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Madeline Grace and Molly Rose

Madeline and Molly, twins discordant for anencephaly

 

We already had 3 girls, but we wanted one more baby. Emily Veronica and Lindy Ann were 8 years old, and Jordan McKenzie was 5. We had been trying for 3 ½ years but with no luck. I had had fertility issues in the past (medicine helped us have twins) but Jordan came without any help, so the fact that I was facing fertility issues again was heartbreaking. Finally, in May of 2010, I became pregnant. We were living in England at the time, since my husband was in the military, and we were delighted that we would have at least one child born in the UK. With Jordan, I had developed a hematoma that bled early in my pregnancy, so when I developed one with my latest pregnancy, I tried to stay positive. I went in for my first ultrasound, and the Doctor asked “Do you like children?” My first response was “How many are in there?” “Two!” He said.

Twins. Again.

Wow.

So, I spent the next few weeks on bed rest, recovering from the hematoma, and the 2nd one that occurred a week later. I was trying to wrap my head around the idea of having twins a second time. At first I was freaked out. I had spent a month in the hospital due to premature labor, and my first set of twins were born 8 weeks early, spending 3 weeks in the hospital. I was not willing to do that again! Then I thought: “How can I have 5 children? I’ll never sleep!” It was all the silly things that run through a pregnant mother’s head. Eventually, I became excited at the idea of two snuggly babies. I had 2 more ultrasounds, all before week 15, and the heartbeats were strong and the babies were moving around: My hematoma’s had cleared up.

Since I was carrying twins and my husband was due to PCS from England, AND get out of the military all around the due date, we decided it would be best if I went back to the states before my husband, just in case the twins decided to come early or if I had to be put on bed rest in the hospital again. In August of 2010, the children and me packed up and went to stay with family in Colorado. My husband drove us to the airport all the way in London. As we were saying our goodbyes, I said to my husband “This isn’t right. Something is not right about this.” I cried.

Over the next 3 weeks, I searched to find an OB doctor that specialized in high-risk births. I found an awesome team at Anschutz medical center at the University of Colorado University hospital in Aurora, Colorado. I’ll never forget them and they will always be in my heart. I went to my first appointment at 18 weeks pregnant and met with a Nurse Practitioner, Leslie Harden. She was so friendly and warm; I knew I could trust her. She did a quick ultrasound to find heartbeats, and then she sent me over to radiology to check my cervix, as I had had premature labor with my first twins. On my way to my appointment that day, I was extremely nervous…so much so that I had contractions all the way to the appointment. It was unusual for me to feel so nervous over a simple OB appointment.

I made my way to radiology, fearing the whole way. “What is wrong with me? Everything is fine, you saw the heartbeats,” I said to myself. The radiologist proceeded to do a vaginal ultrasound, just to check my cervix. Usually you get to watch it on a television screen that is mounted on the wall. Today that one was mysteriously not working. “It worked with the last patient,” the radiologist said. She started with the ultrasound, taking measurements. Then she got real quiet. She excused herself and said she needed to go ask the Dr. a question. When she came back in, she announced that she was going to do a full ultrasound.

I was excited! Wow, finding out at 18 weeks the gender of my babies! The monitor was still not working, so I couldn’t see what was going on. The radiologist turned her own screen away so I couldn’t see. She then told me that Baby A was a girl. Hooray! Another girl! Then she told me that Baby B was also a girl. 5 girls! My husband would be surrounded by pink. I was so sad he couldn’t be there that day, because he was still in England. Then the radiologist said there was something abnormal and that I would have to talk to the Doctor. She wouldn’t tell me what it was, just kept saying I would have to talk to the Doctor. She left the room. I laid there, in the dark repeating, “Anything but the head, anything but the head.” I prayed. I was scared. I called my sister in law whom I was staying with. She asked if I wanted her to come and I said no.

The Doctor came and got me and took me to another room where the monitor was working. She had an intern with her and they were attempting cheerfulness and making conversation. I wasn’t buying it. I stopped them and asked, “What is wrong with my baby?” “You’re right, I’m here because we found an anomaly.” They laid me down and turned on the monitor. She moved the wand over Baby B’s head. “Do you see the nice round head? Now let me show you Baby A.” She moved the wand over to Baby A. “No nice round head.”

My body went cold.
Special needs. Okay. I could handle it.

Then she told me my baby had anencephaly and would die. I didn’t know what anencephaly was…had NEVER heard of it before. I laid there, again in the dark, and sobbed alone…completely and utterly alone. My sister in law came to collect me, as I could not drive in my state of mind. I was so heartbroken and so guilty. I cursed myself for “wanting just one more baby,” for ever freaking out about having twins again. It was looking as though my wish was coming true, and I hated myself for it.

The worst part was not laying there alone in the dark crying over my poor baby. It was telling my husband via Skype that his baby was going to die. There he was in front of me, looking at me, and I couldn’t even hug him. In fact, I couldn’t even tell him, I had to send him the link to anencephalie-info.org. At first he didn’t understand that it was fatal, he also thought “special needs, okay, no problem.” Then he kept reading, and he got really quiet. I couldn’t control myself, I was so upset. We decided not to tell the children right away. Two weeks later, we finally told them, with my husband on Skype, and they were also heartbroken. They had been so excited for two babies…and now I was crushing that dream. Of course I was given the option to terminate, but to me, that was never an option. Nature would kill my baby in due time…I wasn’t willing to contribute to her death. The next 17 weeks were torturous. Sometimes I wouldn’t even tell people I was having twins, because it was so heartbreaking to talk about. My husband came and joined us right before Christmas, and we spent the next 7 weeks comforting each other.

Madeline and Molly, twins discordant for anencephaly

At 35 weeks, I went into labor. I was happy, and terrified. I wanted it to be over, because I wanted to bring Molly home, but I didn’t want it to be over, because I didn’t want to let go of Madeline. She was the most active one inside me…she had such a spunky personality. It was her way of saying “I’m here still, don’t give up on me.”

Madeline was born first, via C-section. There was no noise, no crying, except from her mama. The doctors pulled her out and said hello to her. Everybody knew what to expect, so there was only love in the room. They wiped her off; put on the hat I had made for her, and gave her to my husband, as I was still lying on the table. She was alive! Her eyes were unseeing, her ears, which were folded over on themselves from her misshapen skull, were unhearing. Her eyes were bugged out, her head was small… and she was absolutely beautiful! I kept saying, “I’m sorry baby, I’m sorry.” The doctors, who were still pulling Molly out, said “Don’t apologize mom, it’s not your fault.” I touched her hands: she didn’t grasp my finger. I touched her lips: she didn’t try to suck. I said to my husband: “She’s not breathing.” Her heart was beating, but she wasn’t breathing. She opened and closed her eyes once, but didn’t move at all. Her nurse took her to check her heartbeat, which was getting slower and slower. By this time, Molly had been born to the world, kicking, crying and making herself known. I had been worried that since Molly was going to be born at 35 weeks that she would have breathing issues, as my first twins did. She made it very clear that she did not! They wrapped her up in the blanket and handed her to us, and we took pictures of them together. They were so beautiful! Madeline Grace was 3lbs 5oz 14 inches long, and Molly Rose was 5lbs 11 ounces and 18 inches long. The nurses took both the babies again, to check them. Molly had quieted down and was snuggled into her blanket. Then she started to cry. The nurse at that moment checked Madeline’s heartbeat. She was gone, after only 41 minutes. The best 41 minutes of my life. My life…Madeline was part of my life and now she was gone.

Everything after that was so fast. Our photographer came into the recover room and took pictures of our sweet Madeline. We dressed her and invited family in. Everybody held her, even my girls. Since we are LDS, my husband and brother in law and friend gave her a name and a blessing. We kept her with us all night, and the next afternoon the funeral home came and got her. I would NOT allow anybody to put my baby in the morgue. People were so good to us. My sister in law made her a dress and bonnet; my husband’s grandmother knitted her some booties. I crocheted her a beautiful blanket. It was wintertime, and I knew the ground would be cold, so I wanted her to have a blanket. My daughter, Lindy, made her a stuffed teddy bear. Some family friends donated a casket that they had made, and put a beautiful “M” in wood on the top of the lid. The inside was trimmed with white frilly and pink piping. The funeral home donated their services. People wrote her letters and put them in her casket. Flowers upon flowers. Beautiful pictures donated by our photographer, a family friend. We had a lovely service, and the funeral home put her in a limo and took her to the cemetery. Then I had to leave my baby at the cemetery. It was all so heartbreaking.

Life does indeed go on…and Molly, our miracle, has been a healer baby, but nothing will ever replace Madeline. Life is precious, and after Madeline I realize that the problems of this world are very trivial. People have said, “Well at least you got one baby out of it,” but that is just ignorance. Yes, I had one twin survive, and we love her to pieces, and we are so happy with her 3 older sisters, but my baby still died. I think of her every moment of every day and look forward to the day when I will see her again, and she will be as perfect as she was here on Earth. Mama loves you forever.

 

Last updated October 20, 2011