Rachel’s Story

I was pregnant with my identical twin girls, Heidi and Lydia in 2016.

When I was 29 weeks pregnant, I thought I had reduced movement and devastatingly I was right. When I went to the hospital with my husband, they confirmed they couldn’t find a heartbeat with one of the girls and rushed me to theatre for an emergency C-Section.

We went to the hospital around 9pm and they were both born at 1am. I had no time to process at all what was happening, the fact I had lost one of my little girls and what would happen to my other little girl, was all I could think about.

I had no control, it was terrifying. No one came to speak to me about baby loss or what would happen with Heidi once she was born. The doctors originally thought I had Twin To Twin Transfusion Syndrome but they’re still not sure what happened, they just wanted to give Lydia the best chance.

In my pregnancy I had many appointments as I was classed as ‘high risk’ carrying identical twin girls. There was the mention of losing one or both of the girls, but no one ever told me about the neonatal unit.

I had had a C-Section with my son Sam who is now six, and after his birth I was just in so much pain, but after the girls’ birth, I felt no pain at all. I think my body was in a state of shock over everything which had just happened to me and my family.

I got to spend a beautiful 24 hours with Heidi in the family room with Lydia just down the hall. We were given a beautiful 4Louis box and were able to take photos of her and make memories.

Lydia was taken to the NICU where we spent nine weeks with her before we were ready to go home.

I was really supported while we were on the neonatal unit at Worcestershire and I got offered bereavement counselling the day after we lost Heidi.

It was an incredibly difficult time juggling my grief, Lydia being in NICU and my son, Sam. We had to plan Heidi’s funeral whilst Lydia was still on the unit. We’d come out of the NICU, go see the chaplain about Heidi and then go home to see Sam.

I was suddenly faced with having to explain to my son his sister had died. It was heart-breaking. He was three, he didn’t need to know about any of this, and yet here we were.

He would always tell people on the unit that he had two sisters, but he couldn’t wrap his head around how a baby could die.

Just as we were about to go home, we were changing Lydia’s nappy and found a hernia. She was blue lighted across to Birmingham Children’s Hospital where they operated and found the hernia was actually on her ovary. She was only 4lb at the time and the anaesthetist was concerned about giving her a general anaesthetic so they did what they could with sedation for her.

When she was recovering, we were placed on a general children’s ward who all had various heart conditions. It was so scary and so different to anything I had ever known.

Once we went home, my mental health took a hit.

No health care teams checked in on me, on how I was doing. I had been running on adrenaline for so long after everything we had experienced and witnessed. I would have loved someone to check in on me, just ask how I was doing.

I felt so isolated.

My security blanket was an apnoea monitor loaned from a local charity. I was terrified when I bought her home, and this was the piece of glue holding me together.

About a year after having the girls, anxiety really set in. I felt like I had been punched in the face.

I was working three days a week, I had put Lydia in nursery, but I just couldn’t focus. The last time I was at my office I was pregnant, with both my girls alive. It all became too much, and I quit after six months.

I went to my GP who suggested putting me on the contraceptive pill and some low dose antidepressants. I really wasn’t keen on the idea of counselling, as I didn’t like the idea of talking to someone I didn’t know who didn’t realise what we had been through.

I knew eventually, I couldn’t do it alone, and I took the plunge and sought support. I’m now having CBT as a result of all of this.

I just wish there was more for families when you go home, a phone call, a regular check-up – it would make all the difference. I was so good at putting a smile on everyone thought I was doing ok, but I wasn’t.

There needs to be something for parents when we get home, it’s so isolating and so lonely.

Thank you so much to Rachel for sharing her story with us. You can read more about her journey on her blog at http://mummyintraining.co.uk/

Facts & Figures

79% of parents said a neonatal stay affected their mental health

Leo’s saw a 337% increase in need due to COVID-19

Did you know, reading to your baby in the NICU helps their development?

Leo's Neonatal

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