Pregnant with twins, Mia contracted COVID-19

Mia was pregnant with twins when she contracted COVID-19
4 December 2020 |

Mia and Tom* are sharing their story in support of the Women's fundraising appeal. You can donate to ensure a brighter future for women, newborns and families today.   

At 26 weeks pregnant with twins, Melbourne woman Mia fell critically ill with COVID-19. The doctors at a major Melbourne hospital were about to sedate her and put her on a mechanical ventilator to breath. Working in partnership with them was a team of obstetricians and neonatologists from the Women’s who were at her bedside doing their utmost to keep Mia’s babies alive.

When Mia and her partner Tom found out they were expecting, they were over the moon.

The couple had been undergoing IVF treatment and during a scan following their third embryo transfer, they received some unexpected news.

“We were told I was pregnant with twins!” Mia recalls.

Their miracle babies were doubly special; one baby was the result of the IVF embryo transfer and the other was naturally conceived during the same cycle – a 1 in 200 chance.

Mia was referred to the Multiple Birth Clinic at the Royal Women’s Hospital – a unit dedicated to providing specialist care for higher-risk pregnancies. 

Overjoyed by their happy news the pregnancy was progressing well, but across Melbourne a second wave of locally-acquired COVID-19 cases was slowly emerging. 

“We were both really mindful about doing the right thing with hand washing and taking precautions when we went out but I was naïve enough to think that it wasn't going to affect us,” says Mia.

In late June, Tom became sick.

“He went and got tested and during that time waiting for his test result, I became quite sick,” she says.

Mia started experiencing shortness of breath. She lost her sense of taste and smell. Her bones ached and she was so exhausted she couldn’t shower standing up.

In early July, with her blood oxygen level dropping and intense shivers, an ambulance was called.

“I was gasping for air and thought that I was dying. I called Tom and I said, ‘If I don’t make it or something happens to me, keep my body alive for the babies until they’re old enough to come out’. I thought that I was going to die, or the three of us were going to die, because I felt that I was drowning.”

Tom and Mia
Tom and Mia
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While Mia was treated for COVID-19 in the hospital intensive care unit, the Women’s maternity team was at her bedside closely monitoring the pregnancy and the health of both Mia and the twins.

“It was incredibly worrying for the entire maternity team at the Women’s. Mia was extremely unwell and we were very concerned for her. We were monitoring the babies and doing all we could to support them and Mia,” said Dr Stefan Kane, obstetrician and maternal fetal medicine specialist at the Women’s.

Mia’s life and those of her unborn twins were on the line. She was just 26 weeks pregnant; in her second trimester and 14 weeks off full-term. At that time, the mortality rate in Australia for the sickest of COVID patients was more than 20 per cent.

“Mia deteriorated to the point where for a brief time she was on 100 per cent oxygen. The ventilator was keeping her alive,” Tom recalls.

“It was the most terrifying moment of my life. Things weren’t looking good and the Women’s maternity team was making preparations to deliver the babies early.”

Miraculously, at the eleventh hour, Mia started to breathe again on her own. She still required the ventilator, but the small improvement meant doctors could take a wait and watch approach.

Ten days after being sedated, she woke up, and two-and-a-half weeks after arriving at hospital, she was able to go home.

Once home, Mia continued to be monitored closely by a team of obstetricians and
neonatologists from the Women’s.

However at week 33 of her pregnancy, with limited blood flow from her placenta to one of the twins, she was admitted to the Women’s antenatal ward for around-the-clock monitoring.

At 34 weeks and 1 day, with mounting concerns about the blood flow to one of the babies, the decision was made to deliver the twins via an emergency caesarean.

Before and after the safe arrival
Before and after the safe arrival
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“This is going to make me cry. The care was just... I don’t even have the words to express the care that I’ve received from the Women’s. It was just a really lovely experience,” Mia says of the birth.

“Everybody was calm and in a good mood and saying it was excellent that the babies had got to 34 weeks. The anaesthetist was sitting there with Tom and I, talking us through what was happening. Because I had been so worried that the babies weren’t going to live, when they lifted up our daughter it was just really surreal. Then they lifted up our son and we heard them both crying.

“Tom and I just let out a massive sigh of relief at the same time. And then they were put on my chest and it was the most special time.”

Weighing 1.7 kilograms and 1.9 kilograms, the twins were in good health. They spent four weeks in the Women’s Special Care Nursery before going home in early October.

“There were certainly a lot of tears when we hopped in the car. And I think we stopped the car twice to make sure that they were both okay! Just to have them home and healthy is amazing.”

The healthy twins
The healthy twins
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While it wasn’t the start to family life they anticipated, Mia and Tom are grateful they still have each other – and their babies.

“After the babies were born, it was like nothing else matters. It puts everything into perspective. They’re alive and healthy and as long as they’re okay, I’m okay,” Mia says.

The family is now part of a national research project spearheaded by the Women’s Pregnancy Research Centre. The Coronavirus Health Outcomes in Pregnancy and Newborns (CHOPAN) registry is collecting real-time data on pregnant women with COVID – assessing its impact on mother and baby during pregnancy as well as after the birth. Analysis of the information will inform ongoing guidance for women and maternity hospitals as the pandemic continues here and around the globe.

While the trauma of almost losing her life and her babies to COVID is still fresh, Mia says it’s hard to find the words to thank those who cared for her – and kept alive her and Tom’s dreams of becoming parents.

“I just can’t articulate it. It really has been world-class care. I just can’t express how lucky and grateful I am that we were referred to the Women’s throughout this. The babies – who are just perfect in every way – wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the staff at the hospital.”

The doting new parents
The doting new parents
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While Mia and Tom’s story is an extraordinary one, their journey from heartache to hope and happiness is one of many thousands the Women’s incredible staff have supported.

In 2020, more than 8000 babies were born at the Women’s. Our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Special Care Nursery provided life-saving care to almost 3000 babies. And more than 70,000 women, some like Mia who’ve also been unlucky enough to contract COVID, were cared for.

If you can, please donate to our fundraising appeal so we can continue to provide world-class care for patients like Mia – and make life-saving discoveries through our 10 research centres that are dedicated to advancing the health of all women and newborns.

* Names have been changed to protect patient privacy

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