Jacob (2/10/11) and George (6/10/11)
When I heard my daughter was expecting twins, I was so excited. I’d always had a secret yearning to have twins – so special, so magical.
When you’re a parent, you want to keep your children safe and happy. That doesn’t stop just because they grow up. I shared in their joy and excitement as my daughter and her partner prepared for the birth, and I shared in their heartbreak, loss and devastation when things went so wrong.
I wish I could fix things. I wish I could take the pain away and put things right. Jacob and George, I wish you’d had more time with your mummy and daddy, because your mummy and daddy are truly amazing. I won’t ever forget you – you’ll always be with me, part of our family. You battled so hard to live. I am so glad I had the chance to hold you and tell you how much I love you.
Sunday 18th September 2011
At 11.00 a.m. my daughter’s waters break. We’re told if the babies come today, at 21 weeks + they are not viable and they won’t intervene. Thankfully everything calms down and they send her home.
Sunday 25th September
Contractions start. They tell us again the babies are not viable, 22 weeks + and under 500g. I reason with the doctors, fighting for our boys: ‘So nearly viable, perhaps if their weight is good…’
Things calm down. I go to the hospital chapel to light candles. One little light flickers – almost out. Grandad adjusts the wick and the flame becomes stronger. I pray to God and I feel as if he answers: ‘Don’t give up. Believe in a miracle.’
Each day my daughter hangs on is a blessing, taking us closer to the magical 24 weeks.
Sunday 2nd October
9.00 a.m. My daughter is shouting. We run into the hospital bathroom to find Jacob has been born. Nothing is ready for the little mite, but he’s 23 weeks + and alive. My daughter is rushed to delivery for George. ‘Stay with him,’ she says to me. The doctor is near tears as he explains that Jacob’s veins are too small for intervention. I hold Jacob in my arms, telling him over and over: ‘There, there, Granny’s got you.’ He’s like a little bird. His face crinkles as I speak – a tiny flicker of movement. ‘There,’ I say to the doctor. ‘Did you see him move?’ ‘It’s just reflex,’ he says gently, but I don’t believe him.
I watch your little face – eyes tightly closed. There it is again, a flutter of life, an angel tickling your nose. When the doctor goes out of the room, I bend over your face, perhaps my gentle breath can fill your lungs with oxygen? I rock you gently in my arms, and tell you how much we all love you – Mummy, Daddy, brother George.
The doctor comes back with a crib on wheels: ‘We need to get him to his mum,’ he says. I look at the crib, sterile and cold. ‘Can’t I carry him?’ The doctor considers for a moment, then nods. When we get to the delivery room, I smile as I hand him over to his mummy and daddy. Jacob is declared dead 45 minutes later.
Over the next few days, we go through hell. It’s all a terrible nightmare. One afternoon, I walk to Hamleys – choosing a teddy bear for a dead baby is all wrong. They don’t want to do anything to bring on George. They even try tilting her bed backwards. Every day, every hour that she can hold on is a bonus.
Thursday 6th October
At 1.00 a.m. the waters around George break. His heartbeat is strong, he’s 24 weeks + and a good size, but the risk of infection to mum and baby has increased. They recommend a natural delivery as a C section is much more risky this early in a pregnancy. Later I wish I had argued this, but I was so fearful of losing my daughter too.
The labour is difficult. George presents shoulder first, and the final stage lasts two hours – he doesn’t take a breath. As they take my daughter away to theatre to remove the placenta, she looks anxiously back at me. ‘I’ll stay here,’ I say. I cradle George in my arms – he looks just like my Dad, arms folded and slightly irritated as if someone has disturbed him while he was sleeping. He’s bigger than his brother – 617g. He’d have stood a good chance if delivered by C section. The towel is loose and blood stained. I don’t want my daughter to see the blood. I unwrap him on the bed to rearrange things. There’s a gash across the top of his head.
‘What have they done to you? Poor little soldier – you’ve been through such a battle.’ I wrap you back up and cuddle you, telling you how much we all love you. It seems such a long time, like we’ve been forgotten. I feel bad because I’m not sure your other grandparents know what’s happening, but I can’t leave you alone to find them.
Just before my daughter went into labour with George, she said: ‘I’m frightened it will happen again.’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘this is different. George is 24 weeks and bigger. Everything will be okay.’ I feel I’ve let my daughter down.
Over the next few days we spend time with the boys. They are dressed in tiny knitted clothes and we fill the Moses basket with teddies and pictures of the family. We give them lots of cuddles and take photos. I watch mesmerized, as my son-in-law gently unwraps his dead sons, examining every millimetre of their bodies, marvelling at their tiny fingers and toes.
On the afternoon of the 8th my daughter is discharged, leaving hospital in a taxi carrying two cardboard memory boxes instead of two babies.
My heart has a gaping wound, things will never be right again. Seeing your daughter in such pain and knowing that you can’t fix it, makes your own pain seem doubled. I grieve the loss of my grandsons, but also the loss of my daughter. Experiencing death is the moment you become a grown-up – all childhood and innocence is torn away. How could this have happened to us?
16th February 2012
My daughter is pregnant again. ‘You must be over the moon,’ people say. I am just quietly optimistic. We’re in the best possible place we could be at this point – this is as good as it gets for now. Just four months ago we lost our precious Jacob and George and no one can explain why. Twin pregnancies are complicated. I hadn’t understand that before.
6th February 2017
Although I miss my grandsons every day, I carry them in my heart and I will never forget them. Life is good – I am now Granny to two darling rainbow daughters, four and three years old. They are beautiful, cheeky and full of life. Each year they sing happy birthday to their brothers and blow out the candles on their cakes. They say to me: ‘Jacob and George are stars in the sky. I wish they would come down and play,’ and I say: ‘Me too.’