There was a set of twin girls in my grade in elementary school. I secretly envied them, wishing I had a sister who would dress like me, who would play pranks on people by switching places, who would hold my hand on the first day of school when I was all alone. Thinking back about it now, I don't think that getting to do these twin acts per se was what I so desired, but rather the bond that forms as a result of going through life with such a close partner in crime.
As my infertility journey showed signs of a long haul and IVF became a necessity, so too did the possibility of having twins. My personal longing for an age mate turned to a desire for children who would share the connection that struck a chord in my heart back in elementary school. For all three of my IVF cycles, we transferred two embryos in hopes that both would stick. During my first IVF cycle, the night before my first ultrasound that would allow us to see if we had more than one baby, I prayed hard that there would be two. I feel a little kookie admitting it, but I felt as if someone, perhaps God himself, grabbed my face and said, "You will get your twins." The next day's ultrasound was a little disappointing, as there was only one baby, but that in itself was enough to cancel out my greediness for two. For our next two IVF cycles, I never forgot I had been told, very definitively in my mind, that someday I would have my two. When it didn't happen the second IVF cycle, the third time I believed my chances had to be good. Plus, using a young egg donor increases your likelihood for success, so I let myself be more confident that my babies were on their way. When my pregnancy results were in, my hCG levels were very high, a good sign that this was finally it. An ultrasound a month or so later confirmed--I was going to get my twins.
I recognize that hoping for twins isn't necessarily popular. There are the possible risks to babies and to mothers, and there are the financial obligations. But for me these are worth it; I not only have waited so long to have a baby in the first place, but I can't imagine anything more special than sharing a childhood with the person with whom you shared a womb. I want that desperately for our daughters.
But today as I remain in this purgatory that lies between Baby B's life and death, I grieve the loss, not only of my baby, but of this bond between her and her sister. Although they are spending their first nine months together, upon their birth they will be connected merely in spirit. Baby A will reach milestones--first days of school, getting her driver's license, graduations--without Baby B beside her. Knowing that Baby B will die shatters me deeply, but what feels even more devastating is knowing that Baby A will not have her sister by her side on her life journey. For her loss I grieve even more deeply than I do my own.
This quote from A Midsummer Night's Dream in my painting is Helena's attempt to remind Hermia of the incredibly special bond they used to share. I think it captures perfectly the beautiful connection between twin girls.