Stories of hope – Losing twins to a healthy baby girl

I’m really excited to introduce a new series here on the blog today – Stories of hope. I’ll be sharing inspiring stories of other women who’ve experienced their own fertility journey and how they moved through it. When we were struggling to have our third baby and throughout the 12 months that we had three consecutive losses I had many women reach out to me and share their own experience. Hearing from women who’d been through a similar experience and had made it through gave me hope. I hope that you’re able to find a piece of that for yourself within each of these stories. First up please welcome Karen Linz.

I always knew I wanted kids. I grew up in Buffalo, NY with my parents, two sisters, and lots of cousins nearby. I had a few cousins who were 10-14 years younger than me and I couldn’t get enough of them!

I went to college and graduate school to become a speech pathologist. After six years of school, I finally graduated and two years later I married Joe, the love of my life. We were 26 and we felt like we had all the time in the world to start our family.

I think a lot of people have this expectation that getting
pregnant is easy, and we were among those people. Maybe it’s
because of high school health class or TV shows where people
seem to have unplanned pregnancies more often than planned
ones. Or the fact that my mother and grandmothers had no trouble conceiving. Whatever the reason, we just assumed that we’d be holding our brand new baby in nine months, or certainly no more than a year.

That’s where the difficulties began. Like so many women, I was on the birth control pill. When I stopped taking the pill, I expected my cycle to return naturally within a month or two. The first month passed and…nothing.

Could I be pregnant already? I excitedly took the first of many, many pregnancy tests. As I somewhat expected, it was negative. Two more months passed and still nothing. I was starting to feel a little anxious so I scheduled a doctor’s appointment. That’s when they told me it can take up to six months after stopping the pill to resume a normal cycle.

I left feeling so deflated. It had only been three months, but it’s amazing how your mind can go from wanting a baby to really wanting a baby. Suddenly, my mind was consumed with babies and my cycle (or lack thereof). What could I do to help get it back? I spent the next nine months making pretty significant lifestyle changes (significant to me, anyway).

I learned everything I could about the female cycle. I spent over $1000 on fertility acupuncture. I reduced my running. Added chicken and turkey into my previously-pescatarian diet. Did fertility yoga (that’s when I was fortunate enough to I come across Bettina’s videos on YouTube!). I started charting. I had a small victory when I got a cycle during this process, but it was the only one I got in 12 months. The fear of the unknown, of not knowing if I’d ever be able to have a baby, was always on my mind. Meanwhile, five of my coworkers were pregnant, making it even more difficult to manage.

Finally in May of 2017, I went back to the doctor and we decided it was time to try Clomid (a fertility medication that helps with ovulation). Fast-forward to my second round of Clomid in July and I got the positive pregnancy test I had been dreaming about. It was the most beautiful sight and Joe and I were beyond thrilled! I was nine weeks pregnant and it was time for our first ultrasound in September of 2017. We had waited quite a while for this and couldn’t wait to see our tiny baby for the very first time.

What happened next still feels like a bad dream. We got into the ultrasound room and saw not one but two tiny babies. I couldn’t believe we were going to be parents of TWINS! The ultrasound technician was pretty quiet as she took a lot of different measurements and Joe and I were just talking happily about how different our lives were about to be. Pretty soon after, she stopped and looked at us with a sad expression on her face. “So, there are two babies, but I can’t find any heartbeats. I’m so sorry.” My whole world shattered around me. This couldn’t be happening. Not to me. Not to us. This seemed like something that only happened to other people.

The next several months were the most difficult of my life. It felt a little like sleep walking. I spent hours on the couch after work just staring into empty space. I went to a few counseling sessions and Joe and I talked (and talked and talked) about how sad I was. He was sad too, but I took it a lot harder than he did.

We started Clomid again in January of 2018 and after two cycles, I was pregnant again. I couldn’t believe it had worked so quickly, but I was so grateful. It didn’t take me very long to realize that this pregnancy would be different. I was guarded and nervous the entire time. Every day I would try to feel for symptoms, and I was thankful for every symptom I had. I loved the nausea. I loved how exhausted I was. I panicked when symptoms would fade.

I thought I would feel less anxious after the first ultrasound, or after the anatomy scan, or when I could feel the baby move, or the age of viability… but there was always something to be worried about. I had an incredible pregnancy overall and I think if I hadn’t experienced a loss, I would have enjoyed it even more. But even after the loss (or maybe because of it?), I took time out of every day to tell God how thankful I was for the miraculous gift of this baby. I think I appreciated the flicker of the heartbeat, the sound of the Doppler, the little kicks and wiggles even more than I otherwise would have.

November 8, 2018 (our due date) came, and I started having contractions around midnight. This baby was very punctual. We didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl, so the excitement was really building. At this point, I wasn’t nervous or scared. Mostly just excited! I was pretty set on having a natural birth. We took some classes and I had a list of techniques I would use as natural pain management, but after 10.5 hours of regular and pretty intense contractions (plus 18 hours of on and off contractions before that), I was just exhausted.

We went to the hospital around 2:30am and I got an epidural an hour later. I still have some regrets about getting one because it was so strong I couldn’t feel even a slight urge to push, but there’s always next time (hopefully)! Thankfully, I was able to get some sleep for the rest of the night.

At around 10:15 on November 9, the midwife came in and it was time to push. It was such a surreal experience, and even though I couldn’t really tell if I was pushing correctly, it was amazing. Eleanor Shea Linz was born at 10:26 AM weighing 6 pounds, 7 ounces, and measuring 19 inches long. She was the most beautiful sight after such a long infertility journey, and Joe and I were filled with so much love for our daughter.

Being a mother has been the most wonderful, rewarding experience of my life so far. Maybe it’s because I experienced a loss, so I appreciate every moment on a deeper level than I otherwise would have. Or maybe it’s because Eleanor is what you might call an “easy baby.” She sleeps through the night, doesn’t cry very often, and rewards us with smiles and emerging giggles.

Perhaps the most difficult part of being a mother has been deciding what to do with my career as a speech pathologist. I’ve been staying at home with Ellie and was planning to return to work part-time in August. It turns out, part-time childcare is difficult to come by, so I’ve also been considering staying at home full time as we continue grow our family. Making that decision has been pretty agonizing for me as it involves a change in identity, but I do feel incredibly fortunate to have a choice!

Looking back on the last nearly three years, I can see just how much I didn’t know about life in general.

I learned that there will always be something to worry about, so try to enjoy what you have while you have it (easier said than done, I know).

I learned that sometimes people need someone to listen to them say the same thing over and over and over.

I learned that checking up on someone even months after they’ve experienced a loss is important.

I learned that everyone experiences the pain of loss differently.

I learned that people with children may still be missing the babies they never got to hold.

I learned that countless people go through a much more difficult
infertility journey than I did.

I learned a lot about natural fertility signs.

I learned that the pill can really interfere with your hormones long-term.

Do I wish I had known these things before? Of course! But at least now I can say that the pain of infertility and loss truly taught me something.

I hope I am better person because of it, but if nothing else, I have Eleanor because of it. And that is worth everything.

losing twins

Can you relate to Karen’s story? Let us know in the comments below. Would you like to share your story with our community? You can do so here.

My book Watering the Flowers – A guide to find hope and healing after losing a baby is available for purchase in Australia here. (Or internationally here?)

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