by Melissa Harris
A Story of Hope After a Twin Miscarriage
The following is a story of hope for anyone who has had multiple miscarriages and includes a success story after a twin miscarriage.
My first pregnancy was uneventful. My now ex-husband and I decided we wanted to start a family, and two months later I was pregnant. Forty-two weeks later (yes… this baby did not want to leave) I had my daughter. Outside of a terrible case of acid reflux, the entire pregnancy was unremarkable.
When my daughter was a year and a half old, we started talking about having another child. Figuring it would be as simple as the first time, we decided to wait a few months and try again. As luck would have it, the first month we tried – we succeeded. When I was about eight weeks pregnant, I went to my OB for my first ultrasound.
The silence when the probe was inserted wasn’t obvious at first. I knew it was taking a little longer than I remembered for the doctor to tell me to listen to the heartbeat. Instead of calling my attention to a sound, my doctor began by saying she was sorry. It took me a moment to understand what that meant.
My doctor began by saying she was sorry. It took me a moment to understand what that meant.
The reality of that first miscarriage didn’t really hit until I pulled into my parents driveway. My daughter came bounding out of their house, excited to see me. I had been planning on telling her that she was going to be a big sister. Instead, I stood there, pregnant and yet not pregnant. The fetus inside of me was dead. I had to decide if I wanted nature to take its course or have a D&C. I opted for the D&C, and while I waited for my appointment, I had all the pregnancy hormones rushing through me and nothing to show for it.
It took a while to recover from that first loss. Once I felt mentally ready, we decided to try again. This time, getting pregnant was not easy. We tried for six months with no results. My doctor decided to give us a boost with fertility meds. Those failed. I was sent to a fertility doctor. His evaluation was terrifying. It turned out that I was a walking reproductive nightmare.
- I didn’t ovulate every cycle
- My uterus is severely tilted, making it hard for the sperm to get where it needs to go
- My cervix doesn’t close all the way, making it hard to trap the sperm in the uterus so they can get to the egg
- I had a bicornuate uterus with a septum creating two distinct chambers
What came next was a series of surgeries to remove the septum. By several… I mean nine. Once the doctor was sure he had finally removed all of the septum, we started on Letrizole, a fertility drug that is supposed to help stimulate ovulation, and began the process of trying to get pregnant… the natural way and with IUI (the turkey baster method).
Each month, I would pee on the ovulation kit stick, take my pills, time when we would have sex, go to the docotor for the IUI and then wait for the next month to see if it would work. Finally, after six months of this gut wrenching routine, I finally was pregnant.
At my first ultrasound, I was terrified. I didn’t want to have my heartbroken again. My doctor knew I was scared. He was calm and reassuring. As I slid my feet into the stirrups covered in lobster oven-mitts, I told him if it was bad news to just tell me quickly. He inserted the ultrasound wand and the look on his face told me everything. He was grinning a big “you are pregnant grin”. Then, his grin changed to a laugh.
At my first ultrasound, I was terrified. I didn’t want to have my heartbroken again.
Pregnancy #3- Twins!
Turned out I was really pregnant. As in, pregnant with twins. Even though Letrizole is only supposed to stimulate one egg to drop, my body decided to be coy and drop two eggs. After everything, It seemed that my family was going to be a family of five.
Sometime between my six week and nine week ultrasound, one of the twins stopped developing. Even though I was devastated, my doctor was happy with this news, as he was not sure I would be able to carry twins to term. He said that losing one of the babies was better than losing both.
I was given the option of selective D&C – meaning he could go in and remove the fetus that had died – or I could let nature take its course, where my body will reabsorb that fetus. I opted for the second as that seemed the safest for the remaining twin.
In order to help this pregnancy, my doctor prescribed daily hormone injections. Nothing says sexy like having your partner inject hormones in your butt daily. I was also told that if there was even the slightest spotting, I was to immediately go on bed rest. The shots and the caution seemed to be working. From that nine week ultrasound until my fourteenth week, things were pretty tame.
And just as suddenly, they weren’t. I was in the middle of a meeting at work when I had a sudden urgent need to pee. I stood up and felt what can best be described as a water balloon explosion and felt blood and clots running down my leg. I did my best to get to the bathroom, leaving a blood trail behind me.
I was too terrified to look in the toilet or my pants – convinced that my pregnancy was over and Iwould see my last remaining twin not where it should have been. By the time the paramedics came, I was too hysterical to be of any help. The kind, and strong EMT, lifted me off the toilet and gently placed me on the gurney. He did a quick gathering of what he could from the toilet and rushed me off to the hospital.
I was sure it was over. I started grieving in the ambulance. How could a fetus have survived that horror scene?
When the ultrasound technician came to see me, I had totally withdrawn. I needed to be elsewhere. I couldn’t bear the thought that this pregnancy was over. This would be my third loss – the first miscarriage at eight weeks and the demise of the other twin. As the warm ultrasound goo was squirted on my belly, I inhaled. The tech pushed the wand down on my belly, turned the monitor towards me and said, “I have never seen a dead baby move and turn as much as this one is!”
Somehow, through it all, the healthy twin was still there – and still healthy. The running theory was as opposed to absorbing the body of the other twin, my body decided to expel it indramatic fashion.
I went home exhausted – mentally and physically. I called my OB’s office to see if I could move my first appointment with her up. My case was finally transferred from my infertility doctor to my OB, but I had yet to have my first appointment. Despite the harrowing events, I could get no traction at the OBs office. They said to call back if anything changed, but otherwise they would see me in five days.
I woke up the next morning contracting. I called the OB again. Once again, they were unhelpful. By the afternoon my contractions were really bad. I called again. They said if I was that worried to go to the ER. I didn’t sleep all night. The contraction continues to get worse. The moment the OB’s office opened, I called again. I begged them to squeeze me in. I told them my history, all I had been through with the fertility doctor, the events of the past forty-eight hours and nothing. They just pushed me off and told me they would see me at my appointment in a few days. Again, they said if things got worse to go to the ER.
Well, things got worse. I started to bleed and the contractions became unbearable. We rushed to the ER. It took a few hours for us to be taken in for an ultrasound and then an exam. This ultrasound was reassuring. The fetus was still there, still active, and still mine. We got to my room in the ER and I got up to pee.
That was my last mistake. As I sat on the toilet, I felt this huge rush of blood again and looked down just in time to see the fetus hanging out of my body – ashen – dead. My wailing caught the attention of my husband, who opened the door to our room screaming for a doctor. But there was nothing anyone could do. My twin pregnancy was over.
Twin Miscarriage- Emotional Recovery
The emotional toll of that loss consumed me. I was distraught and at the same time, I was more determined than ever to have one more child. I think I dug in because I had lost so much and experienced so much trauma that I decided the only way for me to recover was to have another baby.
I began seeing a therapist who dealt with pregnancy loss. She was kind and pushed me to take my time and be cautious. She worried that my heart could not take any further loss. We worked together for a few months before I gave the fertility doctor a call.
We agreed to one more round of IUI’s. If it didn’t work, my dream of a second child would be over. I knew I couldn’t endure more months of negative pregnancy tests. I was lucky, and the first IUI worked. This time, my fertility doctor and a new high risk OB set up a plan for me from the moment we knew I was pregnant. Both doctors would be on my case through the fifteenth week, when the fertility doctor would step out and the OB would take full control. I had strict bed rest protocols and a weekly progesterone shot. In addition, I went to the OB’s office weekly for a quick ultrasound and exam.
That pregnancy ended earlier than I would have wanted but I got a beautiful, healthy boy out of it who is turning 11 this September.
The things I learned along the way are to know your body. If you feel like something isn’t right, do not let anyone push you off. Fight for the care you know you need.
Melissa Harris is a single mom living in Oakland, CA with her two kids. Her memoir, One Pound, Twelve Ounces: A Preemie Mother’s Story of Loss, Hope and Triumph was just published by SheWritesPress. To learn more about Melissa an her book, visit her website http:/
I got a beautiful, healthy boy out of it who is turning 11 this September.
Q & A with Allison, Founder Miscarriage Hope Desk
How many miscarriages & how many live births?
I had three miscarriages. One at 8 weeks, the first twin at 10 weeks and the second twin at 14 weeks. I have had two live births. My first child was “evicted” at 42 weeks. My second child was born at 24 weeks.
For each live birth, please list your age, how it happened (ivf, naturally, adoption, etc)
I was 32 when my first child was born. She was conceived naturally and after 3.5 hours of pushing was born via c-section
I was 37 when my second child was born. He was conceived via IUI. Unfortunately, my cervix gave up at the 23 week mark and I was hospitalized for 6 days to get over the 24 week mark. Despite his prematurity, he was born via emergency c-section.
Looking back, what, if anything, do you wish you would have done differently?
I really wish the transfer plan from fertility doctor to OB had been clearer. I should have had an appointment the day after the fertility doctor discharged me so I could establish a relationship with the OB. Since she didn’t know me and had never seen me, I think her office was less helpful when the twin pregnancy went south.
What were you told was the cause of your miscarriages?
The theory with the first miscarriage is that the fetus implanted on the septum that was dividing my uterus into two chambers. There were not enough nutrients to sustain a fetus
For the first twin, my doctor was never convinced that the fetus was going to be strong enough to survive. He also didn’t think my uterus, even with all the surgeries to create one unified chamber, would be able to handle a twin pregnancy.
For the second twin, the going theory (thanks to hindsight) is that I had an incompetent cervix. The trauma of expelling the first twin thinned out my cervix, which triggered the contractions, which triggered the miscarriage. The doctors came to this conclusion with the premature birth of my son.
What do you truly believe was the cause of your miscarriages?
I do not disagree with the doctor’s assessments. There is a piece of me that thinks if the OB had agreed to see me, she might have noticed my cervix was thin and could have done a cervical cerclage which might have prevented the miscarriage.
What advice would you give to someone going through recurrent miscarriage?
That is a hard one. Miscarriage is so personal and so painful. I think the most important thing I would tell people is not to suffer through it alone. You would be surprised how many people around you have also suffered a miscarriage. There is something so comforting in talking to people, knowing you are not alone. I will never understand why miscarriage has been something people tend to go through quietly. Talk, open up, be supported and be loved. And have hope.