A Perthshire family is preparing to hike, run, swim and cycle across Scotland celebrating the first birthday of Campbell and Hamish – who were born so early they couldn’t have their first hug together for weeks.
The Coffey family from Crieff were moved by the great NHS care the boys had when they were born at just 28 weeks.
And now the twins’ Mum, Dad, Granny, Grandad and squad of aunties and uncles are giving back to Simpsons Special Care Baby Charity – helping neonatal units across Scotland.
The twins’ dad Jamie Coffey, a physio with Scottish rugby, and mum Emma say they’ll never forget the support the boys had after being born weighing just 2lbs each.
So the family have organised an epic five day cross-Scotland fundraiser.
Emma, also mum to 3-year-old Ruaridh, explains: “Although twins come early, and you’re monitored in pregnancy, there’s a big difference between them coming at, say, 36 weeks and 28. That’s when Campbell and Hamish were born.”
The twins’ birth was traumatic for Emma, who was on her own due to Jamie self-isolating at his parents’ home.
‘I’ve never felt fear like it’
“I was getting breakfast for Ruaridh and something didn’t feel right so I followed the steps my midwife advised. And an ambulance was immediately dispatched.
“I’ve never felt fear like it.”
Emma was rushed to hospital and the boys were born by emergency C-section, on June 27, weighing only 1,090g and 1,070g each.
They needed immediate emergency care before being transferred to the Simpsons neonatal unit at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
“While many parents have their babies, go home and then talk about how much sleep they’re getting, we were talking about our babies in incubators being ventilated,” Emma continues.
‘The care was amazing’
“We were talking about whether they were breathing on their own or how much air flow they were getting. That part was completely unnatural for any parent.
“But also, leaving two babies every night was awful, when I got out of hospital after two weeks.”
“The first few days were a blur. But the care was beyond amazing.
“The neonatal nurse was watching and supporting them 24 hours a day in the unit. They were in for 80 days.
“Staff taught us how to handle the twins when they were in the incubator so we could feel involved in their care in order to bond with them.”
Campbell and Hamish had to be treated like they were still in the womb for the first two months. Dad Jamie went in to read chapters of Harry Potter to them every day.
“Their progress was a constant worry and Campbell had some health problems,” says Emma. “But we’ll never forget the first time we got to hold them.
“I held them both together on August 1, which was wonderful.”
Jamie says that while the last year has undoubtedly been tough at times, he’s so grateful for the love and support the family has had.
“I couldn’t see the babies or support Emma after they were born. It was awful, a very tough five days.
‘We didn’t know if they’d pull through’
“The worst part was not knowing if I’d see them at all, as they were so unwell. We didn’t know if they’d pull through.
“But the Simpsons baby charity funds an online and photo sharing platform, which meant I could see them via my iPad.
“And so it was emotional when my parents and siblings came up with this idea of a family relay across Scotland – to support the charity which means so much to us.
“We’re so fortunate, the babies are doing well now and passed their recent assessment with flying colours.
“And so we’re ready to take on the challenge of 450 miles, hoping to start on July 16.”
The Coffey siblings – Jamie, 35, Andrew, 33, Lisa, 32, Emily, 28, Rebecca, 25, Robbie, 21, along with their partners and friend Marcus, 28 – will hike, run, swim and cycle from Gretna to John o’ Groats over 10 days.
Jamie is doing most of the challenge while Emma is focusing on the 50km run. Granny Shona and Grandad Edward will take on the West Highland Way leg of the trip.
Shona says: “The relay starts off with a cycle from Gretna Green to Milngavie. Then we’ll walk the West Highland Way before the whole family meets to climb Ben Nevis.
“Then three members of the family will swim 16km of Loch Lochy.
“There’s also a 50km run, a 150km cycle and a wee fun run at the end where we hope to push the twins in their double buggy to the end of the challenge.
“We’re a close and very active family so this is the perfect way to raise awareness of great care – and thank those who helped Campbell and Hamish.”
- To donate to Stride for Simpsons, which also helps with research and training in neonatal units across Scotland, click here.
- Click here for more information on the charity, here for their Twitter feed and here for their Instagram page.