My third child was a twin.
It’s taken me years to say that sentence. It’s not something I share, mostly because the loss of Roman’s sibling was so traumatic I’ve kept the experience tucked away in a drawer with the hospital blanket and memory box the nurses provided me.
From the moment I was told I was having twins, we did everything most parents would do. We bought our little twin outfits, twin logo maternity shirts, we even bought a not-so-hot minivan. We were going from a family of four to a family of six.
I remember reading the twin baby books with my husband at night and we were so elated at the thought of two more babies. What a miracle, and what a dream. I already endured a horrific loss prior to Roman so I thought this was how I was being blessed, with not just one, but two more.
You are more likely to become pregnant with twins naturally when you are in your 30s and 40s.
When the Worst Happens
Around halfway through the pregnancy, the ultrasound was taking longer than expected and I remember the tears gushing down my face. I knew when the sonographer left the room the doctor would be returning with the bad news. My heart left my body and I felt numb.
I remember being in this place, getting this type of shocking news before. It was sadly, too familiar. How could this happen again to me? Not now, not me…. I pleaded with myself and my husband by my side. I remember begging the doctors to give me some sort of hope for my babies.
It turned out that Baby A just died. He simply died. For no rhyme or reason, he died. Baby B however, was still thriving.
Over the last two decades, the twin birth rate in the United States rose 76 percent, from 19 to 33 in every 1,000 births.
Left With a Broken Heart
What I didn’t know was at this point my body could do one of two things, either recognize the thriving baby and keep going or recognize the death and my body would expel the baby who passed and in turn, I would lose both. I couldn’t breathe, I was in a state of shock. I was numb, I was sick, I wanted to go in a corner and just cry. Everyone knew I was having twins so I had to let everyone know that my status has now changed. It was a tragic reality I was forced to face.
“At least you have one baby.”
“So glad you have other healthy children.”
People generally don’t know what to say and nothing could really comfort me. Everyone meant well, but any words, all words, hurt my soul. Sure, I was grateful for the two at home and the one still alive, but one of my babies died and I had to carry him to term. It was sad, scary, unfortunate and I didn’t know how the fragility of my situation would end.
Research shows that 10 to 15 percent of all singleton births may have started off as twins. Often one is lost early in pregnancy in a phenomenon known as “vanishing twin syndrome.”
Doing My Best For Roman
There are no words to describe how it feels to carry one baby who is alive and one baby who is gone. I put my big mommy pants on and had to deal with the loss of a twin baby.
Every day I prayed and felt in my heart my baby who was gone would now protect Roman through the remainder of this pregnancy. I knew he would just stay put and shield Roman from anything bad. I tried not to focus on the other baby being gone, but more so staying healthy for Roman to make the next 20 weeks.
There are two types of twins: fraternal and identical. Identical twins are less common than fraternal because identical twins require the splitting of a single fertilized egg, which is rare. The odds of having identical twins are about 1 in 250.
Saying Goodbye To My Baby
I hired someone to drive my car due to my nerves being wrecked. But when I made it to the end and delivered Roman it was one of the biggest exhales I have ever experienced. I melted at the sight of my sweet Baby B, who I would go on to name Roman. Before they took him away, they asked, “Are you ready?”
“Ready for what?,” I replied.
“We have to go in and get the other baby.” I forgot for a split second that this is what would happen next. I held onto Roman with a feverishly tight grip, that I inevitably had to let go of and let them get Baby A.
We named him Gabriel.
He wrapped himself in his placenta like a blanket. I had my pastor come into the room where we had a blessing. We decided, with the guidance of my pastor and doctors, to donate him to science, to help medicine understand these things better. It was a hard decision, but we felt it was best.
I never looked at what was in my memory boxes for baby Gabriel, but I braved through this post and decided to open them and feel these suppressed memories.
Twin pregnancies have an increased risk of preterm labor, premature rupture of membranes, uneven growth, high blood pressure, preeclampsia, and diabetes.
Feeling the Pain
I have his ultrasounds and cards from the entire labor and delivery team saying how profoundly sorry they were for the loss of my twin baby boy. I have a blanket and some other items. Someday, I would like to make his gold charm into something special, maybe for Roman to wear when he is older.
Roman has such a carefree spirit and sometimes I prefer to let him be rather than wrangle him in. I believe he has his own guardian angel, his brother and it’s comforting. Even though I tell him to always pray and talk to the angels above, the tragic reality that he was a twin would be a bit too much for his brain to wrap around. The idea of even having to explain and have a conversation one day is a bit surreal for me.
I will know when the time is right—when they are old enough to understand.
The CDC reports that in 2018 there were 123,536 twin births, 3,400 triplet births and 115 quadruplet births.
Trying to Move Forward After the Loss of a Twin
When you lose a child during your pregnancy, there is a void that truly hurts your soul. And it was even harder knowing Roman had lost a twin and a brother. I think that’s why I happily welcomed my fourth little surprise.
Brody has brought so much joy in completing our family. There will always be a level of sadness if I think about what could have been for Roman, for us, but Bobby and I are moving forward. It’s all we can do as parents, is to keep going, pushing each other through these curvy unpaved roads. Roman is now a big brother to baby Brody, a position he is thriving in. I do believe things happen for a reason and if I didn’t lose Gabriel, maybe Brody wouldn’t be here.
I know there are many others who have been through this heartache. It’s not something people talk about. I hope in the community I am creating with my blog I can relate to someone and let them know, they too, are not alone.