I am Amy Campbell. I am a wife, a mummy of twins, Charlotte, my little warrior and Esme, my little angel, who was on the earth 10th July 2016 to 30th August 2016. I live in a beautiful cottage in Yorkshire with my husband, Connor, my daughter Charlotte and my two Labradors, Hattie and Mila.

I am probably the happiest I have ever been. I have the best husband in the world. He really is my everything and I’m not sure where I would be without him. We’ve always had a great relationship, I can talk to him about anything, he can make me smile and laugh and he likes me just the way I am. From the day my waters broke, our relationship, our marriage became stronger. I couldn’t survive without him. We were able to keep each other’s spirits high and to keep the light lit at the end of the tunnel when our world was turned upside down.

Charlotte and Esme were born two and half hours shy of 27 weeks, i.e. 3 months early.  Between the pair of them, they had a very rocky start to life but showed nothing but courage, fight, determination and love. Sadly at seven weeks, Esme died due to her extreme prematurity, septicaemia and Ventriculitis. Charlotte is now ten months old and continues to be my little warrior.

Over the summer of 2016, I began to learn how to put my brave face on! A face which focuses on the now. An optimistic face and one which never gives up on hope. A face which shows the world I’m brave, strong and hanging on in there. A face which pushes my darkest fears to the back of my mind. One which encourages the mind to think, ‘everything’s going to be ok’. A face which hopes to hide all the pain of a broken heart.

I hope Esme, our shining star, will be proud of her mummy. I hope that she will be smiling and guiding me through each chapter.  I hope that when Charlotte is older, she can read all about her fighting start to life and her little sister.

This blog is about learning who you truly are, when your most feared nightmares become your reality. I have been lucky that I have Charlotte. My amazing girl who makes me smile, who makes me feel alive and who, each day inspires me to put one foot in front of the other. With an open heart, I will share with you the story of my girls, giving birth to premature twins, surviving the neonatal ward, giving my angel her wings and being a mummy to a surviving twin.

Being a mummy is amazing, something I have always wanted to be. The life I live now as a mother is not how I imagined it. It’s not how my fairytale went. I take nothing for granted and I am grateful of every second I had with my girls together and now with Charlotte. I am a mummy to my gorgeous girl Charlotte, who I can hold and protect but also a mummy to my darling Esme, who I can love and talk to but whom I can’t hold. I can’t hear her and watch her grow up and be a twin to her older sister. I can’t watch her discover her little ways about life and say her name and see her answer my call. I am now learning to live my life being the best mummy I can, as I know what it is like for that to be taken away.  I spend each day, hoping to make Esme proud of her mummy.  I hope she is smiling down on me and proud of how I am raising her big sister.

Beginning this blog feels like ‘I am turning an end into a beginning’. It is a good process for me and a way to channel my thoughts. It will give me the time to think about and acknowledge what happened last summer, as when you are in the thick of it, it is all about surviving each day and praying and hoping everything is going to be ok. When I write, I feel like I can let go, where I can find inner strength and then continue getting through the day and being the best mummy I can.

Yes I do feel nervous about what emotions might rise. The truth is, the more I write, the more feelings/emotions/memories return to me and the closer I feel to Esme. The last thing I did, just Esme and I, was write together.  We were staying at the hospital and at 3am I woke with a feeling of urgency to see my girl as I knew this would be the last night she would be here. I pulled up a chair next to her incubator, lowered it so I could hold her through the windows and she could hear my voice. I asked the nurse if she had a pen and paper. The nurse respectfully left me with just my girls. I kept looking over the incubator to check on Charlotte but she was fast asleep. Even though Esme’s eyes were closed and most of her face was covered in tape, I knew she could hear me. Together, we wrote all about her, all my favourite things about my darling. I would say “What shall we write next Es?” and she would move her feet. Ahh I thought, you want me to tell everyone you’re a dancer. We wrote until we felt we had mentioned everything. We called it ‘My Bright Shining Star’.  I hope these memories of my Esme will only become stronger so in those darkest moments when I feel like I’ve forgotten what it was like to be a mummy of twins or about my darling Esme I will gain strength and hope.

From experiencing being pregnant with twins, to Twin 1’s (Charlotte’s) waters going at 24 weeks, to being a mummy to extremely premature twins and living a summer in the neonatal ward, to experiencing a loss, to taking home a baby on oxygen and to raising a warrior, I hope that by opening my heart I can raise awareness of prematurity, reach out to those who have been on a similar journey or help to support others who may be currently facing adversity. Or if you are interested in my story and just fancy reading my blog, I am honoured.

Amy x

I have loved writing the words ‘my Campbellinas’, as for the first time since Esme died, I have been able to think about and remember how it was when they were both here. They were my little Campbellinas. I suppose they always will be but now the name is shared in a different light. In memory of Esme and the amazing support we received from the Leeds Neonatal team we set up a non-profitable organisation called ‘Campbellinas’. It has been set up to raise money to help support neonatal units.

I have previously struggled at hearing or reading the word ‘Campbellinas’. It’s hard seeing it in black and white, or as a name, or as a logo or non-profitable organisation as I imagined my Campbellinas would both come home and grow up together. But I chose the name for the organisation and although it hurts, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am now learning to navigate along a different ‘Campbellinas’ journey from the one I imagined.

To find out more about Campbellinas, please visit the website or Facebook page.