Isla and Eloise

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Miracle Mum, Nicole found out her twins girls had twin to twin transfusion syndrome (ttts) at 16 weeks. One twin was much larger than the other, with the smaller one only being fed by 10% of the umbilical cord. They also had very different amounts of fluid surrounding them. It meant they needed delicate surgery before they were born. The surgery went well and the following weeks meant close monitoring to try and get the smaller twin, Eloise, close to 500g before deciding on a C-section.

Nicole and her family share their story of love, heart-break, and miracles.

"Nicole is an amazing mum to 5 beautiful kids. She has had to face a tough journey, go through more pain, more tests, more anxious waits than anyone deserves. She is a strong woman of many talents... but there is one particular talent I need to mention. She is an expert koala spotter!

Every Friday was scan day. A day we dreaded since being diagnosed with Twin Twin Transfer Syndrome. To keep her mind off things, Nicole would look for koalas in the trees on the way down the hill. If she spotted 2 or more, it would be a good day she decided. It would mean that 2 heartbeats awaited us, something we were told would one day not be the case. 16 Fridays and more than 32 koalas later, it would come time to meet our 2 little heartbeats.

Isla and her sister Eloise were born in a carefully planned, choreographed operation. Coming out at exactly the same time, holding hands, Isla was the first to announce herself with a small mouse like scream, probably the most beautiful thing we have ever heard. Isla weighed 1560g and Eloise only 480grams. Rushed into the NICU they were both stabilised in their isolettes with a cables and plugs just like you were plugging in your TV to every console available.

Isla had her first scan to look at her heart, a condition we knew she had developed several months back. The scan was positive and meant no immediate surgery in Melbourne, initial relief. We had twins. Both stable. Both healthy as could be. One small. One bigger. Both beautiful. Both perfect.

In the days following we got to know them. We got accustomed to our new normal. Isla took a little while to get growing but she got there after a couple of weeks. She was very aware, looking around her isolette, following our gaze as we jumped between twins holding their hands, adjusting their sunglasses, staring at their tiny feet.

The Melbourne operation loomed and eventually became unavoidable. Surgery was planned and routine, or as routine as heart surgery on a 32 week old prem is. It went smoothly, she powered through it. Recovery was going well initially, but then things changed for the worse. Isla had developed sepsis overnight caused by something called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in layman’s terms, a perforated bowel. The longest 12 or so hours of our life followed... 

I am so sorry Isla.
Sorry we couldn’t do more for you.

Sorry we couldn’t show you the amazing, sometimes cruel world in which we live. You never got so see our home, our piece of paradise. You never got to play with you older sisters and brother. Never got to play with your dog. I am sorry you will never enjoy a sunrise at home, sleep overs at Nanna’s or the joys of walking through nanny’s and genes during mushroom season. You will always be with us. Your sister will experience all of this and you will be there with her every step. Mummy and daddy love you so much. You will be missed dearly but never forgotten. You taught us so much in your short life, taught us to fight, to have hope when all is lost and renewed our faith.

Ten months later and Isla has left a gaping hole in our hearts. I will always carry the burden of choosing to deliver her early in order to save her sister. Procedures have been amended at every children’s hospital in Australia due to the events that took place in Melbourne but Isla’s prematurity was ultimately the major cause of her death and that guilt will never leave me. She spent less than 4 weeks on this earth but the impact she made in that short time confirmed how special she truly is. We continue to find signs of her around us. Even the smallest of footprints can leave the strongest of imprints and we are grateful for the short time we were gifted with our guardian angel.

Eloise spent approximately 3 months in the NICU and SCBU wards and was then sent home with oxygen and a gastric tube for feeding. She has slight health issues and her brain is still continually being monitored but seems to be stable. Eloise is ten months old and now no longer needs breathing or feeding support. She is hitting her milestones and continues to thrive. She has bought so much joy to our lives already and is proof that miracles truly can happen.

Thank yous aren’t really said at such times but in this case we really do need to thank a few. Our family are blown away by the love and support we have received through this whole time, not only since we lost Isla but through our whole story.

We want to thank a few people or groups particularly. Dr Chad Anderson and the staff at the neo natal ward at the women’s and children's. Truly amazing people doing amazing work. They are the true hero’s, without thier hard work we wouldn’t have got even this far. Dr Tracey Bradbury and Dr Peter Muller for guiding us through a maze we thought we may never finish. The staff at Matter Mothers Hospital in Brisbane for giving us the fighting chance to meet both girls. To the staff in butterfly ward NICU at the Royal Children’s in Melbourne, thank you for your amazing professionalism and thoughtfulness."

Thank you Nicole and family for sharing your deeply personal, moving and emotional story.

Isal and Eloise.PNGIsla 01.PNGEloise hospital.PNGEloise now.PNG

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