Meredith & Abigail
We found out we were expecting on Super Bowl Sunday in 1996. It was just a home pregnancy test, but after two years of trying…I knew it had finally happened. We progressed through the pregnancy with no unusual problems, other than the nausea that I thought would never go away. But the nausea did go away and I continued to gain weight, quite a bit…and then we went in at nineteen weeks for the big ultrasound. I weighed in and the nurse asked me if I was sure it was only one baby, and I laughed and said, ‘I’m sure it’s only one, I’ll just have a lot of weight to lose when it’s all over.’ But as soon as my doctor turned on the ultrasound machine, I saw that I was wrong, I saw two circles side by side and I instantly knew it was two heads. I waited for my doctor to speak and confirm my suspicion…then he said ‘Well guys, it looks like we have two.’ My husband, Chuck, didn’t believe him at first..we were so shocked. But as we sat there, we both became so excited and felt so special. We spent the rest of the day making phone calls and delivering our wonderful news, that we were going to be ‘twice blessed’ with the birth of our twins. Our preparations took on a whole new meaning. I avidly worked to complete the Precious Moments Noah’s Ark cross-stitch which I had been working on to be framed for the babies’ room. It was even more appropriate now…’Two by Two!’ Our family even joked about the irony. I just remember feeling so blessed by God to be carrying these two lives.
My pregnancy went incredibly smoothly, other than the normal discomfort of carrying two babies. We had several subsequent ultrasounds to monitor the babies’ positions and growth. I remember that at one of them my OB noted that one of our twins was smaller than the other. But said the discrepancy was not significant and that it was not unusual for one twin to be larger than the other. So, on we rolled toward my due date which was September 24. My co-workers joked that the twins would probably be born on Labor Day – even my doctor seemed to think that would be the time period I would deliver. But I went for my weekly appointment the Wednesday after Labor Day and still nothing was happening and I was 37 weeks. My sciatic nerve was causing me severe discomfort and I was miserable with a cold, but the twins’ heartbeats sounded good, so on I went thinking how wonderful it was that my babies might be fortunate enough to be full term. That Friday night, I started feeling contractions – at least I though they might be – they weren’t too strong yet. So, I went to bed and the next morning they seemed to still be coming regularly so we called the doctor’s exchange and the doctor on call said to come on in so he could check me. As we drove toward the hospital, I was thinking how different our lives would be when we came home. I had no idea how different my life was about to become…
When we arrived at the hospital, we became even more excited when we saw that another set of twins had already been born that morning and were in the nursery. They hooked me up with fetal monitors and the doctor came to examine me. I was upset that the doctor on call was not my OB, but I soon grew to trust Dr. G. He determined that one of my babies was breech and a c-section would probably be necessary, but he wanted an ultrasound for positioning of the second baby. Meanwhile, our nurse was still not happy with the heartbeats, she wasn’t convinced she had them both on the monitor. Innocently, Chuck and I never thought the worst…I heard them both just that past Wednesday. Then they had a hard time finding the heartbeat with the portable ultrasound machine, so they wanted to send us for a higher level ultrasound to find Baby A’s heartbeat. Our nurse, Debbie, was wonderful…and honest. She explained to us her concerns and that it could possibly be the equipment, but she didn’t feel that was the problem…our world started to crumble. The high level ultrasound confirmed our fears, Abigail (Baby A) had died. Thankfully, Meredith (Baby B) looked healthy. I laid there in shock…why was this happening to us? With all of the people in the world who don’t want children…we wanted these two babies very much. It made no sense to us, I’d had no serious problems, how could our baby have died??
Dr. G. met us in the room and cried with us. He explained that Baby B looked good and in no distress and they would prefer to wait and be sure her lungs were well developed, etc. But assured us if things began to not look so good, they would take her immediately. Later, he was able to contact my OB, Dr. O., who had been out of town. I’m sure Chuck and I didn’t sleep at all that night, Chuck had the heart monitor so loud the entire floor probably heard it. But we had to be sure she was okay. The next morning, Dr. O. arrived and recommended that we deliver Meredith ASAP via C-section. We eagerly agreed. Dr. G. assisted Dr. O. with the C-section, I think he became attached to us and wanted to at least assist in the delivery of our babies. Our nurse Debbie had requested to be assigned to us for the c-section, we were so blessed to have such a caring staff work with us. Meredith Leigh was born at 2:11 and weighed 6 lbs. 7 oz. and Abigail Claire was 3 lbs. 4 oz. – but she was so beautiful – we didn’t have to be told they were identical, you could tell. When Meredith cried, I was so relieved, but also so sad that Abigail didn’t. It was both the best and worst day of my life. Not exactly the way we anticipated we would become parents.
Dr. O. could tell immediately what had happened, Abigail’s cord did not have a good insertion into the placenta – she had rolled over on her cord and was unable to move off. They were in the same sac and there was just not enough room for her to move. It was enough pressure, to loosen her connection to the placenta and cut off her oxygen. They decided she had probably died late Wednesday night or Thursday. They also felt that the increased weight discrepancy was also probably due to this poor insertion of her umbilical cord. My heart was broken. We buried Abigail the following Saturday. We were overwhelmed by the number of family and friends who came to help us say Good-Bye to our sweet little girl. Even our two favorite nurses from the hospital, Debbie and Kathy, they were both in our delivery and continued to support us during our stay. Kathy was one of the nursery nurses and she always gave us special treatment. I guess it was all they felt they could do.
It was a nightmare I wanted so badly to wake up from…but I never will. As I write this story, it’s been almost twenty months now since my girls were born and I have learned that you don’t always choose what challenges life brings…but you do have to find a way to deal with them as best you can. Even though I will ALWAYS grieve the loss of my Abby, I’m also incredibly concerned with telling Meredith about her twin in a positive way. I, like many other CLIMBers, cringe whenever I pass twins or other multiples in a mall, grocery store, etc. I often wonder when that feeling will improve and I hope my daughter doesn’t sense it. But I also remind myself that we are also special, we have a twin on earth and in heaven. And in October 1997, we were again blessed with the arrival of our son, Austin Carter. It is eerie how much he looks like the girls (excluding his weight which was a whopping 9 lbs. 7 oz.). He has brought much joy and welcome craziness to our home. But he does not and was never intended to replace Abigail. I believe every child has a special place in your heart. And I intend to go on ‘remembering’ her to everyone. I am excited about the additional needed involvement with CLIMB and am working with a fellow CLIMBer (who has also become a good friend) in the St. Louis area to set up a local support network, with the help of an area hospital. I hope that I can at least help to raise the awareness of multiple birth loss and reach out to others in need…in Abigail’s memory.
…She had had two subsequent sons, and has founded a multiple birth loss support group in her area.