It will be three years this December 13 that I gave birth to my first son, Patrick Chris. He is named after my father and my first husband who both died before him. Patrick Chris was born at 6:38 a.m., weighed 1# 5 oz. and was 12-1/4 inches long. Despite being only 23 weeks gestation, he looked so perfect. He was fully formed, but just not mature enough to survive. He lived for approximately 4 hours which was just long enough for his mommy, his daddy, his Grandma and Grandpa and his Aunt to hold and love him dearly.
I was pretty “out of it,” especially on that day, since I was on high doses of mag sulfate and told to stay as calm as possible to help Patrick’s twin survive inside of me. And, I was in massive SHOCK over the events of the last 24 hours.
I had awakened the day before and realized I was having regular contractions. I knew preterm labor was probable with carrying twins, so I called my midwife who said to come to the hospital. Of course, they confirmed with a monitor that I was having contractions about 5 minutes apart and put me on mag sulfate. I was told I’d probably be in the hospital for a couple days and then on bedrest for the rest of my pregnancy. I remember calling my family in Wisconsin and being most upset about missing Christmas with them. I never even dreamed that missing Christmas would be the least of my sorrows. After a short time, an ultrasound tech came in the room to do an ultrasound. We had not found out the sex of our twins until that day. We were overjoyed to see our two boys on the monitor and that they looked like they were doing really well. They appeared to be in their own sacs which would prove to be very important later.
Despite my sadness about the holidays, by afternoon I was settling into the fact that I was going to be on bedrest to keep these boys in me as long as I could. Well, that all changed drastically when I suddenly became violently sick from the mag sulfate and in the process started leaking amniotic fluid. Once it was determined to be amniotic fluid, we were told that I would need to be transferred to a hospital in Denver that could handle my situation. At that point and for the whole ride to Denver in an ambulance, I didn’t realize that “my situation” meant I would lose one or both of my babies.
We would vacillate between hope and despair over the next few hours. It was thought that my amniotic sac had broke, so things weren’t looking so good. Then, the ultrasound showed plenty of fluid around the babies, so Dr. P said maybe the last hospital was wrong about the sac breaking. So, we got our hopes up. Maybe I could have a cerclage put in and be on bedrest and all would be fine. But then Dr. P did an amnio of Baby A’s sac and as he drew the fluid the mood changed. It looked like Baby A’s sac was probably infected. We waited a short time for the results, HOPING, only to find out that it was infected and…then came the worst news of all. I would have to birth Baby A and that they do not resuscitate a baby born before 24 weeks gestation. OUR BABY WAS GOING TO DIE!
So, the mag sulfate was turned off and the pitocin was started. Just as the contractions were getting tough, I was given an epidural and told to rest for a little bit before the birth. It was during this time that despite my OVERWHELMING feelings of sadness, I experienced a short period of calmness and peace. It’s as if Patrick was speaking to me saying, “It’s OK, Mom, I need to go so that my brother can live.”
It wasn’t until shortly before giving birth to Patrick that the doctor did an amnio of Baby B and was able to give us the great news that his sac was not infected at this point. We really did need to birth Baby A to save Baby B.
I stayed in the hospital for another week and then was allowed to go home on bedrest and medication. I had bathroom privileges and looked so forward to my weekly visits to the doctor. I was so blessed to have my three Grandmas come and stay with me one week at a time once my husband had to return to work. With the help of my wonderful family and friends, I was able to get through the continued scare of contractions, incredible fear, depression and a couple more trips to the hospital for breakthrough labor. I made it to 37 weeks at which point my local doctor had me stop my medication and removed my cerclage. I immediately dilated to 4 cm. and within 24 hours, Maxwell John was born! He needed a little oxygen but otherwise was a strong, healthy 6#9 oz. baby boy.
Max is now 2-1/2 years old and looks at pictures of me pregnant and says “two babies.” He knows he has a baby brother, Patrick, and we try to share more and more with him as he gets older. Max does not like to play alone much at all which I personally attribute to him being without his twin brother.
I still strongly YEARN for my boys to be together in this lifetime. It has been my dream since I was 10 years old to have twins. Some days I realize that I DO have twins. They just aren’t here together. Other days, I feel so DENIED.
I’m genuinely thankful to many people in my life for their support throughout this ongoing grieving process. Writing this story is just another step. I send a special thanks to my friend, Heidi, for her empathy and for introducing me to CLIMB.
…She is also now the mother of Max & Patrick’s brother Benjamin Nicholas, born 4-1/2 weeks early after she diagnosed herself with a rare liver dysfunction called intrahepatic cholestasia of pregnancy while researching “itching and pregnancy” on the internet.
Kris sent her story to family and friends, and received this response from her mother, Carol:
Kristine and John,
I am sitting in my office with tears streaming down my face. I wanted so much for you to have your twin boys grow up together and to enjoy them in all of the special ways that I picture enjoying twins. The situation of not having them together now is heartbreaking. I thought recently of December 13th being so close and of you dealing with the heartache and the joy of the twins.
I am sending my response to others who received your e-mail. I wanted them to know how sad I am for you and how proud I am of you as you deal with this heartache.
I have to admit that I did not know that Max preferred to have someone to play with all of the time. I think your analysis of him being with Patrick Chris for those 23 weeks may have something to do with his preference.
I feel such joy in having made it to Denver in time to hold Patrick Chris while he was alive. I feel such joy to have made it to hold Maxwell John shortly after his birth.
Kristine and John, I ache for you and wish I could make the hurt a little less painful. I truly admire the strength that you have in dealing with this loss.
Todd and I treasure our times with you, Max and Ben. We treasure the phone messages that we receive, especially the ones that are on the recorder that can be played again and again.
Kristine, the story is intense, meaningful, and so real. Thank you for writing it.
Mom and Dad