They Were Gone Before I Knew There Were Two

Told by: Lori

They were gone before I knew there were there… before I knew there were two. My beautiful twin babies. I went in for my first prenatal appointment at 18 weeks. I had a feeling something was wrong because my belly wasn’t growing. And I was spotting. And my heartburn had suddenly subsided weeks ago. I sat in the ultrasound room alone for 20 minutes, staring at the blank screen. I wondered what it would show. I thought about all the other women who had looked at that same screen. I thought about all the emotion-filled moments of joy and sorrow they had experienced. The midwife who greeted me was very kind and asked about my concerns. She applied the gel and waited awhile before delivering the news in a very gentle voice, “I’m looking for movement and, unfortunately, I don’t see any. I’m SO sorry… But what I do see is 2 babies”.

I was shocked and teary-eyed immediately. There were two cords and one placenta, which she confirmed meant they would’ve been identical twins. I was anxious to tell my husband the news. His mom is a twin and always wanted twin grandchildren. With 22 grandkids she never had any luck. He was shocked like me and took the news hard. It’s the first time in 10 years that I’ve seen him cry. We scheduled a 2nd ultrasound for the next day to confirm and have photos printed. We learned they died at 11weeks 3 days and 12 weeks 3 days. I thought about what I was doing back then. How could I not wonder if I had caused this? I had kept a diary of my diet and how I was feeling, and planned to check it when I got home. The ultrasound photos were so precious to us. My husband gave copies to his mom who covered her mouth in shock when she saw them. There was lots of crying and sadness, but also joy that we’ll one day see the babies again in heaven. I opted for a natural miscarriage. Two days later we got to see our twins. I had cramps for 1.5 hours that increased in severity. I got up to pee, but my husband was worried about losing the babies down the toilet. He insisted I use our portable camping potty.

After peeing I sat there a minute or two longer and felt one gush, followed by a second gush 30 seconds later. It had felt like only water had passed, but when I looked down I saw the placenta still half way inside me and one twin dangling by the umbilical cord!

I finished pushing everything out and my husband cut the cord (something he felt too squeamish about with our first child). I located the other twin (still partially inside the sac) and washed them both off. I couldn’t believe we were holding our babies in our hands. They looked so peaceful and I was glad they had each other, that they didn’t die alone. We took pictures immediately and were so thankful for the opportunity to see our babies. I had read tips about taking photos in water and those turned out especially beautiful. We were also glad to know the sex of the babies (they were boys). We named them Jonathan and Ethan.  It would’ve been so wonderful to know the them… to have them be a part of our family. They will be forever in our hearts. I wrote the attached momento for their baby book (complete with their tiny footprints).

 

1lori

 

 

5 (100%) 3 votes

Losing Susannah

Told by: Halley Kim

Reprinted with permission

Blood.  As women we have a complex relationship with blood.  The sight of our red-stained underwear can elate us, relieve us, annoy us, embarrass us, disappoint us, or devastate us depending on our life stage and intentions.  The arrival of our period can bring the sweetest relief when we dread becoming pregnant.  Conversely, it can lower the cruelest blow when our efforts to conceive have not been successful and we deeply long for a child.  And somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, is the unfortunate experience of finding yourself ill-prepared for Aunt Flow in a public location…thank goodness for kind friends (or total strangers) who provide emergency tampons in such situations.

I have been thinking about blood a lot because I just had a terrifying, violent, and heartbreaking experience with my own blood. That sounds so hokey to say, that I “had an experience with my blood.”  But I did.  It was me and my blood.  Doing battle.  So much blood.  There was no one else.

My baby died.

Three words.  It only took me three words to tell you, friend, acquaintance, or stranger, what happened to me.  I wonder how many more words it will take to tell myself — the MAMA, the bearer of lost life — what happened.

11 weeks.  Saturday night.  Walgreens bathroom.  By myself.  Cabernet Sauvignon in the public toilet.  Doughnut-sized clots of tissue that just kept coming.  The sensation of birthing jellyfish.  Sticky red hands from trying to clean myself up, pulling red chunks out of my underwear.  Staring into the toilet and wondering how in the world I could possibly flush it (I did, after a long time and many tears).  Drips running down my legs and polka-dotting my feet.  Telling an employee there was a bloody mess in the bathroom.  Walking out of Walgreens in blood-stained jeans.

(Did you like it better when I had only said three words?  I liked it better when I was still pregnant).

The long drive home.  Uterine blood finding the blanket I had placed on the driver’s seat.  More gushes.  Briefly considering stopping at Chick-Fil-A for a chocolate milkshake because it no longer mattered if I ate healthy.  A moment later thinking I really wanted a stiff drink.  Waddling through the front door with that fuzzy blanket between my legs, crying out for my husband’s help.  Impossibly more blood in my own bathroom.  Getting out of those drenched clothes that are now clean but perhaps forever emotionally stained.  A wonderful and awful shower in which I watched maroon water, then red water, then golden-pink water circle the drain.  Having to get down on my knees in the shower because I felt myself getting lightheaded from blood loss.  The relief the water pressure brought to my lower back, so knotted and painful.  Orange juice and Girl Scout cookies to get some sugar in me.  Taking a few steps, falling on the bed; taking a few more, falling on the couch.  Pounding 800mg of Ibuprofen.  Popping in a Friends DVD to escape from reality.  Hot rice sock on my traumatized belly.  Eventually going to sleep with a towel over the top sheet in case the battlefield saw more bloodshed.

The next day.  Postpartum.  No baby.

How do you tell people what happened?  Literally, what words does one use?  “We lost the baby.”  “I had a miscarriage.”  “Our baby DIED.”  I’m saying all three.  It depends on the person, my emotional state in the moment, the particular threads of truth I’m choosing to grasp or deny.

We didn’t really LOSE our baby.  I know exactly where she is.  In the fucking Walgreens’ sewer system.  (I think this is the first time I’ve ever cursed on my blog; I try to generally avoid it.  But there’s just no other suitable adjective.  The degree of the offense demands the use of the word.  My baby is in a fucking sewer system).

I did have a miscarriage.  It’s technical, it’s medical, it’s emotionally-distant, it’s…cleaner.  Nicer.  It doesn’t make people feel uncomfortable.  But what happened to me was not clean.  It was not nice.

Our baby died.  The truth.  The awful, gut-wrenching, culturally-uncomfortable truth.  I had a baby living inside me.  She was roughly 11 weeks gestation.  She loved bacon and grapefruit.  She was going to be born in October, maybe on our wedding anniversary.  She was clearly a fighter and she was going to give Gabe a run for his money.  I was going to braid her hair and put it in pigtails.  I had already lovingly stroked the baby girl onsies at Target.  We had already nicknamed her Zuzu, and it suited her perfectly.  We decided this weekend to officially name her Susannah.

But now Zuzu is dead.  Susannah is dead.

The whole concept of having to “untell” the world is interesting.  It sucks, to be sure.  Was it foolish of me to announce my pregnancy on Facebook at 9 weeks?  Wouldn’t it be easier now if I didn’t have to tell literally hundreds of people that my baby died?  Yes, that would probably make this ever-so-slightly easier.  But I would still tell people.  I would still tell everyone I’m close to.  I would still need support.  My baby would still deserve to be acknowledged.  I still believe that there is no “safe” time to announce a pregnancy…babies can die later in pregnancy too…I’ve watched a 41-weeker die right before my eyes.  So, was it foolish?  No, no…I don’t think so.  But it is crummy to have to say “never mind” to so many people…and I totally understand the decision to wait longer to announce pregnancies.  (I will probably wait longer to Facebook-announce next time?  Then again I may not).  Are the odds of a positive outcome better after the first trimester?  Of course.  Is it wonderful to share the news of pregnancy quickly and hope for the best?  Yes it is.  And, generally, I’m an optimist.  I have many flaws, but one of my strengths is choosing hope.  So…having said all of that, here it is, Facebook friends.  The untelling.  I’m not pregnant anymore.  It blows.

I’m still processing how much blood I lost.  My nurse brain is guessing it was 350mL.  However, I noticed that my shampoo bottle reads “500mL” so now my mom brain is positive I lost gallons and buckets and barrels full.  My hemoglobin dropped from 13.5 to 9.9 in a day.  Ouch.  I’m taking Floradix (liquid iron).  I actually think it tastes really good.

It’s odd how “knowing” a fair amount about miscarriage/baby loss has not been helpful at all thus far.  I know this is not my fault.  I know this is not my fault.  I know this is not my fault.  But I’m still thinking about the glasses of wine I drank, the essential oils I used, the lovely massage I had before knowing I was pregnant.  I’m still analyzing my diet like a psycho, knowing there should have been more green and less chocolate.  I’m still thinking about the times Gabe kicked/poked/prodded my belly.  Perhaps it’s just human nature to question.  Or my nature.  But I am questioning…despite mostly knowing the answers to the questions.  The answers do not satisfy.  The answers do not bring my baby back.

I have felt guilty about not wanting to be pregnant when I first learned I was carrying this baby.  I have felt stupid about fretting over having children 22 months apart.  Now that Susannah is gone, I want her more than ever.  I wouldn’t care that it would be challenging.  I wouldn’t even care if my milk supply for Gabe dried up while awaiting Zuzu’s arrival (a possibility I wept bitter tears over during the first few weeks of pregnancy).  I wouldn’t care at all that this wasn’t the “preferred spacing” I had desired for my children.  How incredibly dumb that sounds now.  On this side.  The other side of death.  Susannah was a perfect blessing from the Lord, and no amount of potential parenting hardship makes it worth her death.

March 15, 2014 is Susannah’s birthday.  And her death day.  Conceived 1-12-14.  Born/died 3-15-14.  Her due date was 10-05-14.  (I was guessing she’d greet us sometime after the 10th, which is why I was giving everyone the “mid October” line).

Don’t you think Susannah is such a beautiful name?  It means “lily.”  I’ve also seen it translated as “gentle.”  It’s a name that everyone knows but surprisingly hardly anyone uses.  It is also a New Testament name; Susanna was the name of a woman who provided for Jesus out of her own resources (Luke 8).  William Shakespeare also chose the name for his daughter, which is kind of cool.  I can’t really imagine a half-Asian girl having freckles, but I think Susannah would have had freckles.  If you’ve never heard the James Taylor version of “Oh Susanna,” it’s worth a YouTube visit.

And Zuzu?  I picked that up from the classic Christmas movie It’s a Wonderful Life.  George Bailey’s daughter’s name is Zuzu (nickname for Susan in her case, I believe).  She’s the one who gives her dad the flower petals that he puts in his pocket and discovers after his experience of seeing what the world would have been like without him, letting him know that he has returned to reality: “Zuzu’s petals!”  We think Zuzu is just the most precious nickname ever.  

Of course, at 11 weeks gestation, we don’t know for sure that our baby was a girl.  And sadly, I was not able to recover her body during the miscarriage.  But I had a very strong sense that she was a girl, and if there’s any truth to Shettles Method, she was very likely to be a girl (that little swimmer camped out for 5 days!).  She’s a girl in our hearts.  That’s all that matters.

This is the first time in my life I have ever lost a member of my family.  Ever.  My maternal grandmother is 93 and pretty healthy, and my three other grandparents died before I was born or while I was too young to remember.  This is the first time I have ever lost someone who was very close to me.   And this someone died INSIDE OF ME.  It’s hard not to feel like a hospice bed, an accident scene, a graveyard.

I didn’t have much time to get to know her.  She was only 11 weeks gestation, and I had only known I was pregnant for 7 weeks.  I never heard her heartbeat or felt her kick.  But as all mamas know, there is no intimacy like that which you share with the child growing within you.  And it happens FAST.  Part of me is grateful(?) I never heard her heartbeat or felt her kicks, because surely that would make the ache worse.  But I’m also saddened that I didn’t get those opportunities; that I wasn’t able to share those moments with Zuzu.

I saw a pregnant women at the mall yesterday.  She looked like she was about 36 weeks, absolutely bursting with life.  I felt so empty.  I wanted to tell her that had been pregnant too, just a few days ago.  I looked around the crowded food court and wondered how many other women had also just been pregnant.  And how no one knew.

It’s amazing to me how much I want to get pregnant again.  Not right away; that would not be wise emotionally or physically.  But sooner rather than later.  Maybe this summer or fall.  Not to replace Susannah.  It’s not like that.  I just want more than anything to hold a squishy newborn in my arms — MY newborn.  I spent a lot of my pregnancy with Susannah complaining about all the hard things that come with having a new baby: the colic, the sleep deprivation, the 3am poopy diapers.  Now that Susannah has died, when I think about having a newborn, all I think about, all I YEARN for, are the sweet things.  The milk drunk faces.  The intoxicating smell.  The amazing snuggles.

As I sit here in this coffeehouse and type out this post, my eyes are filling with tears.  I will never know Susannah’s milk drunk face.  I will never know her intoxicating smell.  I will never be able to snuggle with her.  I will never hold her.  Ever.

I want her back.  I want her back.  Dammit I want her back!

I just went back and reread everything I’ve typed so far…this is raw and ugly and depressing.  Potentially traumatizing even (a warning will be included when I publish).  But I don’t want to make it pretty because it’s not pretty.  I want to make it real.  I want someone else out there to read it and feel less alone.  Someone else who was pregnant before and is not now.  Someone who once stood where I’m standing, or who is standing with me now.  I need validation.  I’d love to offer it to others as well.  Suddenly I’m in this huge club that no one wants to be in…surely there are other members who can find healing in my wounds, and surely I can find healing in the aches of others.  If that happens, it’s worth writing ugly things.

During the horror at Walgreens, I instinctively and furiously collected what I could of Zuzu’s remains.  I dumped out the contents of my Walgreens bag (my prescription for progesterone injections — talk about irony) and put the big clots in there that I could find in my underwear and pants legs.  So much landed in the toilet however…I looked into the bowl helplessly, and for a second considered going fishing.  I didn’t, figuring it would only intensify the trauma (and be totally disgusting).  But I hated that I could not find my baby in the sea of blood.  I took that Walgreens bag home with me, full of clots, full of Zuzu.  It’s double-bagged and in my freezer now.  We are planning on burying Zuzu somewhere special and marking her grave in a meaningful way.

Simon and I are so deeply blessed to be surrounded by such a loving community and the spontaneous outpouring of support we have received has been wonderful.  We’ve received 4 meals in 5 days, along with numerous flowers, cards, snacks, babysitting offers, texts, and voicemails.  My mom spent the morning after with me when I didn’t have the strength to run after Gabe — being my personal nurse in addition to being on toddler duty.  My coworkers at the birth center are covering my call shifts so that I can have a mental health break from being around pregnancy/birth/babies.    It’s really great being surrounded by people who understand that this is not just the loss of a pregnancy, but the loss of a child.  We are feeling very loved in the midst of our pain.

Today is Wednesday.  It’s a normal day for the world around me.  It’s a normal day in many ways for me too.  It feels terrible that it could be normal.  And simultaneously I am grateful for any amount of normalcy I can cling to.  My precious son Gabriel is running around the house, smiling as big as ever, having no idea he had a baby sister or that she died.  I have kissed him over and over and over the past few days.  Suddenly I am struck anew with how precious and finite his life is.  He is a gift and he is mine and he didn’t have to be.  So Simon and I just keep kissing him.  Thanks to Gabe, the last four days have included smiles and laughter.

My mother purchased a small stuffed animal, a giraffe, for Zuzu just a few days before my miscarriage.  She gave it to me on Sunday morning and we cried together.  I have barely let go of that little giraffe since.  I have slept with her every night, tucked her right between Simon and me.  In some way…it’s like Zuzu is still with us.

 

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5 (100%) 1 vote

He Can Do God’s Work Even Faster

Told by: Sarah

My heart is at peace and also saddened all at the same time……..

Our hope for this Mother’s Day was to shout some happy news, but instead our news is not so happy. On March 4th, I found out that my husband and I were expecting another child. All seemed to be going well, and we went to the doctor last Friday.

First stop was the ultra sound. Our first 100% confirmation of this little life being formed inside me was evident, but what was not, was movement. The ultrasound tech didn’t say much of anything, just sent us back to the doctor’s office.

We patiently sat awaiting any news. The doctor came in and was friendly, but she got straight to the point. What we were there for….Was our baby healthy and alive? Although we had hope that it was, much to our disappointment, it was not. The baby stopped developing at 11 weeks and I was 13. There was no heartbeat. She reassured us there was nothing we did wrong, maybe the doctors weren’t 100% accurate and they make mistakes, but to her it seemed hopeless.

She gave us a few minutes to process and came back in with news from another doctor. “It is hopeless, the baby is gone.” What a dagger to the heart.

And yet peace swept over me all at the same time. I immediately knew right where my baby was….In the arms of my Savior and Lord. He WAS healthy and alive!

The doctor gave us the options of allowing the actual miscarriage to take place at home, they could give me medicine to speed up the process or they could put me under and perform a procedure to clear out my uterus. I knew there was no way I was going to MAKE this happen. After all, my God is a God of miracles and He can do anything should it be His will. After a week of more evidence of the life inside me losing the battle, I began cramping and bleeding Thursday night.

I knew the miscarriage was iminant, but the cramping stopped and I was able to sleep through most of the night. I woke yesterday morning feeling good. I got up and started doing my normal morning routine. I got my girls up and we started the day. After moving around, things started up again. And by 11 am, my fear was becoming a reality. Trying to stay strong and put on a happy face for my girls while going through pain and knowing what was about to happen was so hard. I was able to get the girls fed and put down for their nap and come 1:00 pm, things were rapidly happening.

My mother in law was able to come help with the process and about 3:45 pm, the life that was once inside me, no longer was.

An instant wave of grief swept over me as we picked up this lifeless baby. Tears flowing from my eyes, I knew I still wanted the chance to hold my child in my hands. I was asked if I was sure and I knew I was. I needed to see, hold and tell my baby, “Mommy loves you.” I did and again peace… a reminder of the pain and suffering my child will not have to face in this world.

For that I am grateful, but yet I remembered all the things I will not get to experience. No wiping tears, hearing a little voice say, “I love you mommy,” no kissing scrapes on knees, no bedtime stories, no hugs, and the list goes on and on.

I knew I wanted to know what this little baby was and I asked if we would be able to tell. I looked and I saw and again…..peace. We miscarried in December and we were hoping for a little boy then. A couple days after my miscarriage, my devotional was talking about how we need to let God do His work in our lives and to be patient, not force things and trust Him. That Abraham and Sarah had to wait a really long time for what they wanted most…..a son.

Tears streaming from my eyes, I knew that was God’s promise that I would one day have a little boy. I felt Him reassure me in that promise when I found out I was pregnant again. More confirmation came when people would find out that we were expecting and every one of them would say, “It’s a boy.” My confirmation was there. And I KNEW God had fulfilled His promise. He just never promised I’d get to keep my son. I could only rejoice in the promise God had kept and I immediately knew that God was laying a name on my heart.

Jeron Robert was who this baby was. “He will sing” and “bright fame” is what it means. He IS SINGING with his two other brothers and sisters that were there to meet him. And he is and will live up to his bright fame.

I had started rationalizing, questioning, searching for answers as to why. My mother in law reassured me that I did nothing wrong and maybe there was something wrong with the baby. After closer examination of this beautiful little baby boy, we realized that he had 12 fingers and 11 toes.

God knew and my body knew that there could have and would have been complications later in his life. But in our eyes and God’s he is still perfect. My father told my best…..he said, “with all those extra fingers and toes, he can do God’s work even faster.”

What a sentiment…. and again tears.

I don’t understand it all, but I am so grateful that I was able to carry Jeron inside of me for 14 weeks and to me, he is a blessing, and is still my son.

I am now the mother of 5 children! Who knew? I have three already doing so much more with their lives than I could ever hope or imagine for them and two beautiful girls who have the privilege and already are doing so much here! As hard as it is to lose a child, this is still a wonderful Mother’s day for me, because I am blessed to be the mother of such amazing children. I may never know Jeron as a child, but my body and heart know him. And he will forever be a child who has changed my life so much with the short amount of time he had.

Thank you all for your love, support and prayers. As we bury our son tomorrow, we will begin the healing process knowing that although his life here is over, he is still ALIVE AND WELL!!!!! Praise God!

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One Day at a Time

Told by: Andrea

I found out I was pregnant in the 3rd week of October, 2013. We were so excited!!

It didn’t take us any time at all to get pregnant. My numbers were rising steadily and I felt pregnant- my boobs hurt, was nauseous, extremely exhausted, etc. All of those “reassuring” sick feelings.

I went in at 7.5 weeks from my LMP and had the internal ultrasound. At that point, all we saw was the yolk sac. This had happened in my first pregnancy (of which we have a healthy, thriving 3 year old girl) so I was not worried. I also ovulate late, so I figured my dating would be off. I came in 1 week later and was so nervous! I was SHOCKED to see two little yolk sacs with their little bodies forming. Only one had a heartbeat at the time, the other was measuring a few days behind. But all looked good. My Midwife called me later that day and told me that the heart rate was a little low, but it could also be normal- it was too early to tell. She continued to monitor my HCG which at that point was VERY high due to twin pregnancy, and we were instructed to come back in 10 days to see how things were going.

My husband took the day off, and our daughter came with us. Immediately- I felt ill at ease. I can’t tell you why- I don’t know.

The tech didn’t say much but I could tell the babies had not grown, and at that point I should have been able to see their little nubs wiggling, as well as the heart fluttering like I had seen the week before. Again, she said nothing but “I need to go speak to our radiologist. I will be right back.” I was immediately angry.

I knew something was wrong. I was sent upstairs where they confirmed that neither baby was living and went over my options for a D&C, natural miscarriage, etc. I wanted to do this in the privacy of my home because I didn’t know what kind of emotions I would be experiencing at that time. I kept it together in the doctor’s office but cried the whole way home.

I had just ordered our Christmas cards which were our pregnancy announcement. Now I had to throw them away. Then began the wait for my body to recognize that I was no longer pregnant. I can’t really describe that feeling- anger, sadness, pain…and around those three again for a while. I began to take evening primrose oil to help soften my cervix (in case I ended up needing a D&C, I knew it would help open things up as it had in my previous pregnancy.) I waited, and thankfully my husband was home. I began having intense contractions. I was not prepared for that, as it ended up being more like true labor than a heavy period.

I had contractions for about an hour- very painful, couldn’t breathe contractions. I sneezed and felt my water break. Things quieted down and I kept my eye on the tissue coming out. I was in the “zone” so to speak and didn’t feel a whole lot of emotion at the time. I continued to pass quite a bit of tissue and then felt stronger contractions coming on at which time I passed what I think was probably the amniotic sac and babies. I started to feel nauseous and dizzy and to my great grief- I was not able to see them. I would have loved to have held them-just once, as tiny as they were.

It didn’t really hit me emotionally until the next day. I was so sore. So exhausted. So sad. I could barely hold my daughter. I was not prepared for the sense of loss I would feel- and still feel today. As the symptoms began to leave one by one. And I would find that the littlest thing would bring tears to my eyes- how much I would still love to be pregnant today. My motto is one day at a time. I am allowing myself the grace to feel everything that comes, as that is the only way we gain meaning from such a dreadful experience.

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