina fail to separate into individual tubes. This means that urine and faeces drain into a common channel opening in the perineum (the area where the anus and vagina are normally located). It occurs in one in 50,000 births and can be associated with other congenital malformations.
Six days later I travelled to Leicester to be reunited with Olivia, I was overwhelmed with emotion as I held her for the first time. I was shown her stoma for the first time, and I cried, it looked so sore on my tiny baby’s body. We were introduced to a stoma care nurse, who was so kind and reassured me that everything was going to be ok. Roger and I were shown how to change Olivia colostomy bag and all the products we could use to make it as easy for all of us as possible.
After weeks of travelling between hospitals to be with our girls, both of our beautiful girls were ready for us to take them home and we couldn’t be more excited.
We knew that Olivia would be going back to the hospital soon to have cloaca reconstruction surgery, followed by her stoma reversal.
As the weeks passed, Roger and I got more and more confident changing Olivia’s stoma bag and before we knew it, it was like second nature.
Olivia’s reconstruction surgery date came around so quickly and after a 2-week isolation, the day came for our baby girl to have her big operation. Unfortunately, while in theatre, Olivia’s temperature spiked, and the surgeon decided it wasn’t safe for them to continue and the surgery would have to be rearranged for a few weeks' time. Just 3 weeks later and after eight hours in surgery and four days of recovery in the hospital, our family was reunited once again. 11 weeks later, Olivia had her final surgery to reverse her stoma. Everything went very well, and our darling daughters are now reunited and causing chaos together.
To say that the last year has been a rollercoaster would be an understatement. Roger and I, like many other couples that are expecting, went into our pregnancy journey with a fairly good idea as to what we should expect and how things would go. This past year has taught us that you cannot control everything that happens, and things don’t always go to plan and all you can do is hope and ask others for help and advice.
We’re so grateful to all the doctors and nurses that looked after our family, and we hope that sharing our experience may give others going through the same thing some support and guidance.
Nobody could have predicted what would happen to Olivia and we’re so thankful, both of our girls are now healthy and well. Olivia will need further surgery when she’s a teenager, but for now, we can finally have a break from hospital visits and enjoy time together as a family.
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by SecuriCare Team
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