I’m Adam Marsden, Dads’ Rep for Leo’s.
I’m husband to Mandy, and dad to Josh and Darcy, who were born at 23 weeks and five days’ gestation at North Tees Hospital.
Our adventure began, for me at least, on a Sunday morning at around 5am. I’d been happily asleep when I became aware that the big light was on. Autopilot set in and I assumed it was actually Monday morning, and that I should be getting up for work.
Next, I became aware of Mandy sitting next to me, silent and pensive.
“What’s wrong?” I asked her. I just knew it was pregnancy related. We’d miscarried in 2014 so I was half expecting things to go wrong this time.
“I’ve had a bleed,” Mandy explained. We rang Carlisle hospital and we went through to have Mandy looked over.
We were aghast when we were told the babies were on their way and there was no way to reverse it.
After five hours of little happening, the decision was made to transfer us to North Tees by ambulance, as Carlisle doesn’t have a NICU to support our babies.
Riding along in the front seat of an ambulance was kind of exhilarating. Well, in my state of mind it was – I badly needed the distraction! And it’s amazing, by the way, how many drivers fail to notice an ambulance cruising up to the back of them with the lights flashing and siren blaring. Remain observant, folks. It could mean the difference between life and death for someone.
I still remember the intrusively negative thoughts that plagued my mind as we waited for the babies to arrive and live or die. That was the simplest way to look at it – they would be born and live or die. I still very much feared the worst and wished I hadn’t grown so attached to this pregnancy, to these twins we hadn’t yet met.
To these names. I couldn’t help but think, “what if they don’t survive?” And perhaps strangely, the thought occurred, should we name them at all? Because then, you see, we couldn’t have another child with one of those names. You can’t just recycle a name like that, can you?
I shared my morbid thoughts with Mandy but mid-sentence made up my mind.
“We have to name them Joshua and Darcy. Whether they live for 90 seconds or 90 years, that’s who they are.”
We both cried as we agreed to this.
You never presume you may have to make that decision. Of course, we made the right one, but doubt becomes a default mindset when experiencing such trauma.
The babies lived. They were tiny, red, skin and bone things. But they proved stronger than any warrior you could care to name. They fought and overcame so many obstacles and had to be transferred to the RVI for surgeries. We remained there for five months.
Every day we fight various obstacles – anything from allergies to Josh’s developmental issues. And our own mental health has taken a hit. I have left two jobs since the kids were born. The bullying and stress were not a great cocktail when served with a chunky slice of PTSD. And I realised the best place for me, and for the children, was for me to be at home with them.
Now I concentrate on them, my writing (ask me about the sitcom I wrote!) and my work for Leo’s.
While I want to help everyone, I specifically want to assist dads who may have endured a similar struggle to my own.
Seven surgeries during five months in hospital takes its toll on a person.
We should share and unburden ourselves and help one another through our own journey. And I’ve found that, once you’re out of hospital, that’s where the real strife begins. Let’s help each other cope with that, too.
I don’t really know how to end this. Maybe I can make it like a song that just fades out, or maybe I should just stop writing.
Yeah, I’ll do that.