June 2015 - Mum of twin boys Fiona Buxton tells us her story about her twin boys Mighty Henry and Mighty Thomas being born 9 weeks premature
Please tell us a little bit about your family and what brought you to live and raise your family in Dubai
We have lived in Dubai for two years, my husband, Andy, got the offer of a transfer with his company (Draeger, who make some of the incubators used in NICU) and we jumped at the chance. Prior to that, we lived in a seaside town near Newcastle in the North East of England. Andy transferred a couple of months before me so had everything in place when I arrived which was a huge help. We currently live in Dubai Marina which we love as there's so much going on right on our doorstep and coming from the coast, we knew we wanted to live near water. I had a couple of months r and r when I arrived which was great for recharging, exploring and meeting new people, them I started work as a Finance Manager for a company in the oil industry. I'm currently on extended leave from my job. We love living here, we have made some great friends and enjoy all there is to offer but it was hard to leave friends and family in the UK.
How early was your baby and what challenges did you face during those first few weeks and months
Our twins, Henry and Thomas were 9 weeks premature. Knowing it was twins we had prepared ourselves for them arriving early, just not that early! It was a total shock going for our 30 week scan to find out they needed to be delivered straight away as Henry's placenta was restricting his blood flow. We were very lucky and the boys were ok, Henry needed some extra help with his breathing and getting his bowel moving, but other than that, it was more a question of getting some weight on them and monitoring their progress. It wasn't all plain sailing and we had a few scares with Thomas having a possible heart murmur and Henry having a very high pulse rate, but fortunately things turned out ok. The boys were in NICU for just over 5 weeks and had fantastic care throughout. We met some amazing people in the unit, both the staff and other parents. We all had very different things to deal with but there was such a common bond between us which really helped.
If a new mother to a premature baby was reading this, what advice would you give them?
Be part of this group! I didn't join until after the boys were discharged but wish I'd done so earlier, the Mums are amazing and the love and support shown by everyone is incredible. Get as much support as you can.
Keep positive and happy, I know it's hard at times, but your baby needs that and needs you and Dad. Kangaroo care is truly amazing, do as much as you can. Get involved as much as possible in your baby's care, changing nappies, feeding etc, there may be times when the staff have to do it but it really helps you bond and gain confidence
Believe in yourself and your instincts, you're surrounded by such experienced staff, you sometimes question what you can actually do for your baby, the staff know the best thing from a medical point of view, but you know your baby and what he needs. I expressed my milk throughout so they were getting my milk as soon as they came off the IV nutrition, but I didn't start breastfeeding my boys until just as they were about to leave the unit as the nurses kept telling me they had to fully establish bottle feeding first. This went against my instincts but I trusted their advice, however talking with the doctors at discharge they said it would have been good to start breastfeeding them earlier. It's not been a problem but it would have been good to have trusted my instinct and started earlier when they were in the hospital.
Ask questions, NICU involves a lot of big words and acronyms, not easy at the best of times, but especially when it's such an emotional and stressful time. At City, they were very good at explaining what was going on, but if we were unsure of anything or just plain didn't understand what they were saying, the doctors and nurses were more than happy to explain in layman’s terms.
Finally, get some rest and look after yourself. Everyone tells you this and you totally ignore it as you feel that you should be with your baby all the time. It's important to be there and spend time with your baby, but also important that you're healthy and rested so that you can care for your baby and remain positive. Also if you're expressing breast milk, you need to rest to help establish a good supply.
Has having a premature baby changed you, your family or perhaps your outlook on life?
Absolutely, we have always been optimistic and positive in our outlook and this experience has just emphasised how important that is. Whilst having a baby in NICU is a stressful experience, there is a lot to be gained from it, you get to meet the most incredible people, fantastically strong Mums and Dads, wonderful doctors and nurses and some of the most amazing babies ever.
Andy and I didn't meet until we were a bit older so the fact that we could have children at all was a huge blessing, we feel so lucky and even more blessed now that we have our two beautiful little boys, small and mighty absolutely sums it up!
Is there anything you would like to see happen or be highlighted in Dubai regarding prematurity of babies?
We were lucky and got a lot of support, plus being part of this wonderful group is a huge help, I just wish I'd contacted you earlier. Having said that, there sometimes doesn't seem to be a lot of other support available which seems odd particularly given the number of multiple births there seems to be in Dubai where the chances of prematurity are much greater. For City hospital, the breastfeeding team needs to work a bit more closely with the NICU team, we mentioned this at the time and it was being addressed, obviously I can't speak for other hospitals though.