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Parents who lost premature twin daughters in labour fundraise for hospital “cuddle cot”

A mum has described losing her twin girls during early labour as “absolutely crushing”.

26-year-old Events Manager Lauren Napier from North Lanarkshire, Scotland, had been preparing to welcome her twin babies in October 2021 with her husband, 32-year-old Warehouse Operative Ian. However, in early June she began to experience sudden back pain.

A few days later, at just 21 weeks pregnant, she went into labour and both babies tragically passed away.

Lauren was not initially worried by the pain, having enjoyed the “perfect pregnancy” so far. However, her pain began to increase and moved to her stomach.

After a hospital visit, Lauren was told she was OK to return home, but her pain soon became “unbearable”.

She said: “I started to get a slight back pain, but it felt like muscle pain so I didn’t think anything of it – but within a few days I started to get pain in the right side of my stomach”.

“I decided to call the hospital for some advice. Both myself and the babies were checked at the hospital and all was fine so I was sent home with some painkillers”.

“But the pain got increasingly worse and was eventually unbearable. I felt like I was having contractions”.

“I went back into the hospital again that day. I was then examined by a doctor who confirmed my waters hadn’t broken and everything was still in place”.

“I had a scan to check the babies and everything was fine, but that one twin’s head was engaged”.

“I was told this was sometimes normal and she can move back out of that position and that the contractions I was having were uterus contractions that can be caused by an irritation”.

Lauren and husband Ian were once again told to return home. However Lauren’s contractions began to worsen throughout the night, and her waters suddenly broke during the morning of 15 June.

She was rushed to Wishaw General Hospital where medics told her that her labour was too far gone and her premature babies would not survive.

Lauren, recalling the ordeal, said: “By the time I got to hospital I was already five centimetres dilated, which meant they couldn’t stop the labour”.

“We were then told by the doctor that the babies were too early and even if they were born alive, there would be no chance of survival”.

“This news was absolutely crushing. I had to go through a full natural labour and deliver both of my girls knowing I would not be taking them home with me”.

Their daughter, Billie, was delivered stillborn at 3.34 pm, weighing just 370 grams. She was followed by her sister Malea at 4.43 pm. She was born alive, but weighed a tiny 400 grams and tragically passed away several hours later.

Lauren has a heart condition and suffered a blood clot in 2018. She, therefore, had to receive blood-thinning injections every day since her third week of pregnancy but felt her pregnancy had been “perfect” before the pains developed.

“It felt the best I have ever felt in my life”

She said: “It felt the best I have ever felt in my life. It really was the perfect pregnancy, very little sickness and some headaches up to around 12 weeks, then it all went away”.

“Everyone even complimented how well I looked”.

Lauren and Ian chose to share their story to raise awareness and fundraise after being given the time to spend with their twin daughters in a cuddle cot.

NHS Scotland uses cuddle cots for stillborn babies and late miscarriages. They work to keep babies who have passed away cooler for longer, in order to slow the decomposition process.

Lauren said: “The hospital offered us as much time as we needed with the girls”.

“We stayed with them for two days and even had the option to take them home in the cot but we just felt that this would have been even harder when it would be time for them to be collected by the private ambulance”.

“The cuddle cot gave us an experience we never even knew was possible, we were able to cuddle our babies, sing to them and get them ready for their final journey”.

She went on: “I had never heard of cuddle cots before this and I feel that it is so important there is more awareness of this so that people going through this situation know this is an option if they wish to do so”.

“Every single person deserves the opportunity to have precious time with their babies”.

Lauren and Ian have since raised funds to donate a new cuddle cot to University Hospital Wishaw in their daughters’ memory.

“We knew we had spent precious time with our girls”

Lauren said: “I know how much comfort it brought to us and I want other people to feel the same”.

Lauren and Ian also praised the hospital’s “amazing” midwives and doctors and described the painful moment they had to return home from the labour ward without their baby daughters.

She explained: “Leaving the hospital was so hard, having to walk through the labour ward with two memory boxes instead of our babies was killing us, but we knew we had spent precious time with our girls and some people may not have had that”.

“We appreciate everything the hospital has done for us during and after our situation and we want to do anything we can to help”.

The couple managed to raise £3,250, well exceeding their initial target of £1,700 and have also set up a Facebook page called the Billie & Malea Foundation.

They aimed to raise money for clothes to dress premature babies in cuddle cots. Lauren explained: “One thing that really upset me was we didn’t have any clothes to fit our angels and we had to wrap them up in blankets”.

“It would be really special to even have vests for early gestations that people can use to dress their babies”.

“I would also like to use the Facebook page to share other people’s stories in memories of their angel babies. I am aiming to register this as a charity and help as many people as we can”.

A spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson, said: “Our hearts go out to Lauren and Ian, and their late daughters Billie and Malea in this deeply sad case. This is a tragedy not made any easier by their very young age and illustrates how precious life is even at its earliest stages, inside or outside the womb”.

Image credit: Lauren and Ian Napier

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