FOR Joanna Jefferson, giving birth to one set of premature twins was daunting enough.
But now four years after having Harley and Hayden at 30 weeks, the 29-year-old has overcome the odds and again had twin boys – Donnie and Dougie – just 27 weeks into her pregnancy.
The Locks Heath mum, who now has six children, couldn’t believe it when she was admitted to Queen Alexandra Hospital at Cosham.
Joanna said: ‘When I was 30 weeks’ pregnant with my now three-year-old sons in similar circumstances, I started having contractions and my first baby was born within the hour.
‘So for it to happen twice and so close together is both unbelievable and incredibly unlikely.’
She said it was a ‘surreal, scary experience’ that she couldn’t imagine happening once – let alone twice.
Joanna, who also has daughters Sienna, five, and eight-year-old Sophie, said: ‘I had the first baby within an hour of contractions starting, and then my second baby’s heart rate dropped so I had to have an emergency C-section and baby two was born 10 minutes later.
‘It was around 11pm so I had no family by my side, which is not how anyone expects their labour to go.’
Joanna said she awoke from the C-section in a recovery room – and the first she saw of her babies was a photograph that a nurse showed her.
She recalled: ‘Seeing their pictures just brought back horrible memories of when Harley and Hayden were born three years earlier.
‘They looked so tiny in their incubators, covered in tubes and on ventilators.
‘I suddenly remembered desperately wanting to cuddle them and having to wait five days before I could. I couldn’t believe it that, there I was, four years later in the same position.’
It wasn’t until 11am the next day that Joanna was well enough to visit the babies in neo-natal.
‘They were both tiny at just over 2lb in weight and looked tiny in comparison to their brothers,’ she said.
‘Their skin was so paper-thin you could see their veins shining through; their bodies were covered with soft hair, they had no eyelashes and were too weak and small to swallow, suck and breathe properly.
‘They were in incubators to protect them from germs, had oxygen to help them breathe properly and were being fed through a tube.
‘It was heartbreaking to see them suffer the same fate as their brothers.’
Joanna couldn’t hold her babies until they were 11 days old.
‘Holding them for the first time was incredibly emotional,’ she said.
‘I was just so grateful they were alive.’
By three weeks one baby had lost weight and the other was slowly gaining it, with them weighing in at 2lb 3oz and 2lb 6oz.
Harley and Hayden were discharged from hospital at six weeks old, but as Donnie and Dougie were born at 27 weeks, Joanna anticipates a much longer hospital stay.
She said: ‘I just can’t wait until they’re both healthy and strong enough to be at home so all my children are together.’