I debated sharing this story. Even as I start to write it, it just happened yesterday and you are likely reading it much later. You see, most of you know we are expecting our 3rd child. However, most of you don’t know, we were supposed to be expecting twins.
In May, we went for our first ultrasound and… Surprise! There were two little nuggets in their own separate sacs instead of just one. It was a shock to say the very least. Although, I guess I should have expected this. Previously, I was lucky enough to miss the crazy morning sickness that most experience in their first trimester. My first pregnancy was a girl and my second was a boy. I felt a little nausea here and there, but nothing crazy with either set of hormones.
However, this pregnancy, I had been sicker than I’d felt in a long time. It totally knocked me on my butt. Now, I would know why… all those extra hormones.
Both heart rates were strong but Baby A was measuring approximately four days behind Baby B. Our ultrasound technician warned us that my doctor’s office would want another scan in the next few weeks to confirm growth (even though the heart rates were strong).
As much as we wanted to keep the information guarded, we were excited, anxious, and enthralled with the news. We had to share it with at least some people, so we did. As overwhelmed as we were with the thought of adding two more kids to our family (mind you at the same time), we were still excited. We started to picture our life with twins and how it would look with four kids under the age of five.
However, we did decide to keep the information from our two other children (ages 4 and 2) just until we got through the next ultrasound. We were excited to tell them. But, we didn’t want to try to explain to their developing brains if something bad happened. It would just be confusing for all involved.
At our next ultrasound in June, we waited with anticipation to see how the twins were doing. As I lay on the table, while the ultrasound technician took her measurements, I should have known something wasn’t right. My husband just kept looking straight at the screen (which was hard for me to see in my current position) and wouldn’t look down at me.
As the ultrasound technician sat me up, she showed me that Baby B was strong but unfortunately Baby A was still measuring at the same size as four weeks ago and no longer had a heartbeat.
I stared at the screen blankly. There was my bigger healthy baby towering over this little tiny thing that no longer had a heartbeat. I heard the ultrasound technician speaking to me but wasn’t really listening. I think she handed me the pictures of the ultrasound, to which I must have quickly handed to my husband without looking.
As my husband began rubbing my arm and the ultrasound technician noticed my blank stare, she said to me, “this is not what you were expecting, I’m so sorry.”
Well, that’s all it took for me to feel the tears coming. None of this pregnancy was what we were expecting. We decided to hold off on trying for a bit, but then, I was pregnant. We went in for an early ultrasound and surprise… it was twins. Then, we went in for a follow-up and we were back to just one baby. I must have started crying because the ultrasound technician leaned in to hug me.
We took our time in the room as I attempted to compose myself enough to head back to the patient room to see my doctor. I had finally wrapped my head around the idea that we would be turning into a family of six. We would be welcoming twins. As scary as that was, it was also so exiting. But now, it was just a regular pregnancy. I felt disappointed, sad, guilty for not being happy for my healthy baby, and just over it all.
As we sat in the patient room, I continued my blank, quiet stare. Anytime I attempted to speak, I could feel the tears coming again. If you know me, you know I’m not a huge fan of crying in front of people. Luckily, my husband took the reigns and asked all the right questions during that appointment.
My doctor reassured us that I would likely not feel anything as the other baby vanishes. Yes, vanishes. It is literally called vanishing twin syndrome. That baby gets absorbed into me and into my other, healthy baby. He assured us that our healthy baby would not be affected by this either.
He also told me it was okay to be sad, to be disappointed even. That I didn’t need to feel guilty for feeling these things. It will take some time to get through it but we will feel excited again.
We left the office somber. I spent the rest of that day just kind of still, taking it all in. I was sitting there with two babies still in my body. One healthy baby, and another that was dead. I know this sounds rough but that’s how I felt.
I never would wish a miscarriage on myself or anyone. However, the strangest thing about vanishing twin is there is no closure. I will not experience the same things a mom who miscarries experiences. When we go to our next anatomy ultrasound, there will just be an empty space where my other baby used to be. It’s a strange thing to wrap your mind around.
As I finalize this post now, it has been a few weeks. I have slowly started to feel better. It’s still hard to talk about in person because I can feel myself getting emotional. I’m trying my best to get excited again but it just feels forced. I want to be excited, it just doesn’t feel the same as my previous pregnancies.
The best advice I was given after this happened was simple. Your baby “will always be with you in a small way, a tiny what-if shadow in your heart. Your delight in the living child will be complete and undiminished, but you won’t forget this other one. It will be all right, and in a way it will open up your life.”
This could not be more true. Not only will this baby be in my mind and in my heart, but it will literally be a part of me and of his/her twin. This advice gave me a different perspective. I will not just be sad thinking about my other baby when I think of my own healthy one. But, I will see the memory of that baby living on with what would have been his/her twin.