In September of 2011, just over a month after my husband and I tied the knot, I took a pregnancy test. It was positive. I was elated, terrified, and in love. In love with this beautiful gift God had given me. I’ve always been skinny, but I started gaining weight immediately.
On October 31, an ultrasound revealed two heartbeats…plus mine. Twins. Twins! I couldn’t believe it! My first pregnancy, and I was growing two perfect little beings at once! Twice the pregnancy, twice the love.
Less than a month later, at around 2:30 in the morning, I woke find my sheets soaked with a light-pink fluid. I drove myself to the Emergency Room, my husband being out of town. By the time I reached the hospital, I was gushing bright red blood…every pregnant woman’s nightmare. The E.R. doctor brought in the ultrasound machine…and I heard both heartbeats. I couldn’t believe my luck! Both my babies were still alive! The next few weeks were rocky (to say the very least), and I went to see a specialist. Being new to pregnancy, I had no idea what was going on. I was oblivious. I was stupid. But I knew that something was wrong.
In early December, the specialist told me my babies were girls…and that they had Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome. It had already advanced to Stage 3. I was just under 17 weeks along. And there was another complication…My cervix was only 4mm long (normal length being between 30 and 40mm). I asked the doctor what I should do. I was terrified. I could already feel the loss. I was kicking myself for not being more assertive with the doctors, for not demanding more at my appointments, for not asking more questions. The doctor suggested an abortion. He couldn’t interfere, because I wasn’t far enough along to guarantee any chance of survival for either of my daughters. I was distraught, to put it mildly. Looking back, distraught doesn’t even begin to cover it.
Two days later, on December 10th, 2011, I felt it. The contractions. I told my mother, who had flown in when I told her the news, and my husband rushed me to the hospital with my mother making him promise to pick her up from the house when things “started to get going”. We arrived at the E.R. My husband signed me in while I tried to explain to the desk clerk that I was, in fact, in labor. That I was feeling more than just “Braxton Hicks”. He wouldn’t believe me until I mentioned my specialist, well-known for hundreds of miles around. A couple of nurses wheeled me upstairs into an ultrasound room. They didn’t believe I was in labor, either. A doctor came in, looking annoyed. Asked me what made me think I was in labor. A nurse hooked me up to a machine to measure and monitor my contractions, and they both stepped out, instructing me to push the emergency button if I needed anything. My husband was sitting beside me, holding my hand, both of our hearts contracting with my uterus, tightening and breaking in synchronization. We talked little, watched the monitor as my contractions steadily got stronger. Less than ten minutes after the nurse and doctor walked out, leaving us alone with our sickly, aching hearts, I felt a gush. My water had broken. I told my husband to go pick up my mom, pushed the emergency button repeatedly until the nurse and doctor returned, and shouted at them, “We’ve got water!” The doctor finally pulled out the ultrasound wand and “took a look” at my babies. When she saw them, her expression stiffened, her face a perfect mirror of melancholy horror. “You’re the one with the Twin-to-Twin…” I replied with a solid “Yes”. Less than 20 minutes later, in that tiny ultrasound room, I began to push. The larger twin came first. Annabell. I had known which twin would carry that name before I knew the genders. I had known this baby. My baby. One of the nurses (I was now surrounded by a team of nurses), took my Annabell in her arms. Told me she was beautiful. Asked me if I wanted to hold her. I was numb with the pain of knowing that her soul was no longer in her body. Born asleep. The nurse placed her on my chest while I gave birth to her sister, Lillian. Lillian was much smaller than Annabell, but they were equally beautiful. Equally perfect. Now, I’ve always been the type to try to cheer others up when they’re in pain. Tell awkward jokes, make goofy faces, the works. So with tears running down my face, I put on a weak smile, looked at the nurses, and said, “Why the long faces?” I think they thought me insane. I looked at the clock. 10:43 in the morning. My entire labor, from contractions to birth, had lasted less than two hours. A few minutes later, my husband and mother walked in. They had missed it. All of it. I had done it all alone. Given birth to my miracles and lost them. All alone. I remember wondering what God was trying to teach me in that moment. I greeted my mother and husband with a “Hey, guys.” Then I pointed to Annabell, still laying on my chest, and said, “This one is Annabell…”(I pointed to Lillian) “And this one is Lillian.” I was wheeled into a labor suite, where my husband and I spent the night, and where we said goodbye to our daughters, our perfect little angels, on a beautiful, sunny Saturday.
17 weeks and one day into my pregnancy, I had given birth to my babies. My miracles. My heart and soul. I felt as if my life had been taken from me, leaving my mind and body to suffer the world. Over two years later, it still hurts. Even after having my son, their brother. Even after I’ve stopped talking about it with family and friends. The pain of losing a child, no matter the age, is something that never leaves you. A sensation that never fades.