23 September 2012, by Tan Yi Lin
Dear Twin B,
Two days ago, we found out that we had lost you.
21 September had been a day that we had been looking forward to, so very much. We had been impatiently waiting out the past three weeks, so that we could see our twin babies again. Your daddy had an important conference call scheduled for that morning, but he had made sure that he could accompany me for the appointment at the hospital, so that he could say hello to you both. We had planned to bring your sister along, to show her her lovely siblings, and later pop into mummy’s office for the Mooncake Bazaar and to say hi to mummy’s friends.
It was suppose to be a happy day.
But it was not to be.
For one, your sister (and we) had a restless night. So we left the grumpy little girl at home with your Popo. Which, I guess, turned out to be the right decision, given how the day turned out.
At the clinic, Doctor Sadhana scanned my tummy. We saw your twin. An astounding 3.3 cm at nine weeks (given that both of you measured only 0.4 cm barely three weeks ago.) A beautifully formed little bean, proudly flaunting its tiny arms and legs. In the middle, a tiny shape flashed rapidly with lightning-quick movements – a tiny beating heart. Strong and clear.
The camera panned over to you. At once, I knew that you looked different. Less defined. Curled up. Facing down. Quiet. Motionless. I blamed the grainy quality of the ultrasound image and fervently hoped that it was telling a lie.
The doctor frowned. She flit back to the image of your sibling. Then to you again. She said that your growth – at 3.0 cm – was good, but…
… we couldn’t detect your heartbeat.
She quickly sent us to the Antenatal Monitoring Clinic for a detailed scan.
Once again, the camera zoomed in on your twin and the sonographer showed us its flashing heartbeat.
Then, we looked at your grainy image on the screen. We watched with bated breath as the sonographer scrolled left, scrolled right, zoomed in, zoomed out, moved up, moved down… and still, we could not locate your heartbeat. She told me to hold my breath (as if I wasn’t already doing that) and pressed down, where you were resting. A still, motionless, straight line flashed across the screen.
My eyes welled with tears.
She tried again. I held as still as I could, not daring to breathe, hoping so hard for the line to come to life.
The cursed line remained stubbornly straight.
The sonographer started typing and like nails in a coffin, the words “NO FH (foetal heartbeat)” appeared letter by letter, sealing your fate.
With that, reality sank in. My eyes could hold back the tears no longer and they spilled over like a flood. Through my blurry vision, I saw your daddy step back into the shadows of the room and cover his face in his hand.
When I used to run the hurdles event for the school Nationals, I would see fellow hurdlers kick at the first hurdle and land awkwardly in a heap, just 10m from the starting blocks. At that moment, you knew that the race was over for them. It was decided. They had lost. Months of training, hard work and anticipation had ended in a broken pile of disillusionment and disappointment. At least, for that race.
That was how I felt.
The kind sonographer handed me a wad of tissue and gently said that the doctor would explain the results of the scan.
Dr S flipped through the report and looked up at us.
“I’m sorry”, she said.
She explained that early miscarriages within the first twelve weeks of pregnancy were usually due to a chromosomal defect in the foetus. As I had not been experiencing any cramps or bleeding, she said that the water bag would slowly reduce in size and the dead foetus, reabsorbed to form part of the placenta for the surviving twin. In the event of bleeding, I was to head straight for the hospital’s 24-hour clinic for an injection that would prevent my body from expelling the contents of my womb – including the live baby.
Three weeks ago, we left the hospital in a daze. Two days ago, we drove home in a different type of haziness – a dark, heavy, fog of grief.
Two days later, the pain is less intense, less raw. The dark cloud of sadness has somewhat lifted, but it has not totally left us. We cannot grieve for long. There are two other little ones to take care of. And a treasured grandmother’s birthday to celebrate this weekend. But every time I think that I’m done crying, fresh tears fall at the memory of seeing your image on the screen: Crumpled. Motionless. Dead.
We have shared the heartbreaking news with our families. The people who would have loved holding you in their arms. We have told our closest friends. But we still have many to tell.
So this is what it feels like to lose a baby. I finally understand. Experience is a great teacher of empathy. I know that I should think, “At least we still have Coco. At least we still have one more baby on the way.” But it’s painful nonetheless.
Dear Twin B, we miss you very much. We’re sad that we won’t get to meet you, and nor will your sister and sibling. But even more, we’re sad that you won’t get to know your sister.
She is a funny baby, this one. She can walk on her own now, you know, at 13 months. She relentlessly chased a poor toad all around the neighbourhood park, just to see it hop (away in terror). She has one evil snigger, I tell you. We honestly don’t know where she got this sadistic streak from! Just today, she called me Mummy. Or rather, “Mum-Mmm”. But she keeps practising, so I’d give her an ‘A’ for effort. It breaks my heart to think that I’ll have once less little voice calling me Mummy. At least for now.
You’ll always be a part of us, Twin B. This probably won’t be the last tear that I shed for you, but at least we have something to look forward to. In a slightly disconcerting but completely natural way, you will be part of your twin and we will still be holding you in our arms come April next year.
Till then, we love you. And miss you very very much.
Your Mummy and Daddy, always and forever
Thank you for your kind words and prayers. Never did we imagine that we would be sharing such grief so openly on a public blog. But you have walked every step of this journey with us and we feel that you have every right to know what happens on this journey, both the good and the bad.
Thank you for not saying, “at least there’s still the other twin.” I know, it’s only natural to think that. I did too. But thank you for not voicing it out. Coco and Twin A are blessings in their own right, not consolation prizes. Nor was Twin B just a bonus or a good-to-have.
This is the worst blow that we have ever been dealt, but we will get through this. The healing has already started. Despite the setback, we have many blessings to be grateful for and it is these blessings that will keep us focused and going strong.
My next doctor’s appointment is scheduled for 5 October.
Three days before my birthday.
Please, let there only be good news.