A MUM gave birth to premature twins during lockdown after her four-year-old daughter spookily predicted her pregnancy, the sex of her siblings and even their due date.
When Samantha Lubanzu, 36, and her husband Luis, 38, found out they were having twins, the couple were over-the-moon – already feeling blessed to have two kids, after struggling for 10 years to conceive.
While Eliyanah, four, was born after one round of IVF on the NHS, her brother Luis Jnr, two, was conceived naturally, as were six-month-old twins Ameliah and Levi – the result of a surprise pregnancy.
Samantha, of south Manchester, told how Eliyanah told her she had a “baby boy and girl” in her tummy” – five weeks before she and her husband found out she was pregnant.
The mum-of-four, of south Manchester, who recently took voluntary redundancy from her HR job, said: “About five weeks before I found out I was pregnant Eliyanah told me, ‘You have a baby boy and a baby girl in your tummy, Mummy.’
“She said ‘God told me’, and she was right!”
Samantha was keen to have three kid and Luis wanted four, so their fertility problems had come as a terrible blow, although, luckily, they eventually had the family they so wanted.
But when Eliyanah – who was then three – predicted her twin pregnancy, she was shocked.
She said: “I’d had bleeding in all my previous pregnancies and have also had three miscarriages.
“While I know it sounds stupid, it never occurred to me when I went to the doctor complaining about feeling tired and suffering from nausea and a headache that I was pregnant again.”
Confirming with a test in November that she was indeed expecting, at her nine-week scan at Manchester’s St Mary’s Hospital, Samantha and Luis learned there were two baby sacs, but the sonographer only detected one heartbeat.
Samantha is a twin herself and very close to her brother Nathan, who works for a bank, so she put her faith in her daughter’s prediction hoping she’d end up with another boy and girl who would both arrive safely.
And, sure enough, when she went back to hospital a fortnight later, there were two baby heartbeats.
At 16 weeks, the couple learned Samantha was carrying a boy and a girl, just as Eliyanah had said.
Then, a month later, they were given a July 10 due date – hot on the heels of their little girl’s revelation that they would be due on the same number they had on their front door – 10 – although she said the twins would, in fact, be born earlier.
“I was astonished by how accurate Eliyanah had been,” said Samantha.
“I asked her how she knew all this and she just told me God had told her!
“Still, I have to admit, I found it reassuring, because I was scared all through the pregnancy that things might go wrong.
“But because of what my daughter had said, I chose to believe that whatever happened, the twins would be born and would survive.”
Because of her history of miscarriages and the fact they were twins, Samantha’s pregnancy had been classed as high risk.
And with the threat of Covid-19, in between six weekly scans, she was shielding at home in line with the health advice being given to pregnant women during lockdown.
Three weeks into lockdown in April, she woke one morning and struggled to get out of bed.
When she finally managed to get up, she felt a strong urge to push.
The added dizziness and vomiting alerted her to the fact her body was going into labour and she knew she had to get to hospital.
“I was very scared about going in and terrified of coming into contact with anyone, because I’d not been out for weeks – apart from to appointments – and all I’d seen were those images of busy general hospitals with very sick people on ventilators,” she said.
“When I got to the maternity ward, there was nobody about, though, just one security guard. It felt like the zombie apocalypse!”
Just 27 weeks and six days into the pregnancy, Samantha knew that every extra day she could keep her twins in the womb brought them a better chance of survival.
So, she was given drugs to halt the labour, which gave doctors the time to administer further medication to help accelerate the development of the twins’ lungs, so they would be able to breathe when they were born.
Despite their intervention, within 24 hours, her cervix was 3cm dilated and the birth was happening.
And on April 17 the twins were born after a 24-hour labour – within an hour and 10 minutes of each other.
Ameliah came first, weighing just 2lb 5oz, but as Levi was positioned with his arm coming first and the rest of his body in the womb, putting her at risk of haemorrhage, doctors had to consider performing a C-section to deliver her twin.
Instead, they administered super strength induction drugs and Levi was born naturally, weighing 2lb 3oz.
Samantha, who had given birth with her mum on the phone encouraging her and everyone else, including husband Luis wearing scary-looking PPE and “looking like aliens,” was shocked by how tiny the twins were.
“You could hold them in the palm of your hand,” she said.
Not allowed to touch or cuddle them immediately, they were whisked off to intensive care after the birth.
“The doctors had told us the twins would have a good chance of survival, but would need to get through the first 24 hours, so would be taken straight to intensive care,” she said.
“When they were born, they said, ‘They’re breathing on their own and looking good,’ which was a huge relief.”
Samantha first saw them properly three hours later, by which time they were both in incubators and covered in wires.
She said they looked “transparent” and she was “terrified they would break” if she held them.
Over the days and weeks that followed, Samantha and Luis learned to handle their premature babies and celebrated each milestone they reached – like when they could breathe and feed on their own, and maintain their own body temperature.
Supported by the charity Twins Trust, who gave them a volunteer nanny called Patsi, who was always available on WhatsApp when they needed advice, the couple said their help was invaluable.
The twins remained in hospital for 61 days and soon after the birth, Samantha became so sick with mastitis – a condition causing the breasts to become red, hot and painful – that she, too, was hospitalised for three weeks.
Unable to walk, she had to be taken in a wheelchair to the nursery to see and spend time with Ameliah and Levi.
“Although the twins learned to latch on to breastfeed they did not take all the milk and I developed agonising mastitis,” says Samantha. “At one point I lost all the feeling down both my sides and could not move for the pain.
“And, because I am allergic to most antibiotics, my treatment was complicated, so I was in hospital for three weeks myself.
“On the plus side, it meant I got to see a lot of the twins, but I missed being with my older children and it was very hard on my husband, having to do everything that needed doing on his own. He was absolutely amazing.
“The NHS staff at St Mary’s Hospital and Wythenshawe Hospital were amazing throughout the birth and my treatment.”
Samantha has shared a fantastic album of photos of her family on Instagram, which show no hints of the challenges they have faced.
The couple, who met through their church, say their journey to parenthood has been “one of faith.”
“Although we struggled for so long to conceive, which did challenge my faith, we always believed we would be parents,” said Samantha.
“We even bought a four-bedroom house to fill with our children. So, I would say to anyone, believe, pray and one day, it will happen.
“It may not have been easy, but we now have four beautiful children and we are overjoyed and over the moon with them.
“As for Eliyanah’s predictions, maybe we should start seeing if she can help us to win the lottery next!”
And a woman tells how she fell pregnant naturally with QUADS after fertility struggles – and now she’s got five under three.
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