When the doctor appeared and was subjected to my rant about T1 and T3’s feeding, he also provided us with an update on T2. He was to be put on a ventilator as his SATS readings (which measure the amount of oxygen circulating in his bloodstream) were too low. They were getting these readings from a pulse oximeter (like a clip) on his finger. The doctors hoped that this would sort him out although there is a risk it could make a hole in his lung (pneumothorax). This is an abnormal collection of air or gas in the pleural space that separates the lung from the chest wall which interferes with normal breathing.
Surprise surprise, a few hours later the doctor appeared again. T2 had indeed developed a pneumothorax and would need to be transferred to a higher level SCBU which had better facilities to deal with him. At the moment it was looking like the closest SCBU that had space for him was Liverpool. We were in Birmingham. This news did not go down well. Everything was crumbling around me. How could this be happening after such a positive start. I could not comprehend how T2 could be taken to Liverpool. I felt like if he went, he would never come back. This couldn’t be happening.
The next few hours were extremely anxious. We couldn’t do anything apart from wait while the nurses tried to find a SCBU closer to us. My husband’s parents, who live in Leeds, were getting ready to pack up and be with little T2 in Liverpool. It was then that we received welcome news that Wolverhampton could squeeze him in. We felt relieved for a while. That was 20 minutes away and I was already planning how my husband could spend his next days part in Wolverhampton and part with me, T1 and T3. T2 was to be taken to Wolverhampton by ambulance that evening.
We have some of our saddest photos of us both with T1 and T3 set up in their little SCBU room and T2 all wired up in his, waiting for him to go. I recall asking the consultant the question I never wanted to ask, not really asking it properly, but he knew what I was getting at…. ‘Is he like, going to be ok?’…. ‘He should be’…. I just put all my trust in the staff, because that was all I could do. It was planned that my husband would follow the ambulance and stay at Wolverhampton until T2 was all set up. We spent hours waiting outside SCBU whilst they prepared him for transfer – fitting tubes, wires, sterilising transfer equipment and other medical things I really don’t know about, only to find out that we had to wait a few more hours as they needed to start the whole process again as someone had put the wrong tube in his tummy button and they had to re-do this and sterilise everything again (seriously). We then made the decision that it would be too late for my husband to drive (he wasn’t allowed to go in the ambulance) considering the lack of sleep he had had the previous night and the stressful circumstances so he spent another night in my room on the ward.
T2 spent the next few days on a city break in Wolverhampton, staying in the NICU at New Cross. He settled in well after the transfer (this bit being the most stressful and risky for him) and had a lovely team of nurses and doctors looking after him. My husband would spend the morning with T2 then the afternoon with me, T1 and T3. I would save some milk so my husband could take it to T2 the following day (stored in the fridge).
Although I wasn’t able to get to see T2 at Wolverhampton, I knew he had his Daddy and I was able to call the nurses at any time for an update which I regularly did in the middle of the night, when I would wake in a panic, when I would want to know he was just there, and ok. The procedure (chest drain) to mend his pneumothorax had been successful but he was still being kept on a ventilator and monitored. I kept his baby-gro which he had first worn and sniffed and cuddled it at night. His grandparents also went to visit him. It was so hard not being able to be with him, but I had T1 and T3 to keep focussing on, and ensured I could do what I could for him, such as expressing and saving some milk for him.
On the evening/early morning whilst T2 was being prepared to be transferred to a different unit, I was waiting with my Dad and remember him saying ‘Christ, isn’t it hard having children’. Too right it is. They bring with them a whole new set of worries and emotions. That was the worst day of our lives and we still struggle with it. Luckily that is as bad as it got and I cannot believe how lucky we are.
Other multiple pregnancies and births could have a lot more complications and issues than we had, with different outcomes. We were extremely lucky. Unfortunately, the greater public often do not generally have experience first hand of a multiple pregnancy and birth. On our first family of six holiday (when our babies were 6 months old), we overheard a comment when a passer by nosied into our HGV pushchair – ‘Oh my goodness that would be my worst nightmare’. Really? I could think of worse nightmares. Each multiple baby is a child of its mummy and daddy. Their pride and joy. And that parent has not only had to worry about that baby through its pregnancy and birth journey but also another one, two or three or more, together with extra or heightened risks that are present in a multiple pregnancy and birth. I wish on-lookers would consider that. They can look and say wonderful things, but if they can’t, I wish they would just keep quiet. The emotions and risks of going through a multiple pregnancy and birth really do deserve more.