The ups and downs of an instant family


Rhian Waller

THEY may be double trouble or twin terrors – but most mums will tell you multiple births are just an opportunity for double, triple or quadruple the love.

But things aren’t as simple as getting two (or more) babies for the price of one.

Having twins involves more than dealing with twice the number of dirty nappies and hungry bellies – carrying multiple children means an increased risk of complications during pregnancy.

Flintshire, Chester and Wrexham are rich in twins and triplets, and several Leader readers came forward to share their stories.

Fiona Walker, 32, of Mynydd Isa, near Mold, faced a painful decision when she was carrying twins.

The 32-year-old had to undergo a procedure that had a 70 per cent chance of losing one twin – but if she didn’t have it she faced a 90 per cent chance of losing both.

She said: “I was 20 weeks pregnant with Autumn and Isabelle when I found out we had Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS).

It meant that the girls, who shared the same placenta, also shared some blood vessels, so fluid was being taken from one and being transferred to the other.

“That put both of them at risk.

“Doctors refer to the situation as there being a donor twin and a recipient twin. Autumn was the donor twin so she was losing blood, and Isabelle was the recipient twin, which put pressure on her heart.”

Two days after the diagnosis, doctors carried out keyhole surgery in the womb, lasering some of the blood vessels which fed the unborn girls.

Fiona said: “It’s amazing to think about but quite scary as well. I’m a member of some Facebook groups that talk about TTTS so I read a lot of sad stories about when it doesn’t work.

“I did worry during the pregnancy but I was monitored all the way through.

“I had a natural birth at Wrexham Maelor. My girls survived the condition and they’re both happy and healthy. They’re one year old now.

“We’re so lucky.”

As identical twins, it’s quite difficult to tell Autumn and Isabelle apart –  although Autumn has a tell-tale freckle on her foot.

Fiona said: “I can’t say if they’re harder work than a single child because I don’t know any different. I love them to bits.”

Complications are not always so dramatic.

Claire Windsor, 38, of Flint, said: “My mum had triplet brothers, and I gave birth to twin boys. There were no twins in mum’s generation so it came as a bit of a surprise for her.

“They didn’t have the same scans back then so when they found a third heart beat at six months, she was shocked.

“She wasn’t put off though. She had me afterwards.”

Claire said it wasn’t all bad growing up with three triplet brothers, amongst other siblings.

She said: “Two are identical, the other we call the odd one out!

“They’d gang up on me a bit but they were very protective as well. They used to make me play football when I didn’t want to. They’d say ‘you’re in goal’ and I’d have to say ‘ok’.”

When it came to her own pregnancy, with Andrew Junior and Jack Albert, now six weeks old, Claire was fully aware of how many babies to expect but did not anticipate complications.

She said: “I had to be monitored twice a week because I developed a problem with my liver.”

Claire developed obstetric cholestasis, which normally affects fewer than one in 100 pregnant women but is more common in multiple births.

It means that bile leaks out into the bloodstream and circulates around the body.  

Normally this only causes an unpleasant itch but it has been associated with further complications and the causes and effects are not yet well known.

Fortunately, both boys were born healthy, although their grandmother never got to meet them.

Claire said: “I bet she’d be proud of them. Having triplets back in 1969 was a big thing at the time and she already had four children.

“My boys are hard work sometimes and it’s difficult getting the side-by-side pram around. I’m juggling changing, feeding and settling them all the time. I haven’t slept since 5.30 the morning before this.

“But I feel so blessed to have my boys, both my twins and my triplet brothers.”
Louise Jones, 33, of Greenfield, a twin and mother to twins, is testament that twin s run in the family.

But she was only too aware that things could go wrong when she was carrying Gethin and Owain Jones, now 14 months old.

She said: “There are multiple births on both my and my husband’s side. He’s got a twin sister. His mum’s two sisters are twins too.

“It goes back generations. We have great-grandparents with three sets of twins as well. But my nana lost her twins.

“My pregnancy went quite well, except that I had an emergency Caesarean section and the twins were four weeks early.”

Louise has an insight on what life will be like for her young sons.

She said: “Our parents used to dress us in matching outfits until we reached the age of six and then we rebelled. I was the first to be born and that came up quite often in arguments. I’d say ‘I’m older’ and she’d say ‘only by three minutes’.

“I have all this ahead with my two.”

But despite the perils of people mistaking you for your sibling, there are benefits to being an identical twin.

She said: “You always have a best friend. You always had someone with you to play with rather than being alone.

“My sister and I have a really good relationship.

“We’re identical so we still look similar now. We have the same build, similar features and the same colour hair, although she ties hers up while I wear mine down.

“You do hear people talking to each other on the streets saying ‘they must be twins’ when we walk past. We even work in the same place, at Abakhans.

“As for my boys – it has been hard work but I would never turn back the clock.”

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