Vanishing Twin

In March of 1995, I began having cramping and experiencing pain in my lower abdomen beyond the norm.  I was 24 years old and turned 25 in June and did not know that I was pregnant.  I went to the doctor to try and determine what was going on.  I was seen by a Nurse Practitioner.  She was very kind and attentive.  I also had a low grade fever, and just did not feel “right”.  She determined that I had a “vaginal bacterial infection.” In addition, she did a pregnancy test which came back negative.  She prescribed an antibiotic and sent me home.

A couple of weeks later, I was still experiencing the same symptoms and continued to feel like “something just  wasn’t right”.  I returned to the Nurse Practitioner and she ran another pregnancy test (among other tests) and this time it was positive…I was pregnant!  WOW!!!  Because I was experiencing pain and cramping, she felt that there was an urgent need for me to have an ultrasound.   There was a Radiology department on site so she called down for me to be seen immediately.  I was in shock…I was happy, excited, and terrified all at once.  I was not married at the time, however, I was engaged and knew that my fiancé was going to be very happy.

Before the day was over, I was to be in even more shock, even more happy and excited, and even more terrified.  I was seen by the ultrasound tech as soon as I arrived.  I was eager to see what “my baby looked like”…knowing that it was early on and I would not be able to see much…the anticipation was tremendous.  As is usual, the tech had the screen turned away from me during the first part of the ultrasound.  So, I was just lying there waiting, watching her, being lost in my thoughts, and then I saw a change in expression on her face.

Her rather emotionless face turned very serious.  At first, I wandered what was wrong. When I asked what was happening, she said she wanted to “take some more measurements and get some additional pictures.  She said she had not been doing this for very long and that she wanted to let the Radiologist take a look at things.  She could see that I was worried and assured me all was okay.  She stood up and said that she needed to go get the Radiologist.  I knew it was common practice for the Radiologist to look over “the films” later.

The Radiologist came into the room, introduced herself, and told me that she wanted to do an ultrasound herself.  She said that she wanted to take a look at a few things and then would fill me in on what was going on.  I was nervous.  Listening to them, talking and pointing things out, I was beginning to figure out what going on.  The Radiologist had only been looking at the pictures for about 30 seconds, but it felt like minutes, when she turned the screen toward me and asked if “I would like to see my babies”.  Wow!  “Do you have a history of twins in your family?”  I immediately got tears in my eyes.  It was amazing!  There they were…”my two babies”! You could see two very little hearts beating…it was totally amazing!!!  The Radiologist and the tech were so excited themselves.

The Radiologist continued the exam just to make sure all was okay.  Everything seemed perfect.  I was about 8 to 10 weeks pregnant.  The babies, she said, had a due date of December 10th.  As the news spread through the department, I was congratulated over and over. It was wonderful…so exciting.  I was assured that everything was great…both babies looked really well…and right were they should be.  However, since I had been having some cramping and pain, they wanted me to come back for another ultrasound in two weeks to just follow-up.  They also wanted for me to “take it as easy as possible”.  I was not “on bed rest”…but was just advised to stay off of my feet as much as I could.  I made my appointment and headed for home.

My mind raced and was in a thousand different places on my 45 minute drive home.  I arrived at home and laid down on the bed.  I was exhausted, overwhelmed, so, so excited.  My fiancé arrived home about 15 minutes after I did.  He looked at me and immediately knew something was going on.  I told him…”We’re pregnant”.  The look on his face was that of both shock and incredible excitement.  Then, I told him:  “oh, and by the way, we’re having twins”.  He was shocked and beaming.  I was beginning to really absorb it all.  Yes, I was really excited; however, at the same time, reality was setting in and I was overwhelmed by it all.  He was so happy.  He actually started jumping up and down on the bed.  We were in tears together.  They were, at this time, tears of joy!  We agreed that we would not tell anyone yet.  Though, I knew that it was going to be very difficult for both of us. The excitement of the moment was something we really wanted to share. However, we decided that we would wait until we were a little “further along” and knew that all was truly okay.

I returned for the second ultrasound two weeks later.  I was greeted by the receptionist with “Hi Mommy…how does it feel to be carrying twins?…has it set in yet?…I know you guys are so excited”.  Of course everyone in the waiting area overheard her and it began a big topic of conversation…many questions, etc.  It was so fun to listen to everyone to tell me how wonderful it was that I was having twins…strangers…so happy for me.  I came out of the ultrasound with additional reassurance that all was okay.  The pain and cramping had gotten much better.  With the exception of the morning sickness, EVERYTHING was wonderful.  I was beginning to allow myself to really be excited.  The feeling of being overwhelmed was “vanishing” with each day.  I was having twins…wow…it was wonderful!

My fiancé and I had decided that we would not tell anyone else until I was 3 months along.  Things seeming to be going wonderful.  My fiancé had not had a chance to “see the babies” yet.  He had not been able to make it to the two previous ultrasounds because of work.  My third ultrasound was scheduled on his birthday in mid-May.  He was definitely not going to miss this one. What an awesome birthday present to see his babies for the first time!  We really thought that we had passed the time were we should have any reason for concern.  Since my last visit, I had changed to a facility that was closer to where we lived and I would be able to deliver at a hospital that was a little closer to our home.  So when we walked into the reception area that day, there was not the same excitement and greetings that I had experienced at the previous facility.  I found out at the end of my appointment, they not even have my medical records yet. I had no idea that the tech did not have any idea that I was expecting twins.  I was just another expecting mom-to-be in for a routine ultrasound.  I laid there while she performed the ultrasound, my husband and I eagerly waiting to see the babies.  The exam seemed uneventful.  The tech just went about her “business” very quietly…moving the probe around, taking the measurement and clicking on the keyboard.  My fiancé had asked during the exam how everything looked and she said “great…I’ll be able to give you a look as soon as I get a few more measurements”.  When she was done, she turned to screen towards us and pointed saying  “you can see your baby right here”.  She began to point out the head, arms, etc.  We looked in amazement!  She clicked a button and printed some pictures for us.  We just sort of sat there still and silent as she told us that was all she needed for today and everything looked great.  I couldn’t make words come out of my mouth.  My fiancé said “well what about the other baby???”…”aren’t you going to show us pictures of it as well???”.  The tech looked at us with complete bewilderment.  A terrible knot sunk into my chest.  She asked him what was he talking about.  He said “we’re having twins!”  In a seemingly cold tone, she blurted out:  “I don’t know where you got that idea…you just have one baby in there.”  My fiancé, became very upset and insisted that she sit back down and look for the other baby.  In her still seemingly cold tone, she said that she had done a thorough exam and there was no need to do a further exam.  She told me to get my clothes back on and make another appointment at the front desk for 20 weeks.  That was that…she walked out of the room.

We sat there motionless and in shock…it felt like a bad dream…literally.  I sat up on the table, tears were beginning to roll down my cheeks.  I was shaking.  I looked at him for an answer…”what is happening?”  He told me not to move and he would be right back.  I could hear the discussion from the hallway.  He was insistent that a radiologist was going to come into the room immediately and do another ultrasound.  The discussion went on for several minutes.  He returned to the room and said the doctor would be in soon.  We sat there together for what seemed an eternity…it was probably only minutes.  The door opened and a very nice, but perplexed, Radiologist introduced herself to us and said that she “understood that we had some sort of confusion going on and that she was going to take a look at things”.  She asked me what I had been told previously and explained that they had not yet received my records from the other facility.  She performed the ultrasound and spent about 5 to 8 minutes “taking a look at things.”  When she finished, she stated that she “did not know what we had seen previously…but that I was only pregnant with one baby.”  She made me feel like I was crazy…there was no explanation…no anything…just “you have one healthy baby…everything looks great…see you back at 20 weeks”.

My fiancé and I sat there angry, confused, numbed…we did not know what to think.  There was no mention of a vanishing twin and we had never heard of it before…we really didn’t know what to think.  We tried to go upstairs to the OB/GYN Department but it was late in the day and none of the doctors were there.  We left a note with the receptionist attempting to explain what was happening and we were assured that we would receive a call the next day.  I did not go to work the next day.  I did not know what to do.  I was feeling devastated.  I did not know what was happening…was I in the process of loosing both of the babies?…should I be at the hospital?…I did not know what to think or do. I attempted to call several times and kept getting the main call center.  They said that they would call both of the facilities that I had used and someone would call me back as soon as possible.  I wanted to get in touch with the Nurse Practitioner I had originally seen.  I was told that they would contact her and have her or someone else from there contact me.  I was insistent that I needed to talk to someone immediately.  Finally, I was put me through to a nurse.  She was virtually no help.  She listened to what I had to say and advised me that as long as I was not in severe pain, cramping, or bleeding significantly that I was “okay”.  She said that she would contact someone at both of their facilities and have someone call me back.

The following afternoon, a Midwife from the second facility called me.  She said that she did not have my records yet and that the Nurse Practitioner that I had seen at the other facility was no longer with them.  Basically, she could not tell me anything until she received my records which she felt that she would have by the next day. She, too, reassured me that if I was “not in severe pain, cramping, or bleeding significantly that everything was okay”.  She made an appointment for me for two days later to make sure that would have my records and to call if anything changed.  I know now that I and my remaining baby were in no danger…however at the time,  I was terrified and confused.  Two days later, when we went in for my appointment, we were assured that everything was fine.  There was a brief, sympathetic explanation of what had “happened”.  We were devastated. And regardless of the “reassurance that everything was alright”, we were still scared that we might loose the other baby.  The internet did not exist [11 years ago] as it does today and there was no way to go home and “Google” it.  When we asked: “Where was our other baby?”, we were told that it was more than likely absorbed into my body.  We really were not given much information.  It was just confusing and sad.

We continued our 1 month visits and were seen around 21 weeks for our “regular 20 week ultrasound”.  Everything was great – they said.  We were able to find out that we were expecting a baby boy.  Based on the ultrasound, he now had a due date of December 20th.  We were excited. Things felt good.  We tried to let “the missing baby” drift into some secluded…forgotten  place in our minds.  We were focusing on having a healthy baby boy and fairly confident that we were safe.  We happily began to spread the news of Baby Boy due on December 20th to friends and family.  Other than morning sickness, the pregnancy was going great.

At 33 weeks, I informed by doctor that I was having some contractions that would come and go.  They didn’t feel too strong…just noticeable.  It made me nervous.  However, since “each contraction” would come and go, I was not terribly worried.  After telling my doctor what was happening, she decided to do an internal exam.  To both of our surprise, I was 3 cms. dilated.  I was prescribed Brethine.  I was allowed to continue working…I had a desk job. I was told to stay off my feet and on bed rest as much as possible.  The contractions continued off and on.  However, I did not dilate further than 3 cm.  Then at my 36 week check-up, my doctor noticed that my cervix had “thinned” significantly and the baby had dropped.  She felt like it would not be long.  Two days later, the contractions came back and this time they were different.  They were painful!  We went to the hospital around 10:00 pm on November 17th.  They were able to stop the contractions and sent me home the next morning…again take it easy stay off your feet.  The following Sunday, we drove about an hour and a half away to my Baby Shower.  The contractions returned.  I just couldn’t sit down.  I would sit down or lie down and then get back up and walk around.  I was not in terrible pain…I just couldn’t get comfortable. The “uncomfortableness” continued through the Baby Shower.  We drove home that evening.  I was really exhausted.  We went to bed around 10:30 pm.  I was awakened around 12:30am (Monday) with terrible pain like I had never felt before.  Somehow, over the next 5 hours, I walked around, would lie back down, showered in repetition…feeling like I was in some kind of dream.  It was really strange.  I finally woke my husband up around 5:30 am telling him that something is really wrong or maybe this is it.  I hung on for about another hour or so before calling the nurse.  Then, the contractions just stopped…it was bizarre!  The nurse said that since they had stopped, I should just come in to see the doctor when they opened at 08:30 am.   We left for the facility which was about 45 minutes from where we lived.  On the way, it all started again.  It was pretty painful.  We got to the facility, signed in, were told to wait and they would call us back in a few minutes.  While waiting, it all stopped again. I felt a significant amount of pressure but no contractions.  Strange.  The nurse said that they were going to do “A Non-Stress Test”.  She hooked me up and sat there waiting to see the contractions I had described.  There was nothing…nothing for over 15 minutes.  She looked at me like I was nuts.  I felt nuts!  She said that she was going to get the doctor to do an exam just to check things out and then they would probably let me go home.  In the 10 or so minutes that she was gone, I had 5 contractions…big ones!  When the nurse and doctor came back into the room, they looked at the strip and looked at me with astonishment.  When she checked me, I was 8 cm.  No one could believe it.  The hospital was about 25 minutes away and with the morning rush hour traffic, it could take an hour or more!  I had a ride to the hospital in an ambulance for fear that I could possibly give birth on the way as the labor started and stopped, again and again.  Our beautiful baby boy was born at 12:22pm after pushing for about 45 minutes.

There were some issues…as he was a month early.  Surprisingly, he weighed 6 pounds 12 ounces.  However, he did not have the eating thing down pat and we would find out in the next few weeks that his lungs were not quite developed. We had a few medical ups and downs early on.  However, today, he is a thriving almost 11-year old.  We have not yet told him of his “Lost Twin”.  It will happen soon.  We wanted to wait until we thought that he was mature enough to understand and handle it.  I think about his “Lost Twin” what feels like every day.  I wonder whether or not it was a boy or a girl.  I try to imagine two of him.  It is sad to think about at times.  However, we are so very blessed to have him.  We have been blessed again two times.  When he was 9 months old, we got pregnant again…this time with only one.  He has a gorgeous 9 year old sister.  Then, when they were almost 5 and 3 1/2, we were blessed with another beautiful baby boy.  They are now almost 11 (in 3 weeks), 9, and almost 6 (next week).  My husband and I have a truly beautiful family!


Bereavement: What Can I Do To Help Myself?

With the loss of one, more or all of your precious babies, you may feel as if you are falling into a deep, dark abyss and being pulled inside out, both at the very same time. The denial is there – this is all a bad dream and when I wake up, I will have my babies. And there is shock – this is not a part of the plan! This can’t be happening to me! It is not easy to go on.

At this very painful and vulnerable time, you will need to take special care. The following are a few tips that have helped others travel this rocky path.

  1. Learn everything you can about grief. There are many good books available on loss, grief and the journey to recovery. Many bookstores carry books on grief, the funeral home can provide a list as can your local library and any grief counselor. It is important to remember that grief is a journey and not a destination. Grief is very personal and there is no right or wrong to grieve and no time frame.
  2. Give yourself permission to grieve. It is okay to grieve, to cry. You have suffered a tremendous loss. Don’t try to block or push away the pain. It doesn’t work that way. It will be necessary to take the time to grieve.
  3. Be patient with the process and with yourself. You are adapting to a new reality. You are not the same person you were before the death. It will take time. Grief is different for each person, including for men and women. In other areas of your life you may expect immediate results, but this is different. Take the time you need, when you need. Be patient and gentle with yourself.
  4. Get plenty of rest and eat nutritiously. When we are grieving, one of the first things “to go” is our appetite. It will be necessary to get proper rest and to eat nutritiously. If you can only manage a snack, that is fine. Make sure it is nutritious.
  5. Treat yourself occasionally. Indulge yourself from time to time. A massage, walk or exercise workout may work wonders.
  6. Find caring people with whom to share your loss. Don’t keep your feelings and pain bottled up inside. There are many caring people to support and assist you: clergy, doctor, counselor, good friend, funeral director. Multiple Births Canada has a Loss Support Network, helpful support literature, a quarterly newsletter Forever Angels and confidential Angel E-Mail Connection between its loss members.
  7. Reflect on your life. It may be helpful to reflect on the relationship you had, however briefly. How will this change you? How will this guide you? So often with loss comes growth. Compassion, understanding, empathy. No matter how brief the life, their impact remains.
  8. Faith can be an important support. Many people find comfort and support from their spiritual or religious roots. Your faith may be an important comfort and cornerstone for you.
  9. Accept help. If someone reaches out to you and wants to help, tell them what you need: a cup of tea, a shoulder, a drive to a doctor’s appointment, quiet company. People want to help so if there is something that will be helpful to you, accept their help.
  10. You may find comfort and solace with your local support Chapter. To find the Chapter nearest you in Canada, check out Multiple Births Canada’s Web Site at

Adapted from a brochure by Ontario Funeral Service Association

Other Resources:

The Lone Twin, Joan Woodward, Free Association Books, 1998
When a Twin or Triplet Dies, Multiple Birth Foundations, London, England, 1997 Living Without Your Twin, Betty Jean Case, Tibbutt Publishing, 1993
The Worst Loss: How Families Heal from the Death of a Child, Barbara D. Rosof, Henry Hold and Co., 1994
Bereavement in Multiple Birth, Part 1: General Considerations, Elizabeth A. Pector, MD; Michelle Smith-Levitan, MD, The Female Patient, Vol. 27, November, 2001
Bereavement in Multiple Birth, Part 2: Dual Dilemmas, Elizabeth Pector, MD; Michelle Smith-Levitan, MD, The Female Patient, Vol. 27, May, 2002

Do We Still Have Triplets?

The triplets were born at 29 weeks gestation, at about 2-1/2 lbs., 2 lbs. and 2 lbs. respectively. At ten days old, the eldest and largest succumbed to complications due to his prematurity. The parents were, naturally, devastated and the father asked me, “Do we still have triplets?” Without even hesitating, I answered, “Yes, your babies remain as they were conceived and you are still the parents of triplets. Nothing can change that. The difference is you have two on Earth and one in Heaven.” This makes perfect sense to me.

To call these precious babies “twins”, from this point forward, is not correct for a couple of reasons: 1) three babies were conceived and three babies were born. To call them “twins” denies the short life of a precious, much loved and wanted child, and 2) the simple truth is the two living siblings are surviving triplets and not twins at all!

The question, “Do we still have twins (triplets? quadruplets? multiples?)” is one of the most common questions from parents who have lost one or more of their multiple birth babies. Those working with multiples and their families or whom are bereaved parents who have conceived multiples and lost one or more, have no difficulty in understanding that surviving children remain twins, triplets, quadruplets or quintuplets. Making others understand such a concept, can be an enormous challenge. Sadly, some of the most painful denials come from family members.

One mother who delivered premature twins and one succumbed some 10 hours later due to birth anomalies, tearfully explained that her mother-in-law never mentions their deceased daughter. Her mother-in-law did not attend her granddaughter’s funeral and, four years later, continues to celebrate the birthday of her “’singleton’ granddaughter.” In addition, this same mother received a card from a co-worker reading “Congratulations on the Birth of your Daughter” even though her co-worker was fully aware she had been carrying twins.

This mother was inconsolable as she recounted her story. These are enormous hurdles for any parent to face: their grief has not been recognized; their daughter’s life has not been recognized or acknowledged, and Mom has not been given “permission” to grieve by either her mother-in-law or co-worker. She remains confused as well as very hurt and angry that her twin daughter’s life, albeit a short one, is completely denied. Mom would love nothing more than to talk about the loss of her child and the future that would have unfolded. While she and her husband feel that they are the parents of twins, others do not understand or share the same point of view and no doubt due to their own inadequate feelings around death, especially that of a child, choose to ignore the loss and celebrate the life of a “singleton child.”

This kind of situation is a very difficult for any family to have to deal with and, unfortunately, not all that uncommon for parents with surviving multiples. Not only is the birth and short life of their child (even if only in utero) denied, but the parents are not provided a safe place to share their sorrow in surroundings with people who understand and care about them. These parents are not “permitted” to acknowledge that they lost a child as well as a unique parenting experience, nor that their surviving child(ren) has lost a unique sibling relationship. The message given to many such bereaved families is that they must “carry on.” Research has also shown that in such situations, parents suffer compicated and prolonged grief when their loss is unrecognized by the people closest to them (Patricia Swanson, et al.).

Children are not interchangeable. Each and every child is important, no matter how short their stay with us. Hopes, joy, dreams, love and future planning are tied up in awaiting the birth of a child and dramatically affected when those dreams are brutally cut short. Parents with surviving multiples have the burden of extreme feelings, both at the same time: Joy at the birth of their child and Despair at the death of their child.

Whether or not parents wish to divulge their personal history will depend upon the situation they are in. With extended family or good friends, they may be open about the loss of their baby(ies). With strangers at the Mall, the parents of two surviving triplets may choose to just let comments pass, “Oh, how wonderful. You have twins!”, or even, the very painful comment “Be thankful you didn’t have triplets.” Which ever way you choose to handle the situation is the right way.

There is no doubt in my mind that the above mentioned family still has triplets, two with them here on Earth and one in Heaven.

Lynda’s Note

Many thanks to Dr. Beth Pector for her feedback and input on this article. 


Timely Medical Response When a Baby Dies

For nearly 20 years, I have provided grief support and resources to parents losing one, more or all their multiple-birth children. On their behalf, I reflect on a situation which warrants some discussion.

There are some healthcare professionals who, while Mom is pregnant and for follow-up after birth, encourage appointments and answer questions; yet, if there is a loss by or at delivery they stop being accessible after the initial one or two postnatal visits; they refuse to provide a timely medical response.

Yet again, I heard from a Mom who, four months after the birth of her twin survivor, has no word on lab test results in spite of several calls to her doctor’s office.  She is afraid to call again because the staff has become cool and abrupt.  Another Mom said, “It’s been a year since the autopsy and I still don’t have any results. I’ve had to hire a social worker to follow up on the results because I’m so overwhelmed with grief and anger, I can’t function.”  And, from another Mom, “I know the office dreads my call.”

Think of the parents. They are trying to deal with a twin (triplet or quadruplet) survivor(s) [and perhaps other children as well], come to terms with and grieve the death of their baby(ies) and hopefully learn why he/she/they died. After repeated attempts to get information, some parents may be perceived as pushy or emotional, however handling the baby’s(ies) death requires getting report results from their doctor’s office and not making them feel side-lined, minimized or ignored.

We know doctors are busy, but why is it that bereaved parents sometimes cannot get timely feedback on autopsies, lab results from blood work/placental examination or other situations where the medical world explores why the baby(ies) died? Sure, some tests take time; however, initiating a call to the parents at least once in a while, until the answers come in, would be sensible, considerate, and an acknowledgement of the families’ grief and pain.

It’s true, some causes of death cannot be explained and parents may never learn why their baby(ies) died. If this is the case, then don’t those parents still deserve to hear, “In spite of all the tests, we don’t know why your baby(ies) died.”? Surely parents have been through enough already!

Even if certain tests take months for results to come back, let the parents know. Often parents fantasize about why their baby(ies) died, sometimes blaming themselves or each other. Such a situation puts an added strain on the marriage and marriages crack and break. As well, a preoccupation with getting results affects availability and parenting abilities for the surviving children.

One would think that being compassionate would be easy, and I suppose most days it is; but when one is too busy (and I strongly suspect that is a big part of the problem for many doctors, nurses and hospital staff), then compassion can fall by the wayside and it is the most vulnerable who suffer as a result.

Loss of a child

My husband Tim and I are the children growing together, losing each other and then finding each other story. Our parents are best friends and we did everything together as a family. Through the years as we children grew, we went on with our lives and went our separate ways. I was 16 the first time I told Tim I loved him. He was serving in the military and it was the time of Desert Storm. He would not take the risk on beginning a serious relationship when he was on his way to war. So we parted ways.

Ten years later we re-connected but because of our different views at the time things did not work out, this went on for the next couple of years and then we drifted apart again. Then in 2006 we took a chance again, and everything aligned correctly. We were both in the same place and wanted the same things. We were married 8 months later and found we were pregnant 5 months after that.

On Christmas Eve 2007 it was confirmed that Austin Duane Shanks was on his way. We were so excited and so was Timmy, his big brother, Tim’s son from a previous marriage. Although Timmy was 15 at the time he so wanted a little brother. Christmas day 2007 was when we told everyone. It was the best Christmas present we could have ever gotten. I was so excited to tell everyone. I placed a note in a baby bottle and wrapped it as a gift from Santa. When my mom opened it she had no idea it was from me. When she realized it was me she was so excited. You see, I have wanted children for as long as I can remember and have not been able to get pregnant. But when Tim I finally came together, it was magic. The hardest thing was the waiting.

My pregnancy was uneventful. I never had morning sickness and no problems were detected. We had our 3-D sonogram Wednesday July 23rd and saw a lively beautiful boy. Then Friday night the 25th at 36 weeks I woke thinking my water had broken to only find blood. We were devastated to find that Austin had no heart beat. It was the worst day of our lives. Since they told us we could be in labor for hours we sent everyone home. Within 15 minutes of them leaving I was 10 centimeters dilated, so we called the family back. Our precious baby bean Austin Duane Shanks was born July 26, 2008 at 1:26 p.m., he weighed 3.8 lbs and was 17 inches long. Three days later I stood beside a hand dug hole to watch my son be laid to rest. I could not leave his graveside until they were finished. We created him and were lucky enough to be able to make sure he was properly said goodbye to.

As we continue on in our lives, Austin is still here with us and always will be. He is a missing piece of our family but one that will always be remembered and included. Until we are together again we carry him in our hearts every day and will never forget that even though he did not stay long, he has made a lasting impressions on everyone’s heart. One day we will have him forever and we will shower him with the love we hold for him. Until that day we visit his resting place each Sunday but talk to him every day. We have created a memorial rock garden for him and do special things to remember him throughout the year. We have not yet begun to attend family functions again but hopefully in time when our hearts tell us we are ready.

Tim and Charity Shank

The loss of our twins Vivian and Celeste

My name is Julie and I am 34 years of age living in Australia with my husband Kim, this is the story about the loss of our twins.

We had planned to have a baby and we conceived in April 2007. On June 8th , I went for an ultrasound and learned that I was pregnant with twins. I was so surprised and shocked and happy all at the same time. I couldn’t believe that I would ever be blessed with two babies at once. My husband wasn’t there at the time and I couldn’t wait to get home to tell him. When I broke the news to him, his reaction was much the same as mine. Excited, happy, worried.

Because our twins were identical, there was only one placenta and our doctor told us that we would need to have ‘extra checkups’ because of such risks as TTTS etc. I had no idea what TTTS was and came home and searched the internet for information. I was so worried. But eventually I learned to stop worrying and enjoy my pregnancy and savour each moment of it.

I prayed for little girls. I pictured myself dressing them in the cutest outfits, gazing at their beautiful blue eyes, their gorgeous blonde hair, bathing them, walking with them, sharing birthdays and Christmases with them and showing them off to family and friends. I was so in love with my unborn children.

We had several ultrasounds between 8 and 20 weeks of pregnancy. In the ultrasounds we could see our babies mouths open and close, their little hands up above their faces, their little legs kicking around happily. Their heartbeats were a strong 161bpm.  They were healthy, we were relieved.

On Monday, September 10 th, 2007 we arrived at the hospital for our 20 week ultrasound. For some reason I knew that something was wrong. I cannot put my finger on it but I just knew. I had felt minimal movement the day before.

When I lay on the examination bed, the sonographer put gel on my belly to have a look. She could not find a heartbeat on either twin. There was no blood flow. No life. I was sick. I was dizzy with shock. My husband took me in his arms and told me this isn’t my fault. Because I carried my babies and did everything I could to nourish them, I tried to think of what I may have done to cause this. I was very careful, not even having one panadol for a headache .. no coffee .. nothing bad.

On Tuesday, September 11 th, at 12.51pm, our beautiful daughters Vienna Brigid and Celeste Elizabeth were born into Eternal Life. When they and the placenta were examined, the cruel truth about what happened had come to light: our otherwise perfectly healthy and forming babies had entangled themselves in each others cords after the membrane separating them had collapsed.

There are no words to describe such a loss. There are no words to explain the despair, the grief and the heartache. I felt my babies move. I talked to them. I made plans with them. I loved them more than life.

We are having a service on October 10 th to say goodbye to our babies. Every day when I wake up it’s the same – the same empty feeling of loss and despair. I have questioned a life after death and I ask myself why and when I don’t get answers I beat myself up with what-ifs.

To our beautiful baby girls Vienna and Celeste, we love you. We will always love you.

God in His Heaven

Wrote down our babies birth

And whispered as He closed the book,

“Too beautiful for this earth”.



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Keeping Walker and Losing Willis

My husband Michael and I found out we were having twins on October 20, 2006 which also just so happened to be the day we were married. I was attending school in Tuscaloosa, Alabama at the University of Alabama and I started to feel so sick I could barely eat. I knew right then that I was pregnant, I just knew.

Michael and I were both excited and we went to the courthouse and got married as soon as we left the doctor’s office that day. We were just glowing and tell everyone down  at the courthouse that we were expecting twins.  Nothing could bring us down that day.

We spent the next few months guessing what sex they would be.  On December 4 we found out they were both boys. We named them Walker and Willis after each of our grandpas. I loved both of those babies with all my heart.

I continued to still be sick even in my fifth month and had trouble keeping food down, but I told God all the time I would suffer through whatever if only he would keep my babies safe. I really believed that he would. I never expected the news we got on January 3 when I went back in for a routine ultra sound.  Twin A no longer had a heart beat and from that moment I just went into complete shock. I started crying right there on the ultrasound table and I just couldn’t believe it. The doctor came in and told me he was sorry, he said we now had to focus on getting Walker here safely.  He sent me to a specialist who said that Walker looked very healthy and that Walker might even go full term.

I was so thankful to still have Walker fighting as he did, but of course I always thought of Willis and wondered what happened to him. I even wondered if it was my fault. I wondered why God would not want me to have both of my babies.  My mother in law told people that I needed to stop talking about Willis and focus on Walker. That really hurt, how dare her. Willis was just as much my baby as Walker, and he was Walker’s brother. I will never stop talking about him.

At home, I began to have anxiety attacks. I would wake up at night and just panic because I would not feel Walker move. Most of the time I would just shake because I was so nervous and scared for Walker. After several late night visits to the hospital and an ultrasound that showed Walker was not doing very good, they sent me to Huntsville where the specialist was to remain in the hospital and be monitored until Walker was born.  The nurses were so wonderful to me in the hospital.  They comforted me and tried to reassure me that Walker looked wonderful on the heart monitor.  And at night when they would hear me crying they came in there to hand me tissues and get me whatever I needed. I don’t know what I would have done without my nurses.

Dr. Bailey, the specialist was heaven sent. I don’t know if Walker would be here if it was not for him. He took such good care of us and he is the one who made the decision to put me in the hospital.

On March 6, 2007, at 11:22 p.m., Walker Joseph was born and Willis’ little body was delivered too by C section. Walker was beautiful and was sent immediately to the neonatal, he was only three pounds.  It sounds weird but I really thought more of Willis those first couple of days, because I knew that now I had to start saying my goodbyes to him. After all those months, he had been with me, even in death he remained in me.  Now I had to give him up. I held him close, and talked to him. I wondered why so many times, but that question will not be answered here on this earth, I know there was a reason.

After losing Willis, I remember the hospital staff that handled the birth certificate came and had me review Walker’s birth certificate. I noticed it said he was a single birth and I started to cry. I asked her why it didn’t say twin. She said it was not considered a twin anymore but she would ask for me.  In the end, they would not change it. It hurt but I tried to understand where they were coming from.

Walker is doing well, he is four months now and twelve pounds. He is a blessing, but of course I will always wish Willis was here with us. But Walker fought so hard even when his brother was gone. I often wonder what he thought when Willis was no longer beside him kicking and was no longer moving.  I thank God everyday for Walker and thank my nurses and my doctor that I now have a precious baby.

I often think about how I used to pray that God would take care of both of my babies and I now see that he has. Walker is here with us and Willis is in heaven where no pain will even touch him. That is what comforts me the most. Thank you so much for this opportunity to share about my babies.


Brooke (Florence, Alabama)

I am blessed with twin boys…

I am blessed with twin boys that are nearing their fifteenth birthday, and have had two singleton pregnancies since. A couple of weeks after my youngest son turned one in December 2006 I discovered that a surprise was on the way. At an ultrasound at 8 weeks the technician asked *Do you see what I see?* and I thought I was going to faint – it was twins, again! They were measuring right on target and both had strong heartbeats, and more importantly they had their own placentas and sacs. I went searching for my husband on his postal route to show him the pictures, I couldn’t wait until that night to tell him our news!

As the next few weeks went on I had two more sonograms at a perinatolgist’s office as I was seen as high risk because of my age (36). I actually got the nuchal screening done twice, because they felt the first was done a little early. The results were wonderful, and I was actually feeling occasional movement by both babies at that point (confirmed during a scan….one of the babies flipped as the tech was pushing down with the wand and we both felt it).

We were on cloud nine, and was feeling confidant as I entered my second trimester. Then, at my 16 week appointment my doctor couldn’t find Twin A’s heartbeat. I had a terrible feeling that something was wrong because I had actually felt different…less pregnant…in the last week or so. My doctor reassured me that A was probably hiding behind B, and I reasoned that it was possible since both babies’ heartbeats were virtually the same. I was told to come back in two days for a scan (tech is only in the office on certain days).

I was scared to death the day I went in..yet in the back of my mind I felt I was worrying over nothing, I just couldn’t fathom that one of our babies had possibly died when things were going so well. The tech quickly scanned over Twin A and honed in on B’s heart and started talking about how well the baby looked. At that moment I knew something was wrong, so I told her I knew that B was doing well as I could feel him/her and I wanted to see A. She went back to the baby and said *I’m so sorry, but your baby has died.* What I felt at that moment I hope to never experience again. The ache in my heart was worse than any I had ever felt before.

She estimated that he/she died around 14 1/2 weeks. The baby looked so peaceful, curled up like he/she was just sleeping. The technician was sweet and printed a picture for me, and then went back to Twin B to do a thorough scan. It was then that I found out we were expecting a girl, and that she looked wonderful. I was happy, but not like I should have been. Instead I cried for my lost child, I wanted answers that couldn’t be given.

I had been rear-ended a week before Twin A had died, but saw the doctor that day. They had found both heartbeats on the doppler and I wasn’t having any pain or bleeding so all my doctors think it had nothing to do with it. I was told that I may bleed or cramp, and that Twin A would probably reabsorb so there wouldn’t be anything left to test after the birth.

I have been monitored closely, and have slowly watched my little girl grow while her brother/sister still remains. Now that I’m 35 weeks, I have been told that I will deliver Twin A (named Jordan) after the live twin (Alexandria), but they really don’t know what to expect. They also couldn’t tell me what we need to do to make arrangements since the loss occurred before 20 weeks. We can’t afford any type of burial, and I was told by my one of my doctors that it may not be worth the cost to have him/her cremated. But I most certainly am not going to allow the hospital to just *dispose* of our child either. Every day I tell myself that I am going to call a funeral home, but I can never bring myself to pick up the phone.

Some days are better than others, some family and friends have been better about the situation than others. I have been told to get over it and to focus on my live children, yet they can’t possibly fathom what it feels like to carry a child that lives and one that has died. I’ve already been through the shock and anger, and am able to focus more on the coming birth of our daughter, and am so grateful that she’s doing well…yet I feel cheated. I should be preparing for two babies, not one.

Unprepared for a life without a child

My name is Lindsay and four years ago in 2003, I lost my twin daughters, Emma and Hailey. My story actually starts in October 2002.

I was really sick, throwing up all the time I had dropped about 30 pounds. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, so I went to the local walk-in clinic and the Doctor there told me that I had food poisoning and put me on the B.R.A.T DIET. He told me only bananas, rice, apple sauce and tea for 4 days and if I couldn’t keep that down, then to go to the hospital. So off to the hospital I went with my husband and father in tow. I think it was about 3 days later cause the sickness was starting to affect everything I did. I couldn’t drive to the store without pulling over several times to puke. and I was constantly calling in sick to university and to work.

When we got to the hospital I met a Female doctor who checked me over and asked if I could be pregnant? I thought for a second and said I could be but I am still getting a period. She did a pregnancy test on me and lo and behold I was pregnant! Her exact words to me were, “We usually like to have a parent in the room when we tell these kinds of things to teenagers.” I was so shocked by her words that I never even thought to tell her I was 25 years old. Not a child.

I burst out laughing and said, “It’s ok you can tell me. Did the test come back positive?” She kind of looked at me funny till I told her how old I was and that my husband and father were in the waiting room. I had a lot of relief when I found out I was pregnant. I knew from the time I was a little girl that I was going to have a set of twins. Don’t ask me how I knew, I just did. We started to collect baby stuff times two … everything we had we had two of in preparation for our twin daughters. The doctor gave me some pills which helped control the nausea.

On Dec. 25 2002, I had pains in my stomach they only last a couple of minutes but they brought on this major wave of nausea I was sick for a long time. I went in to see my doctor and he said everything was fine and sent me to an obgyn. I finally got an appointment for and ultra sound on Feb 15 2003. When I went in to the ultra sound room I asked if my husband could come in as a well. Initially they refused. The technician doing the ultra sound started with the screen facing me then this look of panic came over her and she turned the screen away from me very quickly and she left the room telling me something was wrong with the machine. When she came back to the room she had another technician as well as my husband with her. My husband stood in the corner of the room opposite from me and as soon as he saw the screen he came over and started to rub my arm. I was starting to get upset as no one was talking to me or telling me what was happening. We were finally told there were no heartbeats to be found. There was nothing they could do and I should go home and rest. They would call my doctor and let him know what was going on.

I was so distraught I thought just maybe, maybe she had made a mistake. We went home and I spent the entire weekend crying in bed with people coming and going. At this point I was 24 weeks pregnant. On Feb. 18 I called my doctor but he had no idea what was going on He told me to make an appointment for the next day which I did. I went in to see him on Feb. 19. My doctor called the ultrasound dept at the hospital while I was in the room and started quizzing them asking why he didn’t have any paper work on me and why he wasn’t informed. Their excuse was they were busy.

It was February 22 before I was admitted to the hospital. I was induced and drugged, so the next couple of days were a blur. My parents came everyday and sat with me and my husband stayed every night. Finally on February 26 2003 at 4:45 pm I delivered my twin girls. One was 11.3 ounces and the other was 1 lb. 3.7 ounces. I was devastated . My poor husband had left for work no more then 30 min before I delivered. I delivered them sitting on a toilet into a bowl so that they could take them out of the room quickly. My husband got back just in time to see me being wheeled down the hall to the OR for surgery. I needed to have a D&C.

I stayed in the hospital for about two days then sent me on my way unprepared for a life without a child. One of the things I remember from being in the hospital is the day after I delivered my girls. A young man was standing out side my door announcing to everyone that his wife had just delivered healthy twin boys. He was handing out fake cigars to everyone and when he went to come into  my room to give me one I yelled at him. I screamed at him to get the hell out.
I can’t understand why they put women whom have lost a child on the maternity ward. Yes, I had a private room but I could still hear the crying babies and the happy parents.
I miss my girls every day. In September of 2006 I found I was pregnant again. We were terrified that the same thing would happen. I was overly cautious during the pregnancy, but my doctor referred me to a fetal assessment center at the children’s hospital so that I could put my worries to rest. We are now the proud parents of a little girl who was born on June 1, 2007.

I lost our boys on July 18, 2003

I lost our boys on July 18 2003.  It has been four years and that day still haunts me.  I found out I was pregnant after being told that I would not be able to have any more children. We have one son named Paul at this time age 8.  I had taken a pregnancy test and it had floored me.  I came home from work in my first trimester about 9 weeks I guess and I wasn’t feeling well, so I went to lay down. I got up an hour later to go to the bathroom (I was sick all day everyday) and I lost a clot on the bathroom floor.  I started crying and freaking out and my husband rushed me to the hospital.

They told us how sorry they were that we lost our baby and there was nothing they could do.  My husband asked for an ultrasound and they said that it was to soon.  We went home devastated. I laid crying in bed for two days until my next appointment.  I can still see the disappointment on my son’s face as he tried to comfort me.

Two days later I go to the doctor and he said my blood levels were still elevated and wants a ultrasound done the next day. We went to the ultrasound and I tell my husband I can’t look at the screen and see my child if it was still there and not alive.  I have the technician turn the screen away.  I am still crying the entire time that she is doing her job.  Then, she asks if we have heart conditions in our family. My son had open heart surgery the year before.  I said yes. She turned the screen around to say we were having identical twins and that they were okay. And that they were in separate bags.

I remember going back to work after telling them I had lost the baby to tell them there were now two babies and my supervisor took the ultrasound picture showing everyone.  We next told our son who told us he had wished on a star for a brother and was really excited about two at once and was planning already.  I called the hospital a couple of times during my pregnancy because they were laying on a nerve and I couldn’t get out of bed to walk. By now I was permanently off work so we would take no chances.

On July 17 I was in the doctor’s office and they said everything was fine.  I told him I wanted a C-section and that I had this feeling that something was wrong, “Mother’s Intuition” it had to do with the placenta.  They said everything was fine.  We went home and not even 24 hours later the nightmare started.

July 18 I got out of bed to go to the bathroom and felt what I believed was a baby’s head (It was a bulging bag). My husband rushed me to the hospital where fluid starts to leak and they decide to transfer me to another hospital 30 minutes away and not to stop the contractions I was 22 weeks, 3 days along.  My husband beat the ambulance to the hospital. I was hooked up to monitors and told we have to keep the babies in for as long as possible. They wanted to see if the contractions were going to stop.  They didn’t.  The neonatal doctor came in and said he would be their doctor, that they had a slim chance and asked what would we like done as far as heroic measures. The other doctor said they wouldn’t make it.

My husband and I were in shock, neither of us could speak.  My cousin said that you don’t want them to suffer.  I wanted Levi and Logan more than my own life. The doctor listed off the things that would happen.  No parent wants their child to suffer.  Logan was born at 8:29pm and died at 9:02 pm and was bruised from the waist down and Levi was born at 8:53 pm and was stillborn. He was bruised from the waist up.

Even though we were in shock we trusted the doctors and let them and family judge what decisions were to be made. We chose DNR [do not resuscitate] and it is a decision that will haunt us for the rest of our lives.  I did not hold my children.  I thought it would be harder on me to let them go as death is something I was never ready to deal with let alone my children being the ones to go. They put me on the nursery floor where I could hear all the happy mom’s, crying babies and happy families.

But, now I had to disappoint my son once again.  All I wanted was to hold my eight year old and tell everyone else to leave me alone. My son had overheard my father telling my sister-in law so he knew and he cried with me. My husband showed no emotion in front of me.  He held them and our son saw them.

I regret it everyday. I miss them everyday. We talk about who they would be or what they would be doing now.  And holidays are the hardest.  I take off on their birthday and we celebrate and make it family day.  Flowers on their grave and a cake in their memory and then we do something to spend time as a family.  And if we ever get pregnant again we will prepare ahead of time and have a different doctor and hospital.

Thanks for listening,