George and Oliver’s Story
Trigger warning: this story contains graphic content and mentions suicide.
Nikki tells the story of her twins George and Oliver:
“The night of the 16th of November 2018 started like any other night. I went to bed as normal but in the early hours of the morning, I woke up with a headache and went downstairs to get a drink. All of a sudden my waters broke in my hallway, so I made my way into the toilet, sat down and out popped twin number one - he was hanging in the toilet with his cord.
I looked down to see my first twin’s body hanging there. In a panic, I shouted for my partner Mark. My daughter Maddie and Mark ran down the stairs to help get me and twin George off the toilet. I carried him into the front room and cuddled him in a towel to keep him warm. I did not know if he was alive or dead.
Mark then called my mum and dad who were at our house within minutes as they only live four doors away.
My daughter phoned for an ambulance. The first 999 call handler thought it was a joke and put the phone down so she had to ring again. But this time she was on the phone to a different call handler.
Within ten minutes, the first responder was there, closely followed by two more ambulances.
Gilbert, the first responder, dealt with tiny George who was still attached by the umbilical cord. Gilbert knew that George was in a precarious position but realised he was breathing. After cutting the cord, George was handed to James who rushed him to the ambulance so that the driver Deneka could race George to hospital with my mum. They were met by the NICU team and they fought to save 2lb George's life.
Later I arrived at the Queen Alexandra Hospital with an ambulance crew, including Ray, and 2 hours and 40 mins later, 1lb 14oz little Oliver was born breech.
I did not know how the boys were for hours as I was rushed into the operating theatre as my placenta did not detach itself. Laying there waiting for news on how our 25-weekers were doing, felt like hours. After about five hours we could finally go to see our twins.
Visiting the NICU was very scary. Lots of noises I had never heard before, with so many staff running around. I finally got to see my little boys and realised that they were no bigger than my hand.
I was told that they would not make it through the night.
But over the next few months, our little boys overcame bleeds on their brains, collapsed lungs, eye surgery, open heart surgery and much more.
George and Oliver finally came home just before their due date in February 2019.
Sadly at the beginning of March their dad Mark committed suicide. I had to deal with two very poorly newborns and the death of my partner.
I really did not think that I would be able to carry on but with great family and friends, I carried on for my children.
After months and months of not knowing how to move on with my life, I met Paul who helped me hold my head up and be the best mum I could be for my kids. Both my boys have been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and if it wasn't for him and my family I have no clue where we would be right now.”
George and Oliver were looked after by Neonatal Nurse Sue Billingham in 2018. Sue dyed her hair purple and went silent for 24 hours on World Prematurity Day in 2023 to help her neonatal unit at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth take care of premature and sick babies.
“There are always extra pieces of equipment we need to support the babies and families. In particular, we need more comfortable chairs for parents to facilitate breastfeeding or bottle feeding their babies.”
Sue will retire next year but we are so grateful to her, and all the neonatal staff - from neonatal transport teams to clinicians, for the exceptional work they do, caring for babies like Oliver and George and helping their families through incredibly hard times.