A mother who gave birth to twins three months early after contracting COVID on holiday in Spain says the experience was “very, very scary”.
Tori O’Rourke and her partner Phil Hillier travelled to Spain for a ‘babymoon’ in August, with the twins due to arrive around Christmastime.
Within days of arriving, she began to feel unwell and after attending hospital, she was told she had picked up COVID.
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, she said doctors initially thought the babies would be fine and sent her home.
“When I went home, I just started to feel worse and worse, so we went back and from there, it happened quite quickly really,” she said.
“Within a couple of days, the doctors just came in and I think I had literally about ten minutes to come to terms with the fact they were literally about to take the babies out.”
She said she is not able to remember everything that happened in the run-up to surgery – noting that she “very, very ill” at the time and Phil was not allowed into the hospital to advocate for her.
“When they were delivered, I didn’t get to hold them,” she said. “I never heard them cry; I didn’t get to touch them at all, so I actually really didn’t know if they had survived or if they were OK.
“No-one could tell me anything, it was very, very scary.”
Tori said she started to recover a couple of days after twins Jacob and Emily were born – but she still wasn’t allowed to see them.
“I really did start to feel like myself again so I was very frustrated with the fact I couldn’t see them,” she said. “My partner was dealing with it all on his own as well – but yeah I got to see them after two weeks.”
She said that hardest part was hearing about all the children’s struggles from doctors while being unable to help them.
“It was nightmare really and the diagnosis of a couple of things that were wrong with them was just very overwhelming,” she said.
“I probably don’t ever remember the list of things they were telling me – the medications they were on and the problems they could have in the future. So, it was all extremely scary.”
After two and a half months in Spain, the family was finally allowed to return home and the twins are now being cared for at the Neo-natal intensive care unit at Galway Hospital.
Jacob has undergone surgery on blood vessels in his eyes and, while he may have trouble with peripheral vision in the future, the family is staying “very positive and optimistic”.
Emily is nearly strong enough to come home and the family now must decide whether to wait until they are both strong enough, or take them back one by one.
The entire experience has been very expensive for the family, with both parents unable to work and funds needed for travel and accommodation costs in Spain.
A GoFundMe appeal in their name has raised nearly €18,000 of its €20,000 goal since it was launched.
Tori said the people of Ireland have been incredibly generous since hearing her story.
“My community Kinvarra in Galway has been absolutely amazing,” she said.
“They have pulled together and the support has been so overwhelming. Friends, family and even strangers as well. I just think it is amazing when it comes to Ireland pulling together as a nation. The people are just so generous. The generosity is just so overwhelming and we really are so grateful.”
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