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.
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.
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.
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.
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