Katie & Jenna
Where does one start in writing about the feelings of both joy and sorrow which words really can’t describe???
I’ll begin with the first visit to my doctor to confirm I was expecting. The physician’s assistant thought that for being 10 weeks along my uterus was unusually high and suspected twins. An ultrasound was scheduled for the following week. In between feeling the excitement of our first pregnancy and the possibility of expecting twins, we were giddy beyond belief. After all, my husband is an identical twin and there is no history of twins in my family. There was no sound reason for us conceiving twins. In years prior, when talking about starting a family, we always thought, “Wouldn’t it be neat if the tradition started with us?” That night we made numerous phone calls to our family and close friends announcing the pregnancy (at almost 12 weeks, we felt we were past the “risky” stages!) and the suspicion of twins. In the course of the following week, we laughed when I went to make a fried egg sandwich and discovered double yolks – twice that week! We knew that someone was trying to tell us something even before the ultrasound! Sure enough, the following week showed two healthy babies in different sacs, growing according to schedule. Before making the phone calls again that night, I went to eat another fried egg sandwich (one of the few things I could eat for months!). And, yes, a double yolk appeared again! Filled with excitement and disbelief that we were “chosen” to be the parents of twins, we continued with the necessary planning in the months ahead.
I quickly joined the local twin club, anxious to be a part of this group of “doubly-blessed” individuals. My husband and I also signed up for a Lamaze class for multiples. In this class were three other sets of parents. The nurse leading the class had explained the difficulty of carrying multiples and how the odds were stacked against us – that one of the four of us would possibly have several complications in the months ahead. I remember thinking “Not ME! I’m healthy, fit, eat well, my babies are growing like they should, etc”. I soon came to realize how naive I was for thinking that!
At 25 weeks, I had a very normal-looking ultrasound and both babies were doing great. At last!! I was starting to feel much better and was more than half way through the pregnancy! 27 weeks into the pregnancy, I went for a routine visit to my OB/Gyn. I recall him telling me in a previous visit, that many times when listening for two heartbeats doctors can only pick up one due to the positions and closeness of the babies. I believed him. That day, we listened to both heartbeats that appeared very similar. I asked him, “Did you really pick up both or are you just saying so?” He assured me that both babies were doing fine and that he’d see me in two weeks for an ultrasound.
Twenty-nine weeks along, February 29, 2000 is a day I’ll never forget. (At least that day only comes every 4 years!) After a weekend of Braxton-Hicks, we were anxious to see our babies and be assured that they were fine. Not far into the ultrasound, the technician left to get our doctor. What for? Something COULDN’T be wrong with the babies – after all, every report we received the prior months was perfect! We expected to be told they were approximately 3 lbs. and continuing to grow as expected. Filled with shock and disbelief, our doctor delivered the horrible news that “Baby A” had died. Fortunately, “Baby B” appeared to still be thriving in her own little sac. We found out then that they were girls, days later to be named Katie Ann “pure and God has favored” and Jenna Marie “blessed and wished-for child”. We were sent home to carry them both as long as I could, in hopes of Jenna getting bigger and stronger.
The weeks ahead were an emotional roller coaster. How could I continue carrying Katie inside of me? How could I stay positive and try to protect Jenna? How could I ever sleep –I had to be awake in order to be assured that there was still movement from Jenna! I felt like I had some disease – and I wanted it out of my body! I was in shock that Katie had died – wasn’t there something I could have done to save her?! Why didn’t the doctor know she was in any kind of trouble?
The next six weeks were filled with doctor appointments every 3 days and a few visits to the hospital to stop contractions. The relief I felt at every appointment once I heard Jenna’s heartbeat was so reassuring, although I wouldn’t feel safe until she was alive and in my arms. As the weeks went by I was able to learn to focus on Jenna, pray for Katie, and know that God would take care of us.
Upon learning of Katie’s death, I had cancelled baby showers that were planned for us…after all, I didn’t feel like celebrating, let alone feel confident that there would even be a need for any showers! However, as the weeks went by, I felt that if Jenna were to survive, I wanted to be able to look back in time with her and tell her about all our friends and family that loved her and anxiously awaited her safe arrival. I agreed on a shower to be planned for April 9.
As friends and family came from near and far on the 9th, contractions had started and didn’t slow down. By mid-afternoon I was in the hospital, 35 weeks along, and just wanting to deliver Katie and Jenna…and to know that Jenna was going to be OK.
Twenty-four hours later, on April 10, 2000 I delivered Katie Ann and Jenna Marie. For several minutes, the excitement and relief of Jenna being OK overshadowed the grief that I had been feeling for Katie. Due to the fact that Katie had died approximately 10 weeks earlier, our doctors and nurses recommended that we not see her. Instead, we held her covered in a blanket. Katie in one arm, Jenna in the other. We were a family of four for just a short while. We are thankful that we got to hold Katie and say our good-byes to her, although I long to see her face, her fingers, her toes. The questions will always stay with us as to why she died, who she would have looked like, what effects Jenna will be feeling from losing her, etc, etc. etc.!!
As I write this, it was a year ago that we had that dreadful ultrasound that told us Katie had died. We tried to find answers as to why, but all tests showed she was a healthy little girl. But how could she have been?!? I wish we could know why…but I guess we’ll have to wait until we’re joined with her in Heaven.
We have been so blessed by Jenna! She has a wonderful, cheerful personality and smiles more than I could have ever imagined! I know half of those smiles are being sent from her sister! Both our girls have taught us so much, yet in such different ways: to never take anything for granted and that life is so very, very precious!!
We are so thankful for the love and support we have received from our families and friends. The new friends we have met along the way that have experienced a loss as well, are ones that we are so grateful to for their strength, encouragement, shoulders to cry on, and hugs! God Bless!
…She gave birth to a healthy son at term in the fall of 2002.