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The joy of expecting a child cannot be underestimated. Of course, there is a whole cocktail of emotions:  elation, apprehension, curiosity of how our bodies are changing and the longing to meet our child.

Imagine then, the extra layer of uncertainty felt by mums to be during the pandemic. These mums faced the challenges everyone experienced during this difficult time as well as preparing herself to journey through these nine precious months, often without her usual support system. During pregnancy, the close contact, friendship and guidance of loved ones is an extremely important part of the process.  During the pandemic, not being able to hug, meet and personally confide our concerns and uncertainties have brought a particular fragility to this most emotional time of our lives.

Samantha Lubanzu, 37 lives in South Manchester her husband Luis, 39 and their children Eliyanah, 5, Luis, 3 and twins Amelia and Levi.

Samantha is a HR Busines partner recently taken voluntary redundancy from a global Bank and Luis is a registered Mental Health Nurse working for a private hospital 

They met when Samantha was 19 and Luis was 21 through friends. They dated for 5 years before getting married. The couple were married on 14th June 2008.  Their daughter Eliyanah was conceived via IVF after almost a decade of infertility, their second child came naturally.

Samantha and Luis’s first child Eliyanah who was 3 during Samantha’s last pregnancy excitedly told mummy that she was going to have a boy and a girl – God had told her! This was all before her mum even knew she was pregnant herself. Eliyanah would mention it everyday for several weeks, including to her childminder until a pregnany test confirmed it. 

Samantha had experienced some symptoms which she had thought was due to a bug or something else but not another pregnancy. She went to the doctors who ordered a blood test to be carried out. It was weeks before they came back but during this time, Samantha took a pregnancy test and sure enough she was expecting.

As Samantha was also experiencing some tummy pain she went to the hospital who immediately scanned her.  They discovered two sacs; one with a heart beat and one without one. 

Samantha describes what happened next:  ‘I was told that I had potentially miscarried the second twin and would need to be rescanned in a forthnight but I held on to my daughters prophecy and my faith in God. When I went back I was convinced there would be both heart beats and thankfully, both were visible.

At 16 weeks I went for a private scan to discover I was indeed having a boy and a girl. It was a difficult pregnancy as morning sickness was intense and then lockdown came. I had to look after two toddlers whilst being unwell. I was told to have plenty of bed rest which was impossible. Then, at 27 weeks and 6 days I woke up and felt very unwell. When I finally dragged myself out of bed I was sick and felt very unusual. 

This prompted me to call the maternity  emergency department. They told me to stay home and  due to covid they were being extra cautious. A few hours later I felt the urge to push and went to the bathroom. From what I experienced, I knew I had to call the ED again – they told me to come in immediately. 

At this point I had been shielding at home and although I had watched the news I was yet to experience exactly what the outside world looked like. Driving along empty roads and arriving at an empty hospital felt like the zombie apocalypse.

When I was examined I was told I was already 3 inches dilated. I was rushed to delivery room. It becames a fanfare of doctors, nurses and the NICU team. They made every effort to stop or at least slow down the delivery of the twins as they were aware they had to support the babies lungs and Development.  After just over 24 hours Amliah arrived first and then as Levi. He had his hand in the birth canal like superman. They advised me I needed a C section as the rest of his body was still in my womb and there was a risk I would hemorrhage. 

I prayed that this would not be the case and told them I really wanted to push. By this time they had already prepped me for theatre. I was in the theatre room with doctors ready to cut me open. I pleded once again to let me try to push. I was given a 3 minute deadline to do so or they would have no choice.

The medical team gave me drugs and I was able to push Levi out safely within twenty minutes. It was just over an hour since the bith of his twin Ameliah.

They were both rushed to NICU and I was only given a glance at each before they were whisked away. The good news is they were breathing on their own.

Because of the pandemic, my entire pregnancy felt very strange. I experienced a lot of it indoors. At the beginning due to morning sickness and fatigue, then at the end due to covid 19. I felt very isolated and out of touch with what was really going on except for the news and what friends and family told me over the phone.

Only one person was allowed at the hospital so Luis was there for the most part. I did deliver Ameliah on my own. They told him he could not be in the c section theatre but then they let him in when they agreed I could push. 

When I got home the twins trust helped me by having free access to a Narlord nanny called Patsi via phone. She really helped get the babies into a rountine and they thankfully starting sleeping through the night at 12 weeks old!’

You can follow Samantha and the twins journey on her Instagram account: @lubanzutwins

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