The Twins – Part III

Baby B
Whitney Quinn
3/25/2011 1:19 AM
2.96 ounces (84 grams) 16.5 cm long

Here’s the thing about twin deliveries.  You pretty much know what to expect with Baby A, but Baby B typically has a mind of its own.  There’s a reason twins are always delivered in the OR, even vaginal deliveries. Even if both babies are head down, there’s a strong likelihood of Baby B flipping around after Baby A is born requiring an immediate C-Section.  We never made it to that point, obviously, but I just wanted you to have that information.

After I delivered Megyn, I was stuck somewhere between euphoria and immense sadness.  I felt like I had all the time in the world to marvel at this little being, yet I had never been given the opportunity to know her.  I was slightly on edge at how quickly she was delivered and so every little “feeling” I had going on down below had me ringing the bell for the nurse.  No one expected to wait as long as we did for Whitney to be born, but there really is no textbook process to follow either.  You see, during live births, the baby’s own movements help guide her down the birth canal.  Since my babies were already dead, they had no way of helping themselves.  We had a lot more lucid time with Megyn than we did with Whitney.  I was able to talk to her more, to look at her more, to inspect her tiny body more.  I kept having feelings of my water breaking.  You see, we’d been told that the girls were in separate amniotic sacs, so it would make sense to feel my water break twice.  However, once we called the nurse she informed me what I was feeling was blood.  Lots and lots of blood.  They had those puppy-pad things underneath me and she changed it.  Then we called her in the second time I thought my water broke.  Again, blood.  Lots and lots of blood.  The third time I thought my water broke, she took the third puppy-pad, weighed it (to determine exactly how much blood I had lost) and called my doctor.  This is where things got interesting.  My doc comes in, looking exhausted and for some unknown reason, I apologized for waking her up.  Looking back, I could tell my medical staff was concerned, but at the time, they did a great job staying calm and performing their duties.  Whitney had to come out, and she had to come out now.  She obviously wasn’t coming on her own no matter how many contractions they could make me have.  I’m not even sure how to phrase this next part, the best way I can think to describe what happened is that I was calved.  You see, Whitney was tangled in her umbilical cord.  There was no way she was coming out.  I remember laying flat on my back, watching my reflection in the light box above the bed.  I remember thinking, “Gosh, I really do like my glasses.  It’s nice how the blue frames match the blue hospital gown.  I look kind of pretty laying here.”  I could see, in the reflection, the doctor with her arm halfway inside my uterus fishing around for my little girl.  Her hand kept bumping against my belly…reminiscient of what baby kicks would have looked and felt like had I made it that far.  I can’t recall how long it took her, but I do remember my blood up to her elbow when Whitney was finally born.  I remember a faint sigh from the nurse, Sam, standing by my head.  I didn’t know why at the time, her response was so different from when Megyn was born.  After her umbilical cord was cut I was asked if I wanted to hold her, or if I wanted them to clean her up.  This is my point of most regret.  I was under the impression everything would be as it had been with Megyn, so I told the nurse to go ahead and clean her up.  Hubs went with her.  I wish I would have taken my little girl in my arms right away.  The doctor was still feeling around inside my uterus, I suppose she was trying to figure out where the bleeding was coming from.  It didn’t take her long to tell me my placenta had only partially come away from the uterine wall.   That she felt the safest thing at this point, was for her to perform a D&C to remove the remaining placenta.  I cannot tell you how quickly and urgently they prepped me for surgery.  They were worried I was going to bleed to death.  I got to hold Whitney for a few moments before surgery, but it wasn’t long before the anesthesiologist was there injecting me with sleeping medicine so I was fuzzy.  Whitney was a beautiful sight.  She had long legs, just like her sister, and she had one eye open.  They are normally still fused together at this point, but she had one eye open.  You see, it was very obvious that Whitney was the one that was starved of nutrients and blood when my placenta failed to equally distribute their needs to them.  She was basically white.  She almost appeared to have skin, like you or I , but at that stage, babies don’t have skin.  Her little limbs were laying in funny directions, almost like a rag doll.  She looked as though she had starved and my heart broke for any pain or hurt she had to endure.  Yet, somehow, she still had perfect feet, perfect hands, 10 fingers and 10 toes.  The girls were identical, so we know based on the stronger features of Megyn what she would have looked like.  The one eye that was open had a blue hue.  I know you can’t tell eye color at that stage, but I believe my girls would have had blue eyes.  I told her that I loved her, that I was so sorry and that her sister was waiting for her.  I told her how glad I was they were finally together again and that they would have each other.  I cried, I smiled and I touched her little hands and feet.  I couldn’t stop looking at her, this tiny little miracle of a person…I don’t think, if I could gaze at them forever, it would be long enough.

My room had flooded with hospital staff.  Maybe it was because it was 1am.  Or perhaps they recognized the gravity of the situation.  I handed off Whitney’s tiny body, still warmly and securely wrapped in a blanket and was quickly wheeled to the OR.  I don’t remember much of what happened next.  Just that everyone was very kind, and I was very sleepy.  I was thankful for the strong drugs, thankful for the respite from the nightmare I was living.  Looking back, I could not be more thankful for the procedure my doctor performed at 1am to bring Whitney into the world.  It wasn’t pretty, it’s not a fun tale to re-live, in fact, it’s downright gruesome to some.  But, had she not hand-delivered Whitney, Whitney would have been extracted, most likely in many pieces, during the D&C.  My doctor recognized the emotional importance of delivering Whitney, whole, from my body while I was awake.  Again, my medical care was beyond outstanding.  She easily could have come into my room, taken account of my blood loss and insisted I needed a D&C immediately despite what would happen to Whitney’s body.  But she didn’t.  And for that I am eternally grateful.  In the days that followed, I learned what happened while I was in surgery.  The surgery itself didn’t take long, but it was an eternity for Hubs.  As soon as I was wheeled out, the nurses came for the girls.  They asked to take them to another room to clean them up, gather foot prints, hand prints and take pictures.  They would be returned to my room as soon as they were done.  Hubs agreed and suddenly, he was alone.  He’d just lost 2 daughters, witnessed their very traumatic stillbirth, given permission for their tiny, frail bodies to be taken to another room and watched in fear as his wife was taken away for emergency surgery.  He told me afterwards that he couldn’t stop staring at the floor, at a lone drop of my blood that had rolled off the table at some point.  In the midst of all of this, there was a Code Blue announcement that came over the speakers.  He panicked.  He said the Code Blue was for Oncology, but at the time he either truly didn’t know what Oncology was, or couldn’t remember.  He said he was frantically searching his phone to find the definition for Oncology.  He thought the Code Blue was for me.  My broken heart broke even further listening to my husband tell this tale; his voice cracking and breaking.  How alone he felt.  How scared and frightened he must have been.  How sad I was for him.  For me.  For all of us.  And just how much more were we expected to take?

I woke up back in my room, and immediately asked for my girls.  They had been returned to our room, swaddled together in a little blanket, and were laying in a bassinet just like any other baby.  Hubs handed them to me and we proceeded to talk to them some more.  Over and over again we talked to them.  Told them we loved them.  Told them we missed them.  Told them we were so glad they had each other, but that we missed them terribly.  The tears would come, the tears would go and we would take turns holding them.  I would un-wrap them to get one more look at their amazing little bodies only to swaddle them back up for fear of them being cold or uncomfortable.  The nurses had taken great care to make sure the girls were touching each other; their arms were intertwined, their hands resting on the others chest.  I had just come out of surgery so I would fall asleep quickly and wake up wanting to hold them again.  I had Hubs roll their bassinet beside my bed so they would be close while I was sleeping.  Even though we never really talked about it, both of us knew we didn’t want to avoid the unavoidable.  There was a point coming where we would have to say goodbye and both of us knew it was quickly approaching.  They looked so peaceful wrapped up together in their blanket and I loved how they felt in the crook of my arm.  I loved watching Hubs hold them in the palms of his hands…listening to the heart-wrenching words of a daddy telling his little girls how sorry he was that he couldn’t protect them…that he couldn’t take care of them.  The nurses had been fantastic about telling us what would happen to them.  We’d already made the decision to have an autopsy performed on them and to have their bodies cremated.  We knew the girls would spend the night together in the hospital morgue and would be picked up by the funeral home the next day.  I was given hospital bracelets for them and had the option of seeing them again whenever I wanted before I was discharged.  Once we said goodbye though, that was it.  They would be gone.  There would be no seeing them again.  The only thing we had left at that point, the only thing we could do for them was to ensure they would be together.  Really together.  The staff was happy to comply.  When we called the nurse to come get the girls, I told them again that I loved them, that I would miss them forever and that I was again, so grateful they had each other.  I gently kissed each of them where I could and watched as the nurse gently placed them back in their bassinet and covered them with a towel to keep them hidden from wandering eyes in the hallway.  She returned shortly with a beautiful, heart-shaped box.  She wanted me to see how they would go to the morgue.  She also told me they were together, tucked inside the box and she, herself, would be taking them to the morgue right then.  It was all I could do to nod my agreement.  I was moved to the post-partum unit, all my wires and tubes removed.  I crawled into bed, Hubs in the chair beside me and passed out.  I woke up a few hours later, it was still dark.  I couldn’t hold back the tears and wanted my husband.  He was sleeping so hard my voice alone wasn’t enough to wake him.  I struggled to sit up in the bed and then struggled out of bed towards him.  Once I woke him he just sat there and held me as I cried.  There would be a lot of that in the coming days, weeks and months.  I woke up later that morning to my doctor, my actual doctor seated by my bed.  I was so far beyond able to control the tears at this point and even though I didn’t want to cry in front of her, I couldn’t help it.  She told me I would be ok.  That I was strong.  And she also told me that as much as she would like for everyone to arrive at her office or hospital and go home with healthy babies that’s not how it works.  That at the end of the day she’s there for the shit.  Her exact words.  She got me discharged with instructions to see her in a few weeks.  She also had strict instructions for Hubs that included calling her if I couldn’t sleep or couldn’t eat.  He was to keep a close eye on me.  My transport out of the hospital arrived shortly and my first encounter with the real world was close at hand.  You see, Hubs had gone to get the car so this young man and I were alone.  He was a very nice, polite young man.  I guess whatever unit I was in is also the unit where moms with complications go for monitoring.  He asked me as the doors opened and the morning light flooded my dry, stinging eyes when I was due.  It was the first of many painful conversations I would have.  I had to tell him that I had just lost twins.  He was horrified, embarrassed and ashamed.  I didn’t fault him though, how was he to have known?  These kind of things don’t happen.  I don’t remember my drive home.  I remember being ready to hug my little girl though.  To hear her sweet voice, to hear her laugh, to see LIFE.

Names are important to me.  As is their meaning.  It was an episode of House Hunters International that I heard the name Whitney and was like, “Hey, that’s a really great name.  I need to run that one by Hubs.”  When it came time to name the twins, I struggled with Whitney’s name.  I liked it, a lot, but the meaning of Whitney is “white island.”  It didn’t seem to fit to me.  She’s no island I kept telling Hubs, she’s an identical twin!  I really liked the name but refused to commit to it 100% because of the meaning.  Their names were only quasi-established when we learned they had died, but they were cemented right then and there.  There was NO WAY we could have known what we would see in the delivery room.  Megyn was red when she was born.  She got all the blood; too much actually, it caused her heart to fail.  Whitney was white.  She’d been starved of her nutrients and blood supply.  And while she was right there in my womb next to her twin sister, I’m sure she felt like an island, left all alone fighting a losing battle to stay alive.  No one knew of her struggle until it was too late.  The meaning of her name still gives me chills when I think about it.  In some small way I feel like God was there all along and this is my clue to that fact.  That even though their lives ended too soon, it was His plan.  It was in His plan all along and the little story of her name is His was of letting me know He was, and is, in control of the whole thing.

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