I was barely 24, single and living with my parents when I found out I was pregnant. I wasn’t certain if I was ready to have children and ambivalent about continuing the pregnancy.
My doctor knew all this, and she made a weird face while performing the ultrasound. She said she saw two separate heartbeats. I was carrying twins. I was stunned. My older sister has a set of twin girls; what were the odds of both of us having twins? I knew right then that my choice would be to keep them.
My doctor told me that carrying twins automatically put me at high risk, so I had to make an appointment to see the perinatologists. I met with them and was told that one of the risks of carrying multiples is that my cervix might not hold and I could go into pre-term labor, so I had to see the doctor every two weeks to make sure my cervix was not opening.
I did as I was told. Everything seemed fine and I found out that my twins were boys. I named Twin A “Matthew” and Twin B “Jeremy.” Every check up, things seemed to get better and better. Then came the ultrasound where I was told that Jeremy was a bit smaller than Matthew, but was still in the normal range. They said they’d recheck his size in two weeks.
At that next appointment I knew something was very wrong. Jeremy had not grown at all and now Matthew’s growth had slowed. They also saw fluid in both babies’ hearts. I was given an amniocentesis to see what was causing this and was told that there was a big chance that neither one would survive. I had two choices. I could either get induced to end the pregnancy, or continue the pregnancy and hope for the best. They were still so small that if I decided to continue the pregnancy there was a big chance that they would have severe brain damage and never have a normal life, or not survive at all.
I was sent to see a cardiologist for a fetal echocardiogram. She checked both babies extensively, only to tell me the same thing. I was sent me to speak with a neonatal specialist about what to expect if I decided to have an induced labor pregnancy termination at five months gestation. It was a hard decision to make, and after deciding I’d go through with it, I changed my mind at the hospital and went home.
Then I found out what caused this. I had cytomegalovirus (CMV). This is a common virus that almost everyone has or will have. Most of the time it is harmless, unless you are pregnant. Since it often has no symptoms, most people don’t know if they have it. If I’d had this virus before I was pregnant everything would have been fine. Apparently I contracted it between four and five months pregnancy because that is when my twin boys stopped growing.
I saw the fetal cardiologist about every other day to check my babies’ hearts. It just kept getting worse and worse. I began to notice that I didn’t feel them kicking anymore. It is such a horrible feeling to know that your children are suffering and you can’t do anything to help them. By the last appointment their hearts were full of fluid, their amniotic sacs had no fluid left and there was fluid in both their brains.
I had to be induced to deliver them. It is so hard to go through the pain of childbirth only to go home empty handed. It is still so hard to talk about. I still don’t know if my decision was the right one, but I think about them every day and hope that I will see them again. I love them with all my heart.