I was pregnant with identical twin girls in 2019; it was our first pregnancy and we were so excited. In May, at 16 weeks however, we sadly lost both of them. We were absolutely devastated. I think we had naively presumed that when we fell pregnant, everything would all go to plan and we would have two precious babies at the end of the pregnancy.
I particularly struggled with the loss.
I was desperate to talk about them, but didn’t know how to start that conversation…
and I found that people often didn’t know how to respond when I finally did find the words.
Losing the twins reinforced how much we still so wanted a family of our own. After nine long months of trying, we finally got pregnant again in January this year (2020). There was talk of Covid-19 in the news, but life hadn’t really changed much in the UK at that point; it was still business as usual.
I was six weeks pregnant when I started bleeding a little. Due to my previous loss, I was offered a reassurance scan. At the scan I was told that the pregnancy was viable, but it was still perhaps too early to see a heartbeat. I immediately feared the worst. I had been able to see the twins’ heartbeats at six weeks last time… why not this time? The sonographer reassured me this doesn’t necessarily mean bad news, and to wait another week and check again.
It felt like a long wait with all the worry, but I told myself that at least by then I would know the outcome. During this time, changes were happening at the hospital with the maternity appointments. I was advised to attend appointments alone due to the risk of Covid-19. It made an already stressful situation so much worse at a time when I so desperately needed my husband by my side.
At the following week’s scan, I was told the same news again – no heartbeat, but some progression and to wait another week. It was then that I was also told it looked like there were two babies in there; twins again. I couldn’t believe it. By this point I felt it couldn’t possibly be a happy outcome; I had tried so hard to hold it together but finally I just cried.
The following week it was the same news again. And the week after that. The waiting and the uncertainty were torture.
Going to each scan, I felt certain I was going to be told I had lost my baby again. My husband drove me to hospital and waited in the car park so he was at least close by. And so I was alone when they finally confirmed what I had been dreading to hear; a missed miscarriage at ten weeks.
After my first loss I had been referred to a bereavement nurse. She had told me to contact her if I needed her in the future, but I decided not to contact her this time as I knew a face-to-face meeting wouldn’t be possible…I couldn’t bear to explain my feelings about my second loss over the phone.
I couldn’t even go to see my best friends or my parents; I would have given anything for a hug from them. The day before my D&C (a procedure to remove my uterine lining), I took some shopping round to my mum and dad and talked to them from the end of their drive. We were all in tears, 2 metres apart.
I turned to my other huge source of support; the Twins Trust Facebook group for bereaved parents. I’d joined the group after my first loss, and found a great comfort from the gentle understanding of those who just get it; those who have felt the very things I feel.
Here is a place where we can say how we feel without fear of judgement. We can talk about our babies, and remember them in a space where they can be celebrated for who they were, no matter how short their lives.
I shared with the group my latest loss and was touched by the messages of support. Complete strangers who reached out to offer love and to let me know I’m not alone.
After the miscarriage was confirmed, I had begged for a D&C (the procedure to remove my uterine lining). I had medical management with my previous loss and it hadn’t gone well at all. I don’t think I could have gone through that again, especially on my own without the hospital staff nearby. I spent the weekend worrying that the procedure wouldn’t take place the following week, as I knew all ‘non-essential’ surgeries were being cancelled. Fortunately, it still went ahead, and so again I went back into hospital on my own. There was no one there to keep me company while I waited, and no one to hold my hand when I came back from surgery.
Sharon, the group lead, had taken the time to message me privately to offer support when I posted in the Facebook group. Even on the day of my surgery, as I sat in the near-empty waiting room holding back my tears, I felt slightly less alone as another message from her pinged up on my phone, wishing me well. I hope she knows how grateful I am for that.
The last 12 months have been incredibly hard, and the anniversary of my first loss is now looming; the twins’ first birthday. I have the day booked off work and had planned to do something special to commemorate them. But with lockdown in place, the crematorium where they have a memorial was closed. Reading another post on the Facebook group, I asked for ideas for things I could do to mark the special day; something to make it a little easier. Sharon came to the rescue again with lovely suggestions of simple things I could do. Releasing petals into a stream, planting seeds in my garden, lighting candles for my girls, having a special birthday tea; all things I plan to do now.
Losing a baby can be a very lonely time. Losing a baby during a world pandemic is even more so, with your regular supports and friendships out of reach.
I’m very grateful that I’ve got a group of people I can still turn to, who are always there to offer their support.