Kristin recalls losing one of her twin sons shortly after his birth.
I am Kristin, and I am here to tell my pregnancy story when I had my twin boys Connor and Clyde. They were born around 11:30 in the morning. They were quite small. They were born premature. Connor was just two pounds, eight ounces, about 15 inches long, just fit literally in the palm of my hand. Clyde was smaller. He was one pound, three ounces, about 13 inches long.
I’ve had two successful pregnancies, but the story I want to share with you today is the first pregnancy that I had which was quite traumatic. I first found out I was pregnant—I was 28 years old—and I took a pregnancy test. I just kind of had a feeling that maybe I might be feeling symptoms of pregnancy, and my husband at the time and I had just started trying to get pregnant, and sure enough, the pregnancy test showed that I was positive; I was pregnant.
I found out that I was pregnant with twins when I was about seven weeks along. My OB had ordered a sonogram just so we could see the heartbeat, and I went in there with my husband at the time, and we had the sonogram, and sure enough, there were two heartbeats. So it was pretty exciting.
I wasn’t too surprised because I have a lot of identical twins in my family, so I figured they were identical twins because that is genetic, and sure enough they were, we found out later on. We were very excited and nervous. It was our first pregnancy. We had assumed in the beginning we’d end up with one baby, but here we were pregnant with twins.
So the pregnancy was great. We were just so excited to anticipate a twin pregnancy. I thought, well, this is great, knock out two in one try, and I started doing research about multiple births and I joined a multiple mom’s club in the area where we lived and was really looking forward to it, and the pregnancy was fine until about the fourteenth week.
And one morning I woke up and I was soaked, and my sheets were soaking wet, and I couldn’t understand what happened. I thought maybe I had had an accident during my sleep and hadn’t made it up to go the bathroom, but it turned out my water had broken, and at that point when you are that early on, it typically means that you are going to have a miscarriage.
When your water breaks you are open to infection, and I called my OB right away and I didn’t know what to think, and she said I need to come to the hospital right away and meet her there, and of course that made me terrified. So my husband at the time and I went straight to the hospital, met her there. We had a sonogram taken, and she called in a specialist, a neonatologist and a couple of other specialists to come in and take a look at what was going on.
It turned out that we were having a very severe problem with the pregnancy and it is very rare; it’s a condition called amniotic banding syndrome, and it’s where some of the amniotic tissue becomes attached to the baby, and in our case it attached to one of our babies, fortunately not both of them, but it attached to one and it caused a tear in the sac and that’s why my water broke.
So basically whenever this one baby moved, he was just a mess. He was tangled up in a mess of tissue. It was terrifying. We didn’t know what this meant, but one of the first things we found out in this process of understanding what was going on with the pregnancy is that the baby, they called him baby B because we had baby A and baby B in the pregnancy, he had a very severe birth defect as a result of the amniotic banding syndrome that he was suffering.
Some of the tissue actually attached to his skull, and wherever on a baby’s body that the amniotic tissue attaches, that part of the body stops developing. So his skull did not develop completely. He basically had a big hole. He had a perfect little brain, a perfect little head, skin around his skull, but the skull itself, part of it was missing.
So they could tell from the sonogram that he would not survive outside the womb. So we were faced with so many conflicting emotions, and we didn’t really know what to think. We knew that he was obviously in distress.
As time went on and we took more and more sonograms over the next few weeks, the doctors advised us that this pregnancy probably wouldn’t make it to finality, and my OB even suggested that we might even consider an abortion and start over, which by that time my husband at the time and I had already named the babies. They already had an identity, and that was something that we just couldn’t consider.
So we decided whatever happened we were in it, and we were going to see the pregnancy through to whatever outcome. So we were committed to staying pregnant. We were committed to taking each day and each hour at a time, and again, I was at great risk for infections since my water had broken. It just kind of left me wide open to that possibility.
I was bed rest. I really didn’t move at all. Each day before he left for work my husband would leave a big cooler by the bed, filled with food and water and snacks so that at least I had something within my reach, but I really stayed flat in the bed for that time. And it ended up being a little over three months that I stayed bed rest.
During that time, whenever I got up out of bed or became vertical, more amniotic fluid would leak out of me, and it was terrifying because I felt like every time I got up to maybe go the bathroom or stand up for just a few minutes in the shower to get clean, I was so afraid I would lose the babies at any moment.
But somehow I stayed pregnant, even though the doctors couldn’t really understand how I stayed pregnant, and that each day I felt both the babies kicking, it was excruciating knowing that one was living and the other was dying at the same time.
I remember talking on the phone to a funeral home in our area and planning the funeral and ordering a casket, and then within moments, talking on the phone with a company to order a new crib, and it was such a weird, surreal time in my life. And I really didn’t know what we were going to end up with, but I held on hope that at least one of the babies would make it alive.
So I stayed pregnant till about the twenty seventh week. I started experiencing really severe symptoms from preeclampsia or also called toxemia and I was so ill. I was suffering from liver failure, and I exhibited a bunch of different symptoms related to liver failure including a very severe eye infection. My whole inside was a very toxic environment and I just became very, very ill.
My blood pressure skyrocketed; it was out of control. So about the twenty seventh week, my body really was having a tough time taking it, and I was admitted into the hospital, and they shot me up with steroids to try to help the baby’s lungs develop faster. And I stayed pregnant another week, but by the twenty eighth week, my doctor called it quits. One night I just got so ill, and she was afraid that within hours I might not survive the pregnancy.
So she came in one morning at about seven in the morning and said, “This is it. We need to take the babies out. You’ve done the best you can.” And I remember at the time I was so… I felt so weak and so sick and I remember just crying, just practically collapsing and saying, “Thank you.”
I mean, even though I had gone every day, every hour, every minute determined to stay pregnant, at that point I knew I couldn’t take it anymore. I knew that my time was limited if I kept going.
So we had an emergency C-section, and it was quite rushed. In fact I wasn’t completely numb before the surgery and that was hard, feeling the pain of being cut into, but at that point I was just, I was done. I was ready to have the babies out and to try to heal, and so the babies were taken out within minutes of each other.
Connor, who was baby A, he was pulled out immediately first and whisked off to NICU; I didn’t even see him. And then Clyde, baby B, he was pulled out next, two minutes later, and wrapped up and cleaned up and put in a blanket and laid on my chest.
And I remember that the doctor, the OB as well as one of the nurses, and my husband tried to prepare me and they told me, “You know, he is kind of messed up,” and I said, “I don’t care. I want to hold my baby.” And so they laid him on my chest, and we were prepared for a deformity. Since he had a big hole in his skull, it affected his face in the way it was structured, and he had only one eye that functioned. He had a very severe cleft palate that impacted his mouth and nose and all the way over across one cheek.
One of his arms and one of his legs had also been attached to some tissue so they didn’t fully develop as well, but I looked at that baby and he was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen in my life.
I just held him to my chest, and they didn’t move me from surgery because they were worried. They were monitoring my vitals and seeing how I would pull out, you know, if my liver would bounce back, and my kidneys had started to fail at that point, too. So they were monitoring me very closely, but I wanted to spend that time with my baby and I didn’t want to be all drugged. I wanted to be as present as I could.
So I just held him, and even though premature babies at 28 weeks really aren’t developmentally ready or able to make a lot of noise, typically they don’t make noise at that developmental stage, he was making little noises, and he was looking right at me with his eye that was beautiful and blue and looking right at me and his tiny little hand held on to my finger, and we stayed that way for about 21 hours, and it was a very gradual, sweet passing.
I felt like I knew his spirit in that short amount of time, and the nurses and the staff were amazing because they let us have that quiet time with Clyde and to just experience having him with us, and I swear in that 21 hours that baby got all the love of a lifetime. My husband and I traded. We passed him back and forth and talked to him and told him how much we loved him.
Finally in the end when he had his last heartbeat, the nurse was ready to take him and I said, “Just give me a little bit more time.” And I just held on to him until I felt like I was ready, and then the nurse took him away, and my only regret is in the blur or that moment, in that haze, we didn’t have the foresight to take a photo of him, and that’s my one regret.
And it’s interesting because I read stories about women who have lost babies at birth, either a still birth or shortly after birth, and of course in the past a lot of times women weren’t allowed to even hold their babies or see them.
I think people thought it was too harsh for them to go through that process. But I found it such a comfort and such a necessity to have that time with my baby as he died because I brought him into the world. I needed to let him go, and I felt like that was my duty as a mother to be there for him through it all, no matter how long his lifespan was.
So I was grateful to have that time. I do wish that I had a photo of him and also to show his siblings, you know, because he is still part of our family. He is still a presence among my children, especially his twin brother Connor.
So my advice to women who go through this kind of situation is to really try to be present through it and just hold on to every second and every minute that you have with your baby and to take that opportunity to hold your baby, no matter what people say. I think it’s a good thing to do.
View More Videos On Pregnancy: