Bedridden for FIVE months: The mother who had to lie still for 24 hours each day or risk losing her twin babiesLisa Copley was told her thin cervix made her likely to miscarryDoctors told the 31-year-old that her only hope was to stay in bedShe spent five months at Royal Surrey County Hospital during which time her muscles wasted away and she broke out in red hivesMiss Copley finally gave birth to twins Lucas and Lisa
13:03 GMT, 29 May 2012
A mother desperate to save the lives of her unborn twins lay in a hospital bed for five months.
Lisa Copley, 31, was under strict doctors' orders not to leave her bed, not even to wash or grab some food – but with horrendous consequences.
Confined to a bed in Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford for 24 hours a day, she spent so long lying down that her muscles wasted, her legs became too weak to walk on and she broke out in red hives after suffering from a rare skin condition.
Determined: Lisa Copley was so desperate to save the lives of her then-unborn twins Lucas (left) and Lola that she lay in a hospital bed for five months
Waiting game: Miss Copley spent so long lying down in Royal Surrey County Hospital that her muscles wasted and her legs became too weak to walk on
It had taken Miss Copley three cycles of IVF to become pregnant, so when doctors told her that her thin cervix made her likely to miscarry, she begged them for something to help.
Surgery was pointless, she learned – her only hope was lying down permanently until the babies were strong enough for birth after 24 weeks. So Miss Copley was confined to hospital.
Now, cradling twins Lola and Lucas, the proud mother says it was worth every single minute.
She said: 'I went for a routine scan in August and didn’t leave hospital until December.
'Most people hate spending any time in hospital and can’t believe it when I tell them I was in for nearly half a year.
'But as a mother, you will do anything to protect your babies. I’m just thrilled that it worked.'
Miss Copley’s journey began when her GP referred her to a specialist for tests to find out why she and her partner, financial planner James Richardson, 40, were unable to conceive.
In 2008, she was diagnosed with polycystic ovaries and began fertility treatment soon after.
But doctors also discovered that Miss Copley's cervix was fused closed, which explained why she had been unable to get pregnant.
They suspected laser treatment she’d had in her early twenties to remove abnormal cells had caused a build-up of scar tissue.
Rash: The 31-year-old broke out in red hives after suffering from rare skin condition PEP
Taking it easy: A cheerful Miss Copley whiles away another day in bed
Doctors tried to surgically open it in 2009 and 2010 but were unsuccessful. They told Miss Copley that her only hope of motherhood was IVF.
She and Mr Richardson were given NHS funding but their first two attempts, in October 2010 and February 2011, were unsuccessful.
During their next attempt, in April 2011, doctors implanted two eggs and when Miss Copley carried out a home pregnancy test days later, the line turned dark blue.
She said: 'It wasn’t a faint line, it was really heavy. I thought it could be twins.'
A scan confirmed that she was correct.
But concerns over her cervix meant Miss Copley’s pregnancy was closely monitored from the start and – just five weeks later – alarm bells started ringing.
She said: 'A scan showed my cervix had thinned to 20mm, which was half what it was actually supposed to be.
'The doctors didn’t think it was strong enough to be able to support my babies’ weight and I was told I was at a high risk of miscarriage.'
Another scan at 15 weeks revealed her cervix had thinned even further, and Miss Copley was signed off work to rest.
Three weeks later, her mother took her for a special scan where they were able to see the twins in 3D.
Miss Copley said: 'It was incredible but then they dropped the bombshell that despite me resting, my cervix was even thinner.
'Basically, I was told that if things progressed in the same way, then I would probably lose my babies.'
Before and after: It had taken Miss Copley three cycles of IVF to become pregnant and then doctors told her that her thin cervix made her likely to miscarry
Special care unit: After the twins were delivered by Caesarean, baby Lucas spent three days in intensive care
A consultant at the Royal Surrey County Hospital told Miss Copley the only hope of keeping her babies in the womb long enough to have any chance of surviving was not through hi-tech surgery or modern medicine but by, quite literally, putting her feet up.
Miss Copley said: 'I was shocked, especially when they said they were admitting me immediately.'
It was August last year when Lisa was wheeled to a bed in the corner of the maternity unit. She would not leave until December.
'It was overwhelming,' she said. 'At first, I set short goals, like making it through the first week.'
She was told to lie as flat as possible. Washing, eating, reading and watching television would all have to be done lying down.
She was not to leave her bed for anything other than toilet breaks – and those were only allowed because her bed was two steps from the cubicle.
As the weeks passed, Miss Copley became used to the hospital routine.
The curtains around her bed swished open each morning when nurses did their first rounds. As time went by, staff even began to recognise her choices on the hospital menu.
She learned the names of all the nurses and cleaning staff and spent her time reading up on baby development.
The days could be mind-numbingly boring, but worse was the knowledge that it might all be for nothing.
She said: 'I knew my babies were in grave danger. They expected me to go into premature labour and I knew that if I did before 23 weeks they wouldn’t have a chance.'
As summer turned to autumn, then to winter, Miss Copley stayed in the same bed, staring up at the hospital ceiling, counting the hours go by.
She said: 'I was literally ticking off the days as I imagine a prisoner would do in jail.'
Her first big goal was to get her babies to 24 weeks – the age when they would be entitled to medical care should they arrive early.
But a 20-week scan showed her cervix was now just 8mm thick.
Miss Copley was told that, due to her weak cervix, the only hope of keeping her babies in the womb long enough to have any chance of surviving was to lie in bed for months
Proud parents: Miss Copley and her partner James Richardson hold their precious twins
'I was too scared to cough or sneeze, let alone stand up,' she said. 'I just prayed we would get to 24 weeks.'
The milestone came and went – and to everyone’s relief there was still no sign of the babies.
At 28 weeks, Lisa was allowed a short trip out of the ward for a tour of the special baby care unit where her twins were likely to be treated.
She said: 'Doctors felt sure they would arrive any day so they wanted me to be familiar with the unit.
'But I’d been in bed so long that I could hardly stand, because the muscles on my legs had wasted away.
'When I tried to walk, I fainted. So James took me in a wheelchair but even that was exhausting for me.
'Then I began bleeding and having contractions, so I was advised not to try walking again.'
At 32 weeks, Miss Copley was advised to start practising standing and taking steps. At first every step she took was a trial.
At 34 weeks, medics agreed she was at last out of the danger zone and she was finally allowed home to wait for her twins to arrive.
But one week later, she developed the dangerous pregnancy condition pre-eclampsia and was told the twins needed to be delivered.
And on January 3, her babies were delivered by Caesarean section.
Daughter Lola was placed in Miss Copley’s arms but, due to delivery complications, son Lucas was rushed to a special care unit.
It was three days before he was well enough to join his mother and sister on the ward. Now the four-month-old twins are thriving.
Apart from having physiotherapy to help back pain following her long stint in bed, Miss Copley has returned to full health.
But she has no regrets.
She said: 'When you know your babies’ lives are on the line, being in hospital for that long is easier than you think. At times I feared I wouldn’t be a mum. Now I have the perfect family.'