I sat in the chair eager to see my growing baby at my 12-week sonogram.
The ultrasound technician was not overly warm to begin with and with each passing second, to my worriment, she grew deafeningly quiet as she moved the cold gel around my belly in the dark room.
I was alone.
My teeth jittered with tiny pulses, possibly from the blasting cool air around my half naked self or more probably from my own beating heart anxiously awaiting the sound of my child’s.
But I was also sweating. I was nervous; I was suddenly acutely aware that each trip to the doctor during a pregnancy does not come with a guaranteed assurance of positive news.
My eyes raced back and forth between the blonde lady who was frustratingly saying nothing for what felt like an eternity and the screen that was clearly showing a baby.... and something else.
“So... this was a twin pregnancy?” she finally said with a twinge of sentiment.
I’m not even sure how I responded but I think I said something along the lines of “What?”
No longer cool, I was suddenly freezing, stuck in a moment of a million thoughts as my mind tried to make sense of her question to me.
In a half-empathetic tone, she told me it looked like there were twins and that I lost one of them.
It was with that singular comment that I found out I had been pregnant with twins, and that now, I wasn’t.
I was now frozen; not cold anymore, just stunned, paralyzed… everything except for my ears, which were perked awaiting a sentence to follow her previous one… a sentence about the second baby… the one I could see kicking the smaller, yet very visible, black sack drifting on and off the screen in front of me.
Up until that moment in my life, I had never experienced such a strong, perplexing wave of internal conundrum; my heart breaking over the loss of one baby, while simultaneously feeling extreme gratitude and longing for a second baby, both of them together, still within me… still inside of me…
She continued with the scan, clearly hurrying along. She assured me the other baby “looked great” and that this “sometimes happens.”
I remember tears filling up my eyes and feeling so devastatingly confused. The sonogram technician said she couldn’t answer any of my questions and that I would need to wait for a doctor.
How could this happen? How could I not know I was pregnant with twins? I had already two other sonograms. How could she not answer my questions? Is it okay that I just want to cry? Is the other baby okay? What happens now? Is this normal? What is happening?
But no one was there to answer any of these questions running through my head. I was told to put my clothes back on and take the printed pictures of my babies –one alive and one in heaven- to the waiting room and wait to be called.
I sat there for an hour and a half holding these pictures in my hand. An hour and a half.
Every time a nurse came into the waiting room, I thought surely she would be calling me, but no… the time passed painfully slow. I was too emotional to speak up and I was just flabbergasted that I would have to even explain myself in the first place.
I wanted to call my husband so badly, but I really wanted to talk to him in person and not share this news over the phone. I felt bad calling my mom or anyone else in the meantime because I felt he should be the first to know.
I paced in circles, sat down, paced in circles, and sat down again and again until I was finally ushered into a room.
I sat on the chair and when the doctor came in she excitedly said, “So, this is a surprise!”
I responded timidly, cautiously, “Yes…”
She calmly explained to me in so many words that she understands that not everyone is excited to find out they are pregnant with twins and that this pregnancy will be different than my last since it was a singleton.
I felt a glimmer of hope. “Wait, was the technician wrong?” I thought. “Could the baby still be alive? Just smaller than the other?”
She continued explaining the realities of a twin pregnancy and I had to interrupt her: “This is not what the sonogram technician told me. She told me I lost one of the babies.”
She paused. She was silent. She looked down at her folder. She closed it and checked the yellow post-it on the front.
I couldn’t read it but she said, “I am so sorry. The note said that you didn’t know it was twins.”
To say the least, it was an awful experience for me.
I left the office, got in my car, cried my eyes out and called my husband. I couldn’t wait any longer. Then, I called my mom. I didn’t actually drive my car for a good half and hour and I don’t remember how I got home that day.
All I really remember was taking a shower and lying on my bed in a towel and literally not wanting to move.
After some time, my sweet, precious daughter’s voice and my husband’s support helped me to physically get up eventually.
Yet even though I moved forward, I will never forget that day, and I will never ever forget that baby.
I struggled to talk about what happened because I was often met with comments like, “At least it was only one” or “At least it happened kind of early.” Those responses caused me to close up… made me feel like there wasn’t enough room for me to grieve out loud while still being happy for the life continuing within me.
I had close friends who miscarried and did not get to continue with a pregnancy at the same time – I felt ashamed to even utter a phrase along the lines of “I understand your pain.” I felt that they would scoff at me, at my attempt to empathize.
Feeling a little lost, I found myself doing lots of reading up on vanishing twins – something I had never heard of until then. And I learned that there are thousands of women that do, in fact, empathize… that understand… that felt the way I was feeling.
I felt comfort in knowing that and it gave me strength to talk about my loss and my gratitude, my experience and my healing process. And I write this to you- to anyone who has been through this- to say, there is enough room for you and your grievances. There is enough room for you to feel sad over your loss and grateful for the life you created. There is enough room for you to share your story, too.
Every time I went to the doctor from that day on, I hoped for a sign of two heartbeats.
The night of my C-section, I wondered if somehow, by some miracle, there would be two babies in my arms afterwards.
I didn’t hold two babies that night, but a few days later, after a short stint in the NICU, I did hold my strong baby boy and my sweet two-year old daughter together and thanked God for them with my whole soul in a way I never even knew I could do.
I knew He could hear my prayer of thanks. And I knew my third baby could, too.
My son’s twin joined the army of angels that look after us all and when I look in my son’s eyes, I see a glimmer of light from Heaven peaking through every, single time… and I am reminded to count my blessings.
May God bless all the babies that watch over us from Heaven.
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