A tale of two hearts.

Monday, January 16, 2012
As a warning, this may be an emotional post. It is for me anyway. It took me one year to actually start to write it, and another month and a half to actually hit publish...so here it goes.

So I finally got my mother's day present. I had a necklace picked out at the time, but at the time the one I wanted included birthstones, and since we weren't sure if Claire was going to be born in September or October, we decided to wait on ordering it, hence the delay in my mother's day present. Flash forward a few months, and I decided on a completely different necklace and ordered it myself sometime in November. I love it to pieces. It arrived sometime in December, and I originally wrote this post then. As I said earlier, it's just taken me this long to actually hit "publish".

As you can see, there is a circle with Henry's name, a circle with Claire's name and two little hearts on top. This post is about those two little hearts.

Just over 3 years ago, we were in the midst of a lot of early ultrasounds with my pregnancy with Henry. What most don't know is that in the mist of all of those ultrasounds (a total of 5 during the first 10 weeks, I believe) is that there was a second baby with a beating heart that showed up on some of those ultrasounds. Yes, you read that right. My pregnancy with Henry began as a spontaneous twin pregnancy. They didn't see baby b until the 3rd ultrasound, and by the 5th ultrasound there was no longer a beating heart. They warned us it didn't look good from the start. Baby b's gestational sac was much smaller than Henry's and it didn't seem to grow from the week to week ultrasounds we had. Sometime between 8-10 weeks, we lost that baby. It was an emotion felt that day that I can't even explain. To be relieved and happy that one baby was still there with a healthy heartbeat, and at the same time having your heart sink because the other baby was gone. Close family knew, but I never told many other people. Miscarriage is something that many women keep locked away. The pain is too difficult to relive over and over again as you tell person after person. I felt that every time I spoke the words "we lost it" it became more real and so at the time, avoided shouting it from the rooftops.

It is apparently known as "vanishing twin syndrome" and is found much more often these days as women get ultrasounds earlier and earlier. It's thought to be somewhat common and you or I may have even been a twin, we just don't know, as they didn't do ultrasounds or even have the technology to know that early back then. I have since told other people, here and there, but still, every time I say the words out loud that Henry was "suppose to be a twin", all the emotions come back. The entire pregnancy I wondered what it would have been like. A gigantic belly. Two beautiful babies.  They would have been fraternal, I believe, since they weren't in the same sac. We will never know, but I will still always wonder what it would have been like to have two Henry's running around. One of the hearts on my necklace is for Henry's twin.

Flash forward to 2010. I had one menstrual cycle between Henry and Claire. One. The doctors had no answers for me and tossed me around between my regular obgyn to a specialist and back to a midwife who specialized in infertility. They didn't know why I wasn't getting cycles, and because of that, assumed I was not ovulating. To make an incredibly long story short, after months of trying, we were going to go ahead with fertility treatments of Clomid--an oral medication in conjunction with a shot that makes you ovulate. We reached this decision in October/November of 2010, but because of the hefty price tag each month that you would try the medicine (because there was no guarantee it would even work--especially on the first try) we decided we would start the treatments at the beginning of 2011 when we could put money into a flex-spending account.

Knowing we would be potentially putting a lot of money into this, we decided to give it a try on our own, one last time. Those two pink lines showed up on December 16, 2010. I didn't believe it. The line was faint, but it was there. For some reason, I just had a feeling, and took the test. Clearly, my body was somehow working. We had finally conceived on our own again.

December was perfect. We could announce to our parents on Christmas. I rushed to Kohl's and bought Henry a big brother t-shirt. He was going to open it up in front of the grandparents. Excitement beyond belief. Henry was going to have a sibling.

The very next day, I started spotting at work. I worried, of course, but I had spotted the entire first trimester with Henry (which my then obgyn chalked up to me losing the twin), so I knew that maybe it was ok. Unfortunately, by Saturday morning, it was bleeding, and not just spotting. I knew it was over. As fast as it had began, it was over. Unfortunately for me, because I really had no idea how far along I could be (thinking as much as 6 weeks), the doctors made me go in to the emergency room that Saturday, one week before Christmas. I can easily chalk that day up to one of the worst days of my life. I could not stop crying. I simply could not. Never have I cried that hard in my life.

They did an ultrasound that "showed nothing" as the doctor had said. They took one picture and didn't even offer to give it to me at first. As we left the ultrasound room, I saw the picture still sticking out of the printer. They were just going to throw it away. My only memory of another baby we had conceived was just going to be tossed away. Thankfully, I mustered up enough language through my tears to ask for it. We then sat in our room for hours, it seemed, as I clutched the ultrasound picture that showed just a sac. No baby, no heartbeat. The doctor had said "Yes, this is a miscarriage." It cost us $500 to hear those words. When that bill came in the mail, it was the biggest punch in the gut. $500 to hear those dreaded words and for them to hand me some handouts that I never read. I couldn't even bring myself to open them. They sat tucked away in the cupboard until I found them shortly before Henry's birthday when I was cleaning.

We would have been due in September. I think I was around 5 weeks. The second heart on my necklace is for that baby.

After the emergency room visit, I put in a call to the midwife to see how we would proceed. She wanted to wait until I had another menstrual cycle before we would start the infertility treatments. Another punch to the gut. Are you kidding me lady? I've been to how many visits in the past 3 months and have repeatedly told you I DO NOT get my cycle. You are supposed to help me figure out where my cycle is and why it isn't coming. I had had one cycle since Henry's birth. One. She magically thought my body was going to "reset" itself...that was the magic answer? A miscarriage would make my periods come back? You have got to be kidding me. I was at work when I took that call just sat in my little closet office and cried. Not only had I just been through the stress of possible infertility and the trauma of miscarriage, now she wanted me to wait even longer? I wanted a sibling for Henry more than anything in the entire world, and waiting was the one word I didn't want to hear. Especially waiting for something I knew wasn't going to come.

I hid my sorrows in this Christmas post. Don't get me wrong. 2010 was a fantastic Christmas. Henry loved every minute of every celebration we had, but I was dying inside. Amidst all the wonderful gifts Henry got to open, he never got to open that big brother t-shirt.

Our trip to New Mexico last year was much needed. Our first family vacation. We got to see a new place and family that we don't get to see as often as we like. Getting away was good for me.

We returned from our trip and we weren't "preventing".  With my body, it's difficult to "try" as many other women do--charting their temperature, etc. and figuring out the exact second they will ovulate. That wasn't me. I didn't know where my cycle began or ended. I didn't want to wait for a magical period to show up. And after blowing out my 26 candles and wishing with all my might for a sibling for Henry in 2011, those two pink lines showed up exactly 12 days after I blew out those candles. You do the math. :) That magical period never got a chance to show up. Baby #2 was really coming.

I actually wrote another post about these two miscarriages back in July, but I never had the courage to post it. It wasn't until a facebook friend started posting about her own struggles of miscarriage where I finally was pushed to ask myself "Why am I hiding it?". It's relieving to finally get this all out. I remember shortly after losing the twin that there was a special on one of the morning news shows on miscarriages and the lengths many women go through to completely hide their sorrow and tuck it away. I don't know why so many of us do this, but I did it too. Pretended to most of the world that there was never a twin in Henry's pregnancy, and that there wasn't another baby conceived before Claire.

We want more kids, that is for sure. Whether that is one or two more, we haven't completely decided. Should I put my body through 4 c-sections? I don't know. Most doctors will let you do as many as 5, I hear. What matters most is if we will go through all these struggles again. Will there be more miscarriages? I would hope not, but hoping won't stop them. Will I ever get an answer to my problems? I would like to. Clearly my hormones are jacked up beyond belief, but I'm still ovulating (and whether that is every month or not, who knows?). We've somehow conceived three times on our own, despite the near non-existence of anything close to a regular period.

All this time, I've wanted something to remember the babies we never got a chance to hold. When I stumbled upon this necklace, I finally knew this was the perfect way to honor their memory. I actually custom designed this with the designer (I removed a pearl she had on there and asked her to replace it with two hearts). Hopefully I can contact the designer and simply add another disc if we have another baby some day.

So there you have it. The necklace prompted me to finally write this post, and after re-reading it and re-thinking it at least 100 times, I've finally posted it. Don't worry, for those who didn't know about one or either of these babies, don't feel like you need to say anything. It's ok. I just needed to finally get this out in writing. This blog serves as both an electronic journal and baby book for us, and for me to never once not mention the two babies we never got to meet on here was a disservice to their memory.

I don't know if my heart could handle another miscarriage, so I most certainly hope, wish, and pray that it won't ever happen again. I hug the babies I was blessed to bring into this world every chance I get. They are my little miracles and proof that the body doesn't have to be in perfect working order to make babies happen.


Amanda Kelley said...

Jenna---this couldn't have been more perfectly written. Doug and I sat down side by side to read this---brought tears to our eyes. I am so glad you hit publish. Your last sentence of the post couldn't be any more true because I kiss my miracle good night every night.

Anonymous said...

Extremely well written Jenna! I can't even imagine the heartache you must have felt. The necklace is a perfect way to honor and remember them!

Sarah Helfinstine said...

Great post, Jenna. Thanks for sharing & I love the necklace. It's perfect.

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