Could-be-babies: my missed miscarriage of twins

November 12 2018 | Guest post by Elise Roberts
Could-be-babies: my missed miscarriage of twins
Photo by Melanie Brown

On my favorite day of the year, the summer solstice, surrounded by my husband's family, I found out I was pregnant after many months of trying and being told by multiple doctors that my chance of naturally conceiving was around 5%. We were elated, told them immediately in a fury of joy and tears and hugs, called my family and our closest friends. I quit drinking, took prenatals, recommitted to yoga, got acupuncture, didn't lift heavy things, and did everything all the books told me to do.

Self care was at a peak; I wasn't just caring for me, I was caring for something that could be a baby! I tried my best to be scientific about it and called it an embryo or a fetus, depending on where I was in my pregnancy. Weeks past, and I kept taking pregnancy tests to make sure I was still, indeed, pregnant. We had an early ultrasound and it showed two embryos in the same placenta. Identical twins! I was nauseous all the time, constantly exhausted, had to go to the bathroom a million times a day (and night) and my breasts swelled. We went to our second appointment and saw them growing and heard the heartbeats. It was magical. They were becoming babies in my mind.

The days following that, I started to feel better. It felt like relief. The hearts were beating! The chance of miscarriage had just reduced even further. I could finally sleep better at night, and I did, holding on to my belly as I drifted off every night. During the day, I often found my hand grazing my stomach. I began to love the two tiny heartbeats inside of me. I was in awe of them and terrified of them. I named them.

I often found my hand grazing my stomach. I began to love the two tiny heartbeats inside of me. I was in awe of them and terrified of them. I named them.

Over the next few weeks, I no longer felt nausea, and assumed that this was the ups and downs of pregnancy. I stepped on the scale almost daily, relieved when I'd finally gained two pounds. I felt great. The fear was being overtaken with excitement. I was nearing the end of the first trimester. I started planning on how we would announce to the rest of our friends and family. My husband Bennett and I always vowed not to do any cheesy birth announcements, but I began thinking of them anyway. I told a few friends and coworkers because I just couldn't contain my excitement.

We'd been furiously looking at houses that could accommodate our growing family, and decided to try out a doctor close to our desired new neighborhood. We were excited that we had sneakily found a way to see the babies again between appointments with our regular OB. He was a kind and gentle man, excited to hear about our natural twin pregnancy after I had been told that it was next to impossible. When he turned the ultrasound toward us, I immediately knew something was wrong. Bennett was holding my hand. The doctor looked worried. Then he told us he couldn't find the heartbeats as he put his hand on top of mine, still resting on my belly. They were gone, and had stopped growing right after our last ultrasound, the heartbeat ultrasound.

I'd had a silent miscarriage and for nearly two weeks I had been carrying around dead fetuses without knowing. Just like that, I was no longer a mother, or a could be mother. I was back to just being me.

What happened next is a blur. Bennett was crying, I was hugging him and holding it together. Nurses told me next steps and handed me papers, the doctor hugged me, told me how sorry he was. Without shedding a tear, I shoved the papers into my purse and walked out the door, and then I collapsed. I'd seen this in movies but had never known a pain so strong that you literally can't walk anymore.

I've been up all night deleting my lists of baby names, deleting my secret baby registry, unfollowing the Twins groups I joined on Facebook, throwing away the books and the ultrasound photos that I'd been proudly displaying on our fridge. I've been up all night unbecoming a mother. I had a glass of wine and sushi and it wasn't as good as I needed it to be.

I've been up all night unbecoming a mother. I had a glass of wine and sushi and it wasn't as good as I needed it to be.

I have had a remarkable, lucky life punctuated by some periods of intense pain and trauma and pure unluckiness. The universe hasn't always been kind to me and because of that, I've become resilient and strong and brave. But I was ready for a break. I was ready for this amazing thing to happen to me, to happen to Bennett, to happen to our family. I was ready to have the impossible be possible, because I deserved it. I was ready to be a mom, even though being a mom scared me. I can't quite wrap my head around this, but I will. Through all of this "why me," I've had to remind myself that there is a person right next to me who has my back for the rest of our lives, and a community that loves me and wants to take care of me, and not everyone has that. I wouldn't trade anything for that, even this unspeakable pain.

Just like abortions, women don't talk about miscarriage, even though it happens to a lot of us. A LOT. I hate that. Why shouldn't I share my pain of a miscarriage of twins? Why is something so common so taboo? Why do women so often suffer in silence because of shame or guilt or embarrassment? I've had to keep reminding myself that I did nothing wrong, though blaming myself feels like the only right thing in the world. But it's no one's fault, and it is a thing that happened, and it hurts in a way that is inexplicable and it hurts in a way that should be shared.

  1. Sorry for your loss. Thank you so much for sharing.
    It is very sad that women often suffer silently when it is so important to have support. I think out of my whole life so far that grief was the most painful. It felt like this hard rock lodged in my heart. I did tell a handful of people, sharing that pain with people who I knew would understand. Losing other people in my life has hurt but it's much easier to talk about. It feels more like waves of emotion that just pass over you, it doesn't hurt if you just let it pass. I can talk about my dad who passed away with friends and strangers and just remember special moments. With a miscarriage… those moments are so few and full of expectations that were not met. And talking about it is just that much harder. I got pregnant only a few weeks after having a miscarriage… I wouldn't have my little boy now without having had that miscarriage. That's a weird feeling I have… because I'm still sad to have had that miscarriage but would not replace my son for someone else.

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    • Thank you for your comment and yes, it's a shitty, often silent sisterhood that so many of us are a part of. The expected silence around it does somehow make it even harder, at least for me. I am hopeful to get pregnant again. Sadly I'm childless and almost 36 – but keeping the dream alive (and trying to enjoy the process a little more this time around). It's so heartening to hear you were able to get pregnant after your miscarriage and give birth to a healthy child! <3

  2. Elise, this is such a beautiful article that I wish you never had to write. Thank you for your bravery in sharing your story. My heart breaks for your loss, but know that there is always hope.

    My sister suffered two miscarriages before her beautiful 2.5 year old daughter was born. She refers to her daughter as a "rainbow baby", a baby born after the loss of a miscarriage. I know she found a whole community of women online who experienced what you're going through, and made it to the other side. She found comfort reading their stories and seeing their precious rainbow baby pictures. Then with faith and a lot of hope her beautiful baby girl was conceived and is thriving today. She was 37 when she delivered. So hang in there, know that your not alone, and I pray that your rainbow baby finds his or her way to you soon.

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  3. My really good friend from high school suffered four miscarriages before having her now-5-year-old son. Her Facebook pregnancy announcement with her son said something along the lines of: "After suffering four miscarriages, I am now 11 weeks pregnant." (She actually just found out that same week.) She would like to have more children, but sadly she has since had another miscarriage this past summer. As cliche as it sounds, it is so true that you are not alone if the story of my friend is of any indication.
    I myself have been struggling to get pregnant for almost 4 years now and that's been painful enough for me. I can't even fathom the pain of having a miscarriage on top of that. The one thing that has helped me on my struggling-to-conceive journey is finding other people who have similar experiences as me and reading "success" stories about people who conceived and gave birth after trying for a long time. I hope that you find plenty of love and support during this difficult time and that you will get your rainbow baby soon.

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  4. Thank you for sharing your story. It is true that many women, men, and families don't talk about their miscarriages. They suffer through it alone, especially when they need their families' love and support the most.

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