One Family’s Story of Emotional Struggle and Lending Support to Others
By Heather Courville
In January 2016, my husband Heathe and I received the surprise of a lifetime when the ultrasound tech saw two little heartbeats. Big sister Anniston, 5, was over the moon excited! We were pregnant with identical boys and named them Nyle Matthew & Griffin Cole. My pregnancy was, for the most part, fantastic! I did have some twin-sized morning sickness, but that was to be expected. My Fetal Maternal Physician assured me that my guys were healthy and had no signs of a clef pallet or heart defects, which are common in identicals. At this point in pregnancy, 22 weeks, I was being seen once a week, on rotation with my normal OB and MFM.
On May 4th, we entered the ultrasound room at Dr. J. Pugliese’s office laughing and acting silly. The moment our ultrasound tech, Leslie, began her scan, I saw her face drop. “When was the last time that you felt them move?” We knew exactly what that meant. I stayed calm and started saying all that I did wrong because I knew that it was my fault. I had a sip of Coke, I used nose spray, I took a Tylenol. None of this was the reason. We went home to pack and make arrangements for Anniston.
The following morning, we went back to my doctor’s office to confirm that there were no heartbeats before I headed to LGMC to be induced. After 17 hours of labor, Nyles and Griffin were born in the early morning of May 6th. Their birth was so calm. My nurse Emily sat in the bed with me and coached me through labor. My sister-in-law was on my left, and husband on my right. I could feel my sister-in-law’s tears falling on my leg as I pushed to deliver Nyles. Dr. Pugliese arrived in time to deliver Griffin. We will forever be grateful that she was there with us. It was 2:00 in the morning, she was not on call and she left her 4 precious children at home to deliver my babies. We then immediately saw twins’ umbilical cords were tangled, cutting off their source of life. Even though I was afraid of death, there was a peace in Room 220 at LGMC that I will never be able to explain.
Did you know that you have to pay a lot of money for a funeral for babies that you never had the opportunity to put life insurance on because they never had life insurance? I was ignorant to that as well, until May 6, 2016. We humbly accepted Maddie’s Footprints offer to help us with our funeral bill. Heathe did proclaim at one point, “We will never be a part of Maddie’s Footprints. We’ll send a thank you card, but that’s it.”
Oh how wrong he would be.
Dr. Pugliese pushed us to attend the Maddie’s Footprints of Hope support group (a bereavement group for parents). For once, we felt safe and weren’t silenced. I had a safe place to share and cry. These strangers, who would turn into lifelong friends, just understood my crazy. Our losses are all very different, but we can all agree that we just miss our babies and our lives will never be what we envisioned.
My passion for infant loss kicked in. It definitely wasn’t my agenda. I’m just Nyle & Griffin’s mom, who still had twin-sized love to pour on to others. I only share so that others don’t feel alone. Statistics are that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in a loss. Those numbers are high and I promise you, it’s happened to someone you know. I never thought that I would be the 1, in my blissful ignorance. It only happens to “other people.” I would openly share our journey on social media. Some really awesome connections were made. After several people asking me to start a blog, I did. It gave me an avenue to get my emotions out. I was naive and thought that the universe would select us to be one of those lucky couples that would become pregnant right away. We then walked a very crooked 3-year path of infertility.
Y’all would not believe all that we tried before we finally sought help from Dr. John Storment at Fertility Answers. I was angry to be seeing him. I couldn’t believe that I was “here.” My kids are dead and now I’m infertile. We were under his care for a total of 7 months. There were a few moments of giving up. Sperm counts were horrible and my ovaries were so full of cysts that we could only do two fertility treatments in the 7 months.
On May 6th, which would have been the twins’ third birthday, we learned we were pregnant again. We chose to tell our families early and nervously shared on social media, as well. Your opinion may be that 7 weeks is too early to announce. Our reality is that there is NO safe trimester. Today, I am pregnant, tomorrow it could all be over. We will bask in the glory of today because tomorrow holds no promise. It truly takes a village. This baby belongs to our friends and families, too. The prayers, the fasting, lighting candles, the good juju they’ve all sent — that’s what has gotten us here.
This rainbow Mom gig is hard. I wake up thinking, well this baby was alive yesterday. Will there be another cord accident today? My precious doctor is having me come in every 2 weeks for heartbeat scans, just for my sanity, until we can use a doppler ultrasound at home.
If you are in the 1 in 4, I want you to know that your baby mattered! The ache will always be there, but will soften with time. Don’t feel ashamed to say your baby’s name. If you are struggling, please reach out. You don’t have to suffer in silence. Lafayette has an infant loss community through Maddie’s Footprints that is ready to love you with arms wide open!
Peace be still,
Heather & Heathe Courville Anniston, Nyle, Griffin, and “Rainbow” baby’s parents’