Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Loss of two precious lives

Samantha & Sydney (2003- 2-17-2004)
As I type their names my heart starts racing and many emotions that I have tried to put behind me start to come out of hiding and up to the surface in my body. You have read many success stories with monoamniotic twins and unfortunately the statistics do ring true and not every story ends with a happy ending.
I found out I was pregnant again in October of 2003. It was around Halloween and we had just finished up with trick or treaters when Jeff went out to bring us back takeout food. He has brought back some clam chowder soup for himself and the smell of it was making me gag. A few other symptoms had been surfacing, but the thought of being pregnant was not one that I was welcoming or wanting to admit may be true. Why you may ask? The answer is that on August 4th 2003 I gave birth to my son. He was not even 3 months old. My pregnancy with my son was high risk with a great deal of stress, anxiety, and nervous tension. You can see my previous blog about his pregnancy.
When I started to suspect that I may be pregnant it was on a Sunday night and most stores were closed. I got in the car and Jeff and Joey were already asleep. I drove around to all grocery stores or anything I could find that may be open at 11:30-12:00 in the night. I finally found a 24 hour grocery store on the other side of town and went in and bought 2 different pregnancy tests. I came home and knew from experience that for me even though the box states “3-5 days before your missed period” that the tests can be faint or state negative when I am really positively pregnant. So I took the first test and this time there was a faint line for positive. I went to bed so upset. I do NOT believe in abortion. That was not an option. The difficulty I was dealing with was that when I was pregnant with Joey I spent months of time on bed rest. What if I had to be on bed rest again? Who would care for Joey? I gained over 50 pounds with Joey. I still had not lost the weight. I had terrible acne for the first time in my life with Joey’s pregnancy. What would my body and face look like now? I wanted to just be a mom. Get on the floor and crawl around and play with Joey. Devote all my time to him. So although in some ways the thought of another baby was exciting, it was the unknown about what this pregnancy would bring. Our kids would be very close in age. It was just a big surprise!
I called my ob who had been through everything with me when I was pregnant with Joey. I was scared to death to call her after all we went through to get Joey here and say “Dr. Howell I think I am pregnant.” I ended up calling and because it was so early in my pregnancy and I basically knew what to do we decided to wait until December of 2003 to have my first OB appointment with ultrasound. The office was busy with patients and holiday parties. I knew to call if I had any problems before the appointment.
Jeff and I went to the first appointment together on December 5th 2003. The reality now that I was pregnant had sunk in. I was having no problems with morning sickness and felt fine. It was easy to kind of forget I was pregnant with how busy I was with Joey. The tech came in to do the ultrasound and when she put the transducer on my belly I saw two flicks, but did not say anything. The tech said something about two. Jeff thought she was saying I was two weeks pregnant and I said no Jeff there are two babies. She confirmed that we were having twins. I was shocked to say the least, but also very excited. I can’t really put into words how my reaction and feelings towards the pregnancy had changed. You have to understand that as a child I dreamed of twins. I told everyone that I came into contact with that someday I wanted twins. In my mind they had to be identical and they also had to be girls. The tech then said something about a membrane and at that time my head was spinning that I would have more like triplets running around at home. Three kids less than one. An instant family. There were two of us and now there are five of us. I thought of comments people may make like “been busy”. But to know that I was having twins. I was overjoyed. My ob came in and then told us that she was sending me to Akron General Medical Center to meet with a Periantologist and that she would no longer have me as a patient. This really saddened me. I was so sad and did not understand why. I felt like she and I could do anything together after Joey’s pregnancy and I trusted her. Now she was telling me that she no longer was handling twin pregnancies nor was she handling high risk. She called me an “ultra high risk” pregnancy. If there really is such a thing. She then explained to me that there was a possibility that my twins were monoamniotic. She explained that that meant that the twins had no dividing membrane between them. She also told us that this did make the twins identical. I heard the identical and whatever else she was saying went in one ear and out the other. I was very naive about the whole thing now that I look back. I did come home and look up monoamniotic on the computer and did a little research, but the high risk part I was used to. I guess I figured we went through so much getting Joey here safely that we would make it through this too.
I also had never heard of monoamniotic twins. I had heard of fraternal twins and identical, but monoamniotic? This was all new to us. Yu can go to www.monoamniotic.org for more information about these types of twins.
December 22 2003
Today we went and met with the periantologist for the first time. We had an ultrasound and then went back to his office and sat down and talked. He was Dr. L (not his real name) and he looked tired. He looked like he had not slept in months. There were huge bags under his eyes he kept yawning, but he was able to throw out statistics and came up with our care plan and really seemed to be educated about mono twins and made us feel like he was capable to handle my pregnancy. He described mono twins like two babies inside of a ball. In a normal twin pregnancy there is a small thin membrane separating the twins so the cords do not become entangled. I also found out then that had our egg split again we would be having conjoined twins. His care plan consisted of seeing him every two weeks. I would have an ultrasound every other time I was there. He also said that I would be admitted into the hospital when I reached 24 weeks. At this appointment I was around 12 weeks pregnant. I do remember that the option of having a selective reduction was given to us. I also know he told us that we had a 50/50 chance with this pregnancy. We then told him that we had an upcoming trip scheduled in January for a week in Florida. He was very arrogant when he told us to go on the trip and “not to worry” about anything because there was nothing that could be done anyways had I started having problems when we were away. The babies are not viable until 24 weeks was something that he kept drilling into us. I just think he could have been nicer about the whole thing.
One thing I remember about this appointment is that when we had the ultrasound we saw the babies playing inside. It looked like they were playing patty cake. I know they were so tiny but to see them doing somersaults and rolling around on top of each other hands touching is something I will never forget.
Feb.2nd 2004
We were home now from our trip in Florida. I had my first bout with morning sickness the day we left for the trip. I was throwing up the morning we were leaving for the airport. I did okay on the flight and never had any more issues.
One night while we in Florida I remember that the next morning I was able to tell everyone that a dream that I had. I was at Dr. L’s office and I started having problems in the 20th week of pregnancy. I was admitted to the hospital. The problem that I was having was never revealed, but it was very clear that it was the 20th week in pregnancy that a problem would occur.
On February 2nd I had an appointment. This one had an ultrasound. We found out that we were having girls. I was ELATED!!! I had all my dreams coming true. I was the mom of identical twin girls. We have a chalk board/ cork board type thing in our kitchen. On it it said twins and up until this point it had boy names on one side and girl names on the other. We erased it and put girls and then the names of twin A and twin B. Twin A would be Samantha and twin B would be Sydney. Although the girls would be moving around all the time and could switch positions in the womb I decided that whoever was born first would be twin A and given the name Samantha. I was so excited to call her Sammie! Samantha comes before Sydney alphabetically so I decided that whoever came out first had that name.
A few days after the appointment and finding out we were having girls’ things really were starting to sink in. I knew that I would need some help with three babies. We were in the process of switching Joey out of the nursery and putting him into a different bedroom. The room he was in at the time was bigger so instead of making one of the other bedrooms Samantha and Sydney’s bedroom we figured it would be easier to put Joey into another room. We would need 2 more cribs, 2 more car seats. A vehicle that was big enough to hold 3 car seats. There was a lot to do.
Feb. 14th we went to my parent’s house for Valentine’s Day. Many people in my family travel and so I had a calendar and we were marking down who would be out of town and when in case I needed some help. We were starting to get closer to going inpatient so we were talking about Joey and what we would do with him and who could help care for him. We talked again about vehicles and decided that a minivan was in our future. A minivan! This was something that I was trying to avoid. I am a jeep kind of girl and the minivan was something that I did not see myself driving around town. I bought my first preemie girls outfits.
Around this time I was on the computer more often and really starting to research and learn more about mono twins. Every time I did a search on things I would read a story about a loss. Or I would find people who were similar to me. (My name etc) I started to freak myself out and I would get off the computer.
On Feb 16th 2004 I had my next appointment at the hospital with Dr. L. I went to this appointment alone. My mom was at my sister’s house watching Joey and my sister’s kids. Jeff was at work. There was no ultrasound at this appointment just routine pee in cup, blood pressure, weight etc.
I was in the shower getting ready to go to my appointment and starting to have strange thoughts/instincts that something was wrong with baby B Sydney. I was thinking that something was wrong with her head. I had a VERY strong feeling that although I was not suppose to have an ultrasound today, that I would be having one. I did not share my thoughts or feelings. I went to the appointment and got weighed and had my blood pressure taken. The nurse then came over to get the heartbeats on the babies before Dr. L came in to see me. She was unable to get a heartbeat on the babies and replied “the babies are SO active today!” “Lucky you, you get to have an ultrasound”. I wanted to say yeah I already knew that I was having an ultrasound today. So I waited for what seemed like forever. The ultrasound machine was going through some kind of maintenance where it gives data? I don’t really know but the tech was doing something with the machine. She kept apologizing to me that it was taking so long and then she came in to get me. I lay back on the table and soon the cold goo was on my belly. When she put the transducer on my belly I said to her “my babies are dead aren’t they” There was no reply from her for like a good two minutes. All of a sudden that transducer was going really fast, her fingers were going like 100 miles per hour, and she was typing into the machine really quick. She finally said “Laurie I am so so sorry.” I was in tears and she stated that she would be right back. She went to get Dr. L as I lay on this table alone, cold, in the dark, sobbing, and waiting. Dr. L came into the room and put the transducer on my belly again and this was what he said “I told you that this could happen with this type of pregnancy.”
I was told to get dressed and then Dr. L would come in to talk to me about my “options”. I need to state that I am a RN. I was not thinking clearly and my options made no sense to me. I have never thought about babies that die in the womb before. You mean you have to give birth? Was he serious??? I was so excited for a cesarean section after Joey’s pregnancy and birth. The thought of having to give birth? No he was making this up.
Finally Dr. L came in and told me that I had two options. The first was to just wait. Go home and let the babies be delivered when it was time for my body to go into labor and expel them or to be induced. The induction sounded better to me. He then said that I should come back to the hospital the following night to start the induction process. I got home and as things started to sink in I became really outraged. I did not like the fact that because my babies were still and had passed on I was being treated different than someone who was still pregnant with living babies in their womb.
That night Jeff and I were on the phone with family members and friends and letting them know what had happened. I was growing more and more worried and concerned about the fact that I was walking around looking pregnant yet my babies were not alive. This was uncomfortable. This was unimaginable. I didn’t like the fact that here I am alive yet I am walking around with babies that are dead. This is just a strange idea thought and reality to try to get your brain to understand and grasp. Later that night around 11:00pm I had had enough. Jeff and I were in bed and I said are you asleep? He replied no and I said I am having pains in my belly. Yes, there was discomfort but it was not the worst pain that I have ever been in in my life. So I called my mom and we took Joey over to her home and headed for the hospital. I basically had to ask permission to stay and have the induction begin now instead of the following evening. This irritated me to no end. Dr. L had to be called and because there were enough rooms available for pregnant mommies with viable living babies they decided they could spare a room and let me stay. THANKS!
It was a late night. Around 2 am we were finally in a room and I was hooked up with an IV and the first vaginal medication was given to begin the induction process. I was on the OB floor like any other person giving birth. The only difference was that outside of my room was a picture of a leaf that looked like it was wet and crying and in the inside of the room was a mommy lying in bed getting prepared to give birth to dead babies and there was sadness, tears, and no dreams of hearing a baby/babies coming out crying for the first time or feeling the warmth of a newborn on your chest after long hours of laboring.
Jeff and I got a little bit of sleep throughout the night. Not much. The medication so far had done nothing as far as thinning me out or preparing my body to get ready to give birth. It was now a waiting game. The nurses were doing their job and would talk to us about what would happen after giving birth. Because I was farther along in my pregnancy there were many things to think about. Including placing an obituary in the local paper, funeral homes, caskets, and a funeral. I don’t know why these things never occurred to me. I really have had little to no experience in funerals. The only funeral I had been to was my grandpas. So this was all new to me. Including where would we bury the babies?. We decided to have the girls buried next to my grandpa and grandma. My dad’s biological parents. My grandma passed away when my dad was 16 so I never knew her. My grandpa is one of my heroes and someone you can learn more about on my blog. He is who my son Joey is named after.
The nurses talked to me about a disposable camera. I guess they take pictures of the baby/babies and develop them and then send you the ones in the mail that they feel are appropriate. This was a horrific thought for me. I guess because there was really no one from a bereavement department I never gave a great deal of consideration to photos. The fact that they were in control of the whole process made me very disturbed.
The day continued to pass by. I decided that I wanted to have an obituary. I didn’t really know what to say. But I did put something together. I wish I would have added more now like a poem at the end. My dad took care of calling the funeral home and also finding a baby casket. Now it was time to just deliver. At some point in the afternoon I was checked and again no progress was occurring. The nurses gave me permission to walk around and even to go ahead and eat. Jeff and I took a walk and we went and both of us had sandwiches. I was not really in the mood to eat, but knew that at some point I would not be allowed to, so I wanted some kind of energy for later.
I remember bits and pieces of the day. I know that there was a lot of crying and still trying to come to realize that this was not a horrible dream, but my reality. At one point a resident doctor came in to check me and the lady next to me was giving birth. The doctor had left the door open and I remember listening as this woman was in pain and pushing and crying out. A few minutes later we heard the crying of the newborn. I began crying and asked the doctor to simply shut the door. He did a turn and bolted for the door and left telling me he would send my nurse right in. I wasn’t asking for my nurse I just did not want to hear all the joy and excitement next door that I would not be experiencing also.
Around 4-5 pm I started feeling very uncomfortable. I can only describe it as wanting to have a bowel movement. I knew this feeling. I felt it when I was in labor with Joey. The nurse came in and said no progress. So I guess I kind of believed her. I should have trusted myself though that it was not a BM and that in fact the medication was working.
6:00pm Jeff was leaving to go get himself something to eat. My phone rang and I was on the phone with my cousin when the uncomfortable feeling would just not go away. I knew that things were feeling different and changing fast. I told my cousin I had to go and hung up with her. I then rang for the nurse. She got me some pain medication and when she came back Jeff was back too. He could tell right away that things were moving quickly and that I may give birth soon.
Around 6-6:15 a doctor was called and the nurse was getting more pain med for me. Although she checked me again and said nothing was really changing I said no I have to push. She kept telling me not to mostly because nothing in the room was set up yet. I could not hold it anymore and I pushed and in 2 pushes the girls were out. They were born at the same time and it was exactly 6:30pm on the nose. The amniotic sac had not broke and the girls came out together and the sac hit the bed and it splashed open and both girls were right there. The girls were almost 20 weeks. They were 19 weeks and 4 days old. I would have been 20 weeks on that Friday. That was by my calendar. The OB had me at 20 weeks and a few days.
The doctor came into the room a few minutes later and he was a partner of Dr. L. He decided that no further testing needed to be done on the twins because the cause of death to him and everyone else in the room was obvious. Sydney had the cord tightly wrapped around her neck a few times. The cords were also wrapped around Samantha’s body and they found several “grape like” clusters of knots in the cords. “A cluster of grapes” is what the cords were constantly being referred to.
Samantha and Sydney were then being cleaned up by the nurses and were taken out of the room. I just sat there on the bed crying and Jeff was at my side crying too. The whole thing is still very surreal to me. Although I was in the bed having all this occur to me things just seemed to be moving faster around me than I could keep track of. Soon there were many doctors and nurses in the room as well as the anesthesiologist that was supposed to be giving me an epidural prior to the delivery. She walked in right when the girls were being pushed out on the bed. The next things I remember is the doctor constantly putting his hand into my vagina trying to help out the “stuck” placenta. I just wanted my girls and this whole placenta issue was becoming a big deal to everyone in the room as well as the “amount of blood she is losing”. Before I even really get to grips one thing the next thing seems to be occurring. For example my dad and mom and sister and cousin all walk in the room not realizing that the birth had already occurred. Me just wanting to see and hold my babies, and then the Dr. consistently being up in my business tying to help this “stuck” placenta. Then the nurse is coming in with my girls. My girls were in a picnic basket. Still there was all this commotion going on and I was unable to grasp really what all is going on. I just want to go hide in the bathroom with the picnic basket and slam the door and lock out all the other things occurring in my room.
At some point someone makes the decision that I am going to go for an emergency D&C. I need to sign my name to the papers as well as sign a paper that I accept blood to be given to me. They decide that while the or is being prepared I can see my babies for a few minutes. My mom, sister, and cousin leave. They don’t want to see them. My dad stays. The whole thing happens VERY fast. I would say that we had them for about 5 minutes before I am transported back. I do know that I kissed Sydney’s head and it was cold. This was strange at first before I had to tell myself again that yes, she would be cold she is not alive. Then later it occurs to me that I kissed Sydney and not Samantha. WHY? WHY?
The girls go back into the picnic basket and I get wheeled out of the room. I remember the anesthesiologist apologizing that she did not get there sooner and she would give me a good “cocktail”. I don’t know what that girl put in me but it was lights out.
I woke up to some point very groggy knowing that I made it out of surgery, hearing that I lost a lot of blood, they got the placenta, and then I was out again.
In the very early morning hours I woke up to use the restroom. At some point a new nurse came in. She helped me to the bathroom and then helped me get back into bed. She asked if I wanted to see the girls and I said no. She should have told me that “YOU NEED TO SEE THEM NOW THIS IS YOUR LAST AND ONLY CHANCE BECAUSE THEY WILL TAKE THEM FROM HERE REALLY SOON”. I went back to sleep. At some point I remember seeing Jeff and then waking up. I then called for a nurse and asked to see the girls. She said the funeral home already came. That was it. No more chances. I blew it all. I never saw them again.
It has now been over 4 years since the death of Samantha and Sydney. They say that everything happens for a reason. I still to this day do not know the reason why this had to happen to us. I am waiting for the day that the answer hits me in the face and the answer is clear. I still struggle with God and wanting him to explain himself. I have gone to talk to our pastor and although it was a nice talk I do feel like I have done a better job at dealing with my anger about the whole situation. I still can go to the place and get really angry when I go to that place in my body that the anger hangs out in. I try not to let it boil up anymore. The biggest thing I got out of the talk with our pastor is that if I let it go than who will remember Samantha and Sydney. I am the only one that still holds on to them to make their lives mean something. By letting the anger and feelings of the loss go then in many ways I feel like I gave up on them and am telling the world it is okay to forget about them too. I don’t know if they had been older in weeks or months if others would remember them and think of them daily like I do.
We missed out on two precious lives. Our girls would have been greatly loved, cared for, and all the good stuff that moms and dads do. I will never fully understand how a girl could dream of twins at such a young age and wanting them so badly and then having them taken away. I joke to myself now that I should have longed for living twins. I know that I will always be there mom, but I just feel like I got the raw end of the deal. I wish we would have had the opportunities that I do with my other children. To hear them cry, to see them walk, smile, talk, crawl, and get into trouble together. I long to put pony tails in long hair and fun dresses and matching clothes. These occasions are only ones I can dream of.

3 comments:

angie said...

It's just not fair. I remember the first time I read your story. sigh. I'm amazed at your strength and willingness to help and support those that have lost, and those that have not. I appreciate your comments and visits to my blog, especially since I know it must be painful at times.

Jocasta said...

I've been pondering what to write for the past couple of days now. I'm so sorry this happened.

I really appreciate our blogging friendship and I think your strength is amazing. Thank you for visiting and commenting on my blog.

Will Piper said...

Jeni and I just read your story now, as we've been behind on your blog for a few days. Gosh, there are so many thoughts that come into our heads. The one that sticks out the most, however, is how we both admire your strength. Your comments, prayers, and positive disposition have been such a comfort to us during this most trying of times. Please know that you and all members of your family are in our prayers and will remain so.

Thank God for good people like you and your family,
Will & Jeni

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