By Liana Jacob
THIS BRITISH mum was told to say goodbye to one of her PREMATURE TWINS who weighed just over ONE POUND on BOXING DAY – until she miraculously SURVIVED and her twins will be celebrating their SECOND BIRTHDAY this Christmas.
Former care assistant and stay at home mum, Ellie Beales (24) from Norwich, UK, had a normal pregnancy until her contractions started on Christmas Eve 2017 at 6:30am.
She had an infection which caused her premature labour as her twins were originally due in April 2018. In the early hours of Christmas Day during labour, doctors warned Ellie that both of her twins’ heart rates had dropped and she was forced to have an emergency c-section and they were delivered in the early hours of Christmas Day; Elsie was born at 4:26am and Evelyn was born at 4:27am.
Evelyn and Elsie weighed just 1Ib 10oz and 1Ib 9oz respectively. They were both ventilated, but Ellie wasn’t able to hold either of them at this stage as they both had chronic lung disease and were diagnosed with bleeds on their brains.
On Boxing Day, Evelyn had suffered a pulmonary haemorrhage in her lungs and she was also required to have laser eye surgery and a round of injections into her eyeballs due to having retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). By this point, doctors were unsure if she would pull through and suggested Ellie and her family say their final goodbyes. However, two days later Evelyn regained her energy and was labelled a ‘miracle’ for pulling through her ordeal.
Ellie wasn’t able to hold Elsie for 17 days and Evelyn for 23 days after their birth and she admits that she never would have imagined being able to hold them both.
Since they missed out on Christmas that year, Ellie and her partner, James (28), have since built up every other Christmas Day to celebrate their miracle twins’ birthday.
“My pregnancy was very straight forward. I had no sickness whatsoever, literally wasn’t sick even once. I was just extremely tired all the time,” Ellie said.
“I had an infection; the doctors told me it was their way of telling me something wasn’t right. However, the cause of the infection was unknown.
“My labour was very calm to start with; I had contractions all day from around 6:30am on Christmas Eve until I had them at 4:27am on the December 25.
“I managed to have no pain relief most of that time until towards the end when they started getting more painful. Once my waters went and it was clear there was an infection, there must have been fifteen plus people in the room.
“At one point my body went into shock; I was shivering, and I was freezing and all I wanted was the blankets on top of me. But the doctors said my body temperature was sky high, I was sweating and felt hot to touch.
“They had a fan on me and were soaking me in wet flannels, but this was making me feel even colder.
“It sounds dramatic, but I honestly thought I was dying at this point and my mum didn’t say anything at the time, but she has since said that she was really worried at that point.
“When it was time, I did push for a short while, but it became apparent that both of their heart rates dropped.
“So, they pressed the alarm and was told I had to have an emergency c-section. Within only a couple of minutes, I was wheeled out of the room and down to theatre.
“Both girls were delivered via emergency c-section in the early hours of Christmas morning. The girls both had many setbacks and hurdles to overcome during their hospital stays.
“They were both ventilated; Evelyn took a round of steroids to help her come off the ventilator onto another type of breathing support, but Elsie managed to do it without medication.
“They both had PDAs in their hearts, (open duct that is supposed to close on its own in the first days of life but theirs didn’t.
“Luckily they both closed on their own later on without needing surgery. They both had chronic lung disease.”
It was then discovered that Evelyn and Elsie both had a brain haemorrhage, which is quite common in premature births. They both had a grade two intraventricular haemorrhage (IVH) which was fixed and luckily, they didn’t have any long-term damage.
However, Evelyn’s health soon took a turn for the worst and developed acute bleeding from the lung, the upper respiratory tract, the trachea and the alveoli. Doctors told Ellie to say her last goodbyes, until miraculously, Evelyn pulled through.
At seven weeks old Evelyn had to have a stoma reversal surgery due to a serious gut infection called necrotising enterocolitis (NEC), where part of the bowel dies.
“I was sitting on my bed in my room on the postnatal ward, when Rosa, one of the family support nurses, rushed in and told me that ‘twin two’ (the girls weren’t named yet at this point) was poorly and I needed to be with her,” she said.
“I shot up out of bed and jumped into my wheelchair. This was the quickest I’d moved since my c-section.
“James wheeled me down with Rosa leading us and we entered the room to Evelyn surrounded by nurses and doctors.
“Rachel had sorted her out and cleaned her up but there were blood stains on her bedding. They told me she was very unstable, and they asked if there was anyone we wanted to call to come and say their goodbyes.
“We called my mum, Maxine, my dad, Nick, and James’ mum and dad Michelle and Glen. We stood or sat around her incubator crying; it was awful.
“We were just waiting to see how she would get on and miraculously she started progressing. A day or two passed and we sat having a chat with one of the doctors who was looking after her.
“He said Evelyn was so tough and it was a miracle that she overcome what happened on Boxing Day. I had to wait seventeen days to hold Elsie.
“She came off the ventilator the day before and we finally got to hold her on January 11. It was emotional and bittersweet as Evelyn was still ventilated so she couldn’t come out for cuddles yet.
“Then on January 17, twenty-three days after her birth, I got to hold Elsie and Evelyn together for the first time as Evelyn came off the ventilator on January 16; this was the best feeling ever. I had them together just how it should’ve always been.
“At seven weeks old, Evelyn developed a serious gut infection called necrotising enterocolitis (NEC) which is where part of the bowel dies.
“She had three perforations in her bowel, and she had to have fifty-five centimetres cut out and with the remaining bowel she had a stoma made.
“She had her stoma reversed on June 25 at exactly six months old. She finally came home a month later on July 23.
“At the beginning, we did say we were going to have a belated Christmas Day, but with Evelyn being in hospital seven months and their first birthday and second Christmas being only five months away, we didn’t bother.
“We just kept picturing how magical and special the next Christmas would be, being home together celebrating their first birthday.
“The day Evelyn was discharged we came home to so many balloons at our front door that my mum had left in celebration.
“I would say to take each day as it comes to keep yourself strong and healthy because you’re no good to your baby if you’re all over the place.
“Ask questions and don’t be afraid to spend a little time away from the hospital. It’s a very overwhelming journey and having time away to refuel and get your head together is important.
“Have faith in the doctors and nurses; they know what they’re doing. They are true miracle workers and we owe our unit so much and have faith in your baby, they may be tiny, but they are mighty and they’re stronger than they look.”