Former Fair City actress Jenny Dixon has just welcomed twin daughters Capri and Bella and is full of the joys of newborn life.
Welcoming a new baby home is always an incredibly special time, but for Jenny and her husband, former Limerick TD Tom Neville, this memorable event was doubly so – and a long time coming.
Their little girls were born on February 20, seven weeks before their due date, and spent six weeks in neonatal care in the Rotunda before the new parents were allowed to bring them home a week ago.
Jenny and Tom had a ‘journey’ to becoming parents and are unbelievably grateful to now be at home with their two healthy girls. She told the Irish Daily Mail: ‘We have had a journey, there’s been ups and downs. We did avail of assisted fertility and we have had losses.
‘Thankfully there’s now an awareness there that people going through a fertility journey know they are not alone, in fact, they are not even in a tiny minority.
‘It’s very prevalent, it affects so many and for a long time it’s just not been spoken about. But now fertility journeys are being normalised and we are talking about them and supporting each other.’
Speaking about how her babies are settling into life at home, Jenny said: ‘They’re sleeping well and eating well thankfully. You’re so nervous at the start, you’re like poking them.
‘Tom is amazing with them, we both feed them together, they do synchronised burping, this is our normal. We have so much joy and happiness and appreciation. You’re in the shower in the morning thinking, gosh, they’re here, and you just have to go and look at them.’
Jenny already has ways to tell her identical girls apart, with their slightly different complexions, cheeks and facial expressions. ‘They hold hands and if they are crying, they stop as soon as they touch each other,’ Jenny reveals of the magical bond her girls have. Then again, their closeness is no surprise, given the type of twin pregnancy Jenny had.
Her daughters are monoamniotic twins, which means they shared the same amniotic sac through pregnancy, and also the same placenta. Jenny’s pregnancy was rare and, as such, high risk. It’s thought that 0.1% of all twin pregnancies are monoamniotic. As a result, she had to be monitored very closely.
At first Jenny thought she’d have to spend the last three months of her pregnancy in the Rotunda but in the end she was able to go in for daily scans as the twins grew with these visits becoming as normal as popping to the gym or going for a walk.
‘I was able to go in for daily scans and go home afterwards, although some nights I was kept in overnight for observation,’ Jenny, who felt safe under the care of Dr Jennifer Donnelly and her team, said.
‘Any day they thought there was any distress signs they kept me in overnight. I think I was just so grateful that I was blessed with two healthy twin girls that that’s what I was concentrating on all the way through, my eye was on the prize,’ she says.
It’s hard to imagine having to spend so much time under observation, and what makes Jenny’s attitude even more admirable is that she navigated a lot of it on her own, as former Limerick TD Tom now works for TikTok and had to spend time working in London.
Jenny also suffered from severe sickness through her pregnancy and was prescribed Cariban for her symptoms. She even ended up in A&E on Christmas Eve the she skipped the Cariban by accident and couldn’t stop vomiting.
Looking at Jenny’s Instagram, it’s clear that herself and Tom, who met at an Irish film festival in Australia in 2016 and married at the end of 2019, celebrated their daughters even before they met them, hosting a gender reveal party for family and friends featuring plenty of pink.
Another important detail of that day was some ribbon that Jenny wore in her hair. ‘Tom had this dream years ago, before he even met me, and he told me about it when we started dating,’ she recalls. ‘He dreamt that he saw his twin girls in a garden, with ribbon in their hair, so the gender reveal details were a nod to that.
‘When he found out we were having twin girls he just put his head in his hands and was like, “there is a God”. He is so, so in love with them,’ says Jenny. ‘It’s just been a fairytale as, you know, we just didn’t know which way it would go.’
Jenny says she has been in contact with expectant mothers from all over the world, some who are experiencing the same type of twin pregnancy and others just connecting and offering support.
‘That support network is really important,’ she says. ‘Pregnancy and birth is beautiful, but just to know that there’s myriad things to factor in, and everyone is different. There’s not a recipe that suits everyone.
‘I think my message to mums undergoing a tough pregnancy would be try not to worry, keep the faith, know you are in good hands with our healthcare services and there’s a bit of what’s meant to be will be.
‘We can be healthy and positive but a lot of that power is not in our hands, I suppose, it’s in those esoteric genetic codes that make us up. You can keep that good energy flowing and the positivity and light the candles and manifest great things, but if it doesn’t go ahead, it wasn’t meant to be. And if it does, it was. That’s what got me through, keeping the faith, taking it day by day.’