I’m Claire, a first-time mummy, to spontaneous fraternal boy/girl twins. Born prematurely at 31+5 weeks. 

Here is the story leading up to and of my unprompted preterm labor.

Wednesday 15th November 2017:

Two days prior to this date I had gone to the  GP, I hadn’t felt unwell, but just very tired- work was draining me, so family suggested going to the GP and getting a sick note, just for some rest. I intended to work until the 15th December, when my work closed for Christmas, with my due date being 21 January 2018.

The GP felt my stomach and said it felt like that of a term pregnancy already with there being two babies and felt it was in mine and their best interests to rest, so he gave me a sick note and I was completely thankful for his kindness and understanding.

Looking back I think I saw in his eyes that he thought I was dreaming if I thought I would be able to work until December.

I woke up on Wednesday morning, my lovely husband headed to work, and within about half an hour I had rung him. I was getting the most excruciating stomach pains imaginable. They were tightenings, happening less than minutes apart. I thought I was in labor, my husband is a very calm and collected person which I need because I’m a worrier. We had attended 2 of our antenatal classes in the weeks prior so as suggested in those, my husband told me to run a hot bath and see if that helped, and that he would make his journey home but would be about 40 mins.

Once my bath had run I got in and out within 5 minutes, it did absolutely nothing for my pain, I rang my husband and told him I was phoning the hospital.

The midwife at the hospital told me to come in to be examined. I contacted my friend and asked if she would take my husband and I to the hospital, he made her way to us. By the time she arrived, my husband was home, and my pains were coming less than a minute apart.

On arrival at the hospital, we were told to go into a waiting room, I sat down but the agony was unbearable my husband and I were concerned that I could be in labor. He went to the desk and I was taken straight to a room. They put me on a monitor to check on the twins heartbeats, and did my observations. All seemed fine. They checked the tightenings though and they were registering on the machine.

A doctor checked my cervix and it was closed. They did a test to see if I there was a chance of me going into labor but it came back negative. The doctor said I could go home, but the midwife suggested to him that I stay in for a night at least, because of the pain I was in.

I was in the hospital in pain, for two days. I was given basic pain relief, paracetamol etc. They didn’t really know why these pains were happening, but it wasn’t causing me or the twins any harm. I was given steroid injections, to help mature the twins lungs, in case I went into premature labor because at this point I was only 30+3. Someone from NICU came to speak to my husband about premature babies if that gestation and what they test for when they are born, he told me, this gestation is classed as very preterm but not extremely preterm he was very reassuring but I was nonetheless still very frightened.

I had blood taken etc. I got sent home after two nights in the hospital. I was feeling pretty worried still but thought "they clearly think I’m fine to be at home" so I rolled with it.

Monday 20th November:

I can’t lie, the two days at home hadn’t been pleasant, this constant pain and not much relief was awful, to be honest.

My husband Adrian headed to work again, and I decided to have a shower and get dressed. I went into the bathroom to use the toilet and when I came back into the bedroom for a towel, I felt something trickle down my leg. At first, I thought, what the hell?! Am I wetting myself? I think that was me attempting to block out what I knew had happened. I went back to the toilet and was certain it wasn’t urine.

I got on the telephone to my husband and told him. "I think my waters have gone". He told me to ring the hospital and he was on his way. The hospital told me to put a pad on, so it would collect any fluid and come in for an examination.

On arrival I was taken straight into a room, the midwife checked my pad and said in her opinion she didn’t think my waters had gone as on the pad there wasn’t much there. But the doctor came, tried to insert a speculum and I could not handle it, I was in agony. But without needing to fully insert it, she could tell my waters had indeed broken and were leaking.

I was admitted to the ward. They explained that with my waters being broken, what they wanted to avoid is an infection. So they put me on antibiotics to prevent that and monitored all my observations closely with regular blood tests. I was in hospital until Tuesday and then they sent me home, so just one night of hospital. I honestly wasn’t expecting to be sent home now my waters had gone, but they had said that isn’t necessarily to say I’m going to go into labor any time soon. At home I was under strict instructions to check my temperature every 4 hours, and that if anything changed at all I must come in.

I was super anxious at home, how could I tell if my pain was getting any worse, all I knew was that for almost a week I had been in agony, having these pains and now my waters had gone. I couldn’t sleep properly, I was uncomfortable and needing to keep an eye on my temperature.

Thursday 23rd November 2017:

It was the early hours, no more than 2-3 a.m. I was tossing and turning, pretty much wincing in pain. My husband said in his opinion he felt my pains were getting worse based on my reactions. But for me everything had blurred into one, all I knew was that I needed to ring the hospital- I couldn’t take this anymore.

On arrival at the hospital, I was put on the monitor and the midwife said a consultant would be in with me to check me soon.

When I got checked I was 3cm dilated, I was given a tablet for pain relief, not sure what but it helped, however, can I add this remained a mystery because afterwards when I asked they were adamant it was just paracetamol and I was sure it was not because the previous paracetamol had done nothing.

Before going to the antenatal ward, my husband contacted my mum and Auntie, they were going to be my second and third birthing partners. So Adrian would be my first one and then they would all keep me company on a rotation. Whoever happened to be there out of my mum and my auntie would contact Adrian. During the day, they all stayed with me. We chatted, ate lunch, read magazines- all trying to take my mind off the pain.

I was sent for a scan to check the position of the twins, both were head down. At this scan, we were told it was twin 1 who had lost fluid, there wasn’t much water. Twin 2 still had all the fluid. I was told however that the twins weren’t as big as they should be for this gestation. That worried me. However, my auntie who had come down for the scan with me, reassured me because she said the sonographer said that comment but she had also said she was struggling to get measurements because of how low down twin 1 was.  My auntie and I had a conversation and I said my two biggest fears for labor were as follows:

1) That I would deliver one naturally and then need an emergency section

2) Being put to sleep, it’s my biggest irrational fear. I spoke to a doctor who informed me that it’s fairly rare to have one naturally and one via emergency section, as is being put to sleep.

Back in the ward, my auntie and mum left and my husband returned from sorting things at home. He kept me company in the evening. My mum was due to come back about half-past 7. As midnight loomed, I was checked again, I was still only 3 centimeters. We got the impression that the medical team thought it could be another day before the labor progressed. Adrian was exhausted, he had been so supportive, I had been in and out of the hospital so many times. He had been visiting me, sorting the house and our dog and working. I told him to go home and sleep, he didn’t want to leave me alone in the pain I was in. So I said ring my Auntie, she will come and sit with me through the night. He went home and was due to come back about 7 in the morning.

My auntie kept talking to me, trying to keep my mind off of the agony I was in, my back was in pieces, more so than my stomach. I was uncomfortable and agitated, I spoke to her about how I was aware that twins could come early and that lots of multiple births are actually planned for 37/38 weeks, but I was not expecting to go into labor at 31 weeks.

I also remember telling her that I was opposed to a c-section because I knew many twin births are via c-section, but the idea of a planned one is far better than to need an emergency one.

At about 1.30 a.m I asked the midwife if I could have diamorphine as I could no longer hack the pain. She said the doctor would need to prescribe it but they were all in theatre. I was given it at half past 3. By about 3.45 it started to take effect I was told it was one of the strongest reliefs minus an epidural. I was thankful for it because all I had had was paracetamol and I could have thrown it at somebody as it was doing nothing for the pain. I feel asleep for forty minutes after it had kicked it. When I woke up, I got up and I was in clear agony. My auntie was rubbing my back, I had stood up and was moving around- I couldn't lay down anymore and I couldn’t stay still. My auntie went to the midwife after about half an hour to say the medication had worn off- surely it should have provided relief for longer. The midwife said she would try and get hold of a doctor. Another while passed and my auntie went back to her and basically said she was really concerned and didn’t see how my pain could get any worse without it being full labor.

The midwife asked me to lay down, so she could put me on the monitor. I refused, my back was killing me.

She ran to get a doctor at this point. The doctor managed to convince me to lay down so she could check me. FULLY DILATED. That was it, preterm labor was going to happen, there was no stopping it. Friday 24th November 2017, would be their birthday.

I was rushed down the corridor at the speed of lightning. My auntie quickly rang Adrian. I remember telling my auntie that I was petrified and not to let me die. The midwife was telling me not to push if I got the urge because we needed to be in the labor ward.

When I got pushed through the doors of my room in the labor ward I remember seeing so many people, which I expected because of being pregnant with twins. But I felt very overwhelmed and for some reason, the pain subsided.

I was gowned up, cannula’s inserted and prepped. The consultant happened to be the one who had examined me the previous morning. She was telling me, to push when I felt a contraction, I didn’t understand what she meant as I wasn’t getting contractions, just constant pain in my lower back.

Twin 1 was in occiput posterior position (back to back with me). The midwife recognized that I was getting these pains and that I didn’t understand what was expected of me. So she breathed through it with me and helped me to understand how to push. She honestly was like an angel, she really was incredible. My husband made it into the room with about 5 minutes to spare before the arrival of twin 1, our son. At 06.48. Roman Stephen Mutsa Mutandwa was born. We didn’t see him, he was taken away by the pediatric team. But Maria the midwife did say he had lots of hair!

They said it was time to have twin 2. But now all my pain had gone, the doctor checked and my cervix had started to close, I was only 3 cm again. They broke my waters but I didn’t dilate. I was told what I had feared I might need- a c-section after a natural birth. I got told if the heart rate of twin 2 was severely disrupted then I might need putting to sleep, luckily his didn’t happen. I was wheeled into theatre, given a spinal and they tried one last time to deliver twin 2 naturally, it didn’t work and the baby was too distressed.

The section went ahead. My husband kept talking to me the whole time. I didn’t want to fall asleep even though the spinal had made me feel drowsy and shivery. Twin 2, our daughter was about to arrive. Rosa-May Tendai Mutandwa was born at 07.37.

We didn’t see her. She was taken by the pediatric team.

It took about 10 hours for the feeling to come back in my body. My husband showed me so much love and respect, he didn’t go to meet the twins, he just rang the NICU regularly. He wanted us to meet our babies together and share that moment, I couldn’t be more appreciative of that level of consideration from him.

We were brought a photograph of our babies. The first sight of our twins was in a photograph. They were full of wires and equipment, and both weighed 3Ib1/2oz, which was good for their gestation despite what had been said at the scan.

Both tiny but perfectly formed, both beautiful.

We finally met the twins over 12 hours after the birth. We touched them in the incubators and were told that they had started breathing in their own.

The twins had a 3 and a half week stay in NICU. But we were lucky, they had no complications. They are now almost 21 weeks old (adjusted age of 13 weeks) and going from strength to strength.

The labour was traumatic. But every single day I am so appreciative that the medical team were able to safely deliver our bundles of joy and that we were blessed with two very early, tiny but healthy and beautiful babies.

Claire's blog: www.mummyoftwopinkandblue.wordpress.com