“Well, at least you’re still pregnant with one baby.”

“Twins would have been so expensive. It’s a blessing.”

“You can try again after this baby turns one. You’ll still have three kids.”

Some say nothing at all, as though we haven’t lost one of our babies.

I play these reactions from well-meaning friends and acquaintances over and over in my head. They feel like a punch to the gut. I tell myself that they aren’t trying to be hurtful, but hurt is exactly how I feel.

Even worse, at my darkest moments, I start to wonder if they’re right. After all, I am lucky to still have one healthy baby growing inside me.

But it doesn’t erase the pain of losing the other.

After a textbook pregnancy with our son, my husband and I were blindsided to lose our daughter to a second-trimester miscarriage during our next pregnancy. Friends and family were quick to offer their support. Some sent cards. Others brought meals. Everyone was there to lend a listening ear. They understood how hard this loss was for us. I could tell.

Several months later, we were elated to find out that we were expecting twins.

Pregnancy after loss, especially a second trimester miscarriage, is incredibly anxiety-inducing but several early ultrasounds showed two growing babies.

I went into our 13-week ultrasound incredibly nervous, as always. I feared the worst, but deep down I fully expected to see two healthy heartbeats. I started to relax slightly after the ultrasound tech said with a smile, “Well, the first baby cooperated,” only to soon report that the other baby had passed away just a few days earlier.

I felt like the world was being ripped from underneath me. How could this be happening again?

Despite having walked the dark road of pregnancy loss once before, this was a unique form of heartbreak.

After my first miscarriage, I was no longer pregnant. It was agonizing, but I was able to grieve that loss and move forward. This time, I’m stuck in limbo, processing the loss of one child while trying to be strong for the one who continues to thrive. I feel a strange mixture of relief, joy, anguish, and bitterness all at once.

This time, no one sends meals or cards. Some offer their condolences, but it’s clear they don’t comprehend the gravity of the pain. I can’t blame them. I’ve had a miscarriage, but I’m still pregnant. Surely, that’s good news.

But inside, I am crushed.

For weeks, there were two hearts beating inside me but now there’s only one.

I had envisioned a twin nursery and researched double strollers. I worried about how I would manage to carry two infant car seats while still holding my toddler’s hand.

More than anything, I dreamed about watching two of my babies experience milestone after milestone side-by-side, going through life with a built-in best friend. I will forever see other people’s twins and wonder about the bond they might have had.

Last week, a kind stranger in line behind me at the supermarket smiled at my ballooning belly and asked when I was due. As I tried to my wrangle my toddler in the cart, the cashier chimed in, announcing that I was going to have my hands full.

I wanted to tell them. I wanted to shout from the rooftops that there were supposed to be two babies, that I wish my hands were going to be even fuller. Instead, we will only bring one baby home come October.

But, to avoid the inevitable, I simply offer a quick smile and tell them my due date is October 3rd. I don’t want them to tell me to be happy, to be thankful for the twin who survived.

I am incredibly grateful for our surviving twin, as well as our beautiful toddler son, but children aren’t interchangeable.

Having one child doesn’t make the loss of another hurt any less.

It is a pregnancy loss like any other. When I deliver this baby, the joy will be clouded by sibling loss. I have a feeling that joy and sorrow will continue to co-exist for a long time as we watch Baby A grow.

And yet, we have a unique opportunity to honor Baby B. When Baby A is old enough, we will tell him or her about the twin who is watching over us in Heaven. Birthdays and other milestones will be bittersweet, but they will remind us of the blessings that we do have and ensure that our Baby B is not forgotten.

You may also like:

To the Moms and Dads Who Suffer Loss: You Are Not Alone

You Don’t Have to Justify Grief

5 Things to Say to a Woman After a Miscarriage

God Actually Does Give Us More Than We Can Handle

Brittany Van Den Brink

Brittany Van Den Brink is a PhD Candidate and freelance writer living in Ontario, Canada with her husband, baby son, and their Golden Retriever, Chevy. You can read more from Brittany at Motherhood Her Way, which she founded as a platform to collaborate with other moms as they go through the ups and downs of motherhood. Say hi on Instagram @brittanyvandenbrink.