Today as I write this, we are celebrating yet a another milestone, A year ago today Florence left Watford SCBU and came home.
I remember saying at the time it was a bittersweet day for us as a family. We were so so pleased and overjoyed to be welcoming Florence home where she belonged, But also very sad as we had to leave her twin brother Owen behind, who was still very much under the care of Watford SCBU.
During our time in special care we saw many twins come and go, some shared the same cots, some also were in separate parts of the unit for a time, but all the twins we saw go home, all went home together.
Florence wasn't as sick as her brother Owen, but she did have her fair share of ups and downs. Sometimes as she got older and stronger, we took her growth and comparatively easier journey for granted, She was the well one. We soon felt the crushing pain as she took a turn for the worse or had a setback. I remember feeling so guilty when a blood transfusion was needed that we didn't see it coming. On the first day Alex dared to go back to work, Florence became unwell with an infection. That meant Florence was on minimal handling, I would miss out on my favourite time of day skin to skin or cuddles. All I could do was watch her. Without being able to do her cares or hold her I felt useless that day, useless and so alone. I was so thankful my friend Marie came for a visit that day, I don't think she knew how much I needed that (until reading it now no doubt)
Luckily later in the day, One of the nurses decided that a small cuddle wouldn't hurt as long as Florence was wrapped up well. I was so thankful for that hug it was very much needed.
I know in my first blog post I explain her name meaning of Florence was"to Flourish", But we actually didn't pick her name for its meaning, Florence was one of the few names that we Both liked. Same goes for the name Owen.
Moments after we found out at my 18 week scan that we were having a boy and a girl we agreed on names. We sat back in the waiting room at London University Hospital staring at our newly printed out scan pictures, "So that's Owen and Florence then?" exclaimed Alex. Later instead of twin a and twin b we nicknamed them "O and Flo".. and we never did question or change our minds, it just felt right. But we did keep it a secret.
The twin's middle name's were a different story, we were stuck. We had a long list but could not decide. The day of my emergency C-section we still hadn't decided. I was in my hospital gown awaiting to go up to theatre, the girls still by my bedside awaiting my mum to pick them up. I pulled out my list.. "Come on guy's we need to pick names" I was determined that if they were going to be born early and whisked away from me the least I could do was give them names from the start. The thought of them being up there, away from me nameless was too much to bear. We picked "Harvey" as a middle name for Owen as it meant "Battle worthy" we knew he was about to fight a real life or death battle. Bethany picked the middle name Ella meaning "Ray of Light". I wrote their whole names down "Owen Harvey Skelton and Florence Ella Skelton" and told Alex to keep it on him and pass it on to the neonatal staff before both babies went across to SCBU.
Florence is my "Ray of Light" in the most darkest moments
When Owen was at his sickest, sometimes the noise of his vent going up and down and the noise of the alarms constantly ringing was just too much too bear. The magnitude of just be able to sit and stare, saying silent prayers would just get too much. At times like this I would go and sit with Florence. As Florence wasn't as sick as Owen I was able to do more for her. I could do her "cares" I could hold her, I could "Mother" her. Those moments were precious. Florence gave me extra feelings of hope and strength, I would then go back to Owen passing on to him her hope and strength.
Even when she did come home, Florence never did escape from SCBU for long. Florence became a daily visitor to SCBU. The Nurses arranged for a cot to be set up in Owen's side room next to his cot.
For 6 more manic weeks Florence and I would make the crazy journey of dropping off the girls at school, hurrying back to the hospital ,to be on time for Owen's morning feed and "cares". We would stay until it was time to pick up the girls back up from school, sometimes we would all then come back again to visit Owen. Sometimes I could stay longer if the girls were being picked up by someone else.
It was a strange and hard situation. All the staff did the most they could to make it work, as they knew it was the only way we as a family could cope.
I remember one day as I pushed Florence our of the special care unit in a single pushchair kindly lent to us at about 7 o clock, I was stopped by a nurse from a different department who I had never met before, questioning why I was leaving the special care unit with a baby, until then I didn't really realise how strange I must of looked coming and going casually bring a baby in and out of a highly secure unit.
I often joke that Florence doesn't think she is a ex prem baby, she likes to smash through her milestones. Florence amazes me everyday,she has come so, so far. Florence is such a determined little character and cheeky beyond belief.
Over the year Florence has remained true to her name and "Flourished"