In our family photos, you see two smiling children. What you don’t see is the absence. In another time, there was another child: my oldest daughter’s twin. The sweet baby who lived in me, snuggled next to her sister for an amazing 24 weeks before passing away. The baby that no longer existed by the time her sister was born at a healthy 40 weeks. This little baby girl had a name. And she has a family who had hopes and dreams for her. But, as with many things in life, it didn’t go as planned.
I found out at my second ultrasound at 8 weeks that I was pregnant with twins. I was elated. Two babies at once! After going through a whole lot to get pregnant, it seemed perfect. But when I went in for an NT scan at about 12 weeks, I knew that not all would go as planned. The maternal fetal medicine doctor said one of the babies was not growing properly. There was talk of soft markers for Down’s Syndrome and chronic villus sampling and amniocentesis. That day was such a blur. All I saw on the screen was two little babies, moving around. But the doctors saw much more. From that moment on, things were different. I was monitored more often. I went in for more ultrasounds.
At about 19 weeks, I went in for more ultrasounds. I was hoping to find out the gender of the babies at this point. I found out that I was carrying two girls. It was what I always wanted. But, again, the doctor had concerns about one of the girls. She was smaller, and they couldn’t get a good visual of her heart. And the soft markers again. And more talk of invasive tests. Instead I chose to have hope and went home and made a registry tailored to two little girls.
It was at my next ultrasound around 24 weeks that it all went downhill. The specialist was trying to do a study of the babies’ hearts. I knew right away that something was wrong. The nurse was acting nervous. The screen was just not looking right. I felt it in my gut and was crying before anyone could even say what I knew deep down inside. After that, the rest of the day – and following weeks, honestly – were a blur. There were lots of doctor appointments. Lots of crying in bed. Lots of unanswered phone calls and wallowing and sadness and confusion. Lots of (well-intentioned) platitudes offered. I hated the way I felt. I wanted to be happy that I had one healthy baby. But I was sad. I was so, so sad that I didn’t have two healthy babies. Maybe this was karma or payback. Maybe I just couldn’t handle the stress of two babies. Maybe this was not the path meant for me. I didn’t know then, and I don’t know now.
The rest of the pregnancy was filled with specialist appointments and ultrasounds. So many ultrasounds. I loved these little glimpses into life on the inside. But it was also filled with stress. All I wanted was for my other baby to be safe and born healthy. Finally at 40 weeks, I asked to be induced. After laboring for over 24 hours, my little girl was born. It was a day of intense relief. I knew once I had this baby in my arms, I would finally be able to breathe.
Here I sit three years and one more baby girl later. Life has moved on. I haven’t forgotten my other little girl. But, I also know that without going through that journey, I wouldn’t have the children that I have now. It’s strange how life works.