In 2019, Kloe was diagnosed with PCOS. She was put on Clomid to help her ovulate and fell pregnant after 3 attempts. Unfortunately, she suffered an early loss. A few months later, she fell pregnant with twin boys. But her pregnancy was full of challenges. At 16 weeks they were diagnosed with TTTS stage 3 and IUGR. Kloe was given 3 options, terminate the whole pregnancy, terminate the smaller twin to give the larger twin more of a chance, or have emergency laser surgery to separate the shared connections of the placenta. It was 70% survival odds for James (the bigger twin) and only 10% for Michael. At just 27 weeks, Kloe went into labour and the boys weighed a tiny 2lb 6oz and 1lb 6oz. Her and Michael spent 82 and 101 days in 2 different NICU’s and the boys had 4 surgeries between them.
After struggling to conceive for quite some time, what was it like finding out you were pregnant again in August 2020 with your miracle twins? Michael what was this like for you, as a partner?
Kloe: It was very surreal, we found out on the morning of my 30th birthday party! We were so excited but also terrified because of the early loss before. I didn’t really settle until I had my first scan at 6 weeks.
Michael: It didn’t feel real, I thought it must have been a faulty test (even after 4 more) I couldn’t process it all at first. I wanted to be excited but was so nervous.
The 16-week scan came with some new challenges and complications, what did you do when the news was delivered?
Kloe: Cried and cried, I was so upset and couldn’t believe after the journey that we had been on already that there was another hurdle to overcome. I was so worried about the future.
Michael: I was devastated but new I had to stay strong for Kloe. I just kept reassuring her and letting her know it would be ok.
Besides the support of one another, what was your greatest source of strength throughout that time?
It was extremely hard as it was in the peak of COVID and I was considered high risk so we couldn’t see anyone. We would facetime our family and friends constantly. They were amazing throughout and we wouldn’t have got through it without them. We also researched a lot of information online and looked for similar stories. Bliss and Twins Trust charities were amazing help for us with their information.
What kind of advice can you give parents who are going through a similar experience?
Kloe: Firstly, not to blame themselves, it’s no one’s fault these things happen. I struggled with guilt for a long time before realising there was nothing, I could have done to prevent it. It can be really scary seeing such a tiny baby, but they are stronger than you could ever imagine.
I would also really recommend speaking out, don’t hold your feelings in… you also must look after yourself. There is a great community out of there of families of premature babies, twins, NICU families etc it’s been a huge help for me personally, we are all trying really hard to raise awareness now and make sure others going through similar don’t feel alone and have a safe space to share their feelings and ask questions.
Michael: Also get as much information as you can from your medical team. They are there to help and support you so ask whatever comes to your mind. Also when you are in the NICU, get involved, sing and talk to your baby, get involved with their daily care, cuddles etc. It helps you and them.
You’ve shared with us that 1 in 13 babies in the UK are now born prematurely. What can we do as a community to raise more awareness and support parents going through this?
I think it is one of those things that unfortunately unless it has happened to you or a close friend you don’t really hear or know much about it. It was only mentioned to me once I was told I was having twins, but prematurity can affect anyone not just multiples. We want to ensure that it is spoken about more without scaring people. Prematurity Awareness Month has been amazing so far, I have seen so many brave and strong families share their journeys on social media to help others and there have been lots of big platforms sharing these stories too. There are also amazing charities holding different events to raise money and spread awareness so we are supporting them as much as we can.
Has your outlook on life or parenthood changed after this journey? Would you be able to share a little bit about this with us?
Kloe: Definitely, I was quite a materialistic person before and a big perfectionist. Our whole journey has just changed my whole perspective on life. I have realised that nothing compares to the love we have for the boys, it’s not about “items” anymore or how clean the house is, it’s about making memories and treasuring our precious time together. We feel so incredibly lucky to have the boys.
I have suffered with quite bad anxiety since which is something I didn’t know much about before, and it has really opened our eyes to what other families go through whether it be infertility miscarriage, prematurity, NICU time. That is why we are trying so hard to share our journey and help others by giving hope and letting them know they are not alone in this.
Michael: I want to make sure everything is the best it can be for them now; they are such warriors with everything they have been through, more than most of us will go through in our entire lives and I will make sure they know how strong they are and how proud we are.
What has been the biggest lesson parenthood has taught each of you?
Michael: To prioritise! We have been through so many different and at times traumatic moments that you forget the little things. To take care of yourself and make time for your partner too.
Kloe: Patience for me, and dealing with so many different emotions in such a short space of time.
Bliss is an incredible charity that exists to give every baby born premature or sick in the UK the best chance of survival and quality of life. They support families and professionals by enabling life-changing research and campaigning for change.
You can learn more by visiting bliss.org.uk