“It’s just so good that the hospice team were there to support us and provide other people to talk to.”
Grieving mum Carol talks about the difference the support of Claire House made when she lost her twin baby boys, Archie and Elliott.
“I really like talking about my boys, Archie and Elliott, and if by sharing their story I can make a difference to other families and raise money for those who looked after them, then that makes me feel better.
From the minute I found out I was having identical twins I knew I was having boys. I thought because my husband Norman is naughty, I was going to have two naughty Normans.
I had no idea of the risks of having identical twins. After seeing a specialist at the Liverpool Women’s Hospital, we found out the boys had twin to twin transfusion syndrome. That is when twins share the same placenta, their blood vessels are connected and the blood flows from one twin to another.
Archie was the donor twin and Elliott was the recipient. This meant Archie didn’t get enough blood and nutrients, and Elliott got too much.
From then on, I was monitored weekly because if one twin passed away, the other twin would pass away shortly after.
When I got to 24 weeks they performed laser surgery to disconnect the twins’ blood vessels.
The surgery was successful but because Archie was so small, he was too weak to survive. He was scanned an hour after the surgery and it was found that he’d passed away.
A few days later my waters broke. Elliott was born at 26 weeks. He was 2lb 1oz.
When he came out, he was breathing on his own but he ended up on a ventilator quite quickly.
That is where I first met Kat and Paula from Claire House. In hospital it was so intense. It’s just so good that the hospice team were there to support us and provide other people to talk to. They also made me necklaces from Elliott’s hand and footprints that I have round my neck today.
Elliott made steady progress. He liked his little cuddles, loved his food and never had a problem with his bottle.
We prepared to bring him home. We set up his room and got everything ready but then he started deteriorating again and within a week he was back on a ventilator.
On 17th September at five months old, Elliott passed away. I could have brought him to Claire House but it felt like the hospital was Elliott’s home and it was right to keep him there.
Paula came in and helped us bath him, change him and get things for his little memory box.
Norman and I started counselling and we joined the Claire House Butterfly Babies bereavement group. It helps being around people who understand what we’ve been through. Friends and family try but sometimes I don’t think they know how to deal with it or how to react.
I’ve also had reflexology which helped me relax and have time to chill. I’ve come to laughter yoga at the hospice, which I think is brilliant because they can quite easily make me laugh.
I first thought about fundraising when I turned 40. I didn’t feel up to a party but I wanted to mark my birthday. So, I thought, why don’t I use my 40th year to raise £40,000?
There was a fishing competition, then a family funday and we’ve had a football match and a walk from the Women’s Hospital via Claire House to Runcorn. We’ve done a curry night and a darts match and have lots more planned, including a rave!
At the end of my year of fundraising I want to have a big celebration. It’s my way to say thank you to all those who looked after my little boys, tell stories about them and continue to be there for me and my husband.