A Hartlepool mum has spoken of her joy after she fell pregnant just nine weeks after her set of twins died at birth - and was told she was expecting twins again.
Barbara Short suffered an unimaginable ordeal last year when twins Ava and Alfie lived only a few hours after being born extremely prematurely at 23 weeks.
The twins were fatally underdeveloped, weighing only 450g and 480g respectively and, according to Barbara, able to fit into the palm of a hand. Despite the best efforts of doctors at the James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesborough, neither twin lived through the day.
Trying for another baby was still far from her mind when she realised, just two months after the deaths, that she was pregnant again.
When she underwent her first ultrasound scan, Barbara couldn't believe her ears when staff told her they had detected two heartbeats - she was expecting twins again.
This time there were no complications. At 36 weeks fraternal twins Frankie and Lilly were delivered by caesarean section, weighing 5 lb and 4 lb 13 oz.
Frankie was unconscious at birth, but after six minutes doctors got him breathing, and after a week in a special unit he joined sister Lilly at home.
Barbara describes the birth of Frankie and Lilly as a bittersweet experience so soon after the death of their brother and sister.
"It's hard to explain but when they were born I was over the moon, but at the same time I was still grieving for Ava and Alfie.
Frankie and Lilly are now eight months old and described by Barbara as a handful, with very distinct personalities - Frankie, she says, is stern and serious while Lilly is all smiles.
"Everyone, even the doctors, were shocked at me having two sets of twins in less than a year," Barbara recalls. "It was definitely meant to be that I was given Frankie and Lilly."
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