May 26, 2008

The One Who Got Away

I am finally ready to tell the "rest of the story"...

I needed Friday to be only about celebration, only about joy - I needed to only talk about our Poblano with its beautiful flickering heartbeat and its perfect, right on track, development. I needed one whole day only to talk about how wonderful it was to finally have a baby, our baby, growing inside of me. I needed one day to be about that and that alone.

But there was something else that we saw during our ultrasound on Friday. There was another amniotic sac, one with a yolk sac inside and the tiniest dot of what had been our Poblano's twin, but had stopped growing at some point. We asked the nurse several times if she was sure - if she was really sure there was "nothing" there. And she showed us several times and assured us that she could tell us with certainty that one of the sacs was "empty".

I was not prepared for this. Neither of us were. We thought it would be simple. Either there would be one little pepper or two, or our worst fear - none. But we were totally unprepared to see one thriving and growing, and the other, well - not.

We felt so torn. When left alone in the room we both kept repeating that we didn't know what to feel. We were so happy, thrilled really - to see our little Poblano with its strong little heart just pumping away. But we felt a very real sense of loss and sadness for the one who wasn't.

I have gone through all sorts of emotions about this. I have felt incredibly guilty and broken, wondering if I did something to cause this - wondering why I couldn't support both babies. Was it the day I worked a little too hard in the garden? Or the day I lifted something I shouldn't have?

I have talked to friends and family who have assured me that this happens so often in nature, that it is not my fault. In fact, it may have even happened to someone in my own family. I read statistics online showing that this probably happens in more pregnancies than we realize - maybe as often as 1 in 12 (it is missed because most women aren't even given ultrasounds this early and by the time they are given an ultrasound, the "twin" has "vanished").

I am trying to wrap my mind around a mystery that I cannot explain. I want to find reason and meaning where none is certain.

I am perplexed. I am torn. We have one incredible little pepper growing away - and that in itself is a miracle worthy of celebrating. And I am celebrating. I know. I know how lucky and blessed I am. I know.

But I also cannot stop thinking about "the one who got away". The one who didn't make it. It is a loss, and I am grieving it.

By the next ultrasound, there may be nothing there, nothing to show for the twin that our Poblano will never meet. When this happens it is called a "vanishing twin". It makes it sound so magical and mysterious - "vanishing".

But, I wonder if the image of and the longing for this one will ever really vanish for me. I saw a movie the other night and at the end one of the characters is surprised by having twins. As I saw her holding her two babies, a voice in my head asked, "Why couldn't I have two healthy twins? Why wasn't my body able to support them both?" I was actually shocked by this feeling. It makes me wonder whether I will ever forget that my child started as two. Whether I will always feel this sense of someone who is missing. Or, like so many other losses we experience in life - will the sharp feeling in my chest fade over time? Will it eventually be something we talk about casually in our family? Will the overwhelming joy and love I feel for the one who is growing and thriving overshadow this loss and ultimately wash it away?

Once again I find myself holding a great joy and anticipation, and grieving for what was lost - all at once. This is a strange place to be, an unexpected place to be. But it is a loss I want to grieve. Even as I know that I must let it go......

This is one picture where you can see them both. Next ultrasound, this may all just seem like a dream or a distant memory. There may be nothing left to see of our "Serrano".

Dear Serrano,

Thank you for fighting so hard to implant and grow. Thank you for the short time you were with us. I am so sad that I will never meet you here, that I will never hold you. I do not understand why you had to leave us, and I wish I had been able to stop it somehow. But whatever this means, wherever you are - know that you were and are dearly loved. My love goes with you wherever you have gone.



Denise said...

Oh, Duffy, I'm so sorry. Yes, you have a healthy baby to celebrate, but that doesn't erase the loss of the other. We have friends who conceived twins through an IUI and one vanished. They grieved for awhile, but I can tell you that they now have a healthy 2 year old boy and they are at peace. I wish this same peace for you and Mr. Spicy.

HeidiM said...

I can understand your mixed emotions. Perhaps God gives us losses so we can appreciate gifts that much more.

Phoebe said...

I'm sorry you have to be put in a position of grieving the one who is lost. A great reference for this is the book, "Empty Cradle, Broken Heart" by Deborah Davis. It discusses multiples and how you feel when you lose one and the other survives. Here's one excerpt, "...some people may expect or encourage you to relish the survivor(s) without mourning for the child or children who didn't make it. Others may even express relief that some, or all, of multiple babies died early in pregnancy because they feared for you having to carry so many...This lack of sensitivity and support can leave you feeling isolated, misunderstood and angry."

Another thought that occurs to me is that at 6 weeks, it seems a bit early to know if the other one is just behind or didn't make it. In any case, it's a difficult place to be. So sorry.

Anonymous said...

I dont have any experience with it just wanted to say I am sorry you are going through this. Best wishes!!

Antigone said...

I'm so sorry. It must be very difficult to mourn and celebrate in the same instance.

Meg said...

Thinking about you lady.

Jen said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. And there isn't ever a good answer to why it happened. Just know I'm thinking of you. Seeing an empty sac is so very, very hard. Many hugs.

Miss Tori said...


My heart goes out to you and Mr. Spicy.


poppy.f.seed said...

I am so sorry you've had to go through this, and so glad you are writing about it. There is no way to deal with loss but *through* it.

Miriam said...

(((hugs))) Duffy! I know that heart-wrenching mix of delight and sadness so well. I originally had 4. I didn't know about it until the third ultrasound when the RE said, "And there is the fourth sac being reabsorbed."

s.e. said...

Oh honey. Although I cannot say I understand, I do know that you are hurting and confused. Let yourself feel whatever you do. This is not fair. Many times I think things would be easier if we were not told all the details. I will mourn with you what could have been and focus on the joy of the pepper growing inside of you.

nancy said...

awww Duffy, I'm so sorry about the loss of the one. ~hugs~