Erin & Kiersten
Our story begins in March 1993 when we found out the good news that we were pregnant. We told our three-year-old daughter and five-year-old son right away. They were both very excited and my son said, “I think it’s a boy and a girl.” We all laughed at his “joke”. Over the next several months I was quite nauseous and uncomfortable. I also felt I was quite a lot larger than I had been during my previous pregnancies. Although my OB made no mention of it, I began to suspect that maybe it was twins!
In June we went in for our routine 16-week ultrasound. We took along our children knowing they would enjoy seeing the baby on the screen. On the way there I told my husband, Erik, that I didn’t want to know the baby’s sex unless it were twins and then, I did want to find out! The first thing our technician said was, “Do twins run in your family?” I said, “No, why?” She said, “They do now!” Wow! What a rush of excitement and joy and surprise and shock went through my mind. Erik said, “Wow, uff da, oh my gosh” and then finally, “I think I’d better sit down!” We were so happy our kids could be there for that exciting moment.
The ultrasound technician felt that both babies were girls, but didn’t have a good guess as to whether they were identical or fraternal. My pregnancy went along well. After 18 weeks the “morning” sickness was gone and I was feeling fine. My OB was gone over the summer on an exchange trip so I started seeing the perinatologist even though all was proceeding fine. The only concern my doctor had was that the first ultrasound showed one of the babies about a week behind in size. We had frequent ultrasounds and each time the babies seemed to grow at a normal rate with Baby B always a week or so behind. When we passed the 32-week point I remember my OB telling me we had reached an important mark in the pregnancy. I had not had any trouble with premature labor. I began doing ultrasounds and non-stress tests weekly at the hospital where my perinatologist worked.
At week 34, on Thursday, October 7, I was in the hospital for a nonstress test. During the hour or so I was monitored one baby’s heartrate decelerated. This caused some concern so they did an ultrasound to see if they could detect anything wrong. Our OB (thankfully he also happened to be at the hospital at the time) told us that if anything else showed up they would consider doing a c-section that night. Then I had another two-hour non-stress test. Neither the ultrasound nor the second non-stress test showed any results to be concerned about. So after spending most of the day in the hospital I went home. Two days later, I returned for another non-stress test. Again, all seemed to be fine.
When I woke up on Monday, October 11, I remember thinking I hadn’t felt the babies moving much in the night. I rested for a bit after lunch consciously trying to feel the babies moving. I didn’t feel anything. So I called the hospital and went in for a check. At first the nurse tried to find the heartbeats. When she wasn’t able to do that she wheeled in an ultrasound machine. I was watching the machine and saw her looking at one baby. I saw no heartbeat. I had needed to bring my daughter with me and since I was afraid of what I had just seen I looked at her and talked with her. The nurse was still looking with the ultrasound, saying nothing. Then she went and got another nurse, who looked and then went and got a doctor and my perinatologist. None of them said anything for several minutes. At this time my husband and son arrived. The nurses took the kids away and my perinatologist said, “I’m sorry, but they are both gone!” What heartache and immediate pain those words caused us.
We then mechanically went through the motions of the next several days. Erik’s parents arrived from Michigan on Tuesday and my parents arrived from Montana on Wednesday. We were so thankful for their loving support. When my daughter first saw her Bestemamma (Grandma) she said, “Our children aren’t coming, they’re dead. I won’t have my friends.” A few days after the girls’ deaths my son said, “I feel sad and a little lonely and I have a funny feeling in my stomach. I sometimes forget about it, but it keeps coming back to my mind.” Even though Andrew and Kari didn’t sustain their sadness long, they understood as much as they could and they gave us lots of hugs and backrubs.
On Wednesday night, October 13, I went in for prostaglandin treatment. After being back home for an hour or so, I was in labor. I always have fast labors so we went directly to the hospital. At 5:09 a.m. on Thursday, October 14, Erin Jeannette was born. She weighed 5# 8-1/2 oz. At 5:24 a.m. Kiersten Erika was born. She weighed 4# 7 oz. We were able to hold both girls and have some photographs. They were so beautiful. I especially remember their sweet rosebud lips. Both of our parents were able to see them too. We spent nearly an hour with the babies, but I wish we had spent a little longer time and had a few more pictures taken of us with them. The hospital staff were excellent in their care for us and we felt they were very supportive.
We had the babies cremated. Erik’s father was taking a trip to Norway the next month. We asked him to spread their ashes in a fjord there since Norway is where both of our families have come from. After the autopsy and other test results came back, the reason given for their death was chronic twin-twin transfusion syndrome. Erin’s organs and size were all about 20% bigger than Kiersten’s. They were identical, but they have no idea what caused the big surge of blood to flow between them causing their death.
As you know the loss we feel is immense. We were supported by many caring people and appreciate that very much. It’s hard for friends to know how to help, but we received many cards, flowers, meals and several trees to plant in the girls’ memory. CLIMB has been immensely helpful to me in supporting me and letting me learn of others with similar experiences. I have also compiled a scrapbook with many memories of Erin and Kiersten and have bought a Mother’s ring. Erin and Kiersten’s pink birthstones are together in the middle surrounded by Andrew and Kari’s stones. It helps me to be able to look at it and remember them. I also have two other special remembrances that I cherish. My Mom was making quilts for the babies. Instead of finishing them as two crib quilts she used one for the center of the quilt and used the other one’s material to surround it, creating a quilt that fits on our bed. She also embroidered the girls’ names and birthdate on the corners. The other thing is a Snow Babies ceramic statue of two adorable little angels playing tic-tac-toe with stars and circles. Nothing can ever take the place of our twin girls, but it does help to have as many remembrances of them as we can.
My husband has been a wonderful support and we have grown even closer. It was so very hard on him too and we both still miss the girls so much. In some ways it is hard to believe that next week is the one year anniversary of their deaths. Time has gone by when at first I didn’t think it would. But it also just seems like yesterday that we were grieving and asking why, why?? Our kids still mention the twins. The other day, Erik was talking about them and Kari said, “I wish they were still here. I’d dress them in pretty dresses.” Erik said maybe we’ll get to see them and hold them in heaven. Kari said, “No we’re not going to heaven, we’re going to stay home.”
We are expecting again February. We are happy, but definitely don’t come into this pregnancy with the same naive excitement as before.
…She and her husband have had two subsequent children.