New parents Amy and Paul Steeden-Smith are full of praise for the NHS and especially Royal Preston Hospital for the level of support given to them during their difficult pregnancy and the after care of their beautiful twin daughters.
As Amy Steeden-Smith watches over her twin girls, she feels well and truly blessed.
At 17 weeks pregnant, the 33-year-old was told one of her twins may not survive as they were suffering from twin-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS), where the placenta was shared unequally. This meant one twin, Scarlett, was not given the necessary nutrients to grow normally or even survive.
However, both girls, Beatrix and Scarlett, were successfully brought into the world at 31 weeks on Friday, October 11, and are proving to be little fighters.
Amy and her husband Paul, 37, are currently splitting their time between being with Beatrix at Royal Preston Hospital (RPH), and Liverpool Women's Hospital, where Scarlett is being looked after following bowel surgery which was performed at Alder Hey.
And the couple say they cannot fault the level of support from the NHS, from finding out they were having twins, to delivery and special after care.
Amy, who works as a health visitor at Blackpool South Shore Primary Care Centre, says: “We feel very blessed, especially after I have had two miscarriages. I feel very spoilt with the care I have received. I especially want to give recognition to the Sharoe Green unit who have been wonderful and given us such peace of mind throughout my pregnancy.
“I know they have done everything they can for us and when I have spoken about my concerns, they checked me out. The team showed us around the neonatal unit and introduced me to one of the theatre nurses, which lessened my anxiety. We could not have got through this without them.”
Paul, a smart gas meter fitter, adds: “Their level of care has been epic as they have looked after us really well. We have seen the same people throughout so they know us well and even when we turn up in the early hours to the triage department, they have been able to see to us and put our minds at ease. We have had excellent care from everyone: Royal Preston Hospital; Blackpool Victoria; Alder Hey Children’s Hospital; St Mary’s in Manchester; Birmingham Women’s Unit; and Liverpool Women's Hospital.”
The couple, from Blackpool, were initially under the care of Blackpool Victoria Hospital, but on finding out they had twins, were transferred to RPH’s Sharoe Green maternity unit.
Amy says: “Everything was going well until we got to the 17-week scan, where we realised there was a problem.
“Everything was picked up really quickly and a few days later I was sent to Birmingham Women’s Unit for placenta surgery.”
Amy underwent intrauterine laser ablation where a laser beam is used to seal off some of the blood vessels in the placenta so that both babies receive a more equal supply of blood. Even though the laser ablation was necessary to save Beatrix, Amy and Paul were warned of possible risks to both babies.
Amy says: “If we did not have the operation, it would have killed Beatrix because of the surge in blood flow. We were told the risk of the surgery: that there was a 40 per cent chance of keeping both babies; 80 per cent change of keeping just one; and 25 per cent chance of losing both. After surgery, the team at Birmingham kept checking the babies’ heartbeats.”
Amy was kept under tight observation, with weekly checkups at RPH and had been planning for her C-section at 34 weeks on Wednesday, October 30. However, she went into early labour and the girls were born on October 11 by C-section. Beatrix was first at 11.28pm, weighing 3lb 7oz and Scarlett arrived two minutes later, weighing 2lb 1oz.
Amy’s mum, Karen Brandwood adds: “Both babies are being looked after well. Beatrix is doing wonderful with the care at Preston and Scarlett survived her operation at Alder Hey. "Amy and Paul are so appreciative of the care from everyone within the NHS.
"We are constantly amazed and appreciative of the NHS care that has helped them and continually to get through this. It has been such a rough ride and the people encountered have significantly helped to smooth the journey."
Royal Preston Hospital’s maternity team has been following Amy’s pregnancy very closely. She has even been part of a social network trial called Facemums. The social media group - on Facebook - is run by two midwives who keep in close contact with patients to check up and follow their progress.
Amy has also joined TAMBA (Twins And Multiple Births Association) on Facebook. For more information on the support available there, visit www.tamba.org.uk.