A 38-year-old mother has opened up about the terrifying moment she almost died after giving birth to her twins at 29 weeks.
Kristie Miller, from the Gold Coast, was told one of her babies had a slim chance of surviving at birth after she started bleeding at 18 weeks.
She discovered her unborn son Tyson had suffered an intrauterine growth restriction – a condition where a baby’s growth is slow, or stops all together, in the womb.
Speaking to Daily Mail Australia, the mother-of-four said she delivered her babies during a traumatic emergency C-section before she was placed in a coma.
‘I was dead for a couple of days,’ she said.
The harrowing ordeal began when the pregnant woman noticed the first signs of complications at 18 weeks in 2015.
‘Doctors told us to prepare for the worst – or if Tyson did survive, life would be pretty grim because he would be very sick,’ Ms Miller recalled.
‘It was shocking to hear that but I had to keep it together for my family.’
At 22 weeks, the mother was rushed to hospital again after she experienced more bleeding – but the cause of it was unknown.
‘I was hospitalised for a week. They said it was probably just a twin pregnancy thing because there was too much strain on the uterus.
‘During the pregnancy, I had placenta accreta – but at the time, no one knew.’
Placenta accreta is a life-threatening condition where placenta attaches itself too deeply into the wall of the uterus.
At 29 weeks, she was forced to undergo an emergency C-section after doctors found Tyson’s placenta was growing into the uterine wall.
‘They were trying to get him out but didn’t know he was so deep in there so they ripped a hole in my uterus, I started bleeding internally,’ she said.
As her heart rate dropped dramatically, the mother ‘died’ after she drowned in her own blood.
‘It happened really quickly,’ she recalled.
‘All of a sudden I heard one baby cry and then two babies cry – and that’s all I remembered. I died on the table. I didn’t know what had actually happened.
‘Over the next 24 hours I had three blood transfusions to make sure I stayed alive.’
She found herself incubated when she woke up 24 hours later.
‘I remember waking up and there was something coming out of my mouth. I couldn’t speak but all I wanted to know was if my babies were okay.
‘My hands were the size of elephant hooves. Everything was blown up, it was really scary. I had no idea what had actually happened.
‘I was freaking out. I started panicking because I didn’t know why I had a tube down my throat. My heart rate was up so they put me back to sleep.’
When she regained consciousness 24 hours later, she was able to breathe on her own.
‘I could actually mutter a few words and they told me my babies were okay,’ Ms Miller recalled.
She found out baby Tyson was born weighing just 810 grams while his twin sister Chanel weighed 1.2 kilograms.
‘I wasn’t allowed to see my babies but I couldn’t leave the ICU,’ she said.
‘My husband Adam showed me photos – and it just hit me. I had such a normal experience with my two previous babies.
‘He even FaceTimed me from the neo-natal intensive care. All I wanted to was to see them visually in front of me but I couldn’t.
‘I didn’t believe anyone they were real until I could see them myself. They’re my babies I gave birth to, I just needed to see them. I was so upset.’
Ms Miller was then wheeled to her babies’ rooms but unfortunately, her stretcher didn’t fit through the doors.
‘I couldn’t stand or move by myself because I had a full hysterectomy. So they had to wheel me over,’ she said.
‘But I was stuck in the corridor because my stretcher didn’t fit through the doors. I was so far away, I couldn’t see any babies in the room.’
And on day five, she was finally allowed to touch her babies after she was placed in a wheelchair.
‘They looked extremely weak and fragile so it was shocking to me,’ she said.
‘Even though I had prior warning of how small they were, I was just shocked when I saw how skinny and little they were.
‘The twins were in separate rooms because of their separate needs. When I saw my son first, he was the size of my hand. It was shocking and upsetting.’
At six weeks, she was allowed to give her twins a ‘double cuddle’.
‘I had to wait until until they were in special care before I could hold them,’ she said.
Reminiscing the moment she held them both against her chest at the same time, Ms Miller said: ‘It was beautiful… magical a billion times.’
The twins were finally allowed to go home after staying in hospital for 11-and-a-half weeks.
‘The hardest part was the hospital visits,’ Ms Miller said.
‘We were going into a routine. Tyson was in and out of hospital because he needed surgery and lots of therapy. Chanel has chronic lung disease and hip dysplasia.’
But against all odds, the siblings have proved they are little fighters after celebrating their second birthday in June.
‘The twins are good now,’ she said.
‘They don’t have any more surgeries in the future. Tyson had his last one last year but he still needs therapy.
‘There were major complications but they are very close now. I don’t have family here so I have to do everything with them together.’
Ms Miller, who is the president of the Australian Multiple Birth Association, said she wanted fellow mothers to reach out to her for support.
‘No one reached out to me [at the time] so I want to make sure if people need to talk or seek help, they can speak to me,’ she said.
‘You learn how precious life is so I wanted to give something back.’
By sharing her story, she wanted others to draw hope from her experience.
‘I want people to know that they shouldn’t jump to conclusions during pregnancy,’ Ms Miller, who has since made a miraculous recovery, said.
‘When I was told the worst thing from the get-go at 18 weeks, I never prepared myself for the worst. I just ignored it and took every day as it comes.
‘I’m not saying doctors are wrong but they just want to give you a worst case scenario just in case.
‘There are so many stories of people who passed away at birth but I just wanted to share mine to show there is a happy ending.’