‘Prepare to say goodbye to at least 1 of your children.’ It’s inconceivable.’: Twin mom feels both ‘joy’ and ‘pain’ after 1 twin dies and the other survives

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“After problems with fertility, we were thrilled to be pregnant with twins who we planned to name Betsy and Molly. At 12 weeks Betsy’s water broke (something called pprom – ‘preterm premature rupture of membranes’) . The doctors came in and told me Betsy was nonviable. Those words broke my heart every time I heard them. We were told to prepare to lose them both any day in the weeks to follow. After all of our hard work in getting to this moment and we might end up with no children? It was crushing. But Betsy was a fighter, and she stayed alive. I was on bedrest for 12 weeks while holding on to the smallest amount of hope. I wanted them both so badly.

I followed a regime that the Pprom Foundation shared, trying everything to keep her with me. We met with our OB weekly who reminded us each time that we could lose them both before our next appointment. We needed to be prepared. I anticipated and also dreaded each visit. Every minute of the day was consumed with ‘what was going to happen?’.  But Betsy never let go. She was stronger than they thought!

We made it to viability (aka. the earliest they would intervene) and stayed at the hospital for another week before things started changing. Labor started and the doctor said the twins are both much too little for this world. Did that mean they both wouldn’t make it? I couldn’t handle that. Neither of us could. We met with multiple teams of specialists who seemed to say we needed to prepare to say goodbye to our children. How do you say goodbye to your babies? It’s inconceivable. In the operating room I tried my best to get ready for what we were told would happen. I tried to mentally prepare for them to hand at least Betsy right back to me to say our goodbyes. Surgery was fast and felt rushed. I wanted it to take longer to postpone what I thought was the inevitable.

We were shown their teeny bodies for the briefest moment before they were passed through a window from the OR to the NICU and my husband followed.  He came back with pictures to show me of our baby girls. I couldn’t fathom at first why he seemed so happy. He was totally shocked, but smiling. They were 1lb 8oz and 1lb 10oz and 12 inches long. They were on every life saving machine possible, but he said she was alive. I knew better, but in that moment, I thought my dreams came true and that Betsy would make it. Betsy stayed alive for almost 14 weeks after pprom and 15 hours in this world. She was able to hold on just long enough for Molly to have a chance, and for us to have time to show her all the love and thanks that we could. It was awful, and by far the hardest moment of my life. But it was the only time we had with her. We were able to hold her and see her sweet face, so it was beautiful. It’s amazing you can feel beauty and pain in the same moment.

Courtesy of Meredith Davis
Courtesy of Meredith Davis

As hard as it was we had to focus on our other daughter and the fight ahead of her. Molly’s NICU stay was a rollercoaster of emotions. I think only the families of micropreemies can ever understand fully. I’m a nurse myself, but nothing could have prepared me for this. Our nurses, family and friends helped us get through it. We kept pictures of Betsy up in Molly’s NICU room in hopes she would continue to share her strength. I was there everyday, on a total rollercoaster of emotions. There were so many ups and downs. I was trying to be tough for Molly, and reminding her how strong she already was. And then the day happened that I dreamed of…Molly came home after 81 days, almost 3 months, at 5lbs 3oz. She’ll always be ‘medically complex’ (like any family of a 25 weeker knows). But we are so proud of her and so thankful for Betsy for being strong to give Molly this chance. We believe Betsy had something to do with her success.

Courtesy of Meredith Davis

Losing your baby and raising a twinless twin has a unique set of challenges. We’ve heard painful comments like ‘everything happens for a reason’ and ‘at least you have one.’ Neither of these statements are helpful, in fact they are like poking the wound. I think the gravity of what happened to us is too hard for most people to imagine and that I understand. We want Molly to love her sister, and we want to honor Betsy’s memory every step of the way.

Courtesy of Meredith Davis

It’s strange to have two halves to every feeling. We have so much happiness but at the same time, grief. Every milestone Molly hits is a reminder that Betsy isn’t here with us. We picture what Betsy might have been like. I worry that Molly is going to live in the shadows of this grief. We don’t want her to feel like she’s not enough. I heard a quote that a surviving twin is ‘part of a broken set’. Our family will not allow that. While we miss Betsy and will always wonder what should have been, we plan to talk about her and include her memory always. Everyday we know and will remind Molly that both she and Betsy are unique and strong in their own ways, and that Molly is enough. She is more than enough.”

Courtesy of Meredith Davis
Courtesy of Meredith Davis
Courtesy of Meredith Davis

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Meredith Davis . You can follow her journey on her Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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‘Let’s check on those babies just for fun!’ When he got the twins on the monitor, he was dead silent. My stomach dropped. Then my phone started to vibrate.’

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