Kelly Hardy’s boys were conceived by IVF with the help of specialists at the city’s Jessops Wing after five years of trying.
But the pair dramatically needed more help from doctors and nurses on the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), when they were born prematurely after just 26 weeks of pregnancy.
Kelly said: “It took us the best part of five years to get our beautiful little boys. We tried Intrauterine insemination (IUI) which was unsuccessful and then embraced IVF. Our fifth and final embryo was successful, and six weeks later it was confirmed that we were pregnant with twins.
“As we had suffered previous miscarriages, one of which was discovered during a scan, so naturally we daren’t get excited just in case. However the pregnancy progressed well, albeit with many complications.
“I spent the majority of my first trimester, and some of my second in hospital due to severe Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), a complication of pregnancy which is characterised by severe nausea and vomiting.
“I only managed two or three days at home between admissions as I just couldn’t keep anything down, not even water, which caused dehydration. I lost so much weight that by the time I gave birth I was wearing non-maternity clothes a dress size smaller than normal. I also fell ill with shingles resulting in nerve damage on my abdomen which was extremely uncomfortable to manage.
“Then started to show signs of labour at just 26 weeks, and two days after, my waters broke. When Austin was born there were so many people in the room, about 15 to 20. Rory arrived 24 minutes later. I was then put to sleep for an operation straight after, leaving my husband, Ashley, terrified for the health of us all.
“Both boys were ventilated, in an incubator fighting for their lives. They both weighed less than a kilogram. I can’t explain how small they were, I think it’s something that you can’t possibly comprehend until you see it.
“Dr Simon Clarke- who was my absolute rock during the first weeks- visited me as I was coming round from my anaesthetic and he explained how poorly the boys were and what the reality was for babies so extremely premature and weighing so little, especially twins. The odds were against them.
We never expected to bring them home.
“They were fighters though, and after 99 days in NICU, we were transferred back to Barnsley Hospital for our final few weeks. Every day is still a battle. I think often people think that once you are discharged you go on to live a normal life, but premature babies often carry the scars of prematurity with them.
“We managed just three weeks at home when Rory’s windpipe collapsed as a result of multiple ventilations in NICU and he now has a tracheostomy. The boys are one year old, but have spent the majority of their lives in hospital, or indoors hiding from germs.
“I have so much respect for the team at Jessop Wing, they were like another family. I think about them almost daily and sometimes miss them, they really made a huge difference.
“There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for them- I owe my happiness to them. So we are taking part in this year’s Jessops Superheroes to give something back. So far we have raised almost £1,000 – which has exceeded our expectations. I think we’ve smashed out target due to my blog, which I set up on the day of the boys’ birth.
“Blogging allows me to write everything down, all of my feelings, worries and concerns. It also means that my boys will have something to look back on when they are bigger. I have had so many lovely messages of thanks from other IVF warriors, preemie parents and tracheostomy superheroes, who have found the blog really helpful.
“We also visited NICU at Christmas and took gifts and a donation, and we will take a birthday cake each year on the boys’ birthday to show our appreciation.”
Around 8000 babies are born each year at the Jessop Wing, which includes caring for around 900 critically ill and premature babies in one of the largest and most specialised Neonatal Intensive Care Units in the country. The hospital supports thousands of families each year from Sheffield, Yorkshire and the rest of the UK, through all stages of pregnancy, from conception to care after birth.
To help raise funds to improve the care and treatment of babies and their families, Sheffield Hospitals Charity is hosting its fourth annual superhero event, which has now raised more than £50k in the last three years.
Jessops Superheroes, sponsored by DuoCall, is a sponsored 2.5k or 4k family walk, buggy push, toddle or trike to help raise funds for the city’s tiniest patients. The event takes place on Sunday 21st May 2017 at Graves Park at 10.30am. There is a £15 minimum sponsorship for all who take part and everyone will receive a free superhero cape or bib.