During this morning’s appointment with the Center for Maternal-Fetal Health at the local hospital, I did get the ultrasound I so desperately wanted. And, I didn’t even need to ask for it. Although I’d been told I’d only be able to hear the fetal heart tones, an ultrasound technician called my name, then performed an abdominal ultrasound.
My 4-year-old son stood next to me, so he could easily view the ultrasound monitor, so he could see his brothers, how they’ve grown since he saw them at the in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinic, and hear their hearts blipping.
But, today there was only one heartbeat.
Baby B died within the past few days, based on the doctor’s analysis of his growth.
The technician calmly told me she didn’t see his heartbeat. She was emotionless. She said she was sorry. She said she wished she had better news. She said that Baby A looks fine, as if to compensate for the loss of his twin.
I didn’t react. I couldn’t react. My 4-year-old was right there.
She asked if I was going to see a doctor after the ultrasound, and I said I had only a nurse appointment, so she said she’d notify the nurses of my status, then return.
While she was out of the room, I explained to my son that one of the babies had died. He hugged me, with tears in his eyes, and said, “But I wanted two babies.”
Feeling as if I was outside of myself, I reassured him. I said that it was OK. I said that there must have been something wrong with Baby B. I said that we are still going to have one baby.
But I shouldn’t have said that, for we could lose both. I think I was trying to reassure myself, as much as him, with that wishful-thinking statement.
The technician returned to say that one of the doctors was going to meet with me, but there wasn’t a room available, so we would have to wait in chairs in the hallway. She said they didn’t want us to have to go back out in the waiting room.
So, my son and I sat down to wait, and I tried to call my husband. I tried his work phone twice, and twice it went into voicemail, so I called his cell. During the work day, I NEVER call his cell, so I thought doing so would alert him that there was an urgent matter. It went into voicemail too.
A nurse came to retrieve us, weighed me, took my blood pressure, then another woman, who never identified herself, asked me if I’d had an ultrasound. I said yes, that that’s how we found out that Baby B is dead. She then escorted us to Exam Room 4.
I tried to call my husband again and again. I needed him, but kept getting his voicemail.
This is when I lost it.
I tried not to, because of my son, but I’d just found out that I’d lost my baby, I know that losing one could mean the loss of both, and it became impossible to act as if that didn’t matter.
So I cried. My son walked over from the rotating stool he’d been playing with, and he hugged me. I told him that I’m sad that one of the babies died, but that I’m tough, that I’ll be OK.
I tried my husband’s cell phone again, with no luck, and I kept crying.
My cell phone rang, with its caller ID showing that my husband’s colleague Jessica was calling.
I picked up and said, “Jess, we lost one of them.”
“I’ll get him now,” she said.
He got on the phone a minute later, and I told him that we lost Baby B. He asked how I knew, and I told him there was no heartbeat. He said he was on a conference call that he couldn’t get off of, but it should only last a few more minutes, then he’d call me right back.
A few minutes later, Dr. H came in. She is the only doctor in the practice with whom I’ve met, so it was a relief that it was her, rather than some stranger.
She said she was sorry. She said that Baby B had grown since my last ultrasound, that his three-day lag behind his twin had become about a week’s lag, so he must have died within the past few days.
She said that Baby A looks great, that he has little arms and legs, that he is “staking out his territory.”
She said that we’ll never know why we lost Baby B. While we did pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) with our IVF cycle, it is impossible to test for every possible abnormality.
I asked, “What happens now? What are the chances that I’ll miscarry both?”
She said that miscarrying both is possible, but she thinks the odds are slim. She explained that I had two separate pregnancies, two genetically distinct babies in two different gestational sacs. She said that, considering how strong Baby A appears to be, it is unlikely that the loss of Baby B will affect him. She said that my body is probably going to reabsorb Baby B over time, that during each ultrasound his gestational sac will be smaller, that eventually he may simply be a calcification that looks like a white dot on the ultrasound screen.
With that, my cell phone rang, and it was my husband, so we ended the consultation, and my son and I left the office.
I told my husband that I felt better, which he thought meant that Baby B wasn’t really dead. I explained that he was, but that the doctor had reassured me about Baby A.
Then I revealed something I’d never voiced to him—or anyone else—before. I was so attached to Baby B, our little underdog who came back from near-death weeks ago, that I’d been afraid that I would love him more than Baby A.
And, now he’s gone, my tiny less-than-one inch to whom I’d become so devoted.
And, what I don’t understand right now is the reason. Because, as we all say, when we need to be reassured that there is some grand plan that explains our suffering, “Everything happens for a reason.”
Why did this little guy implant, because I would have been fine if only one embryo had done so? My husband and I had only hoped for one child, never considering, based on my difficulties with embryo implantation, that two would ever have been possible.
But, once I knew that there were two of my husband’s and my babies inside of me, I loved both of them, and I wanted both of them, but I was told in that first ultrasound that Baby B, smaller in his “considerably smaller” gestational sac that was separating from my uterine lining, was likely dying.
And, I spent a week coming to terms with that, the loss of him.
But, at the ultrasound a week later, a week after doing once-daily progesterone-oil injections, he was fully attached to my uterus, he had grown, and he had a heartbeat. So, I assumed that the problem had just been an implantation issue, way too common for me with my DES-induced misshapen uterus with too-thin uterine lining.
I was overjoyed. But I was still cautious. But, then two days later, I had another ultrasound, and both babies had grown, giving more reassurance.
And, then last Wednesday, I had yet another ultrasound, and, at this point, Baby B was within a couple of millimeters of Baby A, which could have just been due to margin of error.
So, with all of this good news, I started to get comfortable with the concept of having twins. I imagined their close twin bond. I imagined every member of our family reveling in twice the love. I starting seeing twins everywhere and asking their parents about them.
And, now Baby B is gone.
So what is the reason for him to have lived these past 3 ½ weeks, for me to go from acceptance of his death, to pure joy at his comeback, to boundless love for him, only to have him die now?
I feel like I will be able to cope and move on if I can just understand the reason.
My doctor has already said I’ll never know.
So, I just have to have faith, although right now I feel like God has been fucking with me.
How many babies do I have to lose?
Why did I have to experience the horror of seeing my dead baby on an ultrasound screen this morning?
Why do I have to live day to day, for the next few weeks, with the knowledge that I have two babies inside of me, one living and one dead?
What, please, is the reason?