I found out I was pregnant with twins on January 3, 1998. Seeing those two tiny sacs on the ultrasound screen was the happiest moment of my life! I was also scared, as I had a history of pre-term labor and an incompetent cervix. I had miscarried twice. My daughter had been born at 23 weeks and lived only two hours. My son was born at 36 weeks after a very difficult pregnancy and three months of hospitalization.
Things went smoothly those first few months. I underwent surgery for my incompetent cervix at 12 weeks. I knew that I would be going on bedrest, so my husband and I started to plan for the twins’ arrival. We purchased a minivan and two car seats. We were SO excited about becoming the parents of twins. This was a dream come true for me.
My world came crashing down at 16 weeks during a routine ultrasound. The nurse practitioner said there was a problem and we would need to move to a different ultrasound machine. I knew in my heart that something was wrong. I laid down on the table for a Level 2 ultrasound and the room began filling up with people. A perinatologist came in and introduced himself. He then went on to say, “Twin A has anencephaly-this is incompatible with life.” It took me a few seconds to register what he was actually saying. The world seemed to stop at that moment. I tried desperately to fight the tears but they soon came pouring down the side of my face. My chest got extremely tight and I felt as if I was going to have a heart attack. The doctor showed me the baby on the ultrasound screen. He explained what anencephaly was (lack of most upper brain development). People were coming and going all around me. I could no longer process all the information they were giving me. My baby was going to die. Nothing else mattered.
I remember thinking this was all a bad dream. I had lost one baby already. Surely, God would not allow this to happen again. I was confused and alone as I left the hospital. I remember buckling my three-year-old in his car seat as he keeps saying, “Mommy, don’t be sad.” I drove the van 90 mph that day and it is a miracle that we even made it home. My dream of becoming a mother of twins had just shattered. I could not believe I was going to bury another baby.
I returned to the hospital later that day with my husband. The doctor told us that we had options. He explained that anencephalic babies sometimes develop polyhydramnios (excess amniotic fluid), which would definitely complicate the pregnancy. He also explained that the reduction would be risky too. I felt very helpless at that point. We declined a selective reduction and decided that we would leave things in God’s hands. The doctor told us that twin B looked healthy. We decided to have an amniocentesis just to be sure. The waiting was awful but the results were encouraging. One baby was healthy.
A few weeks later, I was put on full bedrest. My cervix had thinned out. I was put on Procardia for the contractions. I now had 24 hours a day to think about the upcoming birth/death of my twins. Carrying two babies-one healthy, one sick-was very confusing for me. Bonding with either baby became almost impossible. My grief seemed to overshadow everything else.
The twins shared a placenta, but were in separate sacs. Soon twin A developed polyhydramnios. The doctors were worried about the pressure on my incompetent cervix. We had to begin therapeutic amnios to reduce the amount of amniotic fluid. It was an uncomfortable procedure, but gave me much relief. I worried constantly about my cerclage breaking. I worried that twin A would die in utero and cause death or damage to twin B. I worried that they would be born premature. Emotionally, I was a total wreck. I worried 24 hours a day. As I headed into the third trimester, I began to worry about the birth.
With my incompetent cervix and pre-term labor, it is only a miracle that allowed me to carry my babies so long. I soon became so uncomfortable (because of my size) that I could no longer sleep or eat. At 35 weeks, my doctor did an amniocentesis to test for lung maturity. We scheduled an induction for the next day. Part of me wanted to stop time at that point. My womb had been a safe haven for our little twins. Delivering them would mean death for one and life for another.
On July 14, Jordan Michael was born at 8:45 p.m. My healthy baby boy was taken to NICU for observation. The other twin was breech and we had a difficult time getting him out. It was almost as if he knew life on the outside meant death. Finally, at 9:09 p.m., Jonathan David was born. From the moment the doctor laid him on my abdomen, I fell in love. He was a beautiful little boy and I hardly noticed his deformity. At that moment, I felt very blessed to have carried those two little boys. I was a mother of twins.
Jonathan David died two days later in my arms. Jordan Michael is now 7 months old. My struggle did not end with the pregnancy. I still have difficult days when I am overwhelmed with grief. I not only lost my son, but I also feel I was robbed of the joy I should have had with my survivor. When you are up to your neck in grief, there is very little room for joy. It is very difficult to bond with one baby while letting go of another. Losing a twin involves very complicated issues. I still look at my survivor and think, There should be two. I cannot put him in front of a mirror. The pain is still too raw. Maybe someday.
I have learned new things about myself this last year. My little Jonathan gave me so much in his short time here. He taught me about the value of a human life. He gave me strength and courage that I didn’t know I had. I have made new friends throughout my struggle, friends that I will treasure forever. I have learned to trust God no matter what comes your way. I know my Jonathan is waiting on me in heaven. I can’t wait to hold him again.
If I can be of help to anyone facing a difficult pregnancy, please let me know. I appreciate the help that CLIMB and LIMBO have given me in my struggle. Thank you for letting me share my story.
Two teddies in the crib
Reminding me of you
One baby in my arms
When really there was two.
Two babies in my womb
A gift from God above
One would live and one would die
Both were deeply loved.
I wake at night and go to him
And wonder if you know
How much I really miss you
As I watch your brother grow.
I know you are in Heaven now
And God always knows best
A mother of twins I’ll always be
For that I’m truly blessed.