The COMPLETE story of my boys
My daughter and son are only 18 months apart and that has worked out well for us. My daughter was always independent, she started walking at 8 months and things were getting easier for me at home. We decided it was time to get pregnant again and we did. My son was born in September, 3 weeks early, it was a bit of an adjustment with a newborn in the house, but we handled it well. My son was 7 or 8 months old when we started talking about getting pregnant again. I was still nursing at the time, he wasn’t walking or even crawling yet, and I was concerned the jump from 2 to 3 would be a lot harder than 1 to 2.
We agreed not to agree and to keep talking about it. We weren’t using birth control since I was nursing and my cycle hadn’t returned to normal yet. A few weeks later I started feeling bloated and getting indigestion. Since we were planning a date night that included a few drinks I decided to take a pregnancy test since I had just bought them in bulk. It was pretty shocking (and a little upsetting) when it was positive. My husband just grinned like a pole cat. He was so proud of himself!
I was given an immediate appointment since my OB wanted a due date and my last period was 18 months ago. All she could see on the ultrasound was one yolk sac so I was given another appointment 2 weeks later when she would have more information. By then I was 8 weeks. This was my third pregnancy so there was no reason for my husband to come with me. I laid on the table watching the ultrasound machine knowing what it *should* look like. I saw the two flickers, but pretended not to notice. It couldn’t be possible. I just waited. Then my OB said, “Do you see that?” I told her I did, but it must be wrong.
That’s when she told me it was twins. After more viewing she said they must be conjoined, I should have a D&C and terminate right away. Then she decided, no, it was just a Monoamniotic pregnancy. She briefly said it was a high risk pregnancy, they most likely wouldn’t survive and I needed to see a specialist right away.
That was Thursday. We had to wait until the following Tuesday for an appointment with Dr. Greg Devore. I spent the next several days ignoring all family and friends. We visitedwww.monoamniotic.org and researched our condition. We grieved for our unborn babies. I spent the entire weekend in tears. We talked about terminating the pregnancy because their survival rate was so low and even if they did survive they may have serious disabilities. It was a horrendous wait until our appointment. We saw the perinatologist, Dr. Devore, who told us what we were praying to hear, there was a “very thin” membrane. We were so relieved. We had been researching Monoamniotic all weekend and just didn’t know how we were going to survive this pregnancy with the risks and the bedrest. We had already spent the entire weekend grieving and not telling our family about the twins.
I had a typically normal twin pregnancy for 17 weeks. I had terrible morning sickness; my ligaments were painfully stretching. I had shortness of breath, difficulty lifting my 23 lb son, difficulty standing and doing the dishes. Grandparents were at our house each evening making dinner, bathing the kids and putting them to bed while I laid on the couch willing myself not to throw up. I started looking for someone to help me in the house during the day. I felt like such a failure; a stay at home mom who needed help with her. children. When we were at home I spent all my time on the couch with the children watching television. We traveled to 4 states in that 17 weeks to visit everyone we wouldn’t be able to see at Christmas. We were not allowed to travel after 24 weeks – so we went everywhere. We were gone for almost 6 weeks visiting all of our faraway relatives. I would say to them as we left, “See you when the twins are born.”
At 16 weeks it was too hard to leave the house. I finally asked for a handicap placard. I rushed all over town processing the paperwork. I used the placard 4 times – the last time at my specialist appointment with Dr. Devore where we would find out the gender.
I was 17 weeks +4 days. We were there for a “genetic appointment”. I didn’t know what that meant. I knew my pregnancy was normal and my first two pregnancies were normal. My AFP test came back negative for Down’s and my husband and I were under 30 yrs old. There should be NO problems. I wasn’t even prepared for any of the risks. After all they weren’t Monoamniotic, there was a membrane.
I casually asked Dr. Devore what exactly this appointment was for as we watched the ultrasound on the monitor, but he was moving too fast for me to recognize any of the body parts. Finally he stopped moving the wand and said, “I don’t see any heartbeats.” I was shocked and devastated. I started asking questions, “how could that be, I just felt them move.” He told me I had never felt them move it was too early. So I started arguing with him about that. It was a full five minutes before the words “I’m sorry” were uttered or I was offered a kleenex. I was just laying there on my back tears streaming down my face with my belly exposed. I realized I would have to deliver my dead babies. I didn’t want to go home until it was done. So we didn’t. We went straight to my OB. The nurses were so upset about my loss that they couldn’t even look at me. She did another ultrasound and confirmed that they were no longer living.
I was admitted to the maternity ward in the hospital. I waited in triage for the room to be readied for me. It was painful listening to another baby’s heartbeat knowing that my babies weren’t alive anymore. After waiting there for almost 30 minutes we started pacing in the hall to avoid the sound of the heartbeat. A kind nurse noticed why we were in the hall and put us in a private room with double doors far away from the other ladies. We were isolated in our grief. But I was thankful. I didn’t want to hear the congratulations or the crying babies. I wanted to be alone. A prayer card was placed outside our door to notify all those who entered that my babies had died. There was no reason to ask silly questions about how excited we were. I was thankful not to have to remind people why I was there.
While I waited for my doctor to arrive and begin my medication I spoke to the nurse manager who told me what to expect physically over the next several hours. She also told me what would happen after I delivered the babies, who would visit me, and the choices I would have to make. She wanted to wait to tell me these things, but I insisted since I knew my state of mind was better now than it would be once they were born. She was extremely helpful and we had ample time while laboring to make tough decisions no parent should have to make – including names, burial, and services.
I was given cervical to dialate my cervix and start contractions. I waited for almost 12 hours before getting an epidural. Between the pain, grief, worry, and disbelief I didn’t sleep. We still didn’t know what had caused their death – the specialist had made some casual suggestions of Downs and a ruptured placenta, but wouldn’t know until he got the results of the amnio. 15 hours later my twin boys were delivered. We took one look at them and realized their cause of death. They were tangled in one another’s cords. After further review of my chart and ultrasounds it was discovered that my pregnancy was dichronic and that the “very thin” membrane ruptured causing the babies to become monoamniotic. We were relieved to find out that our DNA wasn’t the cause of their death, that I could still have children, and that future pregnancies would most likely not be high risk. However comforting that information was in the hospital, it isn’t now. I still want my baby boys.
They were delivered at 10 am on Thursday, 9/22/05 – I was discharged by 5 pm after a D&C. We had a prayer service for them the following Monday and one week after their death they were buried at a local cemetary in the “baby” section.
We decided not to tell the kids what happened. My daughter is only 2 1/2 and has likely forgotten that Mommy was pregnant. My son is 1 year and has forgotten what he had for breakfast! 🙂 We are now debating on when to get pregnant again. Life has always been challenging for me – planning a wedding in 10 weeks, kids 18 months apart, traveling while pregnant with twins. I have chosen to do things that way. Now I feel lazy just caring for my two kids. I feel a little lost. What is supposed to happen now?
At my follow up appointment it was determined that the babies were always Monoamniotic and that I was diagnosed incorrectly. I tried to get angry about that, but the fetal mortality rate is so high and there is no treatment until you are about 26-weeks. I have thought to myself that if I knew I wouldn’t have told strangers and community members that I was expecting, especially since I was so small I could hide it still. But then again if I knew they were at risk I would have spent the entire 17 weeks over-analyzing each twinge I felt and jab I received from my 2 kids afraid that the babies were getting hurt. It would have been hard on the kids and our marriage. I guess blissful ignorance was a blessing.
My doctor has said I can get pregnant again soon and that there is no reason for future concern. I told her that I was really scared about carrying another baby. She gave me a hug and said, “I know.” I am scared to get pregnant and scared not to. I want twins again so badly, but I will be so relieved when there is just one heartbeat. Having more children won’t erase the pain or replace our boys. I will always think, “what if?” I will always be envious of those mothers of twins. They won’t ever know that I am part of their exclusive club. But I know, my boys know, and my family knows. We are all missing something very real, even though they never came home, we never dressed them and they aren’t part of our family picture, they will always be in our hearts.