February 2000 at the ripe old age of 25, I became pregnant with identical twins. I had an exhausting life of marajuana, cigarettes and bar-hopping 3x a week to tend to. To get pregnant was hard for me because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be pregnant and to be honest I didn’t want to give up the habits and lifestyle I had.
I did stop all the stuff. Smoking cigarettes…I wish I could I say I stopped but it was the hardest. When I sobered up some and settled into a routine, pregnancy was easier for me. I came to love the idea of having two little babies, one in each arm. I started to accumulate 2 of everything and looked forward to the baby shower.
The ultrasound at 6 months along showed excessive amniotic fluid, so I was sent to a high risk pregnancy doctor. He said one baby was bigger than the other. He didn’t say much else. This was back before you could just Google a phrase of words and have a handful of answers in a second. I was given some books on twins and started going through them. And that’s where I found Twin-to-Twin transfusion syndrome. A defect is formed in the placenta, a vein if you will, that is attached to both babies. When this happens one baby becomes the “donor” baby, not getting enough and the other baby becomes the “recipient”, getting too much.
I’ve told that speel to so many times for these past 18 years. I’ve learned ways to sugar-coat it for those receiving the information. Making it simple to understand, and keeping the cruelty of it out. But in all honesty, it’s hard to hear for yourself and it’s hard to share with others. Alot went wrong in this next couple weeks. I found out I was two weeks too far to have to surgery where they go in and laser that vein out. I should’ve been on bedrest, but wasn’t ordered to. I believe the doctor was negligent on his part but I never persued it.
I have many regrets looking back. Why didn’t I push the doctor further? Why did I wait a whole day to go to the ER? Would it have helped? Why didnt I stop smoking? I know now that none of those things would’ve changed the outcome.
At 28 weeks, I didn’t feel baby “A” move for a whole day and thought, ok it’s nothing just being paranoid. When I woke the next day, I sat still for a very long time and then felt baby “B” move so I thought I’m ok. We’re ok. Having 2 babies inside can get confusing sometimes, so I had this I could tell to myself. Until that evening, no activity. I went to bed, woke and went to the ER.
At the ER they put the monitors on my stomach and determined that both babies heartbeats were identical, but they were very low. The room filled with nurses and activity. While one nurse was starting an IV, another was shaving my lower area for a c-section. Another was speaking to me about a form to sign and explaining how the babies would be in incubators for 3 months. I was terrified. “D” was with me, and he was scared too. A tech came in and started an ultrasound, they needed to see the placement of the babies before taking them out. The tech looked at the nurse and they both looked at the screen. They then showed me where the heart was in the baby “B’s” chest cavity, there was no movement. I cried so hard that moment. I’d never lost anyone to death. I also never had a foundation, a leg to stand on since the day I was born. It was me against the cruel world and I felt so alone at that very moment. I felt something I’d never felt in my life. Then they looked at baby “A” and the same, no movement. What they had heard on the heart monitor all along was my heartbeat echoing off my uterine walls. They would perform the ultrasound two more times so that they could certify what we all knew to be true. It was torture to lie there, greiving laying still while they wrote things down and such. Somehow I felt like a sideshow at a circus. I felt like a freak of sorts. I guess now looking back I felt like that most of my life, except when I was drunk or high. I wasn’t loved in the way a child needs to feel loved and excepted, so I always felt abnormal to those around me. I was raised to feel guilty and responsible for my mother, that her needs were always more important. I would later learn that when a parent puts a child in this position, the child becomes parentified. Children making huge grown-up decisions with no skills to do so.
In my mind I had two dead babies inside of me and I was responsible somehow. It was my fault you see because I was their mother. I was all they had. You need to know how much this experience hurt me inside so when I tell you of the next horrific events in my life you’ll remember what a mess my mind was over this loss.
I would be sent home with the babies still inside. I was told I’d have to deliver them vaginally because a c-section would be hard to recover from while grieving. I delivered them on a Monday morning after 24 hours of induced labor. It would be the hardest thing I ever did to deliver two children who would not cry, move or anything else. The donor Baby “A” was May she was 1lb 6oz. 13inches. Her complexion was pale. The recipient Baby “B” was Marie and 1lb 14oz. 13 1/2 inches and she was very dark reddish-brown. My biggest regret in the 6 hours I spent with them was I never looked at their feet. I didn’t unwrap the blankets from their tiny little bodies and just look at what God had created. Grief and regret can eat away at a person if we let it. I do now have to tools to look back on that moment and tell my younger self, “You didn’t know. You had a room full of people looking at you with pity, looking down at the floor not offering any comfort. You were a lost child having a child. You didn’t know how to be strong in a moment like that. You had no one to be “real” with you and you didn’t have God. So you see, you did pretty good that you had the strength to look at and hold your babies without losing it completely.”
They were buried together in a pearl colored casket the size of a breadbox. I stood alone over their grave. There may have been people around me, but I was alone. Seeing others cry over their loss made me angry somehow. My thoughts were they have no right to cry or feel any loss. This was my loss, my loss alone. Ten days later we went to the hospital to pick up their pictures. They take pictures of stillborn babies which seems morbid but sure helps a greiving mother in a way. On the way home, holding their pictures in my lap I saw a double rainbow. It was the first I’d ever seen a double one and I knew it was them letting me know they were ok. I on the other hand was not.
I sank into clouded fuzzy state over the next couple weeks. I was thinnest I’d ever been in my life at that point and I had just been pregnant with twins two weeks before. I’ll always remember the day I walked to the school to walk Lexi home from kindergarten and I couldn’t lift my head. I kept thinking how each person that passed me by just looked through me. They didn’t see that tragedy had just swept through my body and life. I would then sink further into marajuana abuse and I started drinking alot.
Aug 28th 2000 was the birth and death death of May and Marie. It was the date of my ruin. It was the date I decided there was no God that loved me and He took away my babies from me. I blamed Him and I made sure to tell everyone about the cruel God who allowed that to happen to me after all the other stuff He allowed in my childhood.
February 2001 I found myself pregnant again…