Little did Victoria Goodall know when she turned up for a routine antenatal appointment in March, that her life was about to change forever.
It was 20 March when Victoria, 27 weeks pregnant with twins, went for her ‘routine’ appointment at the Princess Royal Maternity in Glasgow city centre.
The 36-year-old Bishopbriggs mum to be, had just waved off her husband, a chief petty officer in the Royal Navy, as he returned to duties in Portsmouth.
“The first sign of something going on was my BP was up and I had what I thought was Braxton hicks. Whilst monitoring my blood pressure, the midwife put me on the CTG monitor and during this time one of the twins was found to be having deceleration,” explained Victoria.
“Soon it became clear that she was in distress and my obstetrician Dr Avril Scott was monitoring the situation closely. I was 26 weeks and six days pregnant, so this really was the worst case scenario.
“I was given steroids and magnesium, which help the babies’ lungs and brains develop and it was then that I realised this was very real.”
As this was unfolding, Victoria’s husband Ben was flying to Gatwick to join his ship in Portsmouth.
“It was awful, I called Ben when he landed and told him what was happening and he had to come back right away. He hired a car and drove through the night – including a blizzard. That must have been awful for him.
“It was such a long night but I had my midwife Gillian McLaughlin by my side the whole time, holding my hand and re-assuring me. She was truly amazing.
“Come the morning I was told they couldn’t wait any longer and would be doing an emergency caesarean to get the babies out. In the end Ben made it with 15 minutes to go!”
Victoria and Ben’s babies were born – a girl, Emelia, weighing a tiny 930g and a boy, Elliot, weighing 920g. The couple had not known the sex of the babies until this point. There were two neonatal teams standing by, headed up by consultant Dr Chris Lilley.
Victoria said: “The babies were whisked away immediately and I think that was the worst bit. I didn’t even get to hold them together until they were three weeks old. But I knew they were getting the best care imaginable.
“Once again the staff were amazing with me. Rather than going to the post natal ward, I was put in a single room in the antenatal ward. I couldn’t have faced the other ward with the babies and the balloons and the visitors; this kind gesture made such a difference to me at that time.
“My mum had to call my work to say I wouldn’t be in – I had had my babies 13 weeks early.
“The obstetrics team were so kind, they kept coming back to visit me over those difficult first few days. Their job was done but they went above and beyond to see how I was doing and give me words of encouragement.”
For the first few days the twins did well but they soon became poorly with the various pre term issues.
“They have had anaemia requiring blood transfusions, respiratory support, sepsis, head scan monitoring, Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) with Elliot requiring eye surgery and a hernia repair.”
Victoria’s babies were in hospital for a total of 107 days, and came home on 5 July.
“We are so delighted with our treatment and feel so lucky. Not everyone is as lucky as us and I know my twins are only here today because of the prompt and fabulous care we all received,” said Victoria.
She said: “We have come across so many health professionals, and everyone from the clerkess to the consultant have been amazing. They just have something special about them.
“They are there to laugh with you on the good days and give you a cuddle on the bad days. Their compassion and understanding are genuine. We also had great, ongoing support from our psychologist Alison Robertson; she was phenomenal.”
The couple also appreciated the support from the Royal Navy, as Ben was given five months paid, compassionate leave.
Victoria said: “His ship was about to deploy to the Med just after the twins were born and they realised there was no way he could be away from them. They have been incredible and I don’t know what we would have done without this support. It was one less thing to worry about.
“We just feel so lucky to be home with the twins. There will still be lots of ongoing care and treatment but we feel so blessed to be where we are now. I can’t praise the staff highly enough.”