Ryan & Rachael

Shock. Denial. Another ultrasound. My eighth ultrasound for this pregnancy. The doctor suddenly becomes silent. A moment of silence that was an eternity. I remember and I know. I just know something’s wrong. There was a moment of silence during my first pregnancy’s ultrasound and a miscarriage followed. Again, a moment of silence before my second miscarriage. This moment of silence I know too well. Although there was that glorious moment of silence after which the doctor announced I was having twins. I replied, “A dream come true!”

Now a moment of silence, a nightmare. How can this be, one of my babies has died? I can still feel movement where she lies. They must be wrong. I am referred to a perinatologist. Surely, he will discover a mistake. Or maybe I was carrying triplets and one has died but I still have two live babies. Don’t I?

Anger! Despair! Pining. Haven’t I paid my dues? I have had two miscarriages that were physically and emotionally horrible. I went through infertility testing and fertility drugs. I do have a beautiful daughter who is a miracle. But haven’t I paid my dues? Don’t I deserve twins? I just want my Rachael back! I want Justine to have her sister and Ryan to have his twin.

This hurts so badly. I have cried till there are no tears left. I remember feeling her kick. I just want to feel her move once more. She was always kicking during ultrasounds. She seemed so healthy. Part of me is gone. I can’t think of much else. I don’t want to be pregnant any longer. I want this pain to be over. I can’t enjoy Ryan’s movements because I know he is kicking and moving Rachael. I feel a sense of impending doom.

“Going Longer.” Those ten weeks were extremely painful. I was told it was best for Ryan for me to stay pregnant. I was having weekly non-stress tests and biophysical profile ultrasounds. My appointments are painful reminders of my loss, my “fetal demise”. My fibrinogen levels drop, but not low enough to justify an induction. I worry every day about what this is doing to Ryan.

At 36 weeks, I went into labor. I had six hours of irregular painless labor and then spent 1-1/2 hours pushing out Rachael. I was then able to hold her. I looked at her as Ryan was moving inside me. I will never forget holding my dead baby while being pregnant with my surviving twin. I knew I had to hold myself together because I still had to labor and deliver Ryan. I was put on pitocin. Five hours later, Ryan was born. To my shock, he went into respiratory distress and had a blood infection. After he was born, the specialists, who were sure there were no vascular connections, discovered the placentas had fused. Clotting and scavenger cells were on Ryan’s side of the placenta. They infected his poor little body. His pediatrician said it was his saving grace he was born when he was. Fortunately, Ryan is thriving and doing well now.

Recovery? The autopsy did not provide any answers, which makes accepting this loss very difficult. I am trying to make sense of it all. I have gone over the days of my pregnancy before Rachael died, again and again. I am trying to put her death into perspective.

Six years have passed since my multiple birth loss experience. As we celebrate my surviving twin’s birthday each year, we remember Rachael by lighting her candle and releasing a pink balloon. In the time since the loss of Rachael, I have incorporated her death into my life in several ways. I became an accredited volunteer breastfeeding counselor with breastfeeding surviving multiples as my area of interest. I had an article published in Clinical Issues In Lactation on “Grieving While Lactating”. With the pregnancy and birth of my subsequent baby, I was drawn to subsequent pregnancy support. I became a list administrator for CALM, Conceiving After Loss of a Multiple, an e-mail support group. Currently, as I work on my MA degree, my research and projects focus on multiple birth loss issues.

In 1997, I ended my story with “Recovery?” as a question. At that point, recovering after such an experience seemed out of grasp. I feel I have been able to uncover the gifts Rachael brought to my life. I would have never imagined that anything positive could arise from losing Rachael. I still cry sometimes when I think about her, but can feel the blessings she has given me.