Loss of Hope

Finding out I was having twins was not a big surprise since multiple sets run on my father’s side of the family. Everything went extremely well for this, my first pregnancy. I couldn’t complain at all. My cravings were fruit and popsicles. At 24 weeks at a routine ultrasound it was noticed that my cervix hadopened quite a bit and I was admitted into the hospital on strict bedrest. At 28 weeks I woke with a lot of pain and tests showed my babies had ‘twin to twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS)” and Baby B was not recieving any fluids. I had an emergency c-section and had two beautiful identical girls, born May 2, 2002.

Fayth weighed 1 lb-15 oz and Hope 1 lb-12oz. They were beautiful despite all the wires and tubes connected with them. There were no real problems right away but rule of thumb for TTTS is that Baby A will have the most severe problems since it had to work so hard to get fluids over to Baby B.

On Mother’s Day the doctor’s told us that Hope was ill and they were going to have to operate. The doctors had found blood in her stool and she was very weak. It was such a horrible feeling, knowing there was nothing I could do to help.

As it turned out, Hope’s large intestine was removed due to an infection called NEC. She had a colostomy which I knew I could handle as long as I had my little girl. But she was not getting any better and the doctors came to us a week later stating that there was nothing they could do and we were going to have to let her go.

I just sat there. I had no idea how to react. My head was spinning and I was feeling sick to my stomach. The doctor explained all her health problems and that she wouldn’t make it through another operation, even if they tried. After a few minutes, he began to tell us that Fayth was sick as well and they suspected the same illness. I just could not believe this was happening to us! I had done everything right and could feel just how spunky they were when they were inside me. How could this be happening now?

Fayth ended up having the operation that evening, taking out her appendix. She seemed to be handling it very well. A couple of days later, Hope was removed from all of her tubes and we held her as she left. Just before she left she looked up and gave me one last smile. I can still see that smile. It will never go away. We lost her at 26 days old. I have never felt so helpless in all my life. But I now had Fayth to keep strong for. How is it [possible] to grieve and be happy both at the same time? I will never know how we got through it.

Fayth got well really quickly which we felt was too good to be true. Those couple of weeks are a blur and I had huge ache in my heart, knowing what the two of them had gone through.

Fayth is now 13 months old and is doing great. She is doing all the things she is supposed to do at her correct age and has had no problems thus far. Again, too good to be true. We have just passed the first anniversary of Hope’s passing and it was an extremely hard day. The guilt is so strong. As mothers we automatically feel as if we have to protect them and when we can’t, we feel it’s our fault. I’m not sure that it [this feeling] will go away. I go over and over all the things I feel I could have done in my head and wonder if…….? But I have Fayth now and seeing her makes me smile all the time. I love being with her and am glad I have her. Fayth being an identical twin, I can picture what Hope would’ve looked like as I watch Fayth grow. Despite how much it hurts – it’s also very heartwarming to know that Fayth now has her own Guardian Angel.

Norma-lee from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

Loss of Twins

My name is Betty. I am on my second marriage to a wonderful man whom has no children. I have two children, an 11yr old daughter and 10yr old son, from a previous marriage. My story is that my husband and I had been trying to conceive for about a year and a half. In October of 2002 we found that my husband had a low sperm count and I had gone for an Hysteralpingogram [test to try and unblock fallopian tubes] and we were waiting for more tests to be performed. In November I had come down with a cold and put off going for a pregnancy test. Because of the odds who would think that it could happen? Well, I took a [pregnancy] test because I didn’t want to take all the cold medicines without knowing first if I could be pregnant. I couldn’t believe it..it was positive (I bought two more and they turned out positive too!). Then it was confirmed by my doctor.

I was really crampy and thought it was my period coming. They said it was perfectly normal but scheduled an ultrasound anyway. So there we were at our first ultrasound. Ahhh to see our baby’s first heartbeats at 6wks. How proud we were…. but in the corner was something else..another BABY! Twins..We were so happy.

The weeks went on and on January 21,2003 at 13 1/2 weeks pregnant with no complications, our world came crumbling down. I woke up that morning to a little mucas spot so I called the doctor. They weren’t too concerned but said if it would make me feel better to come in. So as two different doctors tried to find heart beats, there were none to be found.

I was rushed to the hospital for an ultrasound and as the pictures came on the screen, there were my twins. How beautiful with little heads, hands and feet..but no heart beats! They were identical and shared the same sac. The only explanation that was given to us was that they got tangled in their umbilical cords. One baby was bigger than the other so we believe that he/she lived longer.

We are taking it day to day. Each of us is grieving our own way. And we think of them often. Thank you for hearing our story.

Betty

Loss of Twins

On December 16, 2002, an ultrasound revealed that I was having twin girls. Sure I was shocked at first, but I was elated over the news. I had no idea that twelve days later my beautiful babies would be no more.

On December 25, after opening presents with my family, I discovered that I was bleeding. Fear and dread overtook me. I knew that I should not be bleeding this late in the pregnancy. I met the doctor at the hospital. He checked me, and performed another ultrasound. The babies were fine. He told me to go home and stay on bed rest for a week. However, I continued to bleed throughout the next day.

I started having back pains, but for some reason I did not connect the pain to labor. I called the doctor’s office again. I was instructed to get to the hospital. After examining me, the doctor informed my husband and I that I had dilated 2 centimeters. He told me that maybe they could save one of the babies if they could stop the contractions by suturing my cervix shut.

That wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but the chance of having at least one was better than loosing both. From Thursday, December 26, until Saturday December 28, my doctor did all he could to save my girls. Family and friends prayed throughout the ordeal.

At 10:26, Caitlyn was born. She weighed 15 and 1/4 ounces. Six minutes later Jailyn was born. She weighed 14.9 ounces. My angels were too premature. Their little hearts beat for awhile after they were born, and they tried to breathe. There was no hope. They could not survive outside the womb. I carried my babies for 21 weeks and four days. Up until delivery, I could feel them moving.

I miss my babies every hour of the day. I feel so overwhelmed with guilt sometimes at the loss of twins.

Dee, Alabama

Tragic Loss

My name is Elaine and in October 2000 my husband and I went through IVF and conceived triplets (identical twins + singleton). We were thrilled, yet cautious because I knew the risk went up significantly with multiples. I was very very ill with OHSS* and in hospital for one month with blood clots in my lungs.

I eventually recovered from the OHSS and things seemed to be going along okay when, on February 20, 2001, one of the waters broke and I discovered that I was in labor (no real symptoms other than back ache which I was told was probably going to be normal for me during this pregnancy). Unfortunately, all three of our precious boys were born that day and lived for just a few hours each. We did not see or hold them because we just had no idea what to do and no one really came to talk to us and tell us how important this would be to us or gave us some idea of what our boys looked like. Fortunately, the NICU nurse took pictures, footprints and handprints, and kept their wristbands, etc. so we do have these precious momentos.

In the past year and a half I have done a lot of reading and research on tragic loss, grief, and perinatal bereavement and wish there were some way I could get more involved in helping people in this situation and educating the public. I am doing some volunteer work right now with planning a Walk To Remember to be held in October and I am part of the Parent-to-Parent Support Group in my hometown.

My beautiful boys have taught me so much. Thank you for listening.

Yours truly,

Elaine, Mommy to Rem, Declan and Dawson (b/d Feb 20, 2001 at 21 weeks)

* OHSS is Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome which can occur with IVF. It is caused by the hyperstimulation of the ovaries through medication. When the eggs are harvested the fluid in each follicle leaks into the abdomen (this happens naturally during ovulation). Because of the number of follicles produced, a significant amount of fluid results. When severe, it can cause the body to dehydrate and the blood to thicken. This is why I developed blood clots that went into my lungs (pulmonary emboli).

Elaine has created a website for her sons at: www.geocities.com/fawns2001

Three

The birth of my triplets, and the subsequent loss of one of my three sons occurred in 1998. In my mind, it seems like only yesterday. I gave birth extremely prematurely at 24 weeks gestation shortly after my water broke. My first of three sons was born on April 26th, 1998 at 9:00pm, and he needed to be resuscitated following delivery. I held on to my other two sons for one more day, but then labour started.

I went in for an emergency C-section (because of their positioning) on April 28th, 1998 at 2:30pm. My second two sons had to be ventilated immediately after birth and they were taken to NICU.

Our first son survived for three weeks. He encountered almost every complication related to prematurity it seemed. He fought hard and endured as long as he could. After three difficult weeks, our first baby boy died peacefully in his father’s arms. I still remember that day. It sunk in that we no longer had three sons. Our other sons survived the crucial weeks ahead and we took them home 102 days later.

Thank you for reading my story about my three sons.

Carole, Calgary, Alberta

Loss of a child in utero

After two and a half years of trying, in April 2002, we conceived twins through IVF/ICSI. I had moderate OHSS* so the first month or so took a bit of a toll but we were so excited to be having twins. I had some mild bleeding at 5 & 6 weeks but the doctors believed this was associated to the progesterone I was taking as part of the IVF treatment. At 7.5 weeks it was confirmed that we were having twins.

At 13 weeks we had a nuchal translucency scan** as we did not want to have an amniocentesis (which were advised to do due to my age – 35 yrs). The reason for not wanting the amnio was we did not want risk losing the babies. Twin A had a great measurement of less than 1mm but Twin B had a measurement of 3.2mm, and this situation combined with my age, showed a high risk for chromosomal abnormalities. Even after this news we decided not to do an amnio and that we would look to Level II ultrasound for tentative diagnosis.At 16 weeks we had another scan and it seemed that Twin B had Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, a situation where the left side of the heart does not develop. At 19 weeks, we had another scan and this diagnosis was confirmed. It was also determined that Twin A was a girl – Catherine, and Twin B was a boy – Marcus.

At 22 weeks we went in for a fetal echocardiogram followed by an appointment with the Pediatric Cardiologist. Unfortunately Marcus had died between my OB appointment the week before and the scan. We were aware that there was a high chance that Marcus could die in utero but you have to hope. Three days later I was admitted to hospital and put on bedrest due to a disease I have called adenomyosis. This is like endometriosis but it is only in the uterine muscle and during pregnancy it can cause severe pain when the uterus grows, plus the uterus is enlarged. They did a transvaginal ultrasound 3 days later and found my cervix had shortened and was only 1cm long Consequently, I was put on full bedrest. At 24 weeks, Marcus’ water broke and I was put on intravenous antibiotics. At 25 wks, 2 days I went into premature labour due to a uterine infection, from Marcus’ water breaking. At 12.29am the next morning, just squeaking into the next day, Catherine was born followed by Marcus at 12.30am. Catherine was intubated and taken to the NICU, though not before we heard a couple of little cries from her.

In recovery the hospital staff brought Marcus to us and we had the Chaplain name and Bless our precious little Angel. Afterwards we held him and said goodbye. This is something that meant so much. I needed to hold my much wanted little boy, as did my husband. The nurses took photos of us with Marcus plus photos of just Marcus, as well as little footprints. These were given to us in a beautiful memory box along with the clothing that he had worn. The hospital also gave us a beautiful urn in a box with Raphael angels on. We had Marucs cremated and put his ashes into this beautiful urn. Next Spring we will scatter his ashes on a small island that we love. The pain is always there but I believe that Marcu is watching over his sister and giving her strength to survive being such an early baby.

My advice for those who endured such a loss would be remember that your baby is yours and if you want to hold and see him/her you make enough noise until they bring him (them) to you. Be prepared for the fact that they may not look like the beautiful baby you want them to, but the most important thing is to say goodbye. I miss being pregnant as while I was pregnant I still had my son with me. But all things must come to end and we must move on. I hope that you are able to find strength if you are going through a stillbirth or birth loss. Just remember it does get better. I believe I am lucky to have had Marcus with me for 22 weeks and to still have her sister to love and hold. We will raise her to know about her special twin brother.

Gina in Canada

*Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS): is a side effect that can occur during infertility treament with ovulation inducing drugs. In these cases, the ovaries are very sensititve for these drugs and respond with growth of multiple follicles. Symptoms of this syndrome may include ovarian enlargement, accumultion of fluid in the abdomen and gastrointestinal disorders (nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea). Severe cases of PHSS are however very rate (1-2%). In case of multiple follicular growth there is also a risk of multiple pregnancy and sexual intercourse is therefore prohibited. OHSS can be very painful because of the swollen ovaries. (Source: www.ferti.net/library/faq/tretment-5.asp)

**Nuchal translucency scan (NTS): is the swelling just under the skin at the back of the fetal neck. It is important because if the fetus has a greater-than-normal amount of swelling at the back of the neck, there is a high likelihood that the baby will have Down Syndrome or a major heart problem or both. For greater detail on NTS, please visit www.obgynsono.com/nt.html.