My name is Miranda Coker, and I am a mother of four. I live in St. Louis, Missouri with my husband Glenn, our two living children (daughter Grayson and son Evan) and our dog Lucy.
On November 26, 2011, my husband and I delivered our identical twin daughters, Annalise and Emmalyn sleeping just short of twenty weeks gestation. I had just begun to feel their sweet flutters and other than being extremely nauseated in the first trimester, my pregnancy had been uncomplicated.
As a labor and delivery nurse, it was easy to be in the care of the best physician and surrounded by a great care team. Unfortunately, in some ways, it left me totally oblivious to the fact that anything could go wrong with my pregnancy. I have worked with families for years, and looking back on all three of my pregnancies, it never occurred to me that anything bad would or could ever happen to any of my babies. The worst thing that ever crossed my mind, was early delivery, but certainly not this. Stillbirth was something that happened to others, not me, not a labor and delivery nurse, and not after ten years of wanting another baby and being blessed with two.
I showed up at my doctor’s office on the Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving for a routine ultrasound. Since our older two children were 10 and 16, my doctor felt like it would be okay for them to come with my husband and me. We were all so excited to see the girls together and continue this journey of growing our family. It only took a few minutes for me to realize something was wrong and an ever shorter time to go into mama bear mode by sending Evan and Grayson to the waiting room, an attempt to protect them from the ugly truth. This was one moment I was both glad and sad that I knew as much about ultrasounds as I did.
Our precious Baby A, Annalise, was lying there so still. Where I should have seen her heartbeat, was just stillness. I then saw Baby B, Emmalyn’s heartbeat and, for a second, thought maybe I was wrong. They were both fine and I just was confused as to what I was seeing. When my doctor arrived in the ultrasound room, I was hopeful but deep inside I knew. I am sure my husband was slightly confused, but I knew. I remember staring almost through the screen as he slowly scanned every detail of both our babies. It’s odd how you remember the strangest things during the deepest times of stress, but I can still tell you every time he wears the shirt he had on that day.
The doctor explained that he believed our daughters had Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome and if Emmalyn could survive the first 48 hours after Annalise’s passing, it was likely that she would be okay. The rest of that day was a blur. For the next day and a half, I prayed vigilantly for both of my girls. Friday was the day my whole world completely crashed. We found out Emmalyn had not been able to survive her sister’s death. We came home, told our older children, and left for the hospital to deliver our girls. It was a Friday afternoon around 2 o’clock and they were born 12 hours later.
They were perfect in every way and we treasure every minute we were able to spend with them. Six weeks later, I returned to work. A job where I was surrounded by pregnant women and crying babies. A job that I had begged God to close the doors to, but instead he gave me just enough strength to keep going back. It was hard, it is still hard some days, but after about 15 months, it was suddenly clear to me why I went back. You see, pregnancy, stillbirth and infant loss does not discriminate. I was not exempt for any reason and although I had believed differently for so long, it was staring me in the face.
There will continue to be other moms like me and like you. Moms that don’t need me to fix them, but to walk alongside them – to give them hope and help them tell their stories.
I firmly believe that every time we share our stories, we help save lives. Although counting kicks would not have saved my daughters, every day when I discharge a pregnant mom from the hospital, my girls help me save a baby. I honor them every day by telling their story, by telling the story of my older two children and how oblivious I was to the things that could go wrong so quickly.
I don’t remember doing kick counts or being told how important it was to be been seen right away by a doctor if my baby was not moving as much as normal. If I don’t remember these things, how many other moms would say the same thing? Do we really stress kick counts enough? I know how important kick counts are. I know how many minutes can make a difference. I know what life has been like for me since I lost my girls and I see what it does to other families. Families we can protect, by simply sharing our stories.
Every day I get to honor my girls by raising awareness. Every day, I am humbled to be able to continue to protect my family and friends, my children, and my grandchildren as well as yours. Every day, I choose to make a difference. Labor and delivery is my life and awareness and education is my passion.
Will you join me in helping parents-to-be in Missouri?Email Me