Joshua & Conrad, Jr.

On January 19, 1988 (three days before my 36th birthday) I was headed to a local hospital for an ultrasound on my gallbladder. For years I had problems and my doctor felt perhaps an ultrasound would show the problem. What a shock when I was told I was carrying twins and gallstones! Because of my age and two previous C-sections my doctor strongly advised me to go to the University where there were specialized doctors, an NICU and where tests could be done.

In February I had an ultrasound at the University and after hours of testing, I heard the heartbreaking news. One of my babies had problems – big problems. Twin B had a large neural tube defect and was thought to have multicystic kidneys. The ultrasound showed Twin B was smaller than Twin A and that Twin A seemed to be okay. The doctors wanted an amniocentesis and more testing to be done, but I was afraid all this would jeopardize my babies even more. I was told how twins come early and I did not want to take any chances with this. Twin B did not move or kick very much and the specialists said that was caused from the neural tube defect (open spine). The baby was probably paralyzed from the waist down. As long as the baby was in my body he was safe, my body would keep doing the work his was supposed to do but wouldn’t. But what would happen when it was time for them to be born? There were so many strong emotions I had to deal with and as a single parent I wondered if I could keep my sanity. Without the help of a very dear friend I never would have made it. .

On June 7, 1988 I delivered twin boys by C-section at the University in Iowa City. The hospital was very compassionate, everyone was very helpful and did everything they could to help and support me. My twin son Joshua was a healthy 5 lb.11 oz. baby while his twin brother Conrad Jr. had multiple anomalies. It was discovered Conrad Jr. had hypoplastic lungs along with the open spine and many other anomalies. Conrad was put on machines to keep him alive but was found to be “incompatible with life” because of the many problems he had. I felt so happy for my new healthy son (first son) and so very sad, lost and depressed about my tiny 4 lb. 1-1⁄2 oz. baby boy, Conrad, who only lived 26 hours. I was on strong medications and remember very little for 3 days. I do remember the doctors coming in and asking me if they could discontinue Conrad’s life supports. How could I say “yes” when I knew he could never breathe without these supports? After many explanations about all of my son’s conditions and after what seemed a lifetime of tears, the supports were taken away. The hospital took pictures of Conrad Jr. and his footprints were given to me. These are the only mementos of my little son and I cherish them very much. Every day I think of him as I look at his brother Joshua. I wonder if this pain will ever go away and if I will be able to raise Joshua as a happy, healthy “twin.” I love him so much and I feel such a great loss of his twin, Conrad. .

At the delivery of my twins I had a tubal ligation done as I was told there was a one in four chance that the problems Conrad Jr. had might show up in any future children. I have two other daughters (ages 16 and 18) who may be carriers of this disorder. The very rare disorder Conrad Jr. had was described as Meckel Gruber. It has been six months and I still feel very mixed up in my emotions about my twins and hope to hear from someone who has gone through this so I know I am not alone in all these feelings. .

…Joshua is now a teenager.