Hi my name is Barry Williams father to Tom Phoenix Williams and Charlie Phoenix Williams and partner to the beautiful and most wonderful mother Sarah Henderson.
We always knew the journey with Tom and Charlie wasn't going to be easy. We unfortunately lost our first singleton Phoenix Ian Christopher Williams who was stillborn on the 25th of August 2016. The complications with Phoenix however were sudden and unexpected. At our 20 week scan (performed 21+5) we found out we were having a boy and he looked healthy. However at the end of the scan the technician wanted to perform some extra checks and get a second (and third) opinion. We thought nothing of it and at the end of the scan we were asked to go to women's assessment to discuss the results. Sarah got off the table as if to walk but they insisted she go by wheelchair.
We were told Sarah's cervix had opened and in a short time received much information and we also discovered an infection had set in, later we found the infection markers were going up this was not good news. We decided to terminate the pregnancy as the infection could put Sarah at risk however Phoenix had other idea's. He was born before the termination could take place a beautiful peaceful boy. I believe he was born alive and slipped away shortly after. We spent the day with him. All the staff at the Lyell McEwin hospital were fantastic for such a horrific experience. I have written extensively on my grief journey for the Sands Australia Blog here and here.
Sarah and I got pregnant very quickly after Phoenix and we had an early scan to discover we were lucky enough to have a double rainbow (the term used for a child born after a loss). Our experience with Phoenix meant this was a high risk pregnancy and twins meant doubly so. There were many, many appointments mostly to check Sarah's cervix. We discussed the possibility of a stitch however the research showed it is unlikely to help with twins and Sarah's infection markers were always too high which meant it could to more harm than good. Eventually an Arabian Pessary was put in place to take the pressure of the cervix. Sarah also left work to go onto home bed rest at 20 weeks.
At 22 weeks Sarah didn't quite feel right she insisted she was OK but I insisted we go to the hospital to get her checked out. I was mainly thinking she would be up all night worrying otherwise, we will pop to the hospital get checked and over all will be good and we could go home. This was not the case.
Sarah's cervix had opened, after checking and double checking she was off to the Women's and Children's (WCH) by ambulance and I was off home to pack for a long stay.
At 1 am I arrived at WCH when I got to Sarah's room it was full of doctors and nurses. Eventually the concluded she probably wasn't going into labour that night but needed to take tests and measurement to prepare both for delivery and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
The next morning we met a lovely doctor who was on call who told us another doctor was also at the ready 24/7. I took the next week off work as there seemed to be a real worry Sarah could go into labour at any minute I needed to be there for Sarah and to meet our little men just in case.
After a week and a quick tour of the NICU they decided Sarah might not go into labour any time soon but they will keep her at the hospital for observation. She was transferred to Antenatal and that was to be our home for the next 7 weeks. Slowly but surely we moved in, toward the end of our stay we got our own fridge (so we didn't have to trek all the way across the hall to the communal one); I brought in 20+ DVDs (all the wrong ones apparently), food, games (provided my my lovely cousin), clothes and so much more.
I had gone back to work as a Teacher so I was going to work from home, work - WCH, home at some hour to try and sleep to repeat the cycle. I was a new teacher and losing Phoenix in my first year didn't help. I was also asked why I took the first week off when Sarah was being looked after in Hospital. All first year teachers struggle (many leave the profession) I soon decided that after this 6 month contract I was done, maybe for a short time maybe forever, but the only thing that kept me going was knowing I was putting money away so I could leave it all behind.
We decided that if Sarah was going to be in hospital for the long haul we might as well have our baby shower here. We had made good friends with all the nurses and they were happy for it to happen so it was planned for the 29th of April 2017, on that day our boys were born.
Sarah had not been feeling right for at least that day and possibly the day before. She was checked for signs of labour and told not to worry. I stayed later that night I considered staying over (it wasn't allowed tectonically but we were told rules could be bent). However again Sarah was given the all clear so I went home. At 4:30 am I got a message to come in, there was no real rush but it was going to happen today. I arrived at 5:50 am and so I waited for the car park to open at 6. Sarah had been moved up to post natal and plans were in motion. During which I needed to pack the room we had moved into into the car. On the way down the elevator Dr Chris Sexton commented on my DVD collection I told him what was going on and he told me he would see me shortly as he was to be our Doctor.
Our boys were born at 11:43am and 11:45am at 29+5 weight 1.2kg and 1.26kg both let out a little cry which is the most beautiful sound you can hear at that gestation. I took over 100 photos and was able to cut Charlie's cord however there was a little too much going on for Tom who was first out.
Both needed some assistance breathing but only CPAP (humidified oxygen) they did not need to be intubated which was a relief.
Tom came off CPAP to optiflow (mostly just oxygen with a little pressure) after 1 day and was self ventilating after 5 days, Charlie took a little longer and came off optiflow then went back on. This was expected however when I overhead the reason was due to lung disease I broke down (apparently this is fine and it has since cleared up but still not what you want to hear). The boys spent 1 week in NICU, 1 week in SCBU at WCH then 4 Weeks in special care closer to home at Lyell McEwin.
The boys came home with 1 week left to go of my contract and I may not have made it in everyday that week. Since them I have been a stay at home dad (looking for work) along side Sarah (on leave). I have done a little relief teaching when it has been offered and some labouring for a mate. I thought I would find a job easy, I worked in other industries before completing my teaching as an adult but it's been 6 months with no luck.
I am starting to think I may be ready to go back to teaching after experiencing the trauma of losing Phoenix and again with Tom and Charlie but we will see what the future brings. I have been so lucky to be able to spend this time with my boys and Sarah.