Victoria’s Loss Story
Reminder from Victoria: Each loss story is difficult to absorb so please just a reminder to take care of yourself! Take breaks and have a chat with someone (like me!) about your feelings that come up hearing this. Debrief, have a treat, whatever your self care things are!
It's hard to decide where my story begins. My firstborn, Emma was unexpected at 16 years old but welcomed. She taught me more than anyone else in the world ever has or probably ever will. She has been the only person in my world for a while and she got me through a bunch of shit that I couldn't have handled if not for the promise of a better future for her.
Fast forward over 7 years later. My partner and I agreed to try for a sibling for Emma. I feel guilty saying it, but it didn't take us long to conceive. At our 12 week scan our minds were blown, TWINS. 19 week scan we found out we were expecting girls! We would be a family of 5 and Troy would have to carry a lot of purses (or more accurately, cats) one day! I envisioned Christmas (my favourite holiday), children everywhere and laughter and a huge mess everywhere. I bought doubles of EVERYTHING. Carriers, clothes, cribs, etc. I couldn't wait.
Everyone sent me every story they ever knew about twins. I heard story after story of the complications of multiples pregnancy and delivery. We made each milestone of my pregnancy and met it with a sigh of relief and so much joy. After 24 weeks I had ultrasounds every 4 weeks, all normal. After 32 weeks, weekly Non Stress Tests (NST- kick counts and heart monitors, and my blood pressure). Everything was great. I was 36 weeks and 6 days and I went for my final ultrasound. There was a complication with twin A's placenta so I was sent for a check and another NST at the hospital. They decided it was best to induce and I was admitted over night for induction first thing in the morning.
At 8:00 a.m. my labor and delivery nurse came, did her monitoring, set up an IV, pitocin drip and broke my waters. 4 hours later I couldn't stand the constant crashes of full body, mind encompassing pain and asked for the epidural. Half an hour later they came to place it and before it took full affect I went from 8-10 centimeters in 5 minutes. I was quickly wheeled to the OR (that's where you have to deliver multiples, just in case). In one push Thora was here and 8 minutes later and a few more pushes came Aurora. They both looked well but Aurora was a little less fiesty so she went to the NICU after a short snuggle and a few suckles at the breast. Aurora stayed in the NICU for a few hours. I was able to go see her and send her all the milk she needed down the hall. She came to my room and we stayed up all night together. I stared at them and fed them, topped them up with syringes of hand expressed milk, cleaned poops and swaddled and held them. The next day all was well and we were sent home. We had a few routine appointments set up in the next few days and all was passed and going great. We made it! We were in the clear! We were safe!
At nearly two weeks old my babies developed a cough. And before long blue lips to go with the cough. Between coughing fits everything was normal. I got them checked out, all was fine. One night Thora went blue and I resuscitated her with my own mouth. We spent 7 hours in the ER waiting for someone to look closer and take us seriously. Everyone who passed asked how much we were sleeping, it was definitely a judgement, they were thinking we were sleep deprived and paranoid new parents. Finally someone saw what we did at the right time. Tons of tests were ordered and we were admitted right away. Soon after Thora was intubated and we were transferred to MacMaster children's hospital. Aurora was admitted to Pediatrics since she wasn't doing so bad. Thora was in the PICU. We split our time and by the next night Aurora was sent to the PICU as well as her condition was deteriorating. A few days later Thora was extubated, I was able to hold her and able to start breastfeeding again. Aurora was slower but showing signs of improvement. About a week after Thora was extubated they told us they were going to transfer us back to our home city hospital. We went to pack up our room at Ronald McDonald House a little in case we could go that day and stopped and ate a meal without inhaling wildly. We were relieved, it was going to be okay. We recieved a call saying Aurora was doing worse and would benefit from intubation, the help breathing and sedation would help her get better. She wouldn't have to fight so hard or suffer so much. Thora was intubated and she was getting better much faster because of it.
The next day Aurora's blood oxygen test was really bad and they did a transfusion. It was complicated but the procedure was done and her next tests came back better. Then the next one's were worse. She was stable for the most part for now and Thora was discharged so she and I slept at RMHC and my partner stayed at the hospital. The next morning everything was worse. She was on a more intense breathing machine and had a partial lung collapse. Hours of tests, waiting and worrying. Lots of doctors and specialists asked us tons of questions trying to see if there was any tiny thing that could help her. We were told that she needed to go to Sick Kids and arrangements for her transfer were being made, it was extensive as she was on many essential machines at this point. They asked if we wanted to move forward with the transfer as the risk of losing her in transit was very high. It was her only hope. Our only hope.
The Sick Kids team arrived and moved her onto portable machines. At the last second they said I could go and I handed sleeping Thora to my partner and ran after her.
In the ambulance there was constant communication amongst the team ordering meds to be pushed through, etc. The driver tried to keep me as distracted as possible. It didn't work. I prayed as hard as I could, I promised God everything in return for my family remaining whole. I could see the hospital when I heard the sound that I was sure meant her heart monitor was reading no rhythm. I prayed harder. I promised more. I wanted it to be me instead. They got her back as we arrived, 4:00 a.m. We moved fast up to the cardiac PICU. My family and I were shown to a room to wait while they put Aurora on bipass. The doctor came in after a million years (maybe an hour) and told us they were working hard to get her onto bypass and updates to come.
Another hour, she was successfully on bypass but her heart stopped for 2 minutes in the ambulance and another time for much longer. We had to wait and see if her brain had been compromised. 8:00 a.m. our doctor came back and the look said everything. We could wait til the tests came back but she was starting to show signs of brain damage. Our baby was gone. We decided tests were a cruel measure, prolonging her unnecessary suffering, so we wouldn't waste our time or her time with that.
Just after 8:00 a.m., at one month and one day old, Aurora had a comfortable dose of morphine and I held her as we unhooked her wires and cut off her bipass tubes. Her final moments were filled with love, we kissed her and spoke to her. We released her pain and told her we loved her as her chest fell for the last time.