Author: Jemma Cullen
Giving birth to twins while in isolation
In July 2019 I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of our second and third children, MCDA twins (their gender a surprise even to us!). I spent my days resting where possible and enjoying time with our daughter, Hazel (3 years old). A caesarean had been scheduled for Wednesday, 24 July 2019 (35+5).
The day prior to scheduled delivery I became extremely unwell, had difficulty breathing and was admitted to hospital. In the early evening, a swab test returned a positive result. It was confirmed I had Influenza A despite having had the flu vaccine.
Doctors were extremely worried about me and determined that delivery would go ahead as planned the next day, however, I would be giving birth to twins while in isolation. The twins would be taken to NICU/SCN upon their arrival. I would not be able to visit or care for the twins until I was well.
Thankfully my fiancé, Brett, was well and he was able to remain with and care for the twins. Hazel was to stay with my parents as originally planned.
Being separated from my twins straight after their birth
The caesarean went well and we welcomed two healthy girls, Margot Cullen Parker (2.2kgs) and Olive Kit Parker (1.8kgs) to our now complete family! The girls were taken to the SCN and Brett accompanied them. I was stitched up, placed in recovery and returned to my private room on the ward, alone.
I was extremely emotional and flitted constantly between being thrilled that the girls were here, proud of what my body had achieved, devastated that I couldn’t be with them, relieved that Brett could be, shocked that this was our reality and frustrated that while I had mentally prepared to have them taken from me, it had never occurred to me that I would need to be kept from them. It felt like emotional whiplash.
Being isolated after the birth of our twins
In the days that followed I had very few visitors. Those who entered my room were required to wear full PPE: a face mask, gloves and a gown. I was in isolation for five days until discharged and reunited with Hazel at home.
It would be a further two days until I received the results I had been waiting for: a negative nasal swab test.
Finally meeting our twins
Late in the afternoon on Day 7 I was finally able to attend SCN and meet our girls. Despite me being well, I was still without my closest support network. My parents had also contracted the flu and were unable to see or physically support me or meet their newest granddaughters for two weeks and due to long days at the hospital, I was unable to see friends and the majority of my family.
Brett and I tag teamed between home and the hospital, rarely seeing either Hazel or the twins together, and Margot and Olive came home after what felt like a very long, exhausting 19 days.
When isolation affects your support network
With the exception of Brett’s parents who supported Brett in SCN and assisted with the care of Hazel, our support network was largely unavailable to us for more than a month due to my isolation, the flu/other illnesses and life in general (work, family commitments, etc).
We relied heavily upon FaceTime, phone calls, texts and social media to share the highs, milestones, lows and challenging moments during the first month of our girls’ lives.
Eight and a half months on all three of our girls are thriving yet I still find myself occasionally shocked and saddened by the circumstances that surrounded Margot and Olive’s birth and the extreme loneliness I often felt during this time.
COVID-19 and the birth of twins and triplets
COVID-19 and the social distancing laws no doubt have a lot of people feeling very concerned. Giving birth to twins while in isolation is not how you planned this. To all those parents, grandparents, families and friends who will be welcoming babies during this challenging time, please know that I’ve been thinking of you since the social distancing laws came into effect and my heart aches for you as I know that this is not how you hoped that this special time would be.
Preparing for isolation doesn’t necessarily make it any easier and while it is true what they say, “this too shall pass”, it doesn’t make this time any less challenging and overwhelming. Keep in touch with your support network as often as you can and share your news and milestones with family and friends via technology.
Allow yourself to feel all the feelings – there is no “right” way to feel, and remember to look after yourselves as well as your babies. Know that I will be thinking of you all, as will many other people both in this online community and communities around the world. I promise you that when the social distancing laws are relaxed, those reunions and introductions will be some of the best moments of your lives.