We were saying goodbye to my mother-in-law when I found out that I was pregnant.
My husband Chris was by her side in Massachusetts taking care of her for weeks alongside his siblings. Meanwhile, Ava and I were home just trying to stay on top of life and to be there for everyone from afar. It was a heartbreaking time watching someone you love fade away. But… in all of the sadness there was something to smile about. We were pregnant with a friend for our Ava. Siblings close in age was something that my husband and I wanted for our daughter. A chaotic little family of 4 or 5 that we could love forever.
I was sick, and I just knew before I even took a test what was happening. A week before my mother-in-law passed away, I decided to tell my husband. I thought the news would make him happy, and it sure did. We chose not to tell anyone outside of my parents and his siblings right away. Although, my extreme morning sickness was a giveaway that was hard to cover up. I was sick with Ava my entire pregnancy and I kept reminding myself: being sick was a little token that there was life happening and this is just what it takes.
Days after she passed, my husband came home and we grieved together. The loss of a woman like my mother-in-law shakes everything. On one hand you’re devastated, but at the same time you tell yourself that she was finally at peace in the arms of her husband in heaven. Time passed and we tried to fall back into our daily lives together.
My appointments and blood work were all pointing toward another healthy pregnancy – something to secretly celebrate with close loved ones. I had an early ultrasound to determine my due date. The night before, my husband asked if he should be there and I immediately said “no” because he had missed so much work lately. Plus, this wasn’t our first… I knew what to expect and told him to get ready for some fun ultrasound scans during his lunch break.
I was up on the table, while Ava was singing along to Frozen on an iPad in her stroller beside me. The ultrasound tech said “oh my”, and I immediately asked if everything was okay. I was a bit panicked as I looked up at something I wasn’t prepared for. She said, “everything is wonderful… DOUBLE the wonderful.” I told her to shut up, froze, and then stared up at the screen while Ava screamed because, of course, she shut off the movie. The tech asked if I was okay. I was in shock, but okay… just complete shock! My mind raced as she finished and let me know that I was about 9 weeks along with two healthy babies who appeared to be fraternal twins.
I snapped a photo of the scan, knowing that my husband would want proof. I couldn’t get in touch with him immediately, so I texted a photo to a best friend as I walked out of the hospital – still in absolute shock. No wonder I was so, so sick. I was carrying twins!!! I would be lying if I forgot to mention that I immediately called my mom from the parking garage to cry out of fear once I let things settle in. We wanted A sibling for Ava… not two! I allowed fear to take over. How will I manage and still run a business from home?! We need a new car, we need a new house, these babies will be here by Christmas and Chris and I will officially be outnumbered by our children: Lucci party of five.
The tears kept coming – absolute excitement mixed with fear. My amazing mom calmed me down as I waited impatiently for a break in my husbands schedule so that I could tell him. He was so excited (after seeing the proof via text) and shocked! …but so excited. He said “we get three kids and you only have to be pregnant twice – thank goodness!”
Weeks went by and my appointments became more frequent as my OB prepped me for carrying multiple babies. We were still uncertain as to whether or not they were dichorionic or monochorionic twins. Regardless, we should expect to meet them before Christmas, I should take extra folic acid, up the amount of extra iron needed, get rest whenever possible while staying active, eat whatever I could keep down, and do whatever helps ease the 24/7 morning sickness while staying hydrated. Ok… I can do this.
It wasn’t easy, but I was finding ways to cope while allowing myself to get even more excited about what was happening for our family. God has a lot of confidence in us, and together, Chris and I can make anything work. I was not telling people that we didn’t need to until I hit that 13 week mark (the supposed safe-zone). I told a handful of clients because again, hiding my symptoms wasn’t happening in addition to making sure that all of my close friends knew. I also needed to prepare people for a shut-down on the business side.
I heard strong heartbeats at my next appointment as we closed out of that first trimester, just in time to celebrate the July 4th weekend. We could finally start to talk to people and share our exciting news as my belly grew and was finally starting to really show a bump. I scheduled my fetal echocardiograph scan for 24 weeks (since Ava was born with a minor heart defect) and also scheduled a 15 week ultrasound to finally determine whether the twins were dichorionic or monochorionic.
My morning sickness finally got the best of me at 14 weeks and took me straight to the ER for fluids just days before my regularly scheduled 15 week ultrasound and check up. The doctors were all very happy with both strong heartbeats and how the babies were measuring. And a perk from the unplanned trip to the hospital was that Chris got to see them kicking around on the screen and hear their heartbeats. Yes, I was feeling lousy, but our little family was heading home healthy!
My husband left for Massachusetts two days later for a week long trip to close up his mom’s estate. I needed to keep my appointments back in Pittsburgh. I stayed behind but made plans for my mom, Ava and I to road-trip there and meet him so that we could attend an intimate service for his mom by the ocean with family.
My ultrasound was at 9:00am. I packed the car the day before and was ready to drive straight from my appointments to pick up my mom then head to Massachusetts. For some reason, my mom decided to come to Pittsburgh the night before so that she could be at my appointments. I was so excited for her to see her newest little grand babies on that screen. I am convinced that God had a hand in her being there with me. Ava and I were not meant to be alone the following day…
My mom entertained Ava while I hopped up on the table. There they were!! They looked so big… I swear they grew from just four days ago!! I smiled and was so relieved to see them. Then, all of a sudden, a panicked look came across the face of the ultrasound tech. After what felt like only a minute of searching and showing different angles, she quietly said that she was having trouble finding heartbeats and that she wanted to get the doctor. This was a little concerning, and I remember saying to my mom that she shouldn’t say that and just walk out of the room. I was oblivious to what was coming. It felt like an eternity, but was probably only a few minutes before the doctor and the tech came back into the room and scanned my belly for another 30 seconds. The doctor grabbed my hand, leaned closer and said, “Unfortunately I don’t have good news for you today. You lost your babies.”
That was it. Instant and uncontrollable heartbreak followed by tears that I could not fight back. My mom grabbed and held me tightly as I lost it right there. All the while, my daughter went silent with a scared look on her face watching me unravel from a disbelief and sadness that I’ve never felt before. I told my mom to hold Ava, thinking she should not see me like this, but it was too late. The doctors left, and the three of us sat in that room together, and my mom placed Ava in my arms. I cried like I haven’t ever before and just rocked there with her, silent… because she knew something was not okay with her mama.
I called Chris, but voicemail picked up. We left to go to my OB so that he could talk to me about what was happening. I could not stop crying and remember feeling too many emotions all at once. Chris called back as we made it to the parking garage and all I got out was: “our babies are gone”. I felt disappointed in myself and guilty and could not control the sobbing that shook my entire body. My mom took the phone and told him what we needed to do. No more driving to be by his side and celebrate his mom’s life. I needed to stay in Pittsburgh and mourn this loss – both physically and emotionally. My mom stayed by my side for the week while he made his way back to Pittsburgh with a U-Haul packed with things from his mom’s place.
I continued to cry my way through appointments… discussing options. The babies were measuring farther along (approximately 17 weeks) and were identical, after all. I allowed this to anger me for a moment, because all this time I was told they were not and that they were healthy. I took comfort in all of that. I didn’t stay angry long, because sadness was all that I had room for.
I was told that they needed to be removed as soon as possible, because of my risk for infection. This split my already broken heart into pieces. The medically cold terms being thrown around to describe physically removing my babies was more than I could take. But there really wasn’t another option for me. Doctors used dilators to help prepare for a surgical procedure called a D+C – easily the most uncomfortable and painful 48 hours of my life. Chris made it home at 2:00am the night before, and was by my side the entire time, while my mom continued to be a happy distraction for Ava.
The next day, he held my hand as they rolled me away, and I remember crying my way into the operating room just staring at the large lights above before anesthesia kicked in. And then I woke up. The doctor let me know immediately that they were boys. Groggy tears fell. I was carrying identical boys and now they were really gone. The procedure “went well”, but I was left in a daze of sadness that only Ava could really pull me out of.
My husband, my family, and I have suffered more losses this year than anyone should have to… yet he remains so strong for us all. We talk about how we both know that our babies are with his parents in heaven, and that this is all part of God’s plan. To be fair, this is going to take time to understand and fully grasp everything.
I am blessed in ways that others are not. I have a beautiful, healthy, little girl and a loving husband to call my own. For that, I am wildly thankful. I am still sad though, and think that a huge part of me always will be when I think about the two little boys that we lost. I will always wonder what they would have looked like and what our lives would have been with them in our world. Right now, I’m taking comfort in knowing that they are with God and that all of the loved ones we’ve lost are currently up there babysitting until my husband and I get to hold them.
I didn’t think I wanted to share our journey until I spent sleepless nights online reading others stories. Pregnancy loss is common, less common at the stage when we lost our boys, but at any point – it’s painful. It’s painful, and I’m just hoping that maybe this will be a comfort to someone else. All the while, sharing this will act as a way for me to tell my story once and not have to relive the pain over and over as people in our lives continue to find out about our loss.
My husband and I are hopeful that we will still be able to give Ava a sibling one day and are leaving it to God.
Say a little prayer for our boys and for all of the families out there who have babies in heaven.