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LISA , BELLA & LUCY

Where do I start? After the birth of my eldest daughter, Bianca, in 2000, now 17 years old I swore black and blue I would never have another baby again. Bianca was a long, hard natural birth lasting over 24 hours and had some complications afterwards but that’s another Birthtale.

So, why did I go around again? One day, I saw Bianca sitting there playing by herself and thought how beautiful would it be to see her with a little brother or sister.

Fast forward to April 2005 when I found out I was pregnant again. I trotted along to my first ultrasound on my own (this was my second pregnancy so we were a little more blasé). A couple of minutes in and the room went a little quiet. “Mrs Stapledon, I have some news for you, there is in fact 2 heartbeats, it appears you will be having twins!” This kind of took me by surprise but twins had crossed my mind as I had been eating a whole lot more than I remembered doing when pregnant with Bianca. Straight on the phone to my husband, Geof to break the news. I said, “Are you sitting down?” He wasn’t but needed to after I told him. I think he may have actually gone and had a lie down once off the phone. So many things rush through your brain when you are told you are having a multiple birth. You are so excited, worried, elated, scared. It was hard enough giving birth to one baby but now I’m going to have to give birth to two. We’re going to need a bigger house, bigger car, two cots, double pram, double the nappies and how do I feed them both and when am I going to get any sleep (with Bianca we paced the floorboards for many nights)! We were going from a family of 3 to a family of 5 very quickly.

Everything was going smoothly, no morning sickness, I felt really good. I can’t pinpoint which scan it was but one of the routine ones which was done in 4D would bring something up which was completely from left field. One of the twins (I think they referred to them as Twin 1 and Twin 2) was showing up on the scan as having a Cleft Lip. This took us completely by surprise, we didn’t even really know what that meant. Anyway, they took us into a small room and explained everything, including complications that they couldn’t really tell us about from the scan but that might be present but couldn’t confirm. Both twins were girls, non-identical or fraternal. Both in their very own birth sac as opposed to sharing the same birth sac. Each developing from their own separate egg and two separate sperm as opposed to one sperm and one egg splitting into two. Back to the room, the doctor gave us the option of terminating the twin with the cleft, not sure why they did, I guess it’s just protocol in case you’re not in a position to take responsibility for any of the complications that could occur. On my part there was no hesitation, pregnancy would go ahead. When they advised us about the possibility of a termination they also mentioned that the healthy twin was at risk of going during the termination process if we chose to go down that path, this just cemented my initial decision. After a few tears and once the dust had settled I researched everything I could re Cleft Lip babies and prepared as best I could. There was the possibility she could have a Cleft Palate (gap in the roof of her mouth) as well but we wouldn’t know for sure the extent of the Cleft until she was born. We’ll deal with all that when and if it happens.

Ongoing visits to my obstetrician, all going well, booked in for 19 December to be induced. Walked into St. Vincents Private Hospital, Fitzroy, Melbourne at 6am, everything was in place for a natural birth, and after a few drugs, pushing, machine malfunctions (it wasn’t plugged into the wall socket), jokes, at about 3pm out came feisty little Bella. She is the twin with the cleft. Thankfully just her lip, no Cleft Palate and no other complications. Beautiful little thing, a bit underweight but determined and strong which is exactly what she is today at 12 years old. Approximately 5 minutes later, her gorgeous sister, Lucy was born.

Both girls whisked away for all the routine checks then both of them placed on my chest at the same time. One of the most beautiful moments of my life.

After three major surgeries to her lip, Bella is thriving and you can’t even tell she was born with a cleft. Surgeons both in Australia and the UK have done the most amazing job and I am forever grateful. It should also be said that prior to her first surgery at 3 months old she had the most beautiful smile. A smile we actually missed once her surgery had fixed the cleft.

Lucy is the best sister. They are like chalk and cheese but will always watch out for each other no matter what.

A woman’s body can do the most amazing things. Every birth is different; single, twins, triplets whatever, we are all awe-inspiring.

To give birth to 2 separate lives, naturally and at the same time is something I will never ever forget and am so very privileged and grateful to have experienced.

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