Charlie was born at St George’s Hospital on 3rd August 2013. The pregnancy had been high risk and a very difficult one; my husband and I had found out that we were expecting identical twins, but sadly one twin was stronger than the other and at every scan, the smaller baby (Luca) became weaker until I unfortunately lost him at eighteen weeks. After this, my waters broke at twenty-two weeks and I was told that I was probably miscarrying the surviving twin (Charlie). Somehow, Charlie held on and I didn’t go into labour, but then I developed an E-Coli infection at twenty-eight weeks, which led me to go into premature labour. Charlie was born in poor condition at 28+5 weighing 2lbs 13oz; he had a severe E Coli infection, suspected meningitis, a dislocated shoulder, breathing problems and other complications. He was resuscitated twice and I was also very poorly with the infection.
I was taken to surgery as my placenta had to be removed manually under general anaesthetic so I didn’t get to see Charlie for three days after his birth. It was a whirlwind of tubes, wires, beeps, medication, all the time in the knowledge that he may not survive. Meanwhile, we also had a funeral for baby Luca, who was born at the same time as Charlie; we received fantastic support from the hospital chaplain and I will be forever grateful to him for guiding me through such a painful process with care, kindness and respect for my baby.
On day three of Charlie’s life my husband and I were told that he had suffered a severe brain bleed (Grade 3 on the left and Grade 4 on the right) and that there was a possibility the doctors would need to turn off his ventilator. We felt so helpless, but the nurses took fantastic care of our little boy and one particular doctor gave me hope when he told me to believe in the strength of tiny babies because they are the best fighters. He was absolutely right and after just ten days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Charlie was well enough to be transferred to our local hospital in Essex, and he was breathing all by himself.
It was a bumpy road to recovery with many returns to hospital during his first year of life and physiotherapy support for a weakness on the left side of his body caused by his brain bleed. However, Charlie has overcome every problem he has faced and is now a happy and healthy six-year old. We could not be more proud of his achievements and we regularly talk about his brother Luca as a family; Charlie knows he will always be a part of him and even has Luca as his middle name. We are so grateful to the amazing staff at St George’s for saving Charlie’s life and giving us the hope and courage to deal with those traumatic early days in his life. We truly believe all premature babies are mini superheroes!
Gemma Thompson (Mummy to Charlie, Luca and Millie) x