We had been struggling to fall pregnant. Tests later confirmed that we had fertility issues and after having tried and failed fertility medication we decided the best option for us was to try and conceive via IVF.
It wasn't an easy journey and despite undergoing three rounds of IVF treatment on the NHS, sadly each proved unsuccessful including one resulting in miscarriage.
We were forced to go private, which thankfully worked first time. I was indeed pregnant - with twins!
Sadly, at 24 weeks after many bleeds and illnesses I went into premature labour. At 3am I woke to pains, never imagining I was in labour I went to the bathroom and as I stood up I felt a pressure below and immediately put my hand there.
I was taken to hospital in an ambulance and immediately met with the neonatal teams and emergency doctors who tried to stop the labour. Despite their efforts the labour couldn't be stopped and at 7.16pm on the 20th January 2018, Esme Sarka Simons was stillborn weighing just 670g. She was the most beautiful and perfect little girl. At 8.20pm Isla Lenka Simons arrived weighing just 655g and was immediately taken to NICU to be cared for.
As soon as she was born, Esme was taken away to be resuscitated. My motherly instinct told her that Esme had already gone and after five minutes of trying to save her, doctors sadly confirmed my suspicions.
I believe Esme saved her sister the night she was born. She had broken out of the waters from the back and pretty much planted herself in the birth canal while I was given a whole load of drugs to help make them stronger. She had a heartbeat right up to the last second when I gave birth to her. Two minutes from having the relevant drugs needed to help the babies, Esme started to appear meaning she would have barely absorbed what had been administered, unlike Isla who was born almost an hour later.
After the births, Esme was cleaned up, dressed and placed in the Moses basket. After taking a photo, I held her and told her how proud she was of her for fighting to survive and for helping her sister to live. The nurses asked if they wanted to take her hand and footprints but I was too scared, but I trusted the midwives completely and asked them to do it and talk to her like she was still here, which they did.
We were moved to the 'Forget Me Not' suite, a room set up by a bereaved mother for parents after a loss or to deliver babies that have already passed away in the womb. Esme was with us the entire night and we were able to cuddle her and change her if they wanted. It was so nice to be able to have one night with her beside us. I kept staring at her willing her to wake up, wanting to cry but knowing I had to be strong.
At midnight, we were told they could visit Isla in NICU and my first thoughts were who would stay with Esme. One of the midwives offered to sit and read to her while we were downstairs, it seems surreal but was such a beautiful gesture. Isla was quickly transferred to the Royal London Hospital where she spent the next five months.
The morning after the births after showering and getting dressed, I held Esme for the last time. As I looked out of the window, holding my first born child it started to snow. As a fan of 'Frozen' I started to sing 'Do you wanna build a snowman'. When the time came to leave we asked that Esme be taken out first so that it didn't feel as though we had left her alone in the room. Esme was taken to the mortuary and while we were allowed to visit her whenever we wished, we chose to remember her as she was in our arms.
Esmes funeral was on 5th February 2018. On the day of her funeral it snowed again. It was a perfect day and the snow was her way of saying she was here. It has snowed on some of our hardest days with Isla and I always felt it would be OK as Esme was with us. After Esme's funeral we built a snowman as a memorial for her before going to see Isla in London. This was the day Isla opened her eyes for the first time just as I asked her if she’d seen the snow her sister sent for us.