What it feels like to lose a twin during pregnancy

Having a 'vanishing twin' is so hard to process.

What it feels like to lose a twin during pregnancy

After an uneventful pregnancy that brought us our beautiful son, I wasn't prepared for the devastation I felt when we lost our daughter during our second pregnancy at 16 weeks gestation.

I felt empty.

Several months after that loss, we were elated to find out we were expecting twins. Pregnancy after a miscarriage, especially a second-trimester miscarriage, is incredibly anxiety-inducing but several early ultrasounds showed two growing babies.

I went into our 13-week ultrasound incredibly nervous, as always. I feared the worse, but deep down I fully expected to see two healthy heartbeats. Sadly, though, it revealed that our Baby B had passed away just a few days earlier.

I felt like the world was being ripped from underneath me again. How could this be happening?

The good news is that Baby A continues to do well, but I'm now a high-risk pregnancy since I could miscarry Baby B at any time, which would put Baby A at risk. But we're hopeful I will carry our surviving twin to term.

Despite having walked the dark road of pregnancy loss once before, making it less of a shock, losing one twin is in many ways more difficult than our single pregnancy loss. Excitement has been replaced by anxiety. It's hard to enjoy the pregnancy because I'm acutely aware that something could go wrong at any time and threaten our surviving baby.

After my first miscarriage, I was no longer pregnant. It was heartbreaking, but I was able to grieve that loss and move forward. This time, I'm stuck in limbo, processing the loss of one child while trying to be strong for the one who continues to grow inside me.

As soon as we found out we were having twins, I started envisioning a twin nursery and a double stroller. I worried about how I would manage to carry two infant car seats while still holding my toddler's hand.

More than anything, I dreamed about watching two of my babies experience milestone after milestone side by side, going through life with a built-in best friend.

That vision of me, that life I wanted so badly as the mom of a toddler and twins, was ripped away. It's hard to accept that I won't get to raise twins but it's even harder to come to terms with the reality that our surviving baby won't get to grow up with his or her twin. I will forever see other people's twins and wonder about the bond they might have had.

I feel a strange mixture of relief, joy, pain and bitterness all at once. Baby B is there at every ultrasound, a reminder of the twin we'll never get to raise. It's painful to watch Baby A growing bigger and stronger while Baby B isn't.

There are also comments from well-meaning people that are naive at best and outright hurtful at worst. They say, "Twins would have been SO expensive. It's for the best." And, "At least you're still pregnant with one baby. That's a good thing!"

Even worse, after offering their support after our first miscarriage, some have ignored this loss altogether. Their silence is especially isolating. It feels like Baby B didn't matter or that I shouldn't be sad that one twin is gone because I'm still pregnant.

I'm incredibly grateful for our surviving twin, as well as our toddler son, but children aren't interchangeable. Having one child doesn't make the loss of another hurt any less.

It is a pregnancy loss like any other.

When I deliver this baby, the joy will be clouded by sibling loss. I have a feeling that joy and sorrow will continue to co-exist for a long time as we watch Baby A grow.

And yet, we have a unique opportunity to honor Baby B. When Baby A is old enough, we will tell him or her about their twin who is watching over us in heaven. Birthdays and other milestones will be bittersweet, but they will both remind of us the do have and ensure that our Baby B is not forgotten because they were part of our lives even if briefly.

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