Ella-Mae’s story shows there’s support out there for parents of seriously ill children such as premature twins Ruby and Bella
It’s the greatest fear every mother-to-be can face – going for a scan and being told to prepare for the worst.
But this is what happened to London resident Ella-Mae, who was informed by doctors at her 12-week scan, and again at her 20-week scan, that that her non-identical twin girls were unlikely to go full-term.
‘During my 20-week scan I was told I was 3cm dilated and to prepare to lose them immediately,’ says Ella-Mae.
‘I prayed and begged the doctor to do something, anything they could to help. At a very last-ditch attempt to save my pregnancy, I had a procedure which gave me another six weeks and four days and I remained in hospital on bed rest – it was the difference between life and death for the girls. Those days were the hardest of my life. We had nothing but empty hope and prayer.’
Yet, against the odds, the twins survived. After Ella-Mae spent the last three months of her pregnancy in hospital or on bed rest, Bella and Ruby were born 14 weeks early on 31 October, weighing 910 grams and 900 grams, respectively. But the family’s struggles didn’t end there.
‘While the girls were in hospital, the weeks turned into months and at times it felt as though there was no end in sight. We had no certainty as to when the girls would come home, if at all, until the day finally came when doctors said we could,’ says Ella-Mae.
In mid-January, the twins finally moved out of Guys and St Thomas’s neo-natal ward and back to their Westminster home where the girls are now being supported by their mum, dad – Ella-Mae’s fiancé Giovanni – and Rainbow Trust Family Support Worker, Fiona.
And although they were born with chronic lung disease, Bella and Ruby are gradually being weaned off the 24-hour oxygen they need and are not expected to suffer any long-term health problems.
Ella-Mae says, ‘I couldn’t do it without Fiona and Rainbow Trust. Having her visit for a couple of hours is like coming out of deep water and being able to breathe again. Having someone to talk to and who is good with the girls is amazing. She’s incredible.’
The Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity offers tailored support for families who have a child with a life-threatening condition. It has eight care teams of Family Support Workers across England, including two in London that cover central London boroughs, to help more than 2,500 families of seriously ill children at home, in hospital and in the community.
‘Raising twins hasn’t been easy, and along with learning how to be a new mother to two babies I’ve had to deal with coping with the oxygen and processing difficult trauma,’ explains Ella-Mae.
‘That said, I wouldn’t change it for the world. The girls have redefined me and shown me what resilience and love really mean, and the support we’ve received has made our journey easier and cushioned the blow at the hardest time of our lives.’
The challenging experience has made Ella-Mae and Giovanni staunch advocates of charities such as Rainbow Trust. ‘They are the kindest people with the warmest hearts and we are eternally thankful,’ she says. ‘If you feel worried to ask for help you shouldn’t be. Rainbow Trust always made us feel that our voices were heard.’