I lost one twin to ‘miscarriage’ then her sister was born hours later at just 23 weeks – cuddles saved her
WHEN little Elsie Dutton was born – she weighed the same as a tin of soup.
At the start of her life, doctors told parents Amy and Scott that she might not make it.
Elsie was born at just 23 weeks and four days gestation – below the legal limit for abortion, and wasn’t expected to survive, after her twin passed away when Amy went into labour after surgery to separate them.
The couple, from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, say this was a ‘scary time’ after the horror they had already been through with little Elsie’s twin, Dotty.
Medics said that Amy, 33, had a miscarriage, and it was because of this that she was unable to put that Elsie was a twin on her birth certificate.
Elsie suffered with necrotising enterocolitis – a hole in her bowel and doctors said that she might not survive due to her tiny size.
But experts told the family that Elsie’s best chance of survival was having cuddles with her mum, also known as Kangaroo Care.
They explained that the best way for Elsie’s heartbeat to grow stronger and start to regulate itself was by being close to her mother’s heartbeat, to simulate being in the womb.
So for hours every day, Amy sat and held her tiny daughter close to her chest, cuddling her, and every day seeing her get stronger and stronger.
Elsie was born on December 2, 2021, and just last month was given the green light to go home from doctors at St George’s Hospital, London.
Amy said: “Bringing her home for the first time was honestly amazing.
“I almost didn’t think it was real, the day felt like a dream come true.
“I’ve never felt such a relief as when we got to walk out of the hospital and take her home.
“It’s so surreal to hold your baby and think about how you could have lost her, and having her home after all that uncertainty was just bliss.”
Amy was allowed to hold her daughter briefly when she was born – before she was whisked away for treatment.
Losing Dotty was really difficult, because it was before 24 weeks I was never able to register her as a stillborn, she was classed as a miscarriage
She then had to wait a whole month before being able to hold her.
She said: “Having to wait so long to hold her was really difficult, so when I finally did it meant so much.
“It’s crazy to think that me cuddling her was having such an impact, it saved her life.
“It was just amazing, I would hold her and I could see on all the monitors that her heart rate was relaxing. It felt so special.
“It’s something that was good for me and for her because it helps bring my stress down being able to hold her.
“I held her for about 30 seconds when she born and then she went straight in the incubator for one month.
“I was able to hold her for a few hours every day.”
While the family are elated that Elsie is recovering, they have struggled to get closure for the loss of her twin.
“Losing Dotty was really difficult, because it was before 24 weeks I was never able to register her as a stillborn, she was classed as a miscarriage.
“That meant I wasn’t able to put on Elsie’s birth certificate that she was a twin either.
“Being able to have that on the paperwork would have given me some closure after going through something so difficult.
“We managed to get a commemorative certificate for her, and her ashes which was really helpful for the grieving process.
“Her funeral was paid for by the First Touch charity, which was a really important day for us.”
Now, the family are trying to raise funds for First Touch.
Dr Sijo Francis, Clinical Director of Children’s Services at St George’s University Hospital, said: “When babies like Elsie are born prematurely, clinical intervention is key but parent’s involvement also has a hugely positive effect.
“When mothers hold their babies in their arms for a long time, as they do with kangaroo care, stress for both mother and baby is reduced and we see improved short- and long-term outcomes.”
Bobbie Everson, the Family Care Coordinator at St George’s, added: “Kangaroo Care significantly improves mother’s breast milk supply as it greatly increases oxytocin, our “feel good”(or love) hormone.”
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