An East Lothian couple were over the moon when they found out that they were expecting not one but three babies at a routine scan last year.
However, joy soon turned to heartbreak when they were told that not all of their babies would survive.
Jemma Haig, 20, and her fiancé Murray Mckirdy, 23, from Tranent booked an early reassurance scan as soon as they found out they were expecting. The initial scan revealed that Jemma was pregnant with twins and the couple were completely delighted.
However, their happy pregnancy came to an end at the next appointment when during the scan the couple were informed that Jemma was carrying two amniotic sacs. One sac contained their son, Thomas, and the other contained conjoined twins meaning that Jemma was a mother to triplets.
It was then that the doctor broke the devastating news that the twins were joined at the chest – sharing a heart, respiratory system and digestive system. The hospital gave the couple two options: have a selective reduction to remove the twins or lose all three babies. Jemma said: “We came to the informed decision to have a selective reduction of our conjoined twins as we couldn’t bear to make them suffer. We knew that procedure carried risks of miscarriage of all foetuses and premature birth but we just hoped and prayed for the best.”
After the procedure, Jemma made it to 32 weeks before any further complications arose.
Following a bleed, Jemma was admitted to hospital. As the days went on, the bleeding worsened and the doctors feared that it was placental abruption because her blood count was dropping considerably. Thomas – whose name means “twin” – was born via emergency c-section, weighing 4lb 10oz.
Thomas was immediately admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary where he was treated for suspected sepsis and mild breathing difficulties. He spent three weeks on the unit before going home.
Now Jemma and Murray, along with their three-year-old Abigail and 17-week old Thomas have taken on the new 27-mile “Go the distance” challenge for Bliss in memory of Thomas’s siblings.
The family have chosen to take part in the fundraiser to highlight the long distance travelled by parents to visit their premature or sick babies in hospital. Parents of premature and sick babies travel an average of 27 miles a day to visit their little one on the neonatal unit – some even face a commute of 100 miles or more.
The family will complete the challenge over two days by hiking the Pencaitland Railway Walk among other local walkways.
Jemma said: “We had a 20-mile round trip to visit our son, but some parents often have to travel much further.
“Thomas only spent three weeks in hospital but during that time, Bliss helped us get through it.
“As my partner had to return to work I often found myself alone on the unit. I often looked on Bliss’ Facebook page and spoke with mothers in the same position as me.
“As a neonatal unit isn’t a place any new mother wants to be, Bliss made me comfortable and made sure I knew what was going on with my baby and I cannot thank them enough for all they do for myself and other parents.”
Caroline Lee-Davey, chief executive at Bliss, said: “We are so grateful to Jemma, Murray and their family for raising money for us. Our fundraisers’ support is invaluable in helping us to achieve our ambition to reach every single baby born needing neonatal care in the UK and their families.”