April 16th and June 9th, 2020 are two days that our family will never forget.
On Thursday April 16th, 2020 our lives got a little more exciting than we’d planned. This was the day that I went in for my first OB appointment after having a positive pregnancy test just a few weeks prior. As most of you know, Mason and I already have three beautiful children (little Mason 4, Rosie 2.5, and Braden 1) and have prayed for God to keep growing our family as he sees fit. So, you can imagine how stoked we were when we found out that we were expecting another baby Bucklin in the fall to join our family.
Of course with COVID-19 disrupting all of our lives, I had to attend the appointment alone and I was pretty bummed about it. When I got into the office it was like seeing family that I hadn’t seen in a year. These women are one of a kind. They have always shown so much love and support for our growing family through every pregnancy and delivery and have always made us feel a little more at ease with all of their knowledge and skill. As I sat anxiously awaiting to be called back, my heart was pounding and my hands and feet were sweaty (this happens when I get real nervous). The door whipped open and the sonographer called my name and we headed to the room. I got situated and even more excited to see the baby! I was telling the sonographer how excited we were that this was our last baby, that I had been feeling great other than the raging heartburn that nothing would take away. I got in the chair and started watching intently on the screen. Low and behold, what I was seeing wasn't just one little baby, in fact, there were TWO! Yes, you read that right, TWO babies. There were two little babies, two little amniotic sacs, two beautiful healthy heartbeats. I was so taken aback I could literally not believe it. Tears of joy and tears of fear started flooding my eyes as I realized that we were pregnant with monochorionic/diamniotic (identical) twins!!
After I left the appointment and got into my car I headed home as fast and safely as I could. On the way home I was thinking about all the things that come with having five kids under the age of five and felt slightly perplexed. Anyways, I pulled in the driveway and headed inside where I knew Mason and the kids were anxiously waiting for me to get home with, as Mason says, "his surprise." Boy was he right, surprise indeed! I started videoing with my phone as I walked into our kitchen where everyone was. They all greeted me and as I was putting all my stuff down I laid the ultrasound pictures in front of daddy Mason and I thought he was going to fall out on the floor. For those of you who don't know my husband, he is very stoic. He is a man of few words and doesn’t show much emotion unless it is sports related. We’ve been together for almost 6 years and I have never seen him so surprised in all my life. We were just staring at each other saying "No way, no way!" We honestly couldn't believe it. I can say that I had a few dreams were we were pregnant with twins but I never thought in a million years that I actually would be! The kids were so confused about why we were crying and laughing. When we told them that mommy had two babies in her belly, little Mason said, "is that all?" It was a comical and astonishing day in the Bucklin house.
From that day on, being pregnant with multiples was much different than being pregnant with a "singleton." Our joy started turning into more anxiety and fear of what is associated with identical twins and having five kids under five. It was confirmed that we were expecting monochorionic/diamniotic twins. A lot of risks, rules, appointments, medications, and restrictions. Knowing in my heart that we would do all the things by the book and take all the advice of the professionals to make this pregnancy as healthy as possible. I was so excited to be a #twinmom. I read the book, “When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets, & Quads” which they had suggested in about one week flat. I had highlighted, underlined, tabbed all the pages of things that I thought were important because that’s just me and my detail-oriented self.
Well, around 12ish weeks things started getting difficult. I started having some weird symptoms. I was breathing super heavy and so short of breath. Walking up a flight of stairs for me was like doing 20 sprints. My heart rate jumped up to around 150 bpm just going to the bathroom and back to the couch, and I was so uncomfortable. Literally so uncomfortable that I couldn’t lay down flat and I was only 12 weeks pregnant. I knew something wasn't right. I had swollen ankles, face, hands, but wasn't sure if this is just what comes with a multiple pregnancy or if something was actually wrong. I went in for a routine checkup and expressed my concerns and they worked me up. I had a few different appointments and tests over the next couple of weeks and nothing really enlightening came of it. After about 3 weeks or so I started slowly feeling better and so we waited until our next visit on June 9th.
The morning of June 9th was exciting for us. I was 16 weeks 3 days and it was a day that we all had anticipated for weeks! It was the day we were going to find out what we were having! I had an early appointment that morning and before I headed out of the door I videoed the kids on what they thought the babies were. Little Mason voted boys, Rosie and I voted girls, Daddy Mason didn’t care either way, and Braden at the time was napping and didn’t know what was happening anyways. I go in for my appointment and go to the ultrasound room smiling and excited! I looked at the ultrasound screen and there they were. My two beautiful babies were heartbeat less. I literally felt the breath go out of me. I just remember saying "No!" over and over again. I started crying, trying to wake myself up from this nightmare but it just kept getting worse. There I was alone, once again, without my husband. Only this time to find out our sweet babies were gone. My heart felt like it had been ripped out of my chest. Thankfully, the sonographer who has been with us since our very first baby that we lost before Mason just hugged me. Then 3 other staff members came in and comforted me. I just remember them repeating how sorry they were and I knew how much they meant it. To be honest, I know that what I was going through was far from the worst thing that they've seen as healthcare staff and providers. However, I also know that it is pretty common to lose empathy for patients when you deal with loss far too often. I know this because I am also a registered nurse and when I was actively working in the ER, sometimes your heart becomes numb to the sad and terrifying so that you can walk out that room and into another with a smile on. I will never forget these women that were in the room with me mourning the loss of our twins and standing in place of my husband who was home with the kids waiting for me to bring back good news. I decided to wait until I got home to tell him that we lost the babies, and when I opened the door I just looked at him and said, "We lost the babies." We just held each other, help our kids, wept, and prayed. The looks on our kids faces were so distraught. I'm actually not sure if my kids had ever seen me so sad that I've cried that intensely. It was all new to them as the news was new to us.
After a further evaluation, it was concluded that their official cause of death was early TTS (which is twin-twin transfusion syndrome) and the symptoms that I was feeling were thought to be related to a rare condition called mirror syndrome. You can tell in the pictures above that Baby B looked alot healthier than Baby A. This was because this baby was getting all the nutrients as Baby A was deprived.
Cincinnati Children's defines TTS as, "Twin-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) is a rare, serious condition that can occur in pregnancies when identical twins share a placenta. Abnormal blood vessel connections form in the placenta and allow blood to flow unevenly between the babies. One twin − called the donor – becomes dehydrated; and the other − called the recipient − develops high blood pressure and produces too much urine and over fills the amniotic sac."
Although we know what caused them to be taken from us so early, it doesn't make it any easier to keep thinking what life would have been like with them or what they would have grown up to be.
Here we are six weeks later and I’m just now getting the strength to share our story. To be honest, I’ve been real resistent to make our story public mostly because we are pretty private people and I also know people who have endured far worse things than this. This blog post has just been on my heart and is more for me in terms of closing this small chapter of our lives. For all of those moms and families that have lost a child whether that be a month after conceiving or an adult, our outcomes are still the same. We are hurting, mourning, grieving, asking a thousand why’s, wondering what we could’ve done differently, how we could have changed the outcome, and there is only one answer and that is God. He is the only one who knows all of the answers to all our questions.
A few days after my surgery, we got to go pick up our babies and bring them home with us. The hospital had sealed them in a little urn style box and we have them placed on a little shelf in our room. Having them with us I think has also given us a little more peace. Our Pastors from our church came last week and did a small celebration of life and it was ever so beautiful. It gave our kids an opportunity to ask questions, sing songs, and remember their twin siblings. It’s amazing to me how such young children can see a sorrowful heart, especially their mother. Little Mason wonders who they would’ve been and talks about them almost daily, and Rosie brings me her “babies” (stuffed animals) for me to wear in my shirt so that “mommy can’t be sad anymore.” It’s these little things and all the extra hugs and snuggles that the kids give that help me get through my day.
As I sit here typing this with tears flowing, I know that God has all three of our heavenly babies wrapped in His arms and I find peace knowing that He has a plan for our family and our future. Even though it is hard to understand why bad things happen, He truly doesn’t give us something that we can’t handle. We made it through the first miscarriage and we will make it through losing the twins as well. I know I will never get over losing my babies, but I am excited to see what path God is leading us on and know in my heart it will be beautiful. I can say that our love for Him has only grown stronger, even when it sometimes feels easier to be angry and turn away. Knowing that we put our trust in Him and that He knows what’s best for our family gives us peace as does knowing he will in turn give us a rainbow after this storm. So for now I am going to embrace this picture where we are holding our babies close and thinking of the memories that we had made with them even if it was for such a short amount of time.
For all of those who have reached out to us, we appreciate all the thoughts and prayers, beautiful cards, messages, gifts, and meals that our friends and family have so thoughtfully given us. We genuinely appreciate each and every one of you and can feel the power of prayer working.
For all the mom’s out there who have suffered a miscarriage, still birth, or an infant loss, my heart breaks for you and I am so deeply and truly sorry. I pray that God will help mend your broken hearts and give you peace and comfort now and in the days to come.
I will be hosting a Remembrance Session for those who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, early infant/child loss. I know that for me, having a little token of their pictures to look back on this particular moment in time has been helpful with coping. Whether it be an ultrasound of the first time you saw your little(s), a special blanket, that sweet going home outfit, an urn, or even your positive pregnancy test that is in a drawer somewhere. Feel free to bring anything that is meaningful to you that reminds you of the sweet life that was lost. All of the proceeds will go directly to Project Gabriel in honor of your sweet little one(s). These sessions will be held in October to represent the month of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness. Even if you haven't lost a child yourself, you can always donate in honor of a friend or family member who have lost a loved one.
Saturday October 10th, 2020 location TBD
15 minute session, 5 hand edited high resolution images, online gallery, and print release.
You can sign up here: https://calendly.com/sweetestmomentsphotos/remembrance-session
OR you can donate here.
For those of you who need a quick reminder that God has us during these hard times, here are a couple of verses that may help:
Matthew 5:4 says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
Psalm 34:17-19 says, “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Thank you from the depths of my heart for reading my story and if you have experienced a child loss and would like to share your story or what special thing you did to remember your little or even any advice on what helped you with closure, I would love for you to comment below so we as mothers' and as families can encourage each other and lift each other up through prayer!
Interested in learning more about Knoxville Family Photographer Hannah Bucklin? Click here to see more!
All images capture by Knoxville family photographer Hannah Bucklin with Sweetest Moments Photography located in Knoxville, Tennessee. Sweetest Moments Photography specializes in natural light lifestyle family photography, maternity, fresh 48, newborn, and milestone photography servicing Greater Knoxville and also traveling to surrounding areas. Want to see more? Click here!