Harriet Phillips from London went through a very difficult pregnancy with twins four years ago.
After losing one daughter, Liberty, part way through her pregnancy, she was desperate to do everything she could to make sure her second child, Amelia, survived and was born healthy. She shares her experience of her pregnancy and birth, and the care she received from hospital and Tommy’s staff throughout:
“After trying to get pregnant for four years, I fell pregnant with twins after IVF. It wasn’t an easy pregnancy to start with – a bleeding disorder meant I had to have plasma injections every 3/4 days. However, immediately after my 19 week scan, I saw my consultant.
“He gave me some devastating news – he explained that I was dilated and that my pregnancy would probably not progress.
“As I stood up from the examination bed, my water broke and I was rushed to the labour ward. Doctors told me to expect to give birth to both babies and they wouldn’t survive. One of my girls, Liberty had died. The other, Amelia, was still struggling on.
“After a few days, I still hadn’t laboured and I was in a serious risk of infection. The doctors decided that they would have to inject me with drugs to bring on labour. This would cause both babies to be born, leaving very little chance that Amelia would survive. I insisted they let me try to push Liberty out naturally. I asked them to leave me for 10 minutes to try. With every will and energy I had left, I focused and tried so hard to push her out, and honestly, by some miracle, I managed to do so.
“We spent a few minutes saying goodbye to Liberty.
“I was warned that I would shortly enter labour with Amelia, but a few minutes, then hours, then days passed. This was when I was taken to see Andy Shennan, Tommy’s consultant Obstetrician. He was delighted and amazed to announce that my cervix had closed and it was not visible that I had given birth. It looked like a normal single pregnancy.
“I was moved to the antenatal ward and ordered to stay in the hospital on bedrest. I was still only 19 weeks pregnant, and I knew that I had a long way to go. I was determined to make sure that my much longed-for little girl would survive. Andy Shennan spent a lot of time explaining everything to me (sometimes twice – in my emotional state I frequently forgot what I’d been told). During the rest of the pregnancy, I suffered bleeding, which got heavier as the pregnancy progressed.
“24 weeks pregnant, on Christmas Eve, I started to feel some contractions only to be told that there was a shortage of incubators. I’m not sure if it was fear or something else, but luckily my contractions stopped. At this point, I was given steroids for Amelia’s lungs which eventually meant that when Amelia was born, she didn’t need ventilation – I’m so grateful for this decision.
“The first 24 weeks were bad enough, but it was the weeks between 24-28 that were the most scary. I was told every single day by the doctors what the risks would be and what might go wrong if Amelia was born at that point. I knew that each day meant a lot. 28 weeks came and went – everyone was so pleased with my progress, but I was still bleeding heavily and was terrified.
“At 29 weeks, I felt some more contractions. Amelia’s heart rate was dipping. It was time to get her out.
“I called Andy as he was cycling home for the day – I so wanted him to be the one to do the operation that would bring Amelia into the world.
“He turned right around and came back to St. Thomas’ to deliver my child.
“Amelia Liberty Hope was born weighing 2lb 6oz and crying and weeing on Andy to thank him for his work.
“After a few months, I could take my baby home. Although it’s not been plain sailing since then (she stopped breathing at a 36 week eye scan – luckily we were already in the hospital), she is now a fully healthy 4 year old.
“I’m so grateful to Andy Shennan and all the staff at the hospital for their remarkable effort throughout my pregnancy. Amelia and I went through so much, and the care they showed us was incredible.”