“I felt such shame”: K’s Story

I was 21 weeks pregnant with twin girls when I felt pain. I went in for a ultrasound and knew right then that things were going terribly wrong for my girls, particularly for Baby B. Her head was tilted back in a strange way and I just knew. 

I was in labor and put on bedrest, and my precious girls weren't growing properly. What had I done to cause this. 

We perhaps foolishly disclosed our situation to [my husband’s employer]. They were initially supportive and offered advice to get a second opinion.  Over the next few weeks, my husband continued to work on projects and received no negative feedback on his performance. 

After visiting every perinatal specialist in the area, it was confirmed that Baby B would likely die. While her heart was still beating at that time, she would not be viable and might be born alive but would likely be on a do-not-resuscitate order or perhaps survive for a few days.  She was starting to necrotize.  Baby A was also in distress but would likely hang in there despite being low birth weight, with the possibility of suffering deficits long term.  

That day, my husband received a call from [his employer]. We told him our news in detail. He said he was sorry to hear but actually he was calling to let my husband know that the job was no longer available - he fired him in that same call.  I heard it with my own ears. 

Now that the prognosis was worse, they suddenly decided to fire my husband - over the phone. After he had just told them that one of our babies was going to die.  

We waited week after week and she held on, so strong, we hoped so much for a miracle.  Baby B died on a Tues., my 28th week of pregnancy, I felt her last kick and I knew. 

Beautiful Baby A held on but she was small and in danger.  I carried her to 35 weeks, and she was born just 4 lbs 3 oz. and her sister born still. After a week in the NICU, we brought A home and now she is a bright and lovely 7 year old. 

There's certainly deniability on the part of my husband’s employer, but no excuse for the callous and cruel way we were treated. They treated us like a problem that needed to go away.  

The message I'd like to convey is the importance of investing in the most crucial time in a human life. These babies will grow to be our leaders.   Einstein was a premature baby.  Don't give up on  distressed babies, don't give up on parents. Invest in them.

Today we have two gorgeous, healthy, bright, athletic, funny daughters and have so much to be happy for.  

But I will never forget. I haven't talked about it in years. I felt such shame. 

It was the most horrible day of my life, to be lying in bed with a dying baby, a struggling baby, and now my husband had been fired - over the phone. I've never felt such a weight of guilt and failure - what had I done.  

-K., Washington, DC