***** Please note, this post contains the loss of a twin *****
As parents we all love hearing birth stories. This was one of my driving reasons to publish as many twin and triplet birth stories on the Twinfo blog that I could. However, reading about it is one thing, watching it unfold in front of you is another. Which is the reason why over 484,000 people nationally are tuning in to watch Channel 10’s new factual series, One Born Every Minute Australia.
One Born Every Minute Australia is based on the UK version, and it takes us right into the birth units, via 60 high tech cameras, at Sydney’s Westmead Hospital. I was honoured that Channel 10 asked me to interview Bianca, one of the participants. Bianca and her husband Daniel, appear in episode 5 of the show where we follow the birth of their twins.
About Bianca and her family
At the time of speaking to Bianca, which was a week before the episode was aired, Bianca’s twins, Hunter and Brooklyn, had just turned 3 months old. Being a twin mum myself, the first question I asked her was how was SHE? And how were the babies sleeping? Bianca thought she was “doing OK” and that thankfully her boy twin, Hunter, was generally sleeping though the night. Brooklyn, however wants a few more extra cuddles from Mum, but she is close to sleeping though.
Which is lucky, as Bianca has three other children. She has an 8 year old, who lives in Sydney with her Dad, and 4 year old Mackenzie whose dad passed away when she was six weeks old. Bianca and Daniel also have Peyton, who was born last August, and now they have the twins. Payton was only 4 months old when they found out they were expecting twins. To further complicate things, when Bianca and Daniel were 7 weeks pregnant with twins they were given the devastating news that 4 year old Mackenzie had Leukaemia.
Personally, I cannot wait to watch Episode 5, and I’m thrilled to share my chat with Bianca with you.
What was your initial reaction when you found out you were pregnant with twins? Particularly given the fact that Peyton was only 4 months old.
We knew I was pregnant, but we weren’t really sure how far along I was. So we went for a dating scan. It was so funny! Having had three other children I knew straight away that it was twins. I didn’t say anything, as I was waiting for the ultrasound lady to speak. The expression on my husband’s face was priceless when she announced it was twins! I do have twins on my side of the family, but we didn’t expect to be the next one to have them!
How did your twin pregnancy differ from your three previous singleton pregnancies?
Completely different! It was so much harder on my body than my previous singleton pregnancies. It was double the kicks, so I was constantly getting kicks all the time on different sides of my body. I felt 10 times as uncomfortable during my twin pregnancy as I did with my singleton pregnancies. I had reflux with all of my pregnancies, but with the twins it was so much worse. Even a plain sandwich would give me reflux. I was living of the plainest sandwiches and Mylanta. Thankfully it went away as soon as the twins were born.
How are you coping with all the attention from having twins and Peyton so close in age when you go to the shops etc?
I can’t believe how much people are focussed on the twins! Everyone loves twins. We get so much attention. I get asked a lot of questions. So many people ask me if they are identical, which is really funny, as they are a boy and a girl. I’ve even had nurses ask me if they are identical.
What sort of pram do you have? Obviously Peyton is too little to walk. Do you have a triple pram?
No, I just have a Steelcraft twin pram and a single stroller. At the moment, with Mackenzie going though Chemo she can’t walk. So I have to take someone else with me if we are all going out. I put Mackenzie in the stroller, Payton and one twin in the double pram and I baby wear the remaining twin.
You were admitted with pre-term labour at 33 weeks. Why was this?
I started having contractions and lots of tighenings. They gave me some steroid injections to help the babies lungs and some medication to stop labour, which thankfully worked. They did want me to wear some medication patches to stop labour but these gave me really bad headaches. I couldn’t afford to be bed ridden with a migraine as I had to drive Makenzie to her treatment.
When you were 7 weeks pregnant with twins you received the devastating news that your 4yo daughter Mackenzie had a form of Leukaemia. What was going through your mind at this time?
It was hard. Very hard. We were still not over shock of the news we were having twins, then have this bombshell dropped on us.
How did you cope with the juggle of a newborn, a sick 4yo and being pregnant with twins? Do you have much family support?
It was extremely hard. We were living on the Central Coast, Mackenzie was in Westmead Hospital in Sydney. Thankfully my brother was able to take Peyton during the week for about 4 weeks.
During this time we decided that due to the twins coming, and Mackenzie needing two years of treatment we would have to move. So we packed up from central coast and moved near the Westmead into temporary accommodation. Last week we moved again, into a unit just two minutes from the Westmead Hospital.
Tell us about the birth of your twins.
I was adamant I had to have a vaginal birth, as I needed to be able to drive straight away to take Mackenzie to hospital for her treatment. Plus my other three births were all vaginal births. Thankfully Brooklyn was head down, so they agreed. At that time Hunter was breech, but I was happy to deliver breach if it meant I could drive when needed. I’m the only one who drives in our family.
I was due to be induced at 37 weeks, on a Tuesday. On the Monday afternoon I had a stretch and sweep. Very early on Tuesday morning I woke Daniel up and said we had to go to the hospital. I quickly called the One Born Every Minute producer to let them know I was in labour and then set off for the hospital. It took me 10 minutes to drive myself to the hospital, and I had about 6 contractions in that time. When I got there they checked me, and I was 8.5cm dilated already!
30 minutes after arriving at the hospital, at 4.51am, Brooklyn was born, weighing 5 pounds 5 ounces. Thankfully the One Born Every Minute crew got there literally two minutes before I gave birth to Brooklyn. By this stage the epidural hadn’t even kicked in. Unfortunately, once Brooklyn was out, Hunter turned traverse, with his spine against the birth canal, so there was no option but a C-section. I was devastated. They tried to top up the epidural, but I could still feel things, so they said I had to have a general anaesthetic to have the c-section. 24 minutes after Brooklyn was born Hunter arrived by c-section, weighing 6 pounds 8 ounces.
What was it like having the cameras there, watching your every move.
By the time I gave birth I was used to them. Plus there were so many people in the delivery room that a few additional camera people didn’t really make much difference. Also, by this stage I didn’t really care! I barely noticed they were there.
How long were you and the babies in hospital?
I managed to get up 6 hours later and was walking around, albeit in a fair amount of pain. I gave birth on Tuesday morning and we all went home on the Friday morning.
What would be your top tips for a family who find out they are expecting twins when they have a baby?
Don’t stress! You have already had one baby, so you mostly know what you are doing. Any baby is always going to be a learning curve. You will get into a routine. It seems daunting at the time, however once they are here you will get into a routine.
I basically did it all by myself from the start. I let Daniel sleep during the night as we were preparing for Mackenzie’s next round of chemo, and he would be away at the hospital with her during this time. So I figured I would have to cope by myself then, so I had better get used to it.
How are YOU coping?
I’m actually OK. I just take every day as it comes. I just work out how to overcome the hurdles as they come up. I don’t have a choice. I can’t sit and rest on my laurels, I just need to get on and do it.
How is Mackenzie now?
Unfortunately she has been really sick last for the last couple of months, which has been hard. She had sepsis and was in ICU for a while and then back in the cancer ward. She managed to come home for a few days, but has been in hospital again for the past three weeks.
Have you seen your episode?
Yes, they showed it to me. It’s really emotional to watch. Not only the birth of the twins, but watching Mackenzie go through her treatment. It really was very emotional to watch it all back.
One of the ladies who helps us a bit was with us when they brought it over for us to watch. She cried for most of it. It’s just very emotional.
One Born Every Minute Australia, airs on Channel 10 on Tuesday nights at 8.30. If you miss it, you will be able to watch it on 10 Play.
Post Episode Update
Tragically on the 18th November, baby Brooklyn passed away at just 12 weeks from SIDS.