Mourning the Loss of One Baby When You’re Caring for Her Twin

Surprise Twin Pregnancy

Valerie and George found out they were expecting in July 2017. After waiting 4 excruciating weeks before the first doctor’s appointment, the day finally came to see her OB. While waiting for the doctor the nurse said, “wouldn’t it be funny if you had twins?” It seemed like a funny joke at the time, but sure enough, when the doctor was doing the ultrasound, she said “I see two heartbeats – you are having twins.”  After she said the word “twins” Valerie was in shock and didn’t hear anything else the doctor said the rest of the appointment. George and Valerie left the office feeling excited yet nervous and couldn’t wait to tell their families.

For carrying twins, Valerie had an amazing pregnancy. No morning sickness, bed rest, Braxton Hicks, high blood pressure or gestational diabetes. Towards the end she did get a very uncomfortable case of carpel tunnel in her wrists and swollen ankles. Once she reached a certain stage in her pregnancy, in addition to the regular OB appointments, she also saw a maternal-fetal specialist to keep track of the growth of the twins and to make sure they were developing normally. Everything looked perfect the entire pregnancy. Not one issue of concern was ever discovered during her 36 weeks of pregnancy.   

Valerie worked up until Feb 1st and the twins’ due date was March 28th. She felt great, but with twins it was recommended she rest and put her feet up to prepare for the arrival of their baby girls – Eden (Baby A) and Chloe (Baby B).

Valerie and George took a hospital tour and attended a weekend birth preparation course at the hospital where she was scheduled to deliver. Initially, Valerie had been interested at potentially looking into a birthing center, but with the high risk of twins had decided on a hospital birth. Valerie was really hoping to deliver vaginally but understood the possibility of a c-section would be higher due to the twin birth.

valerie howell

At the routine 36 week check-up Valerie, accompanied by her mother, went to her Doctor’s appointment. As she did at every appointment, the doctor checked each baby’s heartbeat. However, Valerie realized that it was taking much longer than usual for the doctor to complete that part and move on. Suddenly, the doctor removed the stethoscope from her ears and looked at Valerie and said “ I’m having trouble finding Baby B’s heartbeat – please go to labor and delivery for an ultrasound and I will meet you there.” Shocked and stunned, Valerie and her mom had quick moment of prayer in the exam room and then headed to the hospital.  

Valerie and her mother made the quick drive across the street to the hospital and checked into Labor and Delivery. The nurses whisked her into a triage room and hooked her up to a machine to monitor contractions and continued to look for a heartbeat – they seemed optimistic and were great at keeping Valerie calm. At this point Valerie’s mother said it was time to call George and the rest of the immediate family. Valerie didn’t see the point in making everyone worry because she thought surely once the more advanced ultrasound machine arrived the heartbeat would be detected, and everything would be fine. Her mother insisted, and the calls were made.

Finally, the ultrasound technician arrived and began to conduct the ultrasound. With so much time passing by the reality of the situation began to sink in and the shock and optimism began to wear off. The ultrasound tech wouldn’t answer any questions and Valerie could tell she felt awkward so stopped pressing her; but, after going to so many appointments, when Chloe’s heart was projected on the screen it was clear that there wasn’t any activity.  

birth twins loss

George arrived after rushing to the hospital from work, and Valerie’s doctor came in to talk to the couple. (She had been finishing a scheduled surgery) It was official – Chloe’s heart had stopped beating and was no longer alive. They needed to deliver Eden right away. Since Valerie had wanted to try for a vaginal birth the doctor gave her the option to either be induced or have a c-section. Valerie and George had some moments alone to try to process what was happening and due to the circumstances, they chose a c-section. Once the decision was made everyone moved quickly to prepare Valerie for surgery.

Eden Naomi Howell was born first – she was healthy and had a strong loud cry. She received a 9 on her Apgar test! Shortly after, Chloe Estelle Howell was born. Valerie got to nuzzle both babies once they were born before they were taken away with George to wait for her in recovery as the rest of the surgery was completed. Valerie was groggy in recovery but was able to hold and nurse Eden. Once released from recovery and moved to a room filled with her parents, MIL, sister, brother-in law, and aunts and uncles she was able to spend more time with Eden and Chloe. Everyone was able to see her and hold her and spend time with her – she was a perfectly formed and beautiful baby.

twin stillbirth

It is still unclear exactly what happened to Chloe. There was meconium in her water which is what she swallowed and took her life. However, the reason that happened is unknown. The reality of walking into the hospital with two babies and walking out with one was shocking and difficult for Valerie and George to deal with. Valerie was so caught off guard – no one ever speaks about the possibility of having a still born baby. She thought that things like didn’t happen during birth in this day and age, but ironically it is more common than most people are aware of.

The physical recovery for Valerie went well. The surgery was routine with no difficulties, and she was released from the hospital on the 4th day.  Her incision healed beautifully, and she was able to recover without incident. Shortly after going home, arrangements were made for Chloe. Learning to take care of a newborn while laying another child to rest in the same week is an enormous burden to bear.  However, family and friends loved and embraced Valerie and George as they grieved and learned to navigate the life of new parents in a supportive environment. One day they will have to explain to Eden that she had a twin sister. Sweet Chloe Estelle is gone, but never forgotten.

Valerie Howell Bio

Valerie Howell resides in Southern California with her husband George and their 19-month-old daughter Eden. She has lived in California for the majority of her life but has a soft spot for Seattle, Washington where she went to high school and attended the University of Washington where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in communication. She later attended California State University and received a Master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications and is currently enjoying a career as a corporate event planner.  When she’s not working, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She loves to read and dance and hopes to pass along the love for both to her daughter.

You can follow Valerie on IG at @valgal217 for more adventures of event planning and being a working Mommy.

Motif Medical

Motif Medical designs insurance-eligible products for busy moms. With a focus on innovation and empowerment, Motif’s line of breast pumps and maternity compression garments are sophisticated, yet discreet, and made to support mothers as they navigate new motherhood. Discover why moms are reporting more milk in less time with the Luna breast pump, and see how you can get it covered through insurance at motifmedical.com/birthhour

Hospital and Birth Center Birth Stories

Hospital and Birth Center Stories

This episode features Denver mama, Alaina, who struggled to get pregnant and had two miscarriages before using Clomid for her 3rd pregnancy, and gave birth in a hospital setting. She found out she was pregnant again without any outside assistance just a year later and gave birth at a birth center, having an unexpected waterbirth.

waterbirth birth center

Alaina Isbouts Bio

Alaina and her husband Philip met while living abroad in Prague, and quickly bonded over their mutual love of travel and shared view of the world around them.  Though they got engaged very quickly, they enjoyed their time together traveling before they bought a house, settled down, and decided to try for a family. It unexpectedly took them a year and a half before they got pregnant with their first, a natural miscarriage at home. Eight months later, in a new home and new city, they found out they were once again pregnant. Once again, the pregnancy ended in a miscarriage.  Alaina and Philip went through fertility testing and were finally able to have a healthy pregnancy with the help of Clomid. Her first birth was a 20-hour natural birth in a hospital.

birth-center-waterbirth

Shortly after celebrating their baby’s first birthday, Alaina found out she was unexpectedly pregnant, though she was still nursing and not taking any fertility medications.  This time they decided to go with a birth center, and ended up with a beautiful and unplanned waterbirth. She currently calls Denver home, along with her husband of eight years and their two boys, Julian (3) and Finley (11 months).  Alaina is a freelance editor and writer, and you can find her online at alainaisbouts.com. She is on Instagram and Twitter @alainaisbouts.

Alaina recommends reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and taking a birth preparation class.

BabyList

Listen to me chat with Whitney about BabyList at the end of today’s episode and check out my sample registry of some of my favorite items for pregnancy and postpartum!

 

*photos by Monet Nicole Birthing Stories. Monet has also shared her birth stories on The Birth Hour.

Emergency Cesarean Birth & Getting Pregnant with Ava Bracelet

Cesarean Birth Story

The birth of Hailey’s daughter did not go according to plan. After 14 hours in labor, she was told her baby was in distress and she would need an emergency C-section. Needless to say, her carefully laid plan fell quickly by the wayside. After this experience, she feels that no matter how much you read and how many stories you hear from fellow mamas, nothing can prepare you for your own birth story. Hailey also shares her experience using the Ava Bracelet to get pregnant.

Hailey Walker Bio

Hailey is a 29-year-old Houston, Texas native. She graduated from the University of Houston and served as Marketing Manager for a commercial real estate company before the birth of her daughter, Hudson, this past summer. After a miscarriage in 2017, it quickly became apparent to Hailey that although she was not alone, many women felt compelled to grieve for their unborn children in silence. Hailey has since felt a calling to share her story of loss in hopes that it might provide comfort and hope for a heartbroken mother. In her spare time, Hailey loves to cook, shop, and travel back to Houston to spend time with family and friends. She lives in Denver, CO with her husband, daughter and two Labradors.

ava bracelet

Avawomen

This episode is sponsored by Ava Women. Wear the Ava bracelet while you sleep for effortless insight about your fertility, your cycle, and your health. Ava monitors nine physiological parameters and is clinically proven to detect the beginning of the fertile window in real time. You can use the promo code: BIRTHSTORIES for $20 off each order at avawomen.com

Double Rainbow Babies After Loss

In honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month we are sharing this beautiful story again.

Same-sex couple Mariel and Viviana knew they always wanted a baby; so, a year into their marriage they began trying to conceive by the traditional route of IUI’s with frozen sperm via a sperm bank. After nearly a dozen failed tries, they switched gears to a known-donor and were quickly pregnant. Early on in Viviana’s pregnancy she began having complications, and on the same day of her anatomy scan at 20 weeks and 6 days, Viviana’s water bag prolapsed and broke. Tune in to hear the details of their devastating infant loss due to incompetent cervix and the redemption story of their boy/girl rainbow babies conceived within 7 days of each other and born only three days apart. Follow their journey on Instagram at @moderndaytwins.

Viviana Bio

I don’t have a hometown, but if I had to claim one, it would be Dallas, TX. I met Mariel in college at UNT and quickly fell in love. A few years into our dating, and after moving to Austin, she asked me to marry her; so, we had a ceremony in TX and made it legal in NYC when I was 29 and she was 22. I’ve always wanted to be a mother and never could have guessed the road to realizing it would be so hard. Now the Mama to my “modern day twins” and my little angel baby in heaven, I’m at peace. My loss and the birth world has been truly inspirational to me so I share as much as I can on social media and hope to give back somehow. Connect with me on Instagram at @vivianarchy.

gentle cesarean

Mariel Bio

I grew up in Brownsville, TX, which is on the Texas/Mexico border and never lived anywhere else until I left for college where I met Viviana and instantly fell in love. Up until meeting her, my life was pretty vanilla: I had a set goal, and was meeting every expectation my very traditional Mexican family set out for me. Then, all of a sudden, I threw all of that out of the window and started taking risks I’d never imagine were possible – I graduated college in three years and moved to the most expensive city in Texas without a job just so I could finally live passionately. It’s been a roller coaster ride with many ups and downs, but despite the uncertainties, we’ve always managed to land on our feet and have been blessed beyond measure. I love to tell our story to anybody that will listen so that people see that there is hope so long as you don’t give up and are willing to take as many detours as life throws your way. Connect with me on Instagram at @cafesitamami.

Aeroflow Breastpumps

Want to learn how to get a free breast pump through insurance? Aeroflow Breastpumps has helped thousands of new and expecting moms find the perfect pump for her lifestyle. They offer all major pump brands including Medela, Spectra, and Lansinoh. And the best part, they take care of everything – from getting all required paperwork and dealing with your insurance company to explaining your options and getting your free pump shipped straight to your door. All you have to go to the Aeroflow Breastpumps website and fill out their free and easy Qualify Through Insurance form. Be sure to go to aeroflowbreastpumps.com/birthhour so they will know I sent you!

Shoulder Dystocia and Neonatal Resuscitation Homebirth Story

Five Very Different Births

As a neonatal nurse, Sigrid thought she was well prepared for her first birth in 2008, but was totally knocked over by mainstream medicine’s “factory-style” birth care. She was induced, got an epidural, then pushed for three hours flat on her back before her cesarean section for “cephalopelvic disproportion.”

homebirth shoulder dystocia

Two years later, she had the most empowering experience of her life when she had a natural midwife-supported, Hypnobabies 9 lb 8 oz VBAC in the hospital. Her passion for natural birth and midwifery model of care was sparked here and has only continued to grow over the years.

In 2013, Sigrid had an intense but healing home water birth of a rainbow baby after two back-to-back miscarriages, including one with severe life-threatening obstetric hemorrhage. Her fourth birth, in 2014, was a precipitous accidentally-unassisted (almost) pain free birth at 42 weeks 5 days. This baby was caught by Sigrid’s husband, Isaac, in the tiny master bathroom of their home.

homebirth neonatal resuscitation

Today’s podcast features the story of Sigrid’s most recent birth in May 2018— the homebirth of her 11 lb 6 oz son complete with 4 minute shoulder dystocia and 6 minute neonatal resuscitation.

Sigrid’s kids all think it is hilarious that they were each born in a different place: an OR table, a hospital bed, a birth pool, over a toilet (they break into unbridled laughter at this point), and the family room hardwood floor. My birth team included midwife Maura Winkler of Fika Midwifery and birth photographer Shawna Stanley.

Sigrid Chapman Bio

As a mom of five, with a wide range of personal birth experiences to inspire her, Sigrid has developed a passion to joyfully support moms and babies on their journeys through birth and breastfeeding.

Sigrid holds a bachelors of science in nursing and has eleven years of experience, first as a newborn nurse skilled in neonatal resuscitation and now as a labor and delivery nurse with certification in fetal monitoring. She became an international board certified lactation consultant in 2012 and has been assisting at home births since 2014.

When she isn’t working, Sigrid can be found homeschooling and mothering Judah, Galilee, Shiloh, Calah, and Ari with her awesome husband Isaac and sweet dog Cody. She is a devout Christian and lover of good coffee, midwifery memoirs, IKEA, Thai food, and the concept of hygge, who calls Buffalo, NY home. You can connect with her on Instagram: @stretch_studentmidwife.

Resources

Evidencebasedbirth.com
VBACFacts.com
Hypnobabies Home Study Course
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
Spiritual Midwifery
Pushed by Jennifer Block
Birth by Tina Cassidy
Mama Natural Week to Week Guide to Pregnancy & Childbirth
Baby Cafe – free peer to peer drop in breastfeeding support facilitated by lactation professionals

Aeroflow Breastpumps

Want to learn how to get a free breast pump through insurance? Aeroflow Breastpumps has helped thousands of new and expecting moms find the perfect pump for her lifestyle. They offer all major pump brands including Medela, Spectra, and Lansinoh. And the best part, they take care of everything – from getting all required paperwork and dealing with your insurance company to explaining your options and getting your free pump shipped straight to your door. All you have to go to the Aeroflow Breastpumps website and fill out their free and easy Qualify Through Insurance form. Be sure to go to aeroflowbreastpumps.com/birthhour so they will know I sent you!

Miscarriage, Placenta Previa and Premature Cesarean Birth

Pregnancy Loss and Working with High Risk OBGYN

Erika began her pregnancy journey fairly easily, and discovered she was pregnant the very first month she and her husband, Dan, decided to start trying. After some bleeding and cramping at 6 weeks, this pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, followed by a D&C at 9 weeks. Due to some abnormal blood-work, Erika’s OB suggested she see a rheumatologist before trying to conceive again, which kicked off a year of doctor visits and trying to find answers in order to prevent another loss. After being medicated for mild Hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s, suspected Lupus, and Antiphospholipid Syndrome, she felt confident in beginning to try for another pregnancy.

The second pregnancy came at the exact same time of year as the last one and ended at the same time of year as well. At the 7 week ultrasound, there was no heartbeat found, and the pregnancy was terminated by using misoprostol. Erika decided to meet with a High Risk OBGYN to discuss loss prevention and a quick two months later, she was pregnant again, with her now first child Tyber Bruno.

Placenta Previa and bleeding episodes at 33 weeks

Erika’s third pregnancy started off perfectly normal until the 20 weeks ultrasound when she first heard mention of her placenta covering the opening of the cervix. After being told repeatedly not to worry because 99.5% of low-lying placentas move by the third trimester, it was confirmed at 28 weeks that her placenta previa was central and would likely not be going anywhere. A scheduled cesarean was a must.

After two episodes of severe bleeding at 33 weeks, Erika was hospitalized and taken to have an emergency cesarean. The cesarean went smoothly, but baby had to be taken to the NICU and the next day, Erika needed a blood transfusion. Her journey to parenthood started with 2 weeks in the NICU and lots of pumping; but, once baby came home they both recovered very quickly. After some trial and error, Erika and her baby boy happily transitioned to exclusive breastfeeding and lots of snuggling at home.

preemie 33 weeks

Erika Cazeneuve Bio

Erika lives in Long Island, New York with her super supportive husband, Dan, their sweet baby boy, Tyber, and their two lovable cats Frankie and Moo. Erika and Dan both own their own business as Live Event Artists, Erika Event Painting, and Captured on Canvas. They each paint weddings (and other special events) live on canvas, creating a work of art for the bride and groom to take home with them. Erika has a great passion for travel and is so excited to discover the world together with her husband and their little one. You can connect with Erika on Instagram @erikaeventpainting and Facebook.

Resources

Know Your Options Childbirth Course
Back-2-Work Breastfeeding Course
Babylist
The Mental Illness Happy Hour
Happiest Baby on the Block
MamaNatural Week by Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth

Crane

This episode is sponsored by Crane Humidifiers. Crane’s colorful humidifiers are a nursery necessity to help relieve your baby’s tiny congested nose, which can make feeding and sleeping a struggle for both baby and mom. A happy baby is a healthy baby. Crane is generously offering $10 OFF and free shipping on all of their full-priced 1 gallon adorable animal shaped humidifiers and drop humidifiers with the code BIRTH18 at www.crane-usa.com.