A health service to be proud of

A health service to be proud of

Annabel tells the story of how a local hospital provided the best care for her and her children.

Having known that I was carrying twins ever since my first scan, and as a mother of three children already, I knew that multiple births are usually premature. In fact, not only was I carrying twins, but monozygotic twins, which meant they shared the same placenta and as a result of this I required a scan every week throughout my pregnancy. 

The care I received was nothing short of amazing, carried out to an extremely high standard. Right from the midwife through to the Neonatal Intensive Care consultant, the support and clinical care provided was first class. My local hospital in London, Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea, had a dedicated NICU as well as a multiple birth center, and therefore I found myself in the best possible place to give birth to monozygotic twins.

My consultant was aiming to get me through to at least 32 weeks. Perhaps that was more in hope than in expectation, as he actually said: “If I get you to 32 weeks, I’m going to be thrilled!” In the end, I made it to 34 weeks when I had a bleed, and eventually in February 2009, and at 35 weeks, I gave birth to my two daughters—Florence and Lucy—with a caesarean.

Florence—weighing just 3lbs 8oz—had been squeezed by Lucy, who at 4lbs 2oz had taken up two-thirds of the space. Florence was admitted into the NICU in order to regulate her body temperature, and to help her develop during those initial few days. In fact, I was later to learn that Florence was the smallest baby the hospital had ever discharged!

Florence stayed in the NICU for a total of five days, watched over by her father, while I was downstairs with Lucy in another ward. It was difficult at times, especially for my other children, who couldn’t quite understand what was going on, and what had happened to their Mommy. Throughout the whole experience, though, the care we received was exceptional.  The NHS provided a first aid course for premature babies, as well as talks about baby care in emergencies. As well as the NICU facilities, the hospital also had bedrooms for relatives to stay over.

Both Florence and Lucy are now healthy girls, and enjoying life. The advice I’d give to other parents is not to worry if you’re expecting twins. The staff and facilities in the NICU are amazing, and they’re more than willing to offer support and information throughout your journey.