Hello, I'm Lauren, a volunteer and family of Little Miracles. I am a Mum to 3 and this is my story.
I have 3 Beautiful Children, Ava, Elouise and Theo.
Ava and Elouise are my identical twin daughters who were born at 25 weeks gestation. We had something called Twin to twin transfusion syndrome which can only happen in identical twins who share the same placenta but have their own sacs. It is a disease of the placenta which restricts blood flow causing uneven distribution of nutrients between the twins. At 16 weeks' gestation I was diagnosed with late stage 3 TTTS, without treatment a day later my girls would have had hardly any chance of survival. I underwent laser ablation surgery, this is where they make an incision in the stomach and straight into the womb. A camera and laser are then inserted, we managed to see our girls on camera at 16 weeks' gestation. They then lasered the vessels of my placenta in half in the hope too even out the blood flow. As it was so early on in the pregnancy, the chance of it being successful wasn't as high as it could if I was at a later gestation.
My surgery failed, and our girls were born a few weeks later on 2nd Jan 2016. Ava was 760g (1lb10oz) and Elouise 400g (12oz) the same size as a tin of beans!
Ava was born not breathing. It took them 6 minutes too resuscitate her and then ventilate. It honestly felt like a lifetime before I was told she was stable. Truthfully, she wasn't stable for another 3 months but was whisked up to the neonatal ward for intensive care. Ava spent 4 months in 5 different neonatal wards, very rocky stay with heart surgeries, 10 weeks ventilated and sepsis and bowel disease 3 times. As well as endless infections, seizures, brain damage and a whole lot more. At 6 weeks old, we were advised to switch off Avas' life support. Her brain damage was so severe she was deemed 'incompatible with life'. We transferred to Addenbrookes for end of life care, and so Ava could meet her family for the first time. Addenbrookes saved her life and Ava is now 2 and a half, she has complex health needs, cerebral palsy and is funny, cheeky and full of attitude. Elouise was born crying, I remember hearing her tiny little cry which sounded like a little cat meowing! She was so, so tiny, so fragile. She had suffered a very large brain bleed at birth. Her tiny little body was hidden by all the wires, ventilator tubes and blood transfusions. Graham and I had to make the heart-breaking decision to turn off her life support and at 18 hours old, Elouise passed away in my arms.
We truly believe we made the right decision, we always said that we would much rather suffer the pain of losing a child instead of our child suffering for us.
Theo is our beautiful little boy.
After having the most horrific pregnancy previously with our girls, a healthy, straightforward pregnancy was a true blessing. Planned and perfect, there was no cause for concern. Fully prepared this time, we had everything ready and his little crib had just been put up next to our bed.
At 35+2 weeks pregnant, I hadn't felt him move for a good few hours but didn't think much of it. I wiggled, drank icy water and still no movement. Graham come home from work, took over caring for Ava and I took myself up to the hospital too be checked over. I sat in the waiting room for an hour, all the time thinking it would be nothing to worry about.
I get called in, they try and find his heartbeat….silence.
At this point I'm sat here, on my own knowing what is going to be said too me. My heart sunk, and I frantically try and get care sorted for Ava so Graham can come to the hospital. A consultant came in, scanned me and called for a second opinion. They wouldn't wait for Graham too arrive. Instead whilst sat on my own they tell me my precious little boys heartbeat has stopped. Absolutely heartbroken I ring Graham and just blurt out the news too him. Waiting for Graham too arrive felt like forever when in reality it was only a few minutes but my god that wait was torture.
I found Little Miracles when Ava was about 9 Months old, at this point I had severe post-natal depression and post-traumatic stress disorder and couldn't bring myself to leave the house. I hadn't been out with Ava on my own, ever. Ava was, and still is on oxygen so having extra equipment to carry was difficult but it was that people would stare and quite often ask what's wrong with my child that hurt the most. That was until I went to Little Miracles. No one asked, no one stared, no one made me feel different. Instead they helped me, they interacted with Ava as you would with any baby and they became my friends. Ava loves the centre and her favourite part is the wheelchair-accessible trampoline. They provided me with counselling which saved me. A few months later I decided to become a volunteer and ended up working there. I had just gone on maternity leave when I lost Theo. Michelle and the team were absolutely fantastic. They sent Graham, Ava and I away for a week to their caravan which was much needed. Ava was struggling and time away as a family helped us no end.
Without Little Miracles, and the people who donate counselling and the centre wouldn't be possible and I do not know what would of happened to me. Little Miracles have been a lifeline for my family. I cannot thank them enough for everything they do for us. I will be forever grateful.