3 Little Miracles Fund

Creating a fund specifically to help other babies receive the best possible care when born prematurely.

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Anna & Andys Story

Nothing could have prepared Andy and I for what happened on 6th January 2006. Having gone into early labour at 28 ½ weeks, we were told that the neonatal unit at the Chelsea & Westminster hospital London, was full and that if the babies were born immediately we were looking at the babies being transported to different hospitals around the country – this was my worst fear. Thankfully I managed to hold onto them for a few days during which time 3 incubators became free at the Chelsea & Westminster hospital. Andy and I had never seen a very premature baby let alone prepared ourselves mentally for the very premature birth of the triplets. Neither had we seen a neonatal intensive care unit – little did we know then that this would be our home for the next 101 days.

Giving birth to triplets at 29 weeks was not the idyllic image I had of having a baby (or babies!) In fact there was nothing idyllic or normal about their arrival. In theatre, I was surrounded by 19 medical staff, our babies weren’t breathing, and they had to be whisked away immediately to be put on life support equipment.

It was 24 hours before I was able to see them and as I was wheeled into intensive care and peered up at the incubators, my first impressions were shock and terror. Isabel, Emily and Ben, weighing 2lb 9oz, 2lb 1oz and 2lb 7oz respectively, looked more like skinned rabbits than babies. Their faces weren’t visible as they were covered in breathing equipment and they were surrounded by wires and tubes. It was terrifying and horrifying and all Andy and I wanted to do was cuddle them, but couldn’t.

It was 2 days before we could hold them (wires and all), but this moment was amazing and extremely emotional. We did wonder how many more moments like this there would be. Thankfully, during these first few tense days, the triplets did very well. The ventilators came off and they were able to breathe by themselves with the aid of CPAP, (which helps the lungs inflate). Everything seemed very positive and we were disbelieving when the nurses warned us: this is what happens, two steps forward, three steps back.

Our naivety was obvious just a few days later when the effects of the triplets’ prematurity kicked in. Because their lungs hadn’t had a chance to develop, they would forget to breathe, which would send the monitors and alarms and our shattered nerves into overdrive. The nurses would stimulate them, or give them oxygen. This we learnt to deal with but it was the resuscitations when one of the babies went lifeless and blue which were utterly terrifying. Unfortunately there were quite a few of these occasions. With one baby in intensive care it’s stressful enough, but with three we were in a permanent state of high anxiety and at no point could we relax as there would always be one who was playing up.

All the tests done on the triplets were extremely worrying as premature babies are so at risk of developmental and physical problems. Gradually as they grew and developed these concerns could be eliminated, but Emily, the littlest, was found to have various medical issues, which could have resulted in long-term problems or be corrected in time, thankfully it was the latter. All of this just added to the every day anxiety.

The other terror Andy and I faced was that our babies were extremely vulnerable to infection and each bug they caught was life threatening. During their 101 days in the unit, this happened many times. As it was, we had to wrench ourselves away from the unit every night, but it was even more painful when our babies were sick. They would be crying and in pain and we would have to leave them and pray that they would pull through. Nights like this were very long nights.

There were many frightening days but one stands out in my mind. The nurses and I called it ‘Black Tuesday’ and it happened when we thought we were on the homeward stretch. I arrived at the hospital to be told they had all picked up influenza and they would have to be put in isolation and that two of them also needed blood transfusions. Later that morning, I was holding Ben when I looked down to see he was going blue, and lifeless in my arms. Within seconds, the alarms went into overdrive and the doctors rushed over to resuscitate him. During the afternoon the same thing happened to Emily. As the doctors pumped life back into Ben, I stood in that corridor completely and utterly spaced out, numb with fear and exhaustion. It was at this point I realised I was becoming traumatised by what I was seeing all the time.

But our babies did pull through and there were fantastic moments. It was incredible getting to know each one and Andy and I would spend hours each day with each triplet curled up on our chest. The close bonds we have made with the nurses and parents of the other babies will always be special.

We know we’re incredibly lucky and if it wasn’t for the medical expertise and lifesaving equipment, our beautiful trio wouldn’t be alive. The triplets are a huge success story for the staff of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. Although the experience was terrifying and stressful, we feel truly blessed to have the triplets at home and thriving