Experiencing the loss of one twin before the birth of the other twin: Joy and Pain Intertwined.

I still remember the flood of emotions I felt 17 years ago leaving the first ultrasound appointment of my twins. The technician had told me that she could see two separate sacs, two heartbeats, but wasn’t saying much else. I felt a combination of joy and concern overlapping. In the next few days I heard from my doctor, who called me at home to let me know that I was expecting twins but Twin A was measuring larger than Twin B. I was 24, the mom of a three year old and now I was expecting twins. I was thrilled. Never did I think anything other than “ holy sh@! I’m having twins.” 

I knew that this wasn’t what I had expected or even ever thought about, but I was ready. My heart was full of love for whatever challenges we may face and we would find our way. In those early days it never occurred to me that I might only get to hold one of my twins, that I would only get to kiss one of their sweet little faces, that I would only rock one of them to sleep and wait anxiously for only one of them to wake up. 

I was cared for at the high risk pregnancy unit at the hospital in our city and learned early that Baby B was small and there was something irregular with his heart. None of that mattered. My babies were perfect, just the way they had been created and for exactly who they were meant to be on this earth. I remember doctors telling me the reality of my situation but I relied on my spirituality and believed that my child’s life would be exactly what was meant for him. Looking back I realize that I also lived in a state of delusion. I didn’t want to hear what they were saying. I believed that my love would be strong enough to help him live. 

I hear many bereaved mothers and parents speak about the moment when they hear the horrible words no parent wants to hear “I’m sorry, there is no heartbeat.” It’s like in that moment all rational senses are lost. I remember that moment more clearly than any other moment in my life. 

It’s like being in a dream that is so overwhelming you don’t even know how you will remember to stand, to walk, to breathe. It didn’t make sense because after those words I could feel tiny little movements inside me and that sentence was followed by “but Baby A looks great. She is healthy and growing well.” A momentary sense of relief for the life my daughter still had, growing and moving within me followed by the devastating reality that my son had died and now his tiny little body was there inside me lifeless. I was just supposed to go home. Like nothing had happened, because I still had a live pregnancy and a few months to go before their due date. 

There were no supports offered, no one to talk to, no pamphlet to read. I left the hospital walking through a room of pregnant women, numb as I drove the hour long drive alone preparing to tell my husband that our son had died. Alone with my daughter kicking away and my beautiful baby boy forever sleeping. 

Each ultrasound I would have after would always end with me asking “ are you sure you don’t see two heartbeats? Maybe he is just turning the wrong way?” I knew he was gone but I had no visual body to prove to me he was. The delusion continued throughout the end of my pregnancy. I hoped and prayed that the doctors had just made a horrible mistake and he would be born breathing with his sister. It makes sense to me now, all these years later that if I had been given a support network to connect to, if I had someone to talk to while I was experiencing the loss, I would have been prepared. Not that the loss would have been easier, but I would have understood medically what I was experiencing and how I could best support myself through this loss. 

What I know now is that my son had to die for my daughter to live. If he didn’t die, I wouldn’t have been overly anxious about everything in my pregnancy. I wouldn’t have been automatically thinking of worst case scenarios, I wouldn’t have known instinctively that something was wrong with my daughter the day I took myself to the hospital to be induced. 

I wouldn’t have known that I couldn’t bear the loss of two of my babies, so I had to go that exact moment that I felt something was not right. I say and truly believe that my son saved his sister’s life. Maybe that was the true purpose of his short life. Maybe I was meant to have a broken heart so I could feel the love and connection of the twin bond. My daughter was slowly dying inside me because of a cord accident. She was born unresponsive and blue but because I couldn’t imagine bearing the pain of losing both my twins, my son is the reason my daughter is alive today. 

As I write these words I am overcome with emotions. My gratitude is abundant for the breath and life that my daughter has. My pain is equal to my gratitude because I miss my baby boy every moment of every second I live and although time has healed many pieces of my soul, I live every moment witnessing my daughters life with joy and sorrow. Each birthday his name is boldly on their cake, each soccer game, or family adventure he lives in our hearts but we miss him deeply. Nothing hurts me more than to hear my daughter softly talk to him when she thinks no one can hear. Their love is like no other and I live in gratitude to experience that type of love. 

Forever in my heart and one of the most beautiful pieces of my soul. Mommy loves you Ezzeill. Thank you for giving me the gift of you.

Written by Anne B.

Hotline Volunteer at PILSC

Disclaimer: information and opinions being reflective of the writer and not necessarily of the Centre, and further, that information and opinions reflected do not supersede the advice of a medical/health practitioner.

Written by Anne B

I am the proud mom of 5 incredible souls, photographer and end of life doula. I am honoured to volunteer at PILSC in memory of my son Ezzeill ,who silently left this earth 16 years ago, and in loving recognition of my daughter (his living twin sister.) They inspire me to use my grief and experience to support others. Through love and connection we create space to heal.

Instagram: @risingsoulphotography

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