After four rounds of IVF, my husband and I were overjoyed to finally fall pregnant - with twins! We were eagerly counting down the days until the morphology scan, I’d been feeling anxious and was looking forward to reassurance that everything was ok. The examination began, and our babies looked perfect. We were thrilled to discover we were expecting a boy and a girl. When the sonographer commented she couldn’t see my cervix. I naively asked if this was a problem (honestly I had no idea what this meant). I was told not to worry, as our daughter was sitting low, blocking the view. Afterwards, a Doctor arrived and asked if she could scan me, I knew then something wasn’t right.
The next few hours passed quickly. I was diagnosed with an Incompetent Cervix (seriously who comes up with these names?!), and was rushed to hospital where I was admitted and taken straight to the antenatal ward. My Obstetrician came to see us, and it wasn’t until she began discussing the viability of our babies and when/if intervention would occur that the reality of our situation sank in.
We decided I would be scanned again in a few days, and I would stay in hospital on strict bed rest and medication. However just two days later I woke with a dull ache stretching across my belly. Initially I was given panadol for relief, however it soon became clear I was having contractions. Laying on the bed waiting to be examined the contractions quickly intensified and I couldn’t lay still. My Doctor struggled to confirm what I already suspected, I was in labour and 3cm dilated. At 20 weeks and 4 days pregnant, I asked the question I already knew the answer to “Am I losing our babies?”.
The next few hours are a blur. Spaced out on pethadine, I remember being taken to the birth suites while my contractions gained strength and frequency. I can remember watching the seconds tick by, counting down to the next contraction and also hoping they would miraculously disappear. Our daughter arrived quickly. She was wrapped up and passed to me, where I cuddled her for the short time she was with us. My husband was by my side the whole time and I remember feeling selfish, that he didn’t hold her whilst she was alive. Not long later our baby boy arrived sleeping.
Back in my room, I watched my husband making calls to our family, whispering words we never thought we’d say.
Our babies sharing a cot, were next to my bed. They were dressed in tiny clothes, our daughter in pink and our son in blue. They each had a beautiful quilt, and knitted teddy nestled beside them. Initially I was too scared to hold them and I just stared at their tiny bodies as the tears fell. Eventually I picked them up, and held them close to my chest, I was overwhelmed with love for my babies. For the next 24 hours my husband and I tried to absorb their every detail, and we took hundreds of photos in the process. We held them, undressed and washed their tiny bodies. I become obsessed with keeping them warm, and continuously redressed and wrapped them together in soft blankets. It was also important to us that they stay together, I didn’t want them to be scared and alone. The following day I was discharged, but I couldn’t leave. With each cuddle and kiss I told myself this will be the last one, I would then leave, but I couldn’t. Eventually we left the hospital, with empty arms.
In the days that followed, I became consumed searching for information about why this had happened and what could be done to prevent it.
I came across SANDS early in my search and contacted the Brisbane office. I wasn’t sure what to expect, or what I wanted in return when I sent that first email. I just knew I needed to reach out to someone, anyone, who may have some kind of understanding of what we were going through. I received a reply quickly, and was comforted by their words, by the acknowledgement from an ‘outsider’ that our babies existed and were special. While we didn’t utilise the support services, we were comforted in the knowledge they were available if we needed them.
It’s now been three years and our grief hasn’t gone away. Instead it has changed and we have learnt how to cope so we can continue to live our lives. I think we will always hold onto ‘What If’ and we find this especially hard on their birthday and holidays.
Their memories are never far from our thoughts and they hold a special place in our hearts so they are always with us.
More about Lauren
Lauren lives in sunny Queensland with her two little boys, husband and dog. She is also a Mum to twins who were born premature and sadly passed away in 2011. She loves baking, books, coffee and reading the occasional trashy gossip mag. You can find her over at her blog Create Bake Make.