I approached the small, silver car and immediately noticed the many dings, dents and scratches all over the driver's side and trunk. Really? I threw my stuff inside, locked the door and went to the booth in the parking lot to complain. "Excuse me?" I said with my patience wearing very thin. "This car is in pretty bad shape. I really don't care what it looks like but I want you to make a note of it so I don't get charged for the damage." He followed me over to the beat up vehicle and wrote down everything I pointed out to him. "Thank you!" I said and jumped into the car. I plugged in the GPS so I could enter Lyndsay's address into it. The screen lit up, blinked twice and turned black. You're kidding. I checked the power switch and the connection to the car. All on. I tapped the screen. I unplugged it and plugged it in again. "He fucking gave me the broken one!" I screamed at no one. I grabbed the machine, got out of the car and slammed the door. I stormed into the rental area, ignoring the entire line, and shoved the device into the agent's face. I was done being nice. "Did you give me the other lady's broken one?" I accused as the man stared at me in fear. "I...ah...no! Of course not!" I wasn't convinced but I allowed him to live, "Then this one's broken, too." He seemed legitimately sorry as he hurried to the back and instantly reappeared with a new GPS, which was switched on to prove it was in working condition. I grabbed it and ran out. Back in the car, I texted Lyndsay with a status update, "I don't want to interrupt the bedtime routine for the kids. Don't worry about saving me food. I'll grab a sandwich on my way." I punched her address into the new GPS and finally left the airport.
According to the electronic map, I'd arrive at my destination at 7:26 PM, about an hour and a half from the current time. But five minutes into the trip I saw a Subway sandwich shop and pulled off to grab a quick dinner. Ten minutes later I was back in the car and on my way. That's odd, I thought as I looked at the GPS. It still says I'll arrive at Lyndsay's at 7:26. Weird. I pulled out of the parking lot and knew I needed to make a U-turn to get back onto the highway. I was heading in the wrong direction but the electronic car on the screen still showed that I was on track. Maybe it has to readjust itself, I thought. I got back on the correct road and continued on. It's a pretty straight run to Lyndsay's, so I wasn't too concerned that the little car on the screen hadn't told me to turn at all, but an hour into the trip, the pleasant voice instructed me to make a right onto 5th Street. That's strange. I'm on a highway and the only exit coming up on the right said "60", which I assumed was a small country road. The voice kept insisting I should turn so I figured "60" was probably one of those roads with more than one name. I got off the highway and immediately found myself in the beginning of a slasher film. It was pitch black and there were no streetlights. Not a car in sight and no houses around. I continued driving, passing old farms on either side without any cows or horses or life to be seen. I don't think this is right. GPS Woman instructed me to turn left onto a road that wasn't there, and when I didn't listen - because it was impossible to make a turn anywhere - the little car on the screen made the imaginary turn for me and let me know I was heading in the correct direction on 10th Street. Ok, something is very wrong. There weren't any signs, there weren't any stores. There was no one to ask.
There was just a bunch of nothing.
I collected myself and called Lyndsay, "Hey! My nav had me get off on some random road and I have no idea where I am! The stupid thing still thinks I'm going the right way but I'm totally not." The electronic voice directed me to make another turn that wasn't there and, once again, the little car on the screen showed that I was turning when I wasn't. "Where are you?" she asked. "I honestly have no idea. I think route sixty. Does that sound right?" There was a short pause, "Let me get Josh." After I'd repeated the dilemma to Lyndsay's husband without any clue where I could possibly be, I eventually passed a sign that said, "Mazeppa! I'm in Mazeppa! I'm crossing the Zumbro River!" Josh instantly knew where I was, "Ok, you're on sixty. I grew up there so I can give you directions. Can you write this down?" I pulled into the first gas station I'd seen in like 45 minutes, which just happened to show up at exactly the right time. I took down the directions and started out again. Honestly, I can't remember the last time I tried to read directions written on paper in a dark car at night. Not the simplest task! But I was able to make it the 30 minutes to the center of their town without needing help again. Not bad.
I pulled up to the house at about 7:45 PM and was greeted by a very handsome 5 year-old who was freshly bathed and wearing pajamas. His 3 year-old sister, who I plan on stealing at some point, came out behind him, followed by his now obviously pregnant mother. "Hi!" I exclaimed, relieved to finally be there. I spent the next 45 minutes hanging out with the kids until their bedtime and then Lyndsay, Josh and I stayed up watching TV and talking a bit longer before we all crashed. The trip was finally starting to get better.
So I thought.
My alarm woke me at 6:00 AM, way too early for this morning grump. But today I jumped out of bed, ready to start my day. After all, I was going to see my babies! The ultrasound was scheduled for 7:15 AM and Lyndsay and I needed about a half an hour to get there. We made great time and checked in exactly on time for the appointment. Barely 10 minutes later the tech came to get us and led us into a different ultrasound room than last time. This one didn't have the extra monitor high up on the wall, just the one the tech would be looking at. "Ok, Lyndsay, why don't you hop up onto the table," she said. "You're scheduled for a transvaginal ultrasound..." Lyndsay let out a disappointed moan and the tech continued, "but we might be able to try it from the outside and see what we can see." A satisfied smile spread across Lyndsay's face and, having had a very intimate relationship with the ultrasound dildo myself, I understood completely. The tech squirted blue goo all over Lyndsay's belly and moved the handheld device all around until the two gestational sacs appeared on the screen. They were a bit less clear than last time, but definitely there. She took a quick picture and handed it to me, "I hear you have three of them in here, huh?" she grinned. "I'm gonna take a look at Baby A first," She pushed and turned and pushed and turned on Lyndsay's abdomen as I watched the monitor. The blob inside the sac got bigger and smaller and changed shape each time the tech moved her hand and I just wanted her stop long enough to see if my little girl's heart was beating. And then she did. And there it was. A beautiful little flutter was counted at a whopping 175 beats per minute. As we stared at Baby A she gave us a little show, waving and bouncing around like a jumping bean. She measured perfectly at 8 weeks and 5 days gestation, exactly where she should be. "Ok, let's take a look at the other ones," said the tech and she moved the machine over a bit. The blob in the second sac came in and out of focus just as the first one had, but this time it took her a little longer to hone in on what she was looking for. Back and forth, up and down, side to side. I started to sense that something wasn't right, "Is everything ok?" I asked. The tech didn't seem alarmed, "Well, they're just really close together so it's hard for me to see them." She tried a few more angles, "They're right on top of each other." I could see how hard it was to distinguish Baby B from Baby C, but that wasn't my concern. What was worrying me was the fact that I didn't see any fluttering in the double-baby blob at all. "I'm sorry Lyndsay," said the tech. "I'm gonna have to do this transvaginally so I can see better."
Lyndsay left the room to put on a gown and I didn't speak to the tech at all. Once we see a couple more heartbeats I'll stop holding my breath and I'll speak. When Lyndsay was back on the table the wand was inserted and we all stared anxiously at the screen. "Let me just go back and look at A again," said the tech as we watched Baby A bopping around all over the place. Then she moved over to B and C. "It's not much better this way, is it?" she stated as she thrusted the ultrasound phallus up so far it was almost in Lyndsay's throat. She started taking measurements but wasn't saying anything. Then finally, "They're each measuring at seven weeks and five days." Ok, so twins are usually smaller. That's ok, right? "Are they ok?" I asked without actually wanting to hear the answer I already knew. "I'm not seeing a flutter in the chest." Is she talking about B or C? "In which one?" I questioned. She was somber, "In either of them. I'm sorry." We were all silent. I don't think any of us knew what to say at that point, but, without explaining what she was going to do next, Lyndsay and I both watched her push the button to count the heartbeats per minute, and we both watched the flatline move across the screen. Then she typed in the abbreviation "no fhb." No fetal heartbeat.
"Can I please have a picture of Baby A without the other two in it?" I asked. She nodded and printed the updated photo. When Lyndsay got up to change I allowed a few tears to escape then quickly soaked them up with a tissue. "Does this happen a lot?" I asked the tech, who nodded, "Yes it does. Especially with multiples." For the millionth time in this whole journey I didn't know how to feel. Was I sad that we just lost TWO of our babies? Was I relieved that we'd only have one? Was I scared that something would happen to the third one now? Was I mad at God for allowing this to happen? Yes. Yes, that last one. Why does God keep screwing with me? For the last three years I've had nothing but curveballs thrown at me. I finally get Jimmi to settle down and propose and I'm diagnosed with cancer four months before the wedding. I do some research and find out cervical cancer is 100% treatable, then I discover I have a super-rare, highly-aggressive, 85% fatal kind of cervical cancer. I'm told I'll probably only need to remove my cervix and can still carry a baby, then I end up with a full radical hysterectomy, including ovary removal, 4 cycles of chemotherapy and 28 cycles of pelvic radiation. We finally find someone to carry our baby for us, put two embryos in, and she miraculously gets pregnant with triplets. We freak out at the overwhelming thought of having three babies and agonize over what we should do about it, then, we finally come to terms with the thought and start getting excited over it and now they're taken away. I feel like a pawn in a cruel game.
When Lyndsay was ready we walked down the hall, back to the waiting room to check in for her appointment with the doctor. "Are you ok?" she asked me. I shrugged, "I dunno," I said. "I guess it's a little bit of a relief because it's not high risk anymore, but I'm still sad." She agreed, "Did you tell Jimmi yet?" I shook my head, "I'll wait until we talk to the doctor, then I'll call him." The nurse called us in pretty quickly and she was all smiles. Did she know? She took Lyndsay's weight then brought us to an exam room, "Who did you bring with you?" she asked Lyndsay, referring to me. "This is the mom. I'm just the carrier," she said. The nurse was surprised then so impressed by our situation. She congratulated us both then sat at the computer to get started, "How did the ultrasound go?" she asked innocently. "Not great," I said. "There was only one heartbeat." The look on her face told us she had no idea what we'd just seen and she was legitimately concerned for us. The knock at the door interrupted us and Dr. R came right in. He sat up on the side of the exam table as Lyndsay and I sat on the bench and he asked, "So do you know what we saw in the ultrasound?" We both nodded. "I know it's hard when something like this happens and we really have no explanation for it, but sometimes it means there was a problem with one or both of the babies." We nodded again, "Will this affect the other one?" I asked. "It shouldn't," Dr. R explained, "Sometimes if there are identical twins and one doesn't make it, the other one will end up with neurological problems. But that little one is completely independent of the others. They were sharing a womb, but in completely different sacs. And just to let you know, it does look as if the twins were sharing both a placenta and a sac, so that means if they had continued to grow, Lyndsay probably would've ended up in the hospital between twenty and twenty-four weeks until she delivered." Of course they were sharing a placenta and a sac! I should've known since the chances of that were like 1 in 100,000. I really should play the lottery more often.
Dr. R explained that Lyndsay's plan would now change since she's only carrying a singleton and is no longer high risk. She can stay with him or go back to her regular OB, but he wanted to order one more ultrasound in two weeks to make sure Baby A gets through the highest spontaneous miscarriage period. When he announced that he wanted to examine Lyndsay, I took that as my cue to step out and call Jimmi. It was still very early and I knew I'd be waking him up but I didn't really care. "Hello," his groggy voice answered. What do I say? How should I put it? "There's only one baby," I announced. He was obviously confused and probably still half asleep, "What?" he asked. "There's only one. The twins stopped growing sometime last week. They were still there but their hearts aren't beating." Truth be told, Jimmi had taken a long time to accept the fact that we were having three babies, but now that he had, the shock of two of them passing was clearly upsetting to him, "What happened? Did the doctor say why? Is the other one ok?" All questions I had asked myself, and all questions without good answers. "They just stopped. It happens. The other one seems ok for now, but she's not out of the general first trimester danger zone yet." He didn't know what to say, "Wow. I didn't expect that."
None of us did.
I suppose I could go on to write about my flight home being canceled, because that was just the perfect ending to the mishaps of my 24-hour trip, but I'm choosing to stop now and let the news sink in. We're having ONE baby. Please send out positive vibes that she continues to grow and thrive and is born happy and healthy.
RIP Angel Baby B and Angel Baby C. Mommy and Daddy love you.