When her twin girls were born just before the pandemic, Shannon was overjoyed. But slowly she and partner Connor noticed that their development was slow. Unable to see medical professionals in person, they eventually received a diagnosis of cerebral palsy over the phone and life changed overnight. Here, Shannon shares her story and tells us how Home-Start has helped.

“Me and my partner Connor had been together for seven years before I fell pregnant. It was a big shock to be told we were having twins but also so exciting. 

My pregnancy had been plain sailing with no cause for concern. But suddenly, at 30 weeks, everything changed and my unborn twins were coming early. 

When they were first born, they were tiny. Amaya was 3.10lb and Lydia was 3.13lb. They were so beautiful, I just loved looking at the two of them together and noticing similarities and differences.

As time passed intuition kicked in and told me that something wasn’t quite right. They were not reaching certain milestones, but I was told that there may be some developmental delays due to them being premature and that they would catch up over time.

I was questioning everything. At eight months, should they be sitting by now? At eleven months, why are they not crawling? I wondered whether it was my fault, not doing enough tummy time with the girls for example. Or was it because (due to the pandemic) I wasn’t able to socialise them".

Cerebral Palsy diagnosis

"Then when they were one and a half years old, in the thick of the Covid-19 pandemic, my twin girls were diagnosed with cerebral palsy over the phone by the doctor. 

The twins being diagnosed with cerebral palsy shook our world to the core. My partner and I broke up very soon after, the diagnosis was very hard for him to accept and he struggled with the stress.

We remained on good terms, especially for the girls and he would still see them every evening after work and help with bedtimes so they weren't really aware of the split.

But I'd lost my job in the travel industry due to Covid-19 as people weren’t travelling anymore and now I felt scared and I was financially and emotionally struggling".

I felt so isolated

"Anxiety was a real problem for me, I couldn’t get out or see anyone. I felt so isolated. Taking the girls outside was a challenge and would mean me struggling with adapted pushchairs or wheelchairs on my own. The large concrete steps at the front of my house made this even more challenging.

Things started to look up a little after I asked a Health Visitor if there was anywhere I could get support from and was told about Home-Start. I contacted Home-Start West Lothian immediately and was offered help from a volunteer and invited to attend group sessions".

Home-Start groups

"One thing that has really made a big difference to our lives are the Home-Start groups that we attend and the days out that Home-Start arranges. At first, I lacked the confidence and was nervous to attend, but once I was there I relaxed immediately. 

At the groups, everyone is so down to earth, there’s no pressure. All the staff and other mums are so welcoming, kind and so supportive. Just what I needed.

The girls are now three years old and we still attend the weekly groups and have Home-Start support.

We adore the Home-Start groups and have taken so much from them.

The groups and days out give me the push I need to let others in and talk to people and it’s invaluable for the girls to socialise as they’ve missed out on so much.

I am so thankful to have found out about Home-Start when I needed it most".

My advice to other mums

"My advice to other mums would be to ask for help or if it is offered, take it. There is nothing to be embarrassed about. Go to the groups, it’s good to meet others who may be in a similar situation or have problems of their own.

Irrespective of what you might think, you are not alone. Home-Start is there to help and I have their help every week still today.

The girls are now thriving. As am I, with help from Home-Start.

My partner and I are back together now too. We are making it work. We are all in a better place and I know Home-Start has played a big part in this.

Home-Start really is such a wonderful organisation, it’s like an extended family. I am thankful to have found out about Home-Start when I needed it most”.

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