“Sometimes, the sickest twin knows it’s poorly, and makes the most noble sacrifice to save the other.”
Here’s Leo’s story…
New Years Day 2015, a day which would change the course of our life forever. After a very normal and healthy twin pregnancy, I was woken up thinking I had spilled water on the bed in the early hours. It was then I realised it was not water, nor had I wet myself, in fact, my waters were going. I was only 21 weeks pregnant.
I had felt fine and had no reason to believe I was unwell or had any sort of infection.
The doctors told us that night there was an 80% chance of delivering my twins and if I did, they would not be viable. We waited, we hoped, we prayed. Thankfully both our boys stayed put.
Weeks went by of checking my temperature every four hours, writing it down, attending the hospital twice a week for tests to see if there were any signs of infection.
It was then I was diagnosed as having an infection which could cause miscarriage, premature birth or neonatal death. Sadly by this point, and unbeknown to us, the infection had taken over my entire uterus.
I went home with a course of antibiotics and took a call from the consultant who told me she hoped I would get to 28 weeks. I still didn’t understand the gravity of the situation of having a baby so early or so sick. We were blissfully unaware of what could lie ahead for us. We met the neonatal doctors who told us what would happen if we did deliver early and how they would intervene, but still, I don’t think any of it stuck.
At 24 weeks, I had started to go in to ‘labour’ at home. It wasn’t your typical labour; I had a handful of contractions, but I knew something wasn’t right.
Upon arrival at the hospital, we were told his feet were hanging out and he had begun to deliver himself. The doctors took bloods, and within a matter of hours I was hooked up to all kinds of antibiotic drips as my infection markers went through the roof and the main concern was now to save me. Throughout this, I felt fine, not under the weather in the slightest, and of course, pleaded with the doctors to save my babies. To me, their lives were more important than my own. I could not imagine a world without them.
I was placed on bed rest for several days, not even being allowed to get off to use the toilet. On 19 January 2015, I knew it was time. My darling boy had started to make his way in to this world again. Still at this point I had no idea how sick Leo would be, I believed medicine would and could save him. He entered the world at 7:42pm, a time etched in my heart forever.
He was rushed to the Resuscitaire with a team of neonatal doctors and nurses frantically working to save him for us. I remember the midwife asking them if I could see Leo, I knew from the look on the nurses’ faces that it wasn’t ok as they needed to get him upstairs to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) as soon as possible.
Hours went by, and we were joined on the delivery suite by the same nurse and a neonatal consultant. They explained to us how sick Leo was and asked us if we wanted to try experimental treatment on him to try and save his life.
Simon and I made the decision not to go ahead with this option. We couldn’t play God, we couldn’t live with ourselves if the treatment saved his life but gave him no quality of life. If he was meant to be here, he would be and whatever the outcome of that – we’d manage.
In the early hours, we finally went up to the neonatal unit, the journey one floor up and down the corridor seemed so long. I wasn’t allowed off the bed in case I delivered Oska and they wanted him safely in there for as long as possible.
The doors of intensive care opened, and there he was, the most beautiful little boy in the world. I fell in love instantly. Our first hello would be our goodbye. Our first cuddle would be our last together in this world.
We were told he could fight no more, and that they had done all they could to save him, but he was just so very sick.
We made the heart-breaking decision to turn off his life support and let him go peacefully. He slipped away and grew his wings in the early hours after he was placed in my arms. He changed our hearts irrevocably. In those brief moments we shared together, I can’t explain the lessons he taught me, the love I felt and the overwhelming desire as his mum to make sure his life meant something.
Days later a consultant spoke to us whilst I was still pregnant with Oska, because every minute, every hour inside gave him a stronger chance of survival.
He sat us down and said: “Sometimes, the sickest twin knows it’s poorly, and makes the most noble sacrifice to save the other.”
That’s what our boy did. He became Oska’s guardian angel and he saved his life. I truly believe that. He saved my life too.
I am so honoured to be the mum of someone so brave, so selfless. He is my greatest hero.