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This memorial website was created in the memory of our precious twin daughters, Evie Mary and Zoe Kate Cutting who were born at Mount Gambier and Districts Health Service on Saturday, 28 November 2009 and passed away at Flinders Medical Centre, Adelaide, on Monday, 30 November 2009. We will remember them forever.
Michael and I fell pregnant at the end of June 2009 and found out we were expecting twins at our 12-week ultrasound. Our 19-week ultrasound revealed fraternal (non-identical) twin girls. We were full of excitement, hope and all the feelings and expectations parents-to-be are, while our son, Joshua eagerly awaited the arrival of his twin sisters.
As well as being excited, we were more than a little anxious; in March 2005, Joshua had arrived at 30 weeks gestation due to premature onset of labour. Michael and I hoped we would experience a full-term pregnancy this time round.
However, it wasn't to be. I started cramping in the evening of Friday, 27 November 2009 at 26+6 weeks gestation. Michael drove me to hosptial and we arrived a little before 9.00pm. By this stage, labour was well advanced.
Severe electrical storms prevented the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) from being able to fly the Flinders Medical Centre retrieval team from Adelaide to Mount Gambier. They had to catch a taxi and make the 5-hour trip by road.
I delivered our baby girls at Mount Gambier Hospital via C Section at 12.49am and 12.52am on the morning of Saturday, 28 November 2009.
We named our girls Evie Mary and Zoe Kate. Evie weighed 1010g (2lb 2oz), was 35cm long and had a head circumference of 25cm. Zoe weighed 940g (2lb 1oz), was also 35cm long and had a head circumference of 24.5cm.
The paediatricians and nursing staff stabilised the girls and they were doing really well. Their lungs were stable and their prognosis looked good.
The first retrieval team arrived via taxi at around 5.00am, followed by the second team via RFDS at about 9.00am. They intubated the girls, prepared them for their trip to Adelaide and they were flown out at a little after midday that afternoon. There was no room on the flight for me, so I had to remain in hospital until the next morning.
All reports were that both girls were exceeding expectations. Again, we were full of hope. After Joshua's early start, we were well aware of the long Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) journey ahead but were certain the twins were going to be fine.
On the morning of Sunday, 29 November 2009, an RFDS flight became available and I was flown to Adelaide. I arrived at Flinders Private Hospital at around 11.30am . Michael remained in Mount Gambier to look after Joshua.
I quickly settled into my hospital room, had ob's done and headed down to NICU to sit with the girls. I was thrilled that they were under the care of neonatologist, Dr Simon James who had looked after Joshua at NICU almost five years ago. I had a great chat with Simon, who reported both girls had a 95% chance of survival. I was so pleased with this news but remember mentioning to him that I thought Evie looked a lot stronger than her sister.
Within the hour, Zoe suffered a pulmonary (lung) haemorrhage and her oxygen saturation dropped to 30-40%. I sat next to Evie’s incubator and watched as they worked on Zoe and stabilised her again. Simon told me the news that he suspected Zoe had also had an intracerebral (brain) haemorrhage but we could not be sure until an ultrasound could be performed on Monday morning. Zoe’s chances of survival were reduced to 50%.
I phoned Michael in Mount Gambier to tell him the news and that he needed to get to Adelaide as soon as possible. He had missed the last flight to Adelaide, so he quickly made arrangements for my parents to look after Joshua and set off to Adelaide in the car with his dad.
Michael arrived at my hospital room at a little before midnight. We went straight across to NICU to check on the girls, whose condition remained the same. We agreed that we would head back and get some rest and return to NICU as soon as we were up and showered.
Early the next morning; Monday, 30 November 2009, Simon visited us in my hospital room - he brought bad news. At about 3.00am that morning, Evie had also taken a turn for the worst. Ultrasounds had revealed large haemorrhages in both Evie and Zoe’s brains, both exactly the same size, both exactly the same place.
Looking at the ultrasound photo’s with Simon, Michael and I could’ve sworn we were looking at carbon copies. It was as if Evie had wanted to be with her sister and decided she’d go exactly the same way.
Simon explained that the haemorrhages would cause both girls to have severe disabilities - they would both be in a vegetative state, should we choose to continue treatment. We knew that the girls were only two days of at least three months into their fight. From our journey with Joshua, Michael and I were well aware of the usual challenges faced by premature babies, let alone the brain damage caused to Evie and Zoe by the haemorrhages.
Michael and I then made the most horrible decision we've ever had to make in our lives.
We went straight to NICU to spend some time with the girls. The nurses gradually took out their lines - all that remained were their ventilation tubes and a line for their morphine. I spent the morning getting to know them, changed their nappies for the first/last time and did their cares.
I had a long cuddle with Evie. She was a mini me – little round face, darker hair and round nose.
At our request, the nurses made arrangements for the girls to be baptised later that day at 1.00pm. Michael and I went back to my hospital room, where we had a long talk about what lay ahead of us and how we wanted things to be.
After making some phone calls to family, we returned to NICU for Evie and Zoe's baptism and to say goodbye to our little girls. The baptism was a short, simple and very emotional service. The reality of what lay ahead really set in for me at that moment.
I had a long cuddle with Zoe. She was a mini Michael – square-shaped face, fine features and blonde hair. She also had his amazing calf muscles.
Later that afternoon, Michael and I sat together as I held both girls. When we were ready, the nurses removed their ventilation tubes and they quietly fell asleep in my arms.
Evie and Zoe’s funeral and burial was held in Mount Gambier on Tuesday, 8 December 2009 at 2.00pm. We released 27 pink and white ballloons - one for each of the weeks they were with us.