I was 33 weeks and 1 day pregnant when I gave birth. The day is ingrained in my memory. It was something that was not really on my radar, though it was always a possibility with identical twins. Everything was going well, better than well. But when things went wrong, everything went wrong.
It’s when there are so many doctors and nurses in theatre, a team for each baby as well as for you. The room is so crowded that people literally stand around the edge until they’re needed, and they know so perfectly when they’re needed that there isn’t even chaos. They work together in perfect harmony when your life is potentially falling apart when your children are critically unwell. I remember trying to see what was going on, but I was lay, strapped to the surgical table, still being operated on.
And nothing can prepare you for the moment you see your children in SCBU. The wires, the machines, the tubes, the lights, the nurses and doctors, the smell, and the pity on people’s faces. Not one but two children are seriously unwell. You have all of the questions, and you ask them all apart from the one you really want to ask- will my children make it?
You quickly come to learn to know the sounds of the machines- which machine to watch and worry about, which machine always goes off but is never really a concern. You learn what each wire is for, and how to move and use them. You wonder why your child is silent until you realise, they can’t make a noise because the tube in their throat is in their lungs and when they open and close their mouths silently, they are actually crying. Then you wonder why it took you days to realise that.
You learn which procedures are standard and need to be repeated and which to be wary of. You learn it all, sitting by their bedsides for nearly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
You become institutionalised to a medical world you never knew existed. The hours turn to days, and days to weeks. Thankfully my babies became well enough to come home. But our journey through SCBU will live with me for the rest of my life. I’ll be forever grateful my babies came home but forever traumatised at everything we went through.