Monday, July 25, 2016

Mother of Twins

Just 5 days after we got that first positive pregnancy test, I called a new doctor to set up my first appointment. My current gynecologist no longer delivers babies, so I had to find someone new. I didn't know how I could ask those around me for recommendations since I hadn't told anyone else about our news other than my immediate family. We hadn't even told Howard's family yet because we were waiting for my father-in-law's birthday dinner so everyone would be together. In my search online, I decided to look at a former doctor who left my current doctor's office to start her own practice. I discovered that she closed her practice fairly recently, but she recommended a doctor that even delivered her own babies. Well, an obstetrician who delivers other doctors' babies? Sounds good to me!

The funny thing is that when I found her Facebook page, I saw that a few of my friends actually liked her page. What made it even better is that I saw a review from my colleague's wife who raved about her. She was actually the one I wanted to ask since she had 3 babies already, and there you go! Thanks to the internet, I was able to find her without even asking! Thankfully, I was able to get an appointment with them after telling them it was somewhat through a personal recommendation. 

That first appointment was scheduled for Monday, March 21. Although we were excited to be having a baby, it still didn't feel real just yet. Sure, we did tell some more family members and my closest colleagues at that point, but I didn't feel any different. There was a part of me that was kind of like, "Well, I still have to get through my daily work days and plan lessons and pretend that everything's the same." I think I just needed that confirmation from the doctor herself, as if there was any possibility that the 5 positive pregnancy tests I had sitting on the toilet tank were incorrect.

I didn't know what to expect during that first appointment. I'm the type of person who prefers to be prepared as much as possible, so before any medical procedure, I look up anything I can online just so I'm not surprised. However, since there were so many different things that could happen during a first appointment depending on doctors, I wasn't sure. I just knew that I'd probably have to get used to peeing in a cup, haha, which is something I have always hated to do. In fact, I'd prefer to get blood drawn than pee in a cup, but now that I do it at every appointment, I've gotten rather used to it, thankfully! 

With no definite expectations other than that, I was a little nervous. Howard and I sat in the waiting room for quite a bit of time. When we were called in, the nurse asked if we were there because I was pregnant, and I said yes. She replied, "Yeah, the husbands don't usually come to the pap smears!" After the routine questions were asked and my blood pressure and weight were recorded, the doctor came in to ask a few questions of her own and run through her own tests. I was then led into another room for an internal ultrasound. It's funny how the things that you have always dreaded in the past are just things you have to do and can handle when it means it's for your baby! 

The room was set up so that instead of my having to turn to look at the technician's screen, I could just look up at the one mounted on the wall in front of me as I was lying down. When the image popped up, I noticed something unusual, but at the same time, I didn't really think too much of it since it was my first time really looking at an ultrasound carefully. But the technician then said something we both were NOT expecting at all. She said, "As you can see, it's twins ..."

WHAT?! TWINS?! She said she saw it right away, but she wanted to make sure she could see a heartbeat on both babies before she said anything. Howard and I looked at each other with wide eyes. We were shocked. We have joked for years that if we ever had twins, we would name the babies Luke and Leia if it was a boy and girl. Many people have heard the story of how I promised him that those would be their names since he loves Star Wars so much (even though it was kind of a joke, I think, haha). We had also only recently discovered that twins do actually run in his family. I think it was just something that he had forgotten since his extended family lives around the world.

In that brief moment, I had a million thoughts run through my head. I thought about how it would be so much more difficult on us to handle two babies at the same time at the same age and how it would cost twice as much to feed, clothe, and diaper our little ones! 

But as quickly as those worries sped through, they came to a complete halt. The technician actually couldn't find the heartbeat for the second baby. We heard the beautiful sound of Baby A's heart, but there was nothing for Baby B. And suddenly, the fears I had just a minute ago turned into bewilderment. What? How was there no heartbeat? As the news sank in, I began to cry.

The doctor came into the room at that time, and the technician explained to her what had happened. They gave me tissues and explained that it was probably Vanishing Twin Syndrome. Because ultrasounds are done so early nowadays, it's possible to see that there are twins before a miscarriage occurs and one is absorbed by the other twin. In the past, it wouldn't have been as easily detected because by the time they could see the baby in an external ultrasound, the other twin would have disappeared already. She said that instead of having me return in a month for my next appointment, she wanted to check me out again in two weeks to make sure that everything was okay. If I had any bleeding/spotting or any other miscarriage symptoms, I was to call the office.

Howard and I spoke to her a little more and got more information about pregnancy in general. We left the office rather quietly, but when we got to the car, the tears just started flowing again. I know that medically speaking, these things happen, but I was afraid that it was something I did or didn't do that caused it to happen. I'm sure plenty of other women have had the same thoughts I had, but I just felt guilty because I was the one carrying both babies. I also felt guilt about the immediate thoughts I had in the office regarding how I was scared about having to handle two babies at once. 

I went home, and we both called our parents and then texted our siblings to let them know. It was a very confusing time emotionally. I did a lot of reading online in an attempt to have a better understanding of it. Some articles definitely made me cry many times. For example, there was one woman in an article who mentioned it felt like going to a birthday party and a funeral at the same time. We were sad about Baby B, but we were also happy about Baby A. But at the same time, we felt guilty for being happy about Baby A. My emotions would flip flop on an hourly basis. Was I even "allowed" to be sad? Some women are only pregnant with one baby and have a miscarriage. At least we still had one with us, right? There are some women who have infertility issues and can't even get pregnant and stay pregnant with one baby. I should be thankful, right? We also knew that Baby B was already in heaven having the best time. I didn't know what I should or could feel.

We didn't share this information with many people at the time or since then. Other than our immediate family, I only told two of my colleagues at work the next day because I knew I needed their prayer and support. After some time, we also told our small group, but that was much later on when it was easier to talk about it. I just couldn't handle my own emotions and then deal with what other people might say too. My mentor teacher told me that even though we still had one baby, I had every right to be sad about the other baby and that we should give ourselves time to mourn that loss. I mean, even though I was still pregnant, I did lose a baby. One person I told attempted to comfort me by saying that at least we didn't hear both heartbeats during one appointment and then not hear them the next. Sure, I agree that would've been more devastating, but this was still taking an emotional toll nonetheless. When we told our small group, our leader said that sometimes when he has to comfort others due to his pastoral role within ministry, the only thing that can be said is, "That sucks." I couldn't agree more.

During those two weeks of waiting for the next appointment, I was incredibly sick from morning sickness, but it was made worse by the worries. There was a slight chance that the second heartbeat just wasn't audible because the baby was too small. I didn't know what to think. I admit I didn't even know how to pray. The doctor had explained that having multiples increases the risks in pregnancy and that I would have to stop working by a certain week and take it easy to prevent preterm labor. I knew it would've been a strain on my body if that was the case, but I couldn't help but ask God why there had to be another baby in the first place if it wasn't going to survive. It sounds silly, but I even wondered if Baby A knew that something was wrong and missed Baby B.

At the next doctor's visit, we could physically see that the second sac was shrinking. For those of you who saw Howard's Facebook post on our 4th anniversary in May, you already saw this picture. You can see that the second baby didn't grow the way the first baby did. I also had some bleeding in the uterus. As sad as it was, I actually started feeling a little better physically thereafter. Weeks 6-9 of my pregnancy were the worst in terms of morning sickness and stress, but once we had more of a final answer about our twins, we could move on to being happy that Baby A was healthy and growing right on schedule with a heartbeat at 185 beats per minute. We could look forward to being parents!

Writing this entry definitely brought up a lot of the emotions that I thought were long gone. I guess there's no way to truly make the sadness about our other baby go away forever. Even though I will be giving birth to one baby in November, I am and always will be the mother of twins, and we both look forward to meeting our other baby in heaven!


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