How Many Children Do You Have? | Baby Loss Awareness Week 9-15 October 2017
This will probably be the most personal post that I will ever share with you, but I am sharing it for good reason, to break the taboo and raise awareness in support of Baby Loss Awareness Week.
I never know how to respond when I am asked how many children I have, do I tell the truth and risk the awkwardness or do I lie so to avoid making the other person feel uneasy?
The answer is three, I have three beautiful girls but you will only see one.
I originally shared our story on selfishmother.com back last year, I think part of it was cathartic for me but I also wanted people to know that our babies did exist:
We joked with the sonographer as I lay on the examining bed, ‘make sure it’s only the one!’, as I rolled up my top and the cold jelly was applied to my tummy. Straight away I knew that this didn’t look like our little lady’s scan had, I was almost certain that there were two little people wriggling around in my tummy.
The sonographer put down the scanner and took my hand, ‘it is twins but I’m afraid I don’t like what I can see’. In that split second our whole world came crashing down around us, I looked over to my husband, his eyes also filled with tears, tears that just kept coming and coming.
I lay there in complete silence apart from the sobs that managed to escape my mouth, my husband tightly holding my hand as they kept looking, talking in hushed tones with big words that didn’t make any sense.
None of this made any sense. I’d been suffering from the most horrendous pregnancy sickness, unable to keep any food or fluids down, constantly hugging the toilet as my husband and daughter rubbed my back. Spending days in bed with terrifying vertigo, having to crawl to the toilet on my hands and knees as I physically couldn’t stand. All the while being told by friends and family that although it was horrible, it was all good signs that the pregnancy was progressing.
We stared at the screen, watching these two little people wriggling about, their hearts beating away like little drums. But I think even we could see that something wasn’t right, it wasn’t like last time.
We left the hospital feeling numb. We should have been feeling euphoric, ready to burst with our exciting news, with a grainy black and white scan image to share with family and friends. Instead I was clutching a leaflet about a medical termination for fetal abnormalities.
The next 48 hours felt like an absolute eternity, waiting on a phone call from Bristol’s Fetal Medicine Unit to arrange seeing the specialist for further tests. Our minds whirring with ‘what if’s’ and ‘maybe they have got it horribly wrong’. Not knowing was excruciating, not knowing meant that endless scenarios were racing through our heads.
72 hours after our first scan, I’m lying on the examining bed in the Fetal Medicine Unit, rolling up my top so that the cold jelly could be applied to my tummy once again. There they were, our two little babies, wriggling around side by side. Our babies, so very much wanted, so very much loved.
After a number of scans and a second specialists opinion, our worst fears were confirmed. The words on the scan report screaming out at us, ‘on scan today sadly there are major and lethal fetal abnormalities’. It felt like I’d been punched and the wind knocked right out of me.
We had no choice, our babies were so, so poorly and would be lucky to even make it full term.
We asked if we could have a scan picture, desperate to have something to hold onto their memory. Our babies, who did exist, if only for a short time. They would never know the impact they had already had on our lives.
Exactly a week after the first scan we were back in our local hospital for me to be induced.
I was absolutely terrified, how was I going to do this? But I knew that I had to and my husband would keep me strong, holding my hand throughout, just as he had when I gave birth to our little lady just two and a half years ago.
Shortly after 14:30 on Monday 18 April 2016, at just short of 14 weeks, I gave birth to our identical twins, who entered the world together.
It was truly the hardest thing that I have ever had to do.
Due to complications I ended up having to go down to theatre late that evening and so an overnight stay was needed. We both desperately wanted to get back to the safety and comfort of our own home and squeeze our little lady so tight.
We left the hospital the following morning, with empty arms, our hearts broken.
How do you explain this to a two and a half year old? The little lady who was so excited about being a big sister, who had given up her cot for a big girl bed so that the baby had somewhere to sleep.
We explained to her that there were two babies who were very poorly, meaning that they had to go up to the stars to sleep. She seemed to understand that they were no longer safely in mummy’s tummy.
Five weeks later, the day after their funeral, we found out that our little identical twins were girls.
Of all the stars in the sky there are two which shine the brightest.
Our babies, so very much wanted, so very much loved, who did exist, if only for a very short time. But in that short time, changed our lives forever.
I carried you for every second of your life and I will love you for every second of mine.
I cannot even begin to describe how alone my husband and I felt at the time, it was heartbreakingly devastating and I struggled to find stories/information of people who had been through similar.
This was also part of my reasoning for sharing our story, if it comforted just one other person going through similar, then some good will have come from what was a truly shitty situation.
Baby Loss Awareness Week brings a lot of different emotions with it, which are only heighten by the fact that next week marks the twins due date and we would have been gearing up to celebrate their first birthdays.
Instead, next Wednesday, exactly 18 months to the day that we said goodbye to the twins, we will head off out somewhere for the day as a family to simply reflect and spend time together.
I don't think you ever move on, nor do I ever want to if I'm honest. Instead we move forward, it's hard, it's still really hard at times, a lot of the time actually! But this is us, our little family, of which we are extremely grateful for.
As Baby Loss Awareness Week comes to end on Sunday 15 October, we will be taking part in the global 'Wave of Light' at 7pm to remember all the babies gone to soon, but who lit up our lives.
You can find out more about Baby Loss Awareness Week at www.babyloss-awareness.org