My twins were real babies. I loved them from the start. I experienced all of the pains and joys of pregnancy and all of the dreams of what they would look like and how they would grow up together. I gave birth to them. I named them, Ella James and Kenneth Jae, and I held them as they passed away. I received birth certificates and I received death certificates. They were sent to a funeral home instead of our home. They were real and they were perfect.
I had always wanted to be a mother, but since things rarely go as planned, I was lucky to find an amazing fertility doctor. IVF can be brutal, with each attempt getting harder and harder as you lose hope. We were devastated when the first two tries ended in miscarriage, so imagine our joy when, after the third try, we saw two heartbeats on the ultrasound screen. All of our hard work had paid off and we were going to have twins – our rainbows after the storm of miscarriage.
Photograph courtesy of the Miner family
It was not an easy pregnancy. I was hospitalized once due to swelling and another time after passing out and hitting my head. None of that mattered though because I was so happy! We were hesitant to tell anyone after our previous losses, so we waited several months to make sure things were going okay. With Christmas coming up, I decided to make the announcement in our Christmas cards that I was 20 weeks pregnant with twins.
On Christmas Eve, my husband and I went to the anatomy scan. The babies looked healthy and we had the ultrasound tech write down the genders in sealed envelopes for us. The doctor came in to check something and then said we had to go straight to the hospital. It was there that I heard someone say a patient was in labor and realized that was me…
I spent the week of Christmas in the hospital, full of anxiety and hope. On Christmas morning, we each opened an envelope to find out we were having a girl and a boy. We were ecstatic! A few days later, on the evening of December 28, 2014, my body finally gave out. My doctor wanted to induce me to make things easier, but I refused because I was in denial. Hours later, I gave birth to the most beautiful baby girl I have ever seen – Ella James. Even during the most traumatic time of my life, the joy I felt holding my firstborn was indescribable. I thought maybe I could force my body to stop labor so that I could keep one baby safe inside, but it was too late. Kenneth Jae was born, perfect and beautiful, in the early morning of December 29, 2014. The guilt I felt that they were perfectly healthy babies and my body failed them will never fully go away.
My nurse called someone to come take pictures for us. I would have never thought to take pictures, especially in my state of shock. I was not sure if I could even handle seeing and holding the babies, but my nurse said they needed me. She was right, but I think I needed them just as much. I have no idea if my photographer was with NILMDTS. I think she was a friend of the nurse, or a nurse herself. I wish I knew who she was so I could thank her. She gave me my most treasured gift.
After our twins passed away, people avoided us. They did not know what to say, but it still hurt. It is hard enough to go through something like this, but to do it alone is pretty awful. Thank goodness I have the most amazing husband. I would not have made it through this without him. In the years since our loss, NILMDTS has given me an avenue to ask for support and share my feelings with friends and family.
I find myself continuously feeling like I have to explain to people that my children were real and that I gave birth to them. They did not disappear. They died. Just because you did not meet them, does not mean they were not real. Just because you will not acknowledge them, does not mean they are not forever in my heart. I walk and I volunteer because I want other families to know they are not alone and their babies were real.
Photograph courtesy of the Miner family