TO look at giggling tots Makayla and Makenzie you would never imagine the traumatic start in life both endured.
When the twins were born 10 weeks premature and weighing just 2lbs each, dad Carlos Edwards and wife Denille feared for their tiny bundles.
Discovering blood when she was six months pregnant, Denille, a 29-year-old former flight attendant, was rushed into hospital and confined to bed for a month before her daughters finally made an appearance on October 8, 2011.
Frantic dashes to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge and the worry of travelling across the country for away games piled pressure on Ipswich skipper Carlos.
But today one-and-a-half-year-old Makayla and Makenzie are healthy and happy, bursting with energy and running rings around their parents and older sister Melanie.
Until Denille met Carlos nine years ago at the Trinidad and Tobago carnival, she hadn’t planned on having children.
But while Carlos, now 34, was playing for Sunderland first daughter Melanie was born.
Then after tying the knot in their Caribbean home three years ago, the couple decided to try for one more baby to give Melanie a sibling.
But despite having twins in the family – Carlos’s dad and Denille’s mum are both twins – the Blues winger said discovering two heart beats during their first scan was a shock.
“I nearly ran out of the room,” he said.
His wife added: “I burst into tears. I couldn’t believe it.
“It was a shock but now I wouldn’t be without either of them.
“I had Melanie full term, on my due date, so there was no warning that I might have the twins early.
“I had dropped Mel off at school one morning and had gone to the toilet when I got home – that’s when I noticed some blood. I was only six months pregnant so I didn’t know what was happening.
“I called Ipswich Hospital and they told me to come straight in. After an examination they told me I was three centimetres dilated. I just started crying, it was terrifying. I didn’t know what was going to happen.”
Denille was transferred to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital for a week, before another week’s stay at the Chelsea and Westminster hospital in London. From there she was transferred to Addenbrooke’s where, two weeks later, the twins arrived.
“It was just days waiting,” she said. “The manager (Paul Jewell at the time) was brilliant, letting Carlos come up and spend time with me.”
The Super Blues captain said the wait was a “fright”, leaving him scared for his wife and unborn babies.
“While Denille was in hospital we had games away so it was always on my mind,” he said. “I think it helped my game in a way, kept me focused.
“I was always on the look out for any phone calls.
“While I was scared, I was also relieved that she was in the best possible place if anything was to happen.”
On September 26, while lying in hospital, Denille said she couldn’t get hold of Carlos, who was looking after Melanie.
“I just knew something had happened,” she said. “I even called the police station to ask if they had him in custody – and they did.”
Carlos was arrested for driving while disqualified after waking up late and rushing to get Melanie to school at Heath Primary in Kesgrave.
“I do regret it,” said the Trinidadian, who got his licence back last week. “It put more pressure on my wife. The night before I came home from the hospital late.
“I overslept, Melanie had to wake me up. I did call a taxi firm but they were busy. My mistake was not trying other cabs. I just jumped in the car, it was only round the corner and I wasn’t really thinking.
“On my way home a police car spotted me. I just wasn’t thinking, I do regret it.”
Words can’t describe our thanks to the hospital – Carlos
At 7.10am on October 8, 2011 Makenzie arrived, followed by her twin Makayla a minute later.
Picking up the call, Carlos, who was staying in a nearby hotel, rushed to the hospital with daughter Melanie – both still in their pyjamas.
“It was a waiting game to see if there was going to be any health scares,” Denille said. “But the doctors were stunned at how they were tiny but strong babies.”
At three weeks old, Makayla was ready to come home. But Carlos and Denille refused to let her leave her twin’s side.
“My mum is a twin,” said Denille. “She told me twins need each other to get strong.
“Makenzie needed a bit longer to get better and reach 4lbs – the weight when the hospital will let a premature baby home.”
Five weeks later and the girls were discharged and taken home.
“Words can’t explain our thanks to the hospital,” said Carlos. “We were speaking about it the other day. We sent the hospital pictures of the girls recently.
“Everyone was so nice. They were so professional and so lovely. “We felt really welcome and they looked after us all, as a family. It was great.”
Denille added: “They really helped me feel more comfortable, knowing everything was going to be OK.”
And the former Sunderland, Luton and Wrexham player paid special thanks to the fans and club for their support.
“We had loads of messages from fans,” he said. “It was great to have that support from the fans and the club too.
“It really shows, regardless of how you are playing, people still care outside of the football.”
Although they are non-identical, the twins both look like their dad.
Makayla takes after Carlos’s father, while Makenzie is a real daddy’s girl, according to her mum.
“They are doing so well now,” she added. “Kayla is more curious – she will sit back and take a situation in where as Kenzie will just dive straight in. She is very strong willed and bullies her sisters about.”
As the family come to the end of their third season in Ipswich, both Denille and Carlos said they feel happy and settled at their home in Kesgrave.
Melanie, six, goes to school in Woodbridge and while Carlos captains the team, Denille ‘captains’ the cohort of players’ wives and girlfriends.
“They are always coming to me,” she added. “I think it’s because we are a bit older.
“We’ve always got the players coming round, they love it. I think it’s because where we are from, you open your home to friends and family.
“Not like in this country where you have to have an appointment for anything. All the boys know they can drop round whenever, they know where the snack cupboard is and often I will come downstairs just to find some of them here.”
Carlos added: “I am happy at Ipswich.
“I am hoping that we can finish the season in the top half of the table with two victories in our last two games. It is easier said than done.
“There are a lot of teams playing for survival and we are one of them, we are not 100% safe.
“I just hope the guys can finish the season on a high and then we can build on what we have achieved next season.”
If the couple do have more children, Carlos admits he would prefer a less stressful birth.
He joked: “I would like to thank my wife for giving me three beautiful children – but next time don’t make it so dramatic!”
But Denille replied: “There won’t be a next time, three is enough for me.
“Doctors have warned me against having any more because of the risk of another multiple pregnancy and next time we might not be so lucky.”