Mom to twins Jackson and Isabella
Passed away at 18 weeks and 22 weeks
D&E December 20, 2010
We live in York, PA where we have one of the best NICUs around. We know this because of our experience with our son, Wyatt, who was born 5 years earlier at 27 weeks gestation, weighing 1 lb 9 oz and measuring 12 inches long. There was no explanation as to why he was born so prematurely, other than the blood flow through the cord was not adequate. Every other test on me, the placenta and the cord…nothing was found. We had a lengthy stay in the NICU, three and a half months, but were able to come home and today, five years later, have a healthy thriving boy, our miracle!
About two years ago, we decided to extend our family and didn’t have much luck on our own. We met with a fertility doctor, who did a “flush” of my fallopian tubes and found there were no blockages to keep me from getting pregnant. That procedure must have opened the flood gates though because that month I became pregnant with twins.
I had no fear when it came to having a premature baby, if that were to happen…I had been through that with my first child. What I did fear was not making it far enough along to have a viable pregnancy. I was monitored VERY closely by our maternal fetal medicine doctor, and had every test I could to ensure things were going to be good. However, by the time I made it through the first trimester, I still didn’t look like I was even pregnant, let alone with twins. As the weeks went on, I didn’t feel any movement and the ultrasounds were showing a heartbeat but that the growth of one baby was dropping off. I of course felt the horrible and sheer panic when they told me this. It was happening all over again, like when I was pregnant with Wyatt. The doctor felt it was a lethal genetic issue and thought it best to do an amnio. I took the day to gather my thoughts and questions and decided to do the amnio on both babies. When I went in for the test 3 days later, there was no heartbeat on the baby we would later find out was a boy.
It was the worst feeling in the world knowing our baby had died and I didn’t even know it. But for me, I also had another baby still living inside me. I was 18 weeks and was trying very hard to deal with the issue of how to grieve the first baby but be happy that at least I still had another baby. The following week I went to a specialist in Maryland who advised me that he felt I had a blood clotting disorder and that was causing the problems of blood flow through the cords (like in my first pregnancy, and now with the baby who passed). They did a bunch of tests but never got a positive result. Of course, who wants to have something wrong with them, but when you are talking about saving the life of your unborn children or having answers to what is really going on, well, you just want to know what it is so you can fix it.
As the next few weeks went on, the anticipation of every doctor appointment put the fear of God in me as to what would they find next. Then, at 22 weeks, it happened: they found the second baby was not growing anymore and would only live a few more days. On December 20, 2010, the doctors confirmed that my other twin had passed away. They proceeded to schedule a D & E for the next day. The doctors at Maternal Fetal couldn’t have been more compassionate and caring during this difficult time.
The next day waiting to go to the OR for the procedure, I felt like I just wanted to die. Waking up in the recovery room, I finally broke down. I remember telling the nurse there that it felt like the anesthesia took the wall down that I had built so strong and solid around me, a wall that would allow me to look and feel like this was just something that happened and it was ok, a wall that protected me from feeling the most overwhelming, hurtful feelings that I was feeling but was so very afraid to actually feel. I couldn’t stop crying and they just encouraged me to cry. It was really the first time I felt I could just let it out. Even to this day, just over a year later, I haven’t been able to let my feeling show about how deep this hurt is. One of the OR nurses came to my bedside with a memory box and envelope. She asked me if I wished to see the pictures she had taken for me. I immediately knew I couldn’t handle it at that time and she left them with me. I couldn’t imagine seeing them. I looked at the pictures that night when I couldn’t sleep and no one else was awake. I wished I had never done that and prayed my husband would never have to see the photos. It was an image I just never imagined and now wish I hadn’t had a D & E. I regret the decision not to deliver my babies and be able to hold them and say goodbye. However, I knew my husband could not handle that and maybe even the rest of my family. I am the strong one for others and this time, I was broken and had no one there to be strong for me.
We never named the babies even though we knew they were a boy and a girl. I think that was my “wall” of protection saying that if you don’t name them or deliver them it won’t hurt as much. I found that to be extremely untrue and if anything, it has made it more difficult to not have a “public” name of them. The doctors never found out what the cause was for the babies to stop growing and pass away and for me, that is another very difficult thing to live with.
We have the ashes of my twins. I named them privately to myself because my husband didn’t feel that naming them would change anything. Every day I think of them and some days are easier than others, but why is it that every where I go, I see twins or pregnant women expecting twins? My heart aches SO badly at times yet I am blessed to have a miracle 5-year old and my husband who loves us both. I have been searching for a place or group that I could understand the loss. They call what happened to me a miscarriage and not a birth but when you have a miscarriage you don’t have to decide on burial or cremation. But I never felt like I gave birth to them either. I just have so many regrets looking back on this and wish now I would have made some different choices. I long for the day to see my precious Jackson and Isabella, that’s what I named them, and can truly hold them close and kiss their cheeks. Never in a million years would I have thought the pain of losing children you never met would be so great a loss.