Lily-May's and Jakob's Story
Our names are Tay and Michael and we are proud parents of twins Lily-May and Jakob, who were born prematurely at 30 weeks back in April 2022.
I had had a slightly stressful pregnancy when I found out that Jakob had a cystic lung lesion, resulting in a physical shift of his heart. I was seen every 2 weeks for regular check-up scans to ensure that this was not growing rapidly against his size. Although I was having regular check-ups, we were unaware of what was to come.
Around 9 pm on the 6th of April 2022, I suddenly had a lot of pain in my lower tummy and thought I should probably just sit down. This pain got increasingly worse over the next hour until Michael insisted it was time to take me to the hospital to be checked over. We headed to the Maternity Unit at Poole, Dorset, where I was assessed.
I was told I was in active labour and I had to deliver our twins, naturally at 2:41 am and 2:52 am. Unfortunately, they were then rushed up to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where we were separated from them for the next 4 hours.
Our daughter, Lily-May was taken up having arrived first. Jakob was second but had far more problems with his breathing. It took two attempts to get him into his incubator safely, due to the fact he had stopped breathing.
After what felt like a lifetime, we were finally taken up to see our twins and we were able to hold our daughter but not Jakob as he was struggling more. We, from here, spent the next 7 weeks in NICU, facing challenges each day that at the time, seemed impossible. The staff at Poole NICU were so incredible in their work and looking after our children. We received beautiful updates overnight reassuring us that they were okay.
Our beautiful twins were finally discharged in May and we had never felt as overwhelmed as we did then. We had sat, longingly, days in, days out, watching all the other parents leaving with their babies, but we were still holding on, hoping it would be us next. When that day finally came, we did not stop smiling, for what felt like hours. It did not feel real. That OUR babies, our tiny, 3lbs and 3lbs 7oz babies, were finally going to be out in the real world.
Following their discharge came routine paediatric check-ups. This is where I noticed my own problems. I had been so focused on making sure they were okay, that I had forgotten about myself. The twins were due a blood sugar check, where the nurse would prick their heels in order to collect a blood sample. To keep your baby calm, I was offered a little tube of sugar water. Upon looking at this, I noticed it was the same brand which was used in NICU and I found myself completely breaking down, crying and panicking.
I had started to notice that I was having these types of feelings of uncontrollable upset with different things. Adverts that showed premature babies, discussions following our time in hospital and finding NICU medicine syringes. I thought it was probably best to speak to a doctor about these thoughts and feelings. I was told that this was sounding like PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder). I was then prescribed medication and offered Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to help me with this.
Now, 5 months on from starting the medication, I am coping much better than before. I am now able to talk more about our experiences in NICU and look at photos of our journey through NICU. I have been able to do that thanks to incredible support from friends and family who reassure me all the time.
Our beautiful twins have just turned 1 year old and I could not be more grateful that we get to watch them grow into these funny, kind, beautiful little people that they are.
I want any parents to know that if they are currently going through the NICU experience with a child or more or have been through NICU and are feeling the same emotions as I did and do, then it is okay to talk about them. It is so natural to feel the way I did. Scared of the unknown, anxious, excited to get them home, proud, unsure....the list could go on! But here we are, with two 1-year-olds and our lives are crazy! We have two happy, funny little people that we get to call our own, all because of the fantastic work that NICUs do for you and your family.