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Our premature twins

Michelle Neate gave birth to twins at just 24 weeks. Sadly, due to complications related to being born so prematurely they died. A year later Michelle gave birth to another set of twins, Poppy and Henry, who are now 2-and-a-half.

Michelle shares her story with us.

“My husband and I were trying for a baby for a long time. I had countless tests where they found nothing to suggest I couldn’t have children but when my husband was tested they found that one of his tubes was blocked, meaning the semen was not able to get through. As a result, the only way for my husband and I to have a baby of our own was through IVF. The IVF was tough; it required me to be at the clinic at 5.45 a.m.to have a blood test, to go back at lunch for a further test and to have many injections at home.

Our first round of IVF didn’t work but the second time I was told that I was pregnant with twins. I’m not very tall so with twins I was huge and felt quite uncomfortable. A day before I reached 24 weeks I went into labour. The previous week I had experienced a lot of pain and was told my cervix was getting smaller, which meant I had to be stitched up to prevent the twins coming early. However, four days later I went into labour.

Poppy and Henry

I gave birth to a little boy and a little girl at just 24 weeks.

“Because of complications related to them being born so prematurely, my little girl was stillborn and my boy died shortly after.”

I only really remember bits and pieces of this but I know my parents and my husband were there doing everything they could for my babies. I was shell-shocked and couldn’t process anything.

Since I was a little girl, all I’ve really wanted is to have babies and be a housewife. To lose my twins was so upsetting. Afterwards, I threw myself into the gym and work. My husband and I both took on extra work to pay for the next round of IVF, sacrificing holidays to do this.”

We kept trying

“Six months later we tried again but I didn’t get pregnant, my body had gone through so much that the doctors thought it was too distressed to take on another pregnancy.

After another four months passed we tried again but this time I had an ectopic pregnancy and miscarried. A few months later we gave the IVF one last shot. It had cost us £60,000 and we decided we couldn’t do it again.

“This time round I got pregnant. I had got to know everyone in the IVF clinic and by this point everyone was really rooting for me, waiting around to hear whether I would be pregnant or not and they were all over the moon when they found out I was.”

I was pregnant with twins again, which terrified me in one respect but in another made me think that my twins had come back to me. Everyone else around me was incredibly scared and some people couldn’t even talk to me because they didn’t know what to say, that was something that I found really difficult.

At 16 weeks my cervix was stitched up by an amazing obstetrician. I had wonderful care throughout my pregnancy and was very lucky that my work allowed me to work from home so I could be on bed rest.”

Henry and Poppy arrive

“I went into labour while watching Desperate Housewives and Poppy and Henry were delivered by an emergency caesarean, weighing 4lb 12oz and 4lb 15oz. They were healthy and well but because they weighed less than 5lbs they were taken to the Special Care Baby Unit.

Michelle with twins Poppy and Henry

Henry and Poppy are now 2-and-a-half years old and those 2-and-a-half years have been the best of my life. But I will never forget my first twins. We have a rosebush planted in the children’s garden at the cemetery which we visit, along with two cherry trees planted in our garden at home to remember them by.  If I regret anything from that time, it’s that I didn’t name them.

What helped me get through the loss of the twins was a feeling that I knew one day I would get there. My husband and I wanted children of our own and we knew how much we longed to be parents.

“I came across Sparks through my work at CBS Outdoor and really wanted to share my story to give strength to others who may have had similar experiences. I also wanted to highlight  the work that Sparks does to try and change the outcome for many babies born prematurely. I now speak regularly with women going through a similar thing and have a great network of women going through IVF.”

People don’t realise how many children, particularly twins, are still born prematurely and why this happens. The work and research that Sparks do continuously helps to give hope to people who have had a premature child and endeavour to find reasons why it happens and how it can be prevented. Sparks is a truly wonderful and devoted charity to children and families

Recently I was told that I couldn’t have any more children so now I know just how lucky we are to have Poppy and Henry.”

Read about our research project for preventing the premature delivery of twins.