CLIMB

Cody & Kyle


It all started the spring of 1995. I will never forget the day we found out we were expecting. We had been trying for 1-1/2 years with no success. I went in for a series of blood work, the beginning of some infertility testing. Before the test results came in I realized I was pregnant. To say we were excited would be an understatement. I had been experiencing a typical pregnancy except for dealing with extreme morning sickness (all day and night). I had lost 12 lbs. in the first trimester. My regular ob/gyn decided to schedule an u/s since I wasn’t measuring the way I should and was losing weight. I wasn’t as large as I should have been!! I made up for that later. Also my AFP levels were slightly elevated both times it was tested. I will never forgive the nurses at the doctors office for their reaction/treatment of my AFP test results. They acted as if I had the plague. The one wished me luck after she scheduled the u/s.

We were in shock to see two babies during the u/s and very relieved to find out that was the reason for all the discomfort and high AFP levels. We felt so blessed and special to be chosen to be the parents of twins. Then we were told it was very likely that the boys were identical. It was like icing on top of the cake. My husband has always told me, good things come to those who wait!! I truly felt he knew what he was talking about this time.

Oh, the joy of telling people that I was right about our baby being a boy. They would then ask what the problem was due to the AFP levels and etc. I would smile and say the problem turned out to be that my baby boy had an identical brother!! What fun that was to watch their reaction! I was 17 weeks when we found out. From there on I was routinely sent to a specialist about an hour away from our small town. Our local hospital is a level 1 and where we were going to see the specialists the hospital there was a level 3. We learned very quickly about the difference! My pregnancy continued quite uneventful. I had an u/s about every four weeks. It was so reassuring to watch them play and grow every month. Seeing them both playing and kicking each other was so entertaining. It was like a peak into the window of the future.

It was very obvious the differences in their personalities. Twin A (Cody) was pretty laid back. I rarely felt him kick, he always just felt like he was stirring. Now, Twin B (Kyle) was another story. He was constantly kicking and punching. You never knew what position you would find him in during an ultrasound. He was rarely where he was the last time. A couple times we had to go back for another u/s the next day due to him not being cooperative. Cody was always heads down and facing in towards Kyle the entire pregnancy. We had been joking about how Kyle was going to be our “problem child”. Little did we know how true that would be.

At about 24 weeks I backed off at work from 50-hour weeks to 32 hour weeks. As a retail store manager I was on my feet moving constantly all day. At 28 weeks I was put on couch rest just as a precaution due to the twin pregnancy and I wasn’t gaining a lot of weight. I only gained 23 lbs. total, however, I had gained 18 inches in my waist by the seventh month! The babies were doing well and we were told repeatedly that they were big for twins. How would they know? You are constantly told after there is a problem, that there are no charts/history of twin/multiple pregnancies. You would think there has to be some documentation of multiple births/losses, with the increases of multiple pregnancies.

The preparations at home had begun, I had planned on using my sister-in-law’s crib for our baby. Now I was looking everywhere to find one just like it. I found one almost exactly the same. Being a seamstress, I got busy making the nursery ensemble. I had two of everything to make. What fun it was getting the nursery ready. I had made everything for the crib including curtains and decorative wall hangings for each baby. The baby showers started early since we knew there was a very good chance I would deliver early and/or be on bed/couch rest. Everyone got me matching or coordinating outfits. I had two of everything, highchairs, bouncers, bassinets, etc. It was so-o-o-o exciting.

Then at 32 weeks we noticed and were told about the lack of growth in twin B. He wasn’t growing as rapidly as twin A. So I was told to eat more and rest more. Which I did, as my husband and I are fully aware of the dangers involved in multiple pregnancies. We are dairy/hog farmers and amazingly the cow and the female human reproductive systems are very similar! We had seen many difficult situations with the cattle and knew there was risk involved in our twins. Still, we were very optimistic. We had passed all the milestones of danger and were told that if we delivered the chances for survival were good. I never thought about the possibility of losing one or both during the pregnancy since I had made it past the danger point!

At 34+ weeks during a routine NST the nurse lost twin B’s heartbeat. We kept questioning why, but kept being told the test was fine and everything was okay. The doctor on call was too busy to even come talk to us at that time. He was the same doctor who had examined me a couple weeks earlier and told me I needed to watch my eating as my stomach was out of control! I reminded him to check the second heartbeat!! Needless to say I was very uncomfortable with a doctor that I had to remind that I was having twins. Isn’t he supposed to read my chart!! I have not been to see him since. However, I have met with my original OB and discussed my pregnancy and the problems associated with the twins. He did some checking on my file and talked with all those who had anything to do with me during my pregnancy. I have not been back to him since.

Three days later during a routine u/s we were told twin B was in a funny position and they couldn’t get a good picture of his heart. Could we come back later in the day? So, since Kyle(twin B) had done this before we were not concerned, besides we had past the danger point, RIGHT?! When I went back later in the day I went alone. After a very quiet u/s I was told to go up to L& D for a NST. Still, no one had voiced any concern to me!! However, I wondered why I seemed to be getting avoided. Well, my doctor walked in the room just as the nurse was getting ready to hook me up to the monitors. He stopped her and told me that the “little one” had died. I was so devastated he had to call my husband and tell him, I couldn’t even utter a sound other than sobbing. When my husband arrived at the hospital, the doctor who was too busy during the last NST and who also had to be reminded of my carrying twins during a routine exam, had the nerve to say “Good luck” to my husband. What kind of thing is that to say to someone who just found out they lost a baby in utero and is obviously concerned about the other baby and his wife!

My dad and his wife were to be at the hospital any minute to take the new grandparents class. I was so worried about them, they would see my vehicle parked right out front. Fortunately, the childbirth educator is a family friend and she intercepted them and told them why I was there. My husband was there so fast I don’t know how he got there so quickly.

We were sent to the level 3 hospital immediately. I met the most fantastic doctor there. He was the new partner of the perinatologist I had been to earlier in my pregnancy. I can’t say enough good things about this man. I have never met anyone so compassionate and understanding. I will continue to go to him forever!! Fortunately for us, he ended up delivering the twins and also helped us through a miscarriage that I had 17 months later. Then continued to be our support anchor during my last pregnancy, which I will tell you about later.

It was decided to monitor twin A overnight and do an amnio first thing in the morning to determine if twin A’s lungs were mature enough for birth. He wasn’t ready, I was 35 weeks and 4 days along. The doctors wanted to try to wait at least a week. I was to stay in the perinatal unit until I delivered. Every day I was monitored and went through all kinds of tests. Then, three days after being admitted, there were no tests scheduled that day. It was supposed to be a day of rest. First thing in the morning the parade of doctors began. We noticed not one would look us in the eye. We requested to talk to our doctor. We asked him what was going on and were told that Twin A was not responding to my contractions the way they wanted him to. So I went over to L& D and was induced three different times (CST) to determine if the surviving baby could tolerate a vaginal delivery. After a biophysical profile u/s, he failed with a score of 2, we were headed to surgery for a c-section. My doctor had me in there within 15 minutes. He kept me fairly calm and allowed my husband with me every step of the way.

Twin A, Cody Austin, was born first, screaming like crazy! What a glorious sound! He did surprisingly well. Cody weighed in at 5#4, 19 in. long. He did fall down to 4# while in the hospital. Then twin B, Kyle Dylan, was born in absolute silence. He weighed in at 3#8 1/2, 18-1/2 inches long. The nurses and doctor were wonderful about the whole situation. They asked me for permission to hold my son, Kyle. I was touched by their compassion. At that time I was allowed to hold Cody for a few minutes then off he went to the special care nursery, while I went to Recovery. There I was able to hold Kyle and his daddy and I were able to spend as much time as we needed with him. I still wish I could have held them both at the same time. I hadn’t thought of it at the time.

On my way to my room from Recovery, the nurses transporting me, offered to take me to see Cody. They had never done that before and it took them a while to find their way to the special care nursery. It meant so much to me to be able to visit with him. Cody spent 8 days in the special care nursery. He couldn’t hold his body temp and was a terrible eater. He could have come home sooner but we had so much to deal with Kyle’s arrangements. I told Cody’s doctor that I wasn’t going to take him home too soon and have to turn around and bring him back. I honestly couldn’t have done that. He was very understanding and kept Cody in the hospital a couple days longer than needed to verify that he was stable. I spent every day with him from 9-9.

Bringing him home was very difficult but the hardest part was bringing Kyle home. I cried uncontrollably the whole way home. It just wasn’t right sitting him on the floor of the car, so I held the urn. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. We had him cremated and chose an urn of an angel sitting on a cloud. He is in our living room where we see him everyday. I feel he is very much a part of our daily life. Cody hugs and kisses the urn very frequently. We had to put it in a locked glass case in order to keep Cody from carrying it around the house. He would set it wherever he was playing! That was hard to handle. We hope we are doing the right thing by making Kyle a daily part of our life. We try not to bring attention to Kyle’s urn but if Cody does we do not ignore his curiosity. All I know to do is answer him as clearly as I can at his level of understanding.

Now three years down the road…We just added to our family in September of this year (1998). I delivered a baby boy, Colton Michael Corbett, on September10, 1998. He is such a joy! The pregnancy was emotionally draining. I had suffered a miscarriage (8/97) between the twins and Colton. I thought he would never arrive safely. I had been in the hospital numerous times starting at 32 weeks for pre-term labor(which I never had with the twins!?!), lack of movement and various other scares. However, he is here and doing well. At birth we were told he had a heart murmur. We didn’t worry as Cody had one too at birth and his cleared up by his next check-up. However, we were told to take him to a pediatric cardiologist just to make sure it was no big deal. At 3 weeks of age, Colton was diagnosed with congenital heart defects. At four weeks of age he had a heart catheter and a balloon valvoplasty in his pulmonary valve. His aortic valve is also abnormal. He had several abnormalities and irregular blood flows throughout his heart. The heart catheter and balloon valvoplasty cleared up all the abnormalities excluding his valves. They will need to monitored the rest of his life. Especially during the growth spurt years (toddler and adolescent years). Fortunately we found out soon enough to save Colton. His future is very bright now!! He is recovering well and the doctors expect him to be able to live a normal life. At 12 weeks of age he weighs in at 15 lbs. Cody weighed only 18 lbs at 1 year of age!! What a difference between them!

One of the hardest things I have found to deal with is the questions, “How many children do you have? Is this your first?”, “When are you going to try for a girl?” I usually let people know that Cody is a surviving twin and that Colton is definitely my last. We are 2 for 4!! I have learned not to sugarcoat things for people. If you tell them right up front, short and simply, they seem to learn something from it. I have noticed that they are much more understanding when told the facts in a simple straight forward manner. If people ask I tell them!! I feel it is a small way to educate the general public about multiple birth loss. So many people respond with I have never heard of a twin dying in-utero. I hope it will make people stop and think the next time they hear of someone who is experiencing a loss. I always tell people the best thing to say to anyone experiencing any loss, whether adult, child or infant, is just say I am sorry for your loss! There is no need to go any further. So many people put their feet in their mouths by trying to comfort me by continuing to speak!!! Things like, “Think of the money you will save!”, “You will have more time for yourself”, “It wasn’t meant to be”, “It would have been so hard to raise twins”, etc.. It is amazing what people will say.

It is still very difficult to deal with all the multiples we see everyday. My husband has a close cousin who has a set of twin boys who are nine months older then Cody. Every family gathering is difficult for us. We prepare for days for the event. Also, a friend of ours who had her firstborn on the same day Cody was born had a set of twin girls one week after I suffered the miscarriage which is also the day before Colton was born. She just had another boy on the day we lost Kyle! It is difficult listening to her parents go on and on and on about how the girls like to be together and cry when separated. They seem to think we are “over it” and seem very insensitive to our loss. We had tried to explain to them the mourning that Cody experienced during his infancy. It was so obvious to us that he was suffering. Even more so now that we have experienced a normal single birth baby. They call to check on Cody & Colton which is nice but start rambling on about what the twins are doing now developmentally or how well they play together. So far I have been polite and then cry after seeing or talking to them. We have been gradually distancing ourselves from them. It is just too painful to put ourselves through it everytime we see them. I will say excluding this particular reoccurring incident it has gotten easier to deal with. There are still times when it hits me out of the blue and knocks me down. I feel that I am dealing well with our loss. Mainly because I do not hide it or try to protect everyone else’s feelings. I feel we are entitled to express our feelings regarding our loss however we are comfortable with it. The heck with everyone else!! My immediate family has been very supportive and loving. My in-laws avoid the subject of Kyle. If we mention it they immediately change the subject. My husband’s sister told him “That’s life brother!” It is their way of dealing with it, I guess.

My husband’s grandmother is very amazing. She is always asking how we are doing or inquiring something about Kyle & Cody, the pregnancy or something in relation to them. She is very concerned about Cody and Colton, especially Cody and how this will affect his life. It is so kind of her to make the initiative to let us know she cares. I hope I can become a fraction of the woman she is! She is 83 years old and has 14 great-grandchildren!! She always makes time for all of them.

I can’t believe we are planning Cody’s 3rd birthday. We have been trying to think of something we can turn into a tradition in order to celebrate the small time we were granted with Kyle. We have “Kyle’s Day” on the 15th then celebrate Cody’s birthday on the 18th. It has helped us in dealing with the reality of losing him. I would not trade the time I had during my pregnancy with the boys for anything. Being pregnant with twins was truly one of the happiest times of my life. Every time I get really down about losing Kyle I play the song “The Dance” by Garth Brooks. It ends:

How could I have known that you’d ever say goodbye.
And now I’m glad I don’t know the way it all would end the way it all would go.
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain but I’d have had to miss the dance.

That is how I feel about my twins and my other pregnancies as well.

Brenda

Six years down the Road 1/15/02

Six years ago today we found out one of twins had died in-utero, seems like yesterday sometimes. In a few days we will be celebrating Cody’s (our survivor) birthday. Our survivng twin is doing very well after a rough summer of the why’s. Why did Kyle die? Why didn’t I die? Where is Kyle? Why can’t we call him…e-mail him? We e-mail Santa…why can’t we e-mail God? What tough questions for a the five-year-old to have to ask.

We answer him as simply as possible. We don’t know why he died but we sure are happy you didn’t. Kyle is in heaven with God and Gramma Bea, mommy’s grandma and aunt Mary. I am sure they are fighting over who gets to hold him and tuck him in. That always brings a smile to his face. Daddy and I jokingly argue over who gets to cuddle who in our house at nighttime and every morning. It is a great argument to have!

I spent the afternoon looking through the box of Congrats and Sympathy cards we had received at the time of Kyle’s passing and our joy of Cody’s birth. Also just looking over my pregnancy calendar, reading all the funny notes I had written about the boys activity throughout the pregnancy. Looking at his pictures (which are not something you can show just anybody), holding his little sweater, identical to the one he had worn at the hospital, and allowing myself to cry as hard as I wanted really helped me with his anniversary. I had planned on doing that for quite some time. I find it helps me if a plan some time to really dive into it, uninterrupted. Then I can focus on the wonderful children I have been given in this life. This works for me but maybe not others.

Over the past two years I have become quite active in our local support group H.O.P.E. (Helping Other Parents Emotionally). It has been trying at times but also helpful. It gives me somewhere to go where I can talk about Kyle and everyone understands. Even though I am the only one with a multiple birth situation. It isn’t “hush-hush, don’t talk about ‘that’ here”. I feel that I contributate to the group by letting the newly bereaved parents know there is a light at the end of the tunnel and it doesn’t have to be a train!

Our family will never be the same because of our loss however I feel it has made me a much better parent then I would have been if we hadn’t suffered so. It was a long struggle to get to a happy place again but well worth it. My two living sons are the light of my life and I live every day to see the joy in their eyes. They are such special blessings in my life.

I still have bad moments occasionally where it is “boo-hoo poor me” but they are only moments instead of months, weeks or days! I still talk about Kyle to friends and family regardless of their reaction. I keep it brief for those who are uncomfortable. Over the years, because of my persistence, it has become easier for those to hear about him also.

Wishing all of you happier days ahead!

Sincerely,
Brenda