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A tale of two halves. Losing one twin.

Updated: Apr 1

Having spent my entire adult life battling unexplained infertility, in January 2023 at the age of 36 on my tenth (and ironically, final) ivf, I fell pregnant. I had been pregnant through ivf twice before, many years ago and many years apart, but suffered early losses. This made the wait between the positive test and our seven week scan an incredibly anxious time. That scan was to reveal that our last embryo had split into identical twins. My initial reaction was pure shock followed by fear - I knew identical twin pregnancies came with a lot of risks and selfishly, I just wanted a simple pregnancy and to deliver a healthy baby. These thoughts haunt me every day. 

The professionals couldn’t find a membrane between them in the first few scans adding the extra worry that they were Momo twins. At 13 weeks they were diagnosed as modi and I felt like a weight had been lifted and the twins were safe now. At 17 weeks, twin two was significantly smaller and had SFGR so we were referred to fetal medicine where we had more detailed scans. It was there it was discovered the twins had developed spontaneous TAPS. At just over 19 weeks, I was rushed to Kings Hospital in London for emergency laser surgery to separate the blood vessels on my placenta which were connecting the twins. Both survived the surgery and both twins went from strength to strength over the next few weeks. We had clear fetal MRI scans and the growth difference between them levelled out too. It seemed like a miracle had occurred. (It might be worth mentioning here that after the laser surgery, at 23 weeks, we were offered a termination of either the entire pregnancy or of twin two due to the complexity of the pregnancy)

At 28 weeks, my waters broke with heavy bleeding - I spent 48 hours in the delivery ward but thankfully didn’t go into labour. I had a course of steroids and antibiotics, just in case. I then moved into a labour ward for close monitoring and despite the fluid and blood still leaking, both twins were absolutely fine and showed no signs of distress. Another miracle. 

A week later, everything was back to normal, no more blood or fluid and I was ready to go home - but then came the scan that went through my heart like lightning, twin two’s heart had stopped. The shock was so severe, I couldn’t even cry straight away. In fact, I remember hearing the lady in the bay next door to me crying before I did. I kept thinking that once the fetal medicine team did a proper scan, they would see it had been a terrible mistake. But it hadn’t. After overcoming battle after battle, twin two had lost the war. 

To add even more difficulty to this situation, we now had to make a decision whether to continue the pregnancy or deliver the twins while twin one was still alive and healthy. The hospital couldn’t offer any advice on this, all they could do was give us the facts - they don’t know why twin two had died so suddenly and they cannot guarantee the safety of twin one, yet delivering a baby at 29 weeks wasn’t ideal either. 

Obviously, we were under significant pressure to make this decision, which was to deliver. 

The next day, after 27 hours of constant monitoring, nil by mouth and on a magnesium drip, the twins were delivered via c section. Twin one, Florence, went straight to nicu (via a 10 second lay on my chest) weighing 2lb12 and twin two, Winnie was taken away by the bereavement team weighing 2lb1. 

My grief for Winnie massively outweighed the joy of the birth of Florence. She was perfect, like she was sleeping and would wake up at any second. There was not one blemish on her little body. We got to choose some clothes for her, hold her and I kept her in the room with me overnight where I just held her hand and stared at her. The help and support on offer from the hospital and various loss charities was incredible. 

The next few months were gruelling. I struggled to bond with Florence, for fear of something happening to her and the fact she was in the nicu and I couldn’t Mother her. I also felt that Winnie needed me more than Florence who had nurses attending to her every need where Winnie had only me. The guilt I felt for wishing her away early in the pregnancy weighs heavy on my mind each and every day. 

I love Florence more than I ever knew possible, I look at her and I think how amazing it would have been to have two of her. I think about the future and how she will feel when she learns about Winnie and I’m already mindful of not shadowing her special days with grief. It’s a minefield. 

Finding a befriender through Footprints has been a breath of fresh air. Talking to someone who has been through something so niche and similar to me is invaluable as these emotions can only truly be understood by someone unfortunate enough to feel the same.  I know I’ve got a long road ahead of me, infertility has taught me to be resilient, realistic and made me tougher than I needed to be so I often find my grief suppressed. Writing this blog has brought a lot to the surface but it’s also made me remember Winnie so vividly for which I am grateful.

Losing one twin
Twin baby loss: losing one twin

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