Postpartum Thoughts: Vanishing Twin Syndrome

It has now been over seven weeks since Rainer’s beautiful birth, and after a recent new knowledge regarding my pregnancy with him, I find myself needing to reflect over the past 10 months. You read the title correctly – Vanishing Twin Syndrome. It turns out that Rainer does indeed have a twin. It only took me 6 weeks to finally come to terms with that reality.

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Back when I was just 7 weeks pregnant, I had my first ultrasound with an OB that I was seeing for the first time. I was by myself, and I brought Lúthien along with me. The doctor was a quirky man but easygoing. Instead of going for a vaginal ultrasound, we decided to skip the trouble and just see if he could pick anything up from my stomach. (In an early pregnancy, vaginal ultrasounds provide a much clearer picture). I laid down with Lu on my chest as we took a look. What came up on the screen certainly was different than Luthien’s first ultrasound image. There was one dark spot alongside one smaller, dark spot about half the size of the other. Doc picked up Rainer’s heartbeat, and we talked about that smaller shape. He mentioned that it was possible that it was a twin that could have passed away, but he quickly assured me that it could also be a shadow of the water sac or something, and that he didn’t want me to worry. I barely gave it a second thought afterwards, not wanting to be paranoid; and when I went back in at 10 weeks, there was no sign of the other dark spot.

Eight months later, and several minutes after Rainer was born, while my new doctor (I switched OB’s at 25 weeks) was examining my placenta, she pointed out to us that there were two water sacs, confirming that therereally had been another child. At that moment, I was all caught up in the bustle of afterbirth. Nurses were all around the room, some pushing on my uterus every now and then, I was about to be stitched up from a tear, my baby was just born. I could barely think about it, but Ross remembers that we said a quick prayer for the child. I was a little confused by the news, and I remember someone trying to explain to me, but I eventually forgot about it in the exhaustion and excitement.

Then, a few days after birth I remembered, and then I remembered that 7 week ultrasound, pulling out the old image. But again, I was still in the post-partum haze, and not wanting to believe it, I put it aside in my mind.

Finally, just last week I was able to face the news. I emailed my OB about the 7 week ultrasound image, and she confirmed that there had indeed been a twin.

Rainer is a twin.

There is something astonishing and lonely about learning you have lost a child ten months after that fact. When we lost our first child,  I had gone through the traumatizing experience of miscarrying. This time though, I lost a child at about the same week gestation, but I never passed the baby’s remains and I wasn’t aware of what was happening. Instead, strangely enough, the baby’s remains were absorbed by my body and Rainer’s. Yet, this child is just as important, just as real. He or she may have had a tiny, tiny body, but their soul lives on with our Creator.

When Ross and I began talking about this loss together, I tried to convey that somehow, knowing that we have two children in heaven makes heaven seem more of a reality for me. There’s a mystery to miscarriage in that you lose a child before having met them, before seeing the fully developed face, before talking to them and looking into their eyes. But somehow, with faith, you know that their soul is just as alive and real. And you know, by through faith, that if their soul is just as a live and real, so is Heaven.

My heart aches for the loss of this mysterious child’s life, and of what could have been. And I wonder what it will be like for Rainer when he is older to eventually learn that he is a twin and that he has a special intercessor in heaven. At the same time, I am grateful for our sweet Rainer’s life, for his health, and for the joy that he brings to us each day. I am thankful for a healthy pregnancy with him, for the gift that it was to carry him, for the little sufferings that come with childbearing, and I could not have asked for a more beautiful birth. Looking back on this pregnancy now, it feels incredibly strange to have both a heavy heart and one full of gratitude for the sweet memories…of when Ross and I shared the news of the pregnancy with his family for drinks and hors d’oeuvres at the Southern Hotel, of watching my stomach quickly grow, bringing Lúthien with me to my appointments, telling my students about the baby, feeling Rainer kick furiously, awaiting his birth with fierce anticipation. I pray that I never take our children’s lives for granted, nor our own lives. And I pray to God, for the grace to reach heaven, to sit at the feet of the Father, and to meet our children for the first time.

 

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