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Fatima's Story

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At 35 weeks pregnant, we were rushed to hospital because my blood test showed I was developing pre-eclampsia. I was going to have an emergency C-section and I was going to see my boys in a few hours! I remember lying on the operating table in a complete daze, and all that was going through my head was how could 2 living beings possibly be coming out of me any second? The epidural was administered and within 10 mins I was completely numb. They put up a screen but I insisted that I had to see my consultant's face, which no one in theatre understood why. But after carrying my boys for almost 8 months and feeling them move inside of me and being physically part of me, I needed to have some form of connection with their arrival. I didn't feel a thing and in some ways it felt very unnatural to me. It was strange how I could speak to my husband and I was asking him to describe what he could see. My husband saw our sons first and held them first, which I also found very hard to comprehend as I always had imagined I would give birth naturally and I would be the first person to caress my child. It was at that moment I knew in my heart the next few days were going to be traumatic!

Within seconds baby 1 came out, then less than 2 minutes later baby 2 came out.They were wrapped up and I was allowed to hold them for a few minutes but I could see the team were keen to whisk them away. It was hard because my husband had to go with them and leave me. I lived in the hospital for 3 weeks, moving from room to room every few days. My husband went back to work and I spent the first 5 days in bed, as I was very ill while my husband spent his time between SCBU and taking care of me. For about the first 5 days of the boys' life I could only manage a couple of visits to SCBU for about 5-10mins. It was hard to see them so tiny, in incubators attached to wires and not being able to hold them in my arms and feed them. I look back now and realize that their dad was there for them to begin with. It was hard, I didn't make milk and as they had to stay in incubators I couldn't feed them. So I spent everyday pumping milk for them to ensure my body was making milk for when we all went home.

After 3 weeks, the twins gained enough weight, could control their own temperature and were feeding well, so we were discharged. This has to be another day I remember so vividly, it was like they were born all over again, but this time we got to take them home. The staff warned us that the twin's routine will change and we might find it hard to deal with because in SCBU babies are on a strict regime. They were right!

For me, experiencing SCBU changed me as a person and as a mother. You learn from the very start of your child's life that there will be times when you have no control and are helpless and you have to let go. When you see premature babies get through SCBU, you learn that they are resilient creatures. In terms of preparation, apart from visiting SCBU, I would suggest getting some literature on SCBU based on real life experiences. I cannot emphasize how important the supporting role of your partner is and extended family as this is not a journey you can make alone!

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