I am very lucky to be alive. I am one of thousands of premature twins born several weeks ahead of their due date.
Twins, triplets and multiples are more likely to be born early than single babies. According to Twins UK, the premature birth-rate is around 7 percent, with over 40 percent of all twins or multiples needing some form of special care.
But why is it that twins and multiples are more prone to being premature?
Jane Denton, director of The Multiple Twin Foundation, explains…
This is what happened to my twin Jessica and I. We were born 11 weeks early and my mum gave birth to us at the Rosie Hospital, Cambridge. Our birth was frightening as Jessica’s breathing was sporadic and I was not breathing at all.
After spending 6-8 weeks in an incubator in the neonatal intensive care unit, Jess and I survived and developed into healthy babies.
This may not always be the case. Dan and Anthony McLaughlin were born prematurely on July 2, but were due in September. Unfortunately Anthony had not developed properly and his heart stopped on July 1. The twins were killing their mother in the womb, so had to be born early via a C-section.
“I am most certainly not a religious or a spiritual person, but at times I do feel like there is something missing.
“I also feel that with my work and my education, I am putting in double of the effort making up for my missing twin. Each July 1 I have a quiet sob to myself but then I pick myself up and consider how close I was to death at the very beginning of my life. Two decades on, I am still fighting for the two of us,” said Dan.
The care that premature babies receive after birth can make a profound impact on the rest of their lives.
This is one of the most difficult, emotional and stressful times in families’ lives, but parent support groups like Bliss, The Multiple Birth Foundation and other charities are here to help. With the number of babies being born prematurely in the UK rising, technical advances and new treatments are also increasing, meaning more babies lives are being saved.
“Me and my twin were premature and we both feel very lucky to have had such excellent care when we were born.” said Emilie Hamilton.
I will forever thank and appreciate the team at the special care baby unit at the Rosie Hospital for giving my twin sister and me our lives today.