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Episode 280

Millie

In today’s episode I chat to Millie who shares her preemie twin birth story. After a quick conception journey she was looking forward to her 7 week dating scan after the fright of two incidents of implantation bleeding. Nothing could have prepared her for the news that she was pregnant with MCDA twins (one placenta, two sacs). Initially in their own sacs, an ultrasound at 23 weeks confirmed that the membrane separating the twins had split which placed them at high risk for developing Stuck Twin Syndrome. Millie lived at Ronald McDonald House at Townsville Hospital before birthing the boys at 34 weeks and flying home to Cairns soon after, thanks to the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

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“The sonographer looked at me and told me there were two heartbeats in there. I instantly started crying; I was overwhelmed and shocked and I looked at Ty and he was ghost white. We hadn’t even thought of the possibility of having twins. It was just incomprehensible.”

Before she started trying for a baby, Millie made a point of finding a GP she like and trusted and started building a relationship with her. She knew it was an important part of pregnancy preparation and she admits it was a really good decision, especially after discovering she was pregnant with twins, Millie went back to her GP to discuss her care options.

“She was supportive but honest with me and she let me know that my plans for a low-risk, low-intervention birth were most probably out the window. She was realistic about the fact that there would be a lot of ultrasounds and appointments and that I would be under the care of the high risk team at Cairns Hospital.

“My boys were MCDA twins turned MCMA twins. Initially they were sharing the placenta but they had their own sacs. A whole range of risks come with a shared placenta and one of them is making sure they’re sharing the resources at the same rate and growing evenly. At one of my appointments the sonographer discovered that the membrane separating the twins had ruptured and I became aware of the higher risk of Stuck Twin Syndrome where the amniotic fluid from one sac would go into the other and leave one twin without any fluid and cord entanglement.”

Millie admits that she spent more time at the hospital than she did at her work desk but the biggest shock came at 25 weeks when her care team informed her that she would have to go to Townsville to birth her babies as Cairns Hospital didn’t have a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and it was highly likely that she would birth her babies early.

“We were positively unaware of all the things that could go wrong so that news really hit us like a ton of bricks, especially considering they may be born so early. I was trying to take it day by day and week by week  although both Ty and I like to be prepared and organised. We made a point of not buying too many baby things because there was a lot of talk about their viability and the significant risks they faced.

“We understood and we wanted to get down there, it felt right to be with the specialists and had the facilities for preemie babies. We stayed at Ronald McDonald House for five weeks; I was forced to relax because I couldn’t be at home cooking or cleaning or nesting. At one of my appointments, without forewarning, the OB told me they were booking in the caesarean two weeks from that day when I was 34+1. He reiterated that it was incredible that I’d made it so far considering the risks involved for the babies. They were good sizes, based on their estimates, but they also took us for a tour of the NICU so we knew what that would be like.”

In the last two weeks of pregnancy she was diagnosed with borderline gestational diabetes which triggered a slew of tests that Millie felt weren’t overly necessary and she questioned why her doctors were adding an extra element of worry to her already risky pregnancy. She was admitted as an in-patient four days before birth and had steroid injections to help the baby’s lungs. She also put her foot down when the obstetrician wanted to bring her caesarean date forward as she knew how important each day in the womb was for her boys.

“I couldn’t sleep, I was up before the sun as I was the first scheduled caesarean that day. I was in slippers and a gown and Ty was with me. We went to a pre-op room and saw the obstetrician who talked us through it all. Once I was in theatre I had the epidural. The anesthetist’s communication was amazing…he was the birth coach of the theatre and he was talking through the stages when the boys were being born which was so helpful. I had a really great delivery experience.

“We knew the twins would go straight from theatre to the NICU. It wasn’t until I was in there that I asked the OB whether I could have skin-to-skin…one of the baby’s had the cord tangled around his neck. Baby B was delivered first and called Twin A and then Twin B had the cord around his neck. Everyone was really calm but it happened quickly and the doctors were quite busy. We heard them crying, I can’t even explain to you how amazing it was to hear them cry. It was such a special feeling. The babies were breathing well and crying and they brought them over to us and we met them and we got a family selfie. They rushed them off but not as quickly as I anticipated which was a good sign. Ty went with them and I lay there getting stitched up which was the longest part, I was getting stitched up for 20-30 minutes.

“I was itching to be with the babies. My body had been so busy and so noisy for so long and then it was just quiet. They rolled me off to recovery and the midwife who looked after me had been with the babies and she told me they needed milk so she milked me and I’ll never forget being so amazed at myself that I’d made a syringe full of colostrum. My plan was to go with the flow in regards to feeding but it was tricky those first few days as my milk wasn’t coming in. The midwives were so supportive, we fed the boys formula for a few days and then my milk came in and they latched and I can’t even describe that moment.

“They were in the special care nursery for a week and I walked in one day and one of the nurses pulled me aside and asked if I was ready to go? There was a flight leaving for Cairns in half-an-hour and I just couldn’t believe it. Ty packed up my room at Ronald McDonald House and we took a Royal Flying Doctor flight from Townsville hospital Cairns, over the Great Barrier Reef when the boys were only six days old. They were in Cairns special care nursery for a week, they called it ‘feeding and growing and learning to suck.’ My body was really thankful for that week in my own bed. Ty and I spent 12 hours a day at the hospital but it was really good to go home, eat a good meal and get a full night’s sleep in my own bed before the twins were discharged. When they came home we camped in the lounge room and I was expressing breastmilk and they were feeding from bottles every three hours; mostly expressed breastmilk but also top-up formula feeds. At six weeks I decided that I wasn’t going to spend all my time washing bottles so I fed them both from the breast; I was so proud of myself.”

Topics Discussed

Identical Twins, MCDA Twins, High risk, Scheduled Caesarean, Preemie, NICU

Episode Sponsor

Today’s episode of the show is brought to you by BabyLove. The BabyLove nappies rage are super soft, silky light material specially designed for a premature baby’s delicate skin. They have a ‘breathable cover’ that is designed to reduce dampness to help prevent nappy rash. BabyLove Premmie nappies have been certified against a list of over 350 harmful substances, and have been allergy tested to ensure your bub is in the safest & most trusted care. They even have an ‘umbilical cord notch’ so there is no discomfort to your baby’s navel area. Babylove truly care for bubs of all sizes, including premature and low birth weight newborns and are the trusted brand for Premmie babies. The Babylove Premmie range is a 2021 award-winning nappy, as rated by over 60,000 reviews from Australian parents.

27,000 babies are born prematurely year in Australia and BabyLove are proud to be in a long-term partnership with the Miracle Babies Foundation, Australia’s leading organisation supporting premature and sick newborns.  To find out more about BabyLove and the rest of their nappy ranges, head to babylovenappies.com.au

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