WHEN Caroline Finnerty included twins in her debut novel, she little knew that she would experience it all first hand. She’d had no pregnancy symptoms at all when, during a fateful scan she was told there were two babies and not just one.
“It was a terrible shock,” says Caroline. “I didn’t sleep for four nights, because there was so much to get my head around. I worried about finance, about how we’d cope, about whether Lila, my three-year-old would be jealous, and about all the added complications around the birth.”
Fortunately, all went well. Tom and Bea, were induced at 39 weeks, and were healthy enough to join their mother in the ward.
When Tom, at just 25 days old, developed a fever, Caroline wasn’t, at first, too worried. It went down again of its own accord, but the baby wouldn’t settle.
“He was puking up his feeds. I wasn’t sure if it was reflux,” says Caroline.
“My husband Simon felt we should see how he was in the morning, but something, call it instinct, kicked in. I rang Holles Street to see what they’d say. They said I should take him straight to Crumlin Children’s Hospital. We did that, but I still felt it was something minor. I thought they’d say we were wasting their time.”
They didn’t. They took Tom off, and ran a battery of tests. That included a lumbar puncture to examine the spinal fluid.
When, after a while, a nurse appeared, and asked the couple to go home and collect Tom’s twin sister, Caroline’s worry increased.
“They wanted to do the tests on Bea too. We knew that was a bad sign. I stayed with Tom, and Simon went to collect Bea. While he was gone, the doctor appeared with a file, but said he’d wait until Simon got back to tell me the results. My stomach was in knots.
“They told us that Tom had meningitis, and that it was likely Bea would have caught it from him. They treated them, straight away, with strong, intravenous antibiotics, and continued, even when Bea’s tests came back clear.
“It was a terrifying few days, but luckily Tom responded well. They kept saying, ‘we caught it in time’.”
Lila, fortunately, did not need any treatment.
Now five months old, the babies are thriving. “They’re starting to smile at each other. It’s lovely watching that bond grow.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved