“My teeny weeny extremely preemies are SUPERHEROES.” – Anita Jacobs (mom)
My extremely premature babies arrived in this world 12 weeks and 1 day early on the 24th of August 2015. There had been no problems with the pregnancy and everything was progressing well. Their due date was the 17th of November, which co-incidentally is World Prematurity Day.
We were suddenly thrust into a world of brain bleeds, tachycardia, bradycardia, pumping, alarms, PDA’s, heart murmurs and endless things that babies shouldn’t have to go through.
Darcie weighed a little under two pounds and Maxwell just a little over that. The nurses in the intensive care unit felt that Darcie was the driving force behind their early arrival because as little as she was, she was one feisty little girl (nothing has really changed!) Maxwell was a much more laid back character. Maxwell struggled initially and appeared to be the most unwell of the two. He had a brain bleed, breathing difficulties and was then diagnosed with a PDA. Darcie seemed to be coping with her early start in life. It was around day 14 that things started to turn, Maxwell’s PDA had closed with medication and things were starting to look more positive for him, however, Darcie’s health had started to decline, she was losing weight and a PDA had been found.
I met my babies for the first time 3 and a half hours after they were born and blew kisses to them through the incubator glass. Due to their prematurity and swift arrival (I even had to tell the midwife that the first baby had been born!), we were told that the first 24 hours were critical, so when the maternity ward sister told me she needed my bed some 20 hours after my twins were born, I asked why I couldn’t stay in the same building as my babies for the first 24 hours of their lives. I was told that I wasn’t in medical need, ok maybe not medically but what about emotionally and mentally? My babies were clinging to life thanks to the machines functioning for them. My baby boy didn’t even have a name, he was still “twin 2 Jacobs”. I begged and cried. Finally it was agreed that I could stay until the next morning.
I did not see anybody through the night, nobody popped their head round my door to check on me. When the nurse came in with my discharge papers in the morning she asked me if I had any stitches, I replied no, her response to me was “one of the benefits of having small babies”.
My husband came to collect me and I sat in the neonatal unit just staring at my babies. Eventually we blew our babies a goodbye kiss and left the ward. I was led away by my husband, sobbing as if my heart had broken. My husband then placed his broken wife into the car and drove her home some hour and a half away from the hospital. It was another 97 days before we all drove home together.
Advice for Preemie Parents:
Whilst being there for your baby is vitally important, take time for yourself – you are just as important. Make sure you eat properly and rest properly – it’s tough I know, but necessary. You are one of the most important people to that little person.
Here we are some 6 years later and my heart swells with pride, my twinados overcame so much, they meet each challenge with a “so how do we overcome this then” attitude. I know, going forward, they will succeed at whatever they try. They make me laugh every day, they are full of love and joy.
Darcie and Maxwell will be 7 on 24th August 2022 – they have met all of their milestones and are doing very well in a mainstream school. They are loving life and all of the opportunities it is giving them.
Life is full of ups and downs and I will continue to protect and fight battles for them whenever needed as long as I have breath in my body, during this time I will teach them to love, listen and laugh everyday and to grow to tackle their own challenges with the dignity and tenacity they showed whilst fighting to survive.