We were shocked but at the same time felt very lucky as we have a few friends who were desperate for babies. Apart from the obvious sign that I was pregnant, I had no other symptoms so wasn't 100% sure. As a result we decided not to tell anyone until we knew everything was ok at the scan.
I had a scan at 13 weeks and as I went into the room I told the sonographer that I didn't think there was a baby there. As she started scanning she found a heartbeat which we were very happy about, she then said, “I think there's another one”, which made Paul and I laugh as we had always joked we might have twins!
She then started to measure the second baby when she said, "I'm not trying to be funny but I think there might be another one!"
She was right; we were expecting triplets - a singleton and identical (id) twins who we called twin 2 and twin 3. We were in absolute shock, as was everyone else when we told them!
We were transferred to the UCLH hospital in London as they specialise in triplets.
Our pregnancy was risky and not just because they were triplets, but because we had identical twins sharing a placenta.
There we met our amazing consultant George and our male mid nurse Nacho who was great. They told us the risks such as disabilities as a result of them possibly being born very early and the risk of TTTS (twin to twin transfusion syndrome) in the id twins.
This is when one twin gets too many nutrients and blood flow and the other twin doesn’t get enough. We also had the option of selectively reducing the pregnancy which we said no to straight away.
We were going for scans every week and things were going fine. We found out at 18 weeks that we were having three boys, which we were so happy about. Then at our 19 week scan we found out the identical twins had stage 3 TTTS which had happened quite quickly. Because my placenta was in the wrong place, we didn’t have the option of laser treatment – a risky procedure to burn off vessels in the placenta that joins both twins so that they can get equal amounts from the placenta – so we were then given the option to terminate twin 3, who was the smallest one.
But we just couldn't do it as he had been dancing around in the scan. We were devastated as we now knew there was a big chance that not just one but all our babies could die. Each week we got told that the good thing was that we were still pregnant.
The TTTS had stabilised but then at week 23 there was no fluid around twin 3 (the smallest one) and twin 2’s blood flow was really struggling. We got told that selectively terminating twin 3 would be the best chance of having at least one baby survive as the TTTS had gone quite far but we knew that the placenta was now in a good place to have the laser treatment, so we opted for that. We couldn’t terminate after seeing them all moving around.
Paul and I always said that we would let our babies decide if they were strong enough to survive and we would help them as much as we could. We had the laser treatment the next day which went well and seemed to work as both id twins were growing well and had equal amounts of fluid around them. I had now given up work as up until the laser treatment I was working during the day as a nanny and nights as a night nanny! I honestly thought that from now on that our pregnancy would go well as I thought we had gone through enough stress!
The morning of our 26 week scan I had a local midwife appointment, where she checked the three heartbeats using a Doppler. I was so happy going to our scan that afternoon thinking that all three of my babies were still alive (we were normally always so nervous before a scan). I even told my consultant that I had already heard their heartbeats that day so knew they were ok.
Unfortunately we were so very wrong.
George found our singleton and twin 3’s heartbeat straight away. I thought he was taking a while finding twin 2’s as was must have been moving around too much.
I thought he must have been ok as I had heard his heartbeat that morning. George was very quiet and then started wiping some gel off my tummy, I thought he must have put too much gel on and that’s why he couldn’t find the heartbeat!
He then just looked at me and put his hand on my hand and I just knew that my twin 2 had gone.
All George could say was that he was sorry.
I just couldn’t believe it, I was in such shock. I said it couldn’t be true because I heard his heartbeat that morning, but George said that it must have been twin 3s heartbeat as twin 2 had died the day before.
Twin 2 was our bigger twin but because of the TTTS his body had just worked too much to survive even after the laser treatment. We were told to expect for the same thing to happen to twin 3. We were heartbroken.
I had such an ache in my heart after finding out, which still hasn't gone to this day.
We just couldn’t understand why this was happening to us. We were told I needed a MRI scan on twin 3’s brain to make sure there was no brain damage as sometimes when one Id twin dies the blood rushes to the other twins’ brain.
We had this done at 28 weeks and luckily the results were good!
In the meantime George thought it was a good idea for us to meet the child bereavement psychologist as we would be having a lot to deal with. She was fantastic. We saw her every week after a scan and we still see her now once a month. I really think she has helped me deal with a lot of things better than on my own. We also met a bereavement midwife who explained to us what would happen once our boys were born.
Twin 3 was proving doctors wrong by continually growing and doing well, although he was still very small. The closer it got to the boys coming, the more nervous I got. In a way I didn’t want them to be born as I knew I still had my three little men together and safe with me and once they were born I would lose my twin 2 forever.
At 32 weeks my waters broke, I had steroid injections to help the boys lungs. I then had my boys at 32+2 weeks by c-section. My singleton (James) weighed 3lb6oz, twin 3 (henry) weighed a tiny 1lb8oz but amazingly he never needed any help with his breathing!! James needed CPAP for 3 hours but that was all. Those steroid injections obviously worked! We decided to call our beautiful little twin 2 Cayden, which means 'little fighter'.
We got to meet James and Henry that evening and they were perfect but we didn't get to hold James till the next day and Henry until day three. He was so small that we were afraid we might break him!
We met our little Cayden the next day. I thought I would be a wreck but as I held him I just felt so calm and just loved being with him and savouring every moment with him as I knew I was going to have to say good bye to him at some point. I just felt so sad that I was never going to bring him home and watch him grow up with his brothers. Sometimes life isn't very kind to us.
While trying to cope with Cayden we were dealing with James and Henry in neonatal. But they were doing so well that after two days they were transferred to our local hospital which was fantastic as I was also being discharged that day.
The boys were great. James was ready to come home after three weeks. The neonatal team were great as they knew that Cayden’s funeral was coming up so they said they would keep him in neonatal for a couple of days extra so that we could concentrate on Cayden.
We had the funeral car bring Cayden to our house so that he could 'finally come home' we carried his coffin into the same church Paul and I got married in and we carried him out to 'you are my sunshine'. We buried him in our local church yard which means we can see him as much as we want and with the boys.
That evening we brought James home and then three weeks later, at week six we brought Henry home.
The boys are now seven months old and are doing great apart from being on the small side! I talk to them lots about Cayden as I want them to know that they were and always will be triplets. I always get that horrible feeling in my tummy when someone calls them twins because it seems as if Cayden never existed so if anybody asks I call them my surviving triplets.
The last year seems to be like a story I would have read in a magazine not something that has happened to me! I feel very lucky to have James and Henry here with us but so, so sad that Cayden is not beside them.
The only blessing I have is that by looking at Henry I know what Cayden would look like while growing up. I have good days and bad days and know that the grief will never go away but that I will just learn to deal with it better.
I am so proud of how far my little James and Henry have come and can't believe how much love I have for them. But most of all I am so proud of being a mummy to my triplets, my two boys here with me and my one with wings in the sky. Xx
TAMBA are raising money for more research to be done into TTTS. You can read more about this on the charity's website.