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Christopher Dale and Harry Stephen

 

On Thursday 24th November 2010, my scan day has finally arrived!! Lee (my partner) and myself go in to the sonographer's room, and I lay on my bed. I had been so nervous. With my friend having a miscarriage not long before I was very aware it could happen to anyone. Everyone had been teasing, "What if it's twins!"- obviously we didn't take them seriously.

As she put the warm jelly on my stomach and placed the probe on me, I was so excited. Add about a hundred emotions to that as she says...
"I've got another surprise for you... There's two in there!"
"What!"
"Yep," she showed us the screen "two heartbeats.. one is a little smaller but we will keep an eye on that. They are identical."

I was in complete shock! Tears streaming down my face, I looked at Lee who was grinning from ear to ear. Another scan was booked for Tuesday 21st December. We walked out with me still bawling and Lee giggling away, thrilled.

Next was telling the parents, though. As I was 17, and Lee 18 at the time, my mum didn't react great to our news, she soon came around. As for Lee's parents, "good luck" was all he got (and all we were going to get from them, it turned out).

On Tuesday 21st December, I had a flu jab booked at 8am that morning, woken up by a fire alarm at 6am it was going to be a long day. After my jab, we headed up to the hospital, excited to see our bundles of joy again! We went in and the sono did the usual.
"Two heartbeats!" she says.
Brilliant.
But she was looking for a good while, and I looked at Lee, getting anxious. She turned to us...
"Twin 2 has Anencephaly, this means the baby won't survive. I'm so sorry. I'm going to call your doctor right away."

Twin 2 also had a growth restriction but Twin 1 was perfect, exact with my dates.

This time the tears were for a hundred different emotions. I cried, and I cried. We were taken to another room and waited for my doctor. Twenty minutes felt like twenty years. The doctor came to us, explained that anencephaly is a neural tube defect, when the neural tubes fail to close which causes a large absence of the brain and the skull. It is not compatible with life.

"You have options. All have risks. You can have a selective termination, though there is the fact twin one's life is threatened. Or you could terminate the whole pregnancy. Or you could carry on with the pregnancy, with the risk of Twin 2 passing away in the womb, which would have an immediate affect on the other twin, either having severe brain damage or also dying. There is also a chance he could be still born."

Without hesitation, we both said we would carry on. He sighed with relief... and that's when I formed a great trust in our doctor. He told us not many people carry on, a lot of people abort the baby. He told us to come back later and confirm our decision, as I was seeing him later on that day anyway. We did.

I flew over to my aunt's in Kendal for Christmas that night. I didn't look on the internet at all, as the doctor warned us not to with there being a lot of fiction mixed in with fact when it came to google.

I learnt to accept. Don't ask me how, because I don't know. The night before I came back I felt a kick for the first time.

When I got back, my mum did that night too, because her, my dad and little brother went to Australia for 3 weeks I'd had to tell her over the phone. Now she was back, we went on the internet together. That's when we found the anencephaly.info site. I got all the information, and looked at the pictures on here. I was shocked at first, but it wasn't long before I learned to appreciate the beauty that lied in the babies' faces. They were amazing.

A caesarean section was scheduled for 34 weeks, but I went in to labour at 32+2 [Saturday], they managed to stop contractions with a drip and gave me two sets of steroids to mature their lungs. Nothing happened until the Monday, when they stopped the drip and I was scanned and Christopher wasn't moving as much so the doctor looked at me and told me to ring my family, the twins were coming tonight. Because of special circumstances - although only one other person is allowed in theatre with you normally in a c-section - both my mum and Lee were allowed in.

Harry Stephen was born screaming by caesarean section at 21:11pm, weighing 3 pounds 12.5 ounces. Two minutes later, at 21:13pm, his brother Christopher Dale was born weighing just 1 pound 12 ounces. I had 37 minutes with Christopher while his brother was whisked off to special care. Christopher let out a few squeaks heard by Mum and was baptised just before 21:50pm when he passed away in my arms.

We held a funeral for him a week later to celebrate his short life. We had the best possible outcome and I am very glad I did not opt with a termination.

I had ultrasound scans every week scheduled by my doctor and Liverpool Women's hospital because the sono over here thought she spotted Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome, so they kept an eye on me but we were cleared.

I found great comfort in the stories collected on the anencephaly.info site. Also by talking on Yahoo sites, and met a lot of people through Facebook. We shared stories and pictures and that gave me hope, it confirmed what I already knew: that Christopher's life, although short, was worth the pain.

I will always hurt, forever. But as time goes on, the bad days will be few and far between and I will find peace.

Harry is my reason for living, he is my focus as he continues to thrive. He only spent three and a half weeks in Special Care and is perfect, and a big lump now. I could not picture my life without him, and I know Christopher lives on through Harry. I am so blessed.

I went with my gut instinct, and it proved right. We had a great outcome and Harry and Christopher's case is now being used to teach other hospitals how to manage a situation like his. Christopher had a purpose in life, he will save so many!

Lucy

 

Lucy's blog about Christopher and Harry.

 

Last updated September 7, 2011