How fast can we run?

Pursue your passions; chase your dreams.

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, or you just found me and have taken some time to read through my past posts, you know that my husband and I have been on quite the journey over the last 12ish months.  I assume we’ve actually been on the journey much longer than that, being prepared for this time, but it feels like we were just brought into the loop, so to speak, only recently.  Baby C will be 1 month old tomorrow.  To say the last 4 weeks have been busy would be an understatement.  Much has happened and we’re getting ready to make some big changes.

Long story short, the Hubs’ current employer and he are not seeing eye to eye.  They haven’t been seeing eye to eye for quite some time, but it only recently got to a breaking point.  While not trying to hide or conceal his side business, he didn’t go around his current employer’s work place promoting it…that would have been in clear conflict with his current position.  His manager stumbled upon his site, and it has been an uphill battle ever since.  She’s a control freak and decided what he was doing on the side was an “obvious” conflict of interest and clearly he should have obtained prior approval before delving into such an endeavour.  I could go on and on about the absurdities that have transpired over the last few weeks, the poor handling of the whole thing and the ridiculousness that is his manager, but that isn’t the point of this post.  The truth is, for a few days, where we truly thought the Hubs was going to be fired for violating company policy, we were a little freaked.  I should probably mention this all unfolded on 3/22.  We were supposed to hear back from his manager and a decision from HR on 3/23 (the anniversary of the day we lost the twins).  We didn’t hear anything and got to sit and think about everything and come up with every possible outcome on 3/24 and 3/25 (the anniversary of their births).  This is all smack-dab in the middle of the 2 weeks he was SUPPOSED to be on vacation/paternity leave.  The timing of this whole ordeal is nothing short of poetic.  We received the decision from the ethics department yesterday, which was totally in our favor.  His side company is in no way a conflict of interest.  There was no reason for him to get approval from his manager and they’ve noted it in his permanent file so it will never have to be discussed again.  His website, that he had taken down a few weeks ago until this was resolved, was put back up last night.  As I write, he’s only moments away from a conference call his manager scheduled this morning to discuss the decision from the Ethics department.  No idea what she wants or how this conversation will end.

We’ve had a lot of time to think and to process over the last few weeks.  Emotions have been running high and we’ve talked ad nauseam about all the possibilities that lie ahead.  The timing is too impossible to ignore.  A year ago we lost the twins.  Almost a year ago the idea for his company started forming.  Last summer the idea for his company, and where we wanted to take our lives was solidified when we went on vacation.  It’s all documented here in my blog and we’re both a little ashamed to admit we haven’t really done much to accomplish the goals we set for ourselves.  The truth is, there is no way Hubs can start a business part-time in his current role.  He’s given it a good effort, but with his travel schedule, he flat-out doesn’t have the time it would take to get his business up and running on a part-time basis.  His dream has been, since childhood, to own his own business.  We’ve been able to spend the last few weeks considering a life style that didn’t include Hubs being gone 3 weeks out of the month.  A life style that included flexibility and the ability to work from home, or Starbucks, or Barnes and Noble.  A life style that allowed Hubs to be present, to make up for lost time in a way.  At the beginning of this whole ordeal, his boss suggested it was probably good he was already on vacation so he could take some time to think about what he really wanted.  That suggestion probably isn’t going to work out in her favor.  She’s called his integrity and commitment into question multiple times over the last few weeks…and he’s just not the type of guy to put up with that; and he shouldn’t have to.

The truth is, we’re currently in a financial position to allow Hubs to quit his job and take a stab at his company on a full-time basis for several months.  And while we have a substantial savings, the idea of him giving up his salary when I don’t work and we have 2 young kids still doesn’t feel like a good choice.  But that certainly doesn’t mean it’s the wrong choice.  In fact, a lot of times, the right decision is the most difficult road to walk.  The decision to leave his current employer has already been made, it’s just a matter of when.  This whole thing has been handled so poorly, and he’s been treated very poorly by his manager with regard to this situation.  It’s not a job he’s willing to stay at when the demands (travel, hours, etc.) are so high.  We’re trying to tie up a few loose ends before he walks away.  The decision of what to do after that is still up in the air.  The options are endless, really, but all boil down to whether or not he looks for another full-time gig or gives his business a go on a full-time basis and see where we end up in a few months.

We’re viewing this as an opportunity.  We’ve been given the opportunity to look at our options and see that yes, he can walk away from his current job and we’ll be ok for “x” amount of time.  We’ve been given the opportunity to think about what could be.  It’s not some far-off dream at this point, but more of an attainable reality.  So.  Are we willing to take the plunge?  Are we willing to take that step of faith?  How fast can we run to chase our dreams?

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The Twins – Part IV

There is no end to this story.  There is no conclusion.  You can’t take all the pieces, put them in a box, close it, put a bow on it and call it finished.  No, their story will follow us the rest of our lives, and continue to unfold.  Possibly into further generations, we have no way of knowing.  As I sit here just days away from giving birth to our 4th daughter, and almost a year after their birth, I feel I need to offer some sort of end to their online story.  There are things that happened I haven’t yet written about.  The days immediately following their death and the intense emotional experience we went through just a mere month after the twins died.  This is the final part of their story.

The twins were born on a Thursday and Friday, respectively, and I was released from the hospital on Friday afternoon.  I don’t remember much about the ride home.  It was sunny and warm, I remember that much.  I also remember wanting desperately to see A, to see her smile, to see LIFE.  I slept a lot those first few days home.  Lots of flowers were delivered to our house, which I still find odd.  The last thing I wanted around my house were the living, beautiful floral arrangements to remind me of my dead babies. I know people were just trying to be kind, but I found it repulsive.  We put a sign up outside asking delivery men not to ring the doorbell.  My mom told me later about a conversation the Hubs had with one.  Hubs was asked if we’d just had a baby as he was accepting a flower delivery.  “No,”  he responded, “We just lost 2.”  How does one respond to that question?  It would only be one of many, many awkward conversations we would have.

We had a lot of time in the hospital to discuss what we would do with the twins’ remains.  We knew we would hold them, talk to them, keep them with us for some time, and we chose to have their bodies cremated and then we would take possession of the cremains.  Because the twins died before 20 weeks gestation, our loss was still medically classified as a late miscarriage.  Had they died past 20 weeks, we would have been forced, legally, to either cremate or bury their bodies.  This was my first experience with death.  I’ve lost grandparents, but I was never that close to them so conversations such as these were never had.  I’ve always avoided the casket at wakes and at funerals, but holding the bodies of my dead twins never felt gross or strange to me.  It didn’t matter if they were alive or dead, they were my babies and they had souls and I was going to miss them no matter what.   It was a no-brainer that we would want them home with us in whatever form we could have them.  There is a local funeral home that doesn’t charge a fee to cremate the bodies of stillborn babies.  They picked up their bodies from the hospital morgue on Friday.  We checked, and checked and double-checked with the hospital and funeral home about our 1 request.  We requested the twins’ bodies be kept together.  Cremated together, ashes placed in the same bag and then that single bag was to be placed inside the urn.  As impossible as it was to lose 2 babies, there was some sense of peace they at least had each other.  Because the twins were never alive, they didn’t receive birth or death certificates.  The only paperwork we have that bears their full names printed on it are the consent forms we had to sign for the funeral home to take possession of their bodies.  Those pieces of paper are very important to me.  I’ve read recently about certificates of stillbirth; it’s something I’m going to look in to.  We were anxious to get the twins home.  I left the hospital with a huge lump in my chest that wouldn’t go away.  It’s like I couldn’t breathe.  We’d been given a bunch of literature at the hospital and most of the books referenced this feeling and called it a broken heart.  The lump wouldn’t go away until we were able to collect their remains.

I don’t remember the exact day we got the call we could pick up the twins.  I think it was the following Thursday, a week after Megyn’s birth.  I know A was in school.  I pass by this funeral home a lot these days…it’s right down the street from the hospital.  I remember where we parked and I remember feeling so very sad, lonely and empty as we walked inside.  We agreed to pay $50 to have their remains placed inside an urn instead of a plastic box.  It’s very small, I remember both the Hubs and I being surprised at how small it is.  It’s ivory and gold colored, shaped like a heart and fits in the palm of my hand.  We confirmed again their remains were together inside the plastic bag inside the urn.  I held them close to my chest as we walked out of the funeral home and got back into the truck.  On the way out of the house, I grabbed a blanket given to us at the hospital.  I’m forever grateful to the organization Threads of Love for providing a handmade, crocheted blanket for our girls.  We had nothing for them, and I’ve felt guilty about it ever since.  It never occurred to me to purchase them something, anything.  A blanket, a stuffed animal…something that we could have taken with us that was intended for them.  The nurses took pictures of the girls on this blanket and it’s the only thing we have they actually touched.  As soon as I got into the truck, I wrapped their tiny urn up in this blanket.  “All babies go home wrapped in a blanket,” I explained to my husband.  I remember sitting in the truck, their remains wrapped in a blanket in my lap and taking a deep breath.  For the first time, I could breathe.  The lump was gone.  It finally felt like the longest day of my life had ended and we could attempt to move forward.  The twins’ cremains are in our bedroom.  In those first several weeks and months I would touch them daily, talk to them.  On Mother’s Day last year I held them near my heart and looked at their pictures.  It was important to me to spend time with them on that day.  I haven’t looked at their pictures since then.  I still touch them a lot and tell them I miss them.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think about them in one way or another.  While it may seem odd to some, having them home with us was the right choice.  We talked about burying them, but neither of us feels rooted here and I would have a really hard time moving away and not being physically close to their gravesite.  We may still bury them at some point, but not yet.  In the meantime, they’ll stay with us.  Their urn is small and in our bedroom.  It doesn’t exactly spark a lot of conversation from people visiting our home and the fact we have their remains here at our home is not information we openly share.  The weeks after that are a blur.  There was a lot of crying.  There was a lot of conversation. There were intense conversations about how odd it felt to be straddling life here on Earth and life in Heaven. I’ve never felt like dying, or taking my life, but it’s a strange feeling to suddenly feel like you’re in more of a hurry to get to Heaven. I believe my girls are there and I will meet them one day.  There was almost an immediate shift in life goals and priorities and there were relationship changes with our friends and family.  Family became really important…still is.  Some friends became more important, some friends fell away, and that’s ok.  I appreciated text messages and emails from friends, but I didn’t want anyone around me except my family.  I felt that way for a very long time and I still prefer family almost a year later, though I’m working on being a little more social.  I have a few close girlfriends that I’m constantly in touch with.  I took a year long leave of absence from the volunteer organization I’m a member of, stopped posting on facebook and didn’t return phone calls for months.  I needed some time to re-evaluate my life.  What was important to me and frankly, figure out exactly what I was going to do with this new life I was facing.  Things changed, I changed, my husband changed.  We were visited by a family friend who has had her own life’s battles after we returned from Sea World last April.  Since we’ve been dating, both Hubs and I have looked up to this couple as people we’d like to model our life after.  They don’t have children, they couldn’t because of a cancer diagnosis she got at a young age.  She talked to me about that stage of her life…how it changed her.  How it made her into the person she is today, the one I so respect and admire.  How it did things for her marriage no other experience could do.  She wakes up everyday and if she faces adversity, well, at least she doesn’t have cancer she says.  She wouldn’t trade her experience and I appreciated her visit very much.  It gave validation to what I was feeling, validating the feelings of change I had been experiencing. It also gave validation to the fact the Hubs and I had been discussing the changes in our marriage, how it seemed through tragedy, we actually grew closer, deepening our relationship, and it gave me confidence that losing some friendships was ok…that there would be people that would fall out of our lives because they couldn’t deal with the changes that were happening to us.  We still see those changes and almost a year later, I find it almost overwhelming to reflect upon all the changes in our life. This tragedy of losing the twins will foster positive growth, and something big and great will come out of it. I know it beyond the shadow of a doubt.

As husband and wife, we were doing the things that husbands and wives do about a month after losing the twins. It was that night I discovered a tiny lump, almost like a grain of rice on the Hubs, in a place you don’t ever really want to find a lump. I brought it to his attention, asking him if he’d felt it before. He said no. He was actually scheduled to head out of town that Monday and I was freaked out. I left it up to him, but thankfully, he squeezed in a doctor’s appointment that morning to see our family practitioner.  He was given an exam, and then a prescription for an ultrasound at the hospital as soon as he returned from his business trip. Not the diagnosis I was hoping for. I’m sure he was also hoping to hear it was no big deal, a cyst or maybe some connective tissue. I’ve never felt so panicked and fearful in my whole life. I called my mom in a state of absolute panic who in turn sent my dad to sit with me until she could get here. I was terrified of the Hubs leaving, of me being by myself. It was the first time he’d left town since losing the twins, and he was leaving with the knowledge that we might be facing a diagnosis of testicular cancer upon his return. It was heart-wrenching to think about. Not for one second did I think there was no way he’d be taken away from me. Not for one second did I believe God wouldn’t do that to me, to us. If he’d allowed the twins to die, what’s to stop me from thinking he’d take my husband too? I remember sitting in my den, on my knees, sobbing and begging a God I didn’t really trust anymore not to take my husband away from me, not to take my best friend. It’s a moment that has been seared into my mind. I was helpless, hopeless and broken. I had absolutely no where to turn and I was left to put my trust in a God that, in my mind, had hugely failed me only a month before. I can’t explain the kind of fear and panic I felt. I’ve never experienced it before, and haven’t experienced it since. Between the doctor’s visit and the ultrasound appointment I did as much research I could online. One of the hardest things to read about were the fertility discussions. We had been talking about when to have another baby after losing the twins and when dealing with testicular cancer, based on the diagnosis, future fertility becomes a question. Things like sperm banking and such are real discussions your doctor will have with you. We were both a nervous wreck on the day of the ultrasound. We actually had to check-in at the hospital and hurry up and wait…as is the case with most hospitals. The Hubs chose to have me go with him, for such an awkward appointment, I again, left that decision up to him. I promised him the tech would either be some gnarly dude or a 60+ year old Gerta. I was wrong. The tech that came to get us with 30ish, cute, spunky and had long brown hair pulled back in a ponytail. Looking back now, I feel bad for the guy. At the time, I didn’t care. I’d spent the last month with a doctor’s hand halfway up my vagina…who was I to judge? Even though she isn’t supposed to give results, she identified the mass pretty quickly. After she was done she let us know she was fairly certain the mass was simply a fluid filled cyst. There was good circulation and she didn’t think it was anything to be concerned about. We had to wait until the next day to hear back from the radiologist, but he confirmed the mass was a cyst and only needed further attention if it grew in size. We were relieved, to say the least, but I certainly haven’t forgotten about the whole experience. It left its mark on me; reminded me how precious ALL life is, how important my relationship and friendship is with my husband. How very grateful I am to have him in my life.

Part of me wishes there was a way to wrap all this up and call it finished. But I know that’s not realistic and I think, as I approach the end of my life, I’ll look back and be thankful I was never given a conclusion. It’s an ongoing story/experience for a reason. I’m still struggling with the fear. The fear of something happening to A. To Hubs. To Baby C while she’s still inside me and of course, once she’s born. I don’t believe you have one gut-punch in life and you’ve then somehow paid your dues. I believe there are people who go through life unscathed, and people who go through life experiencing tragedy upon tragedy. Then there are those who fall in the middle of the spectrum somewhere. So, I struggle with the fear. I’ve known loss and I’m terribly afraid of it happening again. I’m also struggling with my relationship with God. I’m finding it difficult to trust Him, find it difficult to pray – to ask for things. However, I do believe what happened to me was intentional…was crafted by God and I believe it was intended to be a blessing in my life – I just haven’t been able to see it yet. I do not believe what happened was a random occurrence, an unintentional chain of events. These are the things I’m currently working on and I’m sure as time goes on I will find other things I’m struggling with and working on. Again, I think it’s a life-long experience. On a Saturday, a few months after the twins had died, I was sitting in a nail salon waiting to get a pedicure. I was at a place I don’t normally go, and I was facing an hour long wait. I decided to stay, A was sleeping, I had no where else to be and found myself sitting next to an elderly lady who had walked in to make a later appointment and was simply waiting for her husband to pick her up. I don’t even know how we got on the subject, but I learned she lost her youngest child, at about 7 months, to SIDS. For the first time, I was able to gather the courage and have the emotional stability to tell her that I lost identical twin girls at 19 weeks. I know it’s not the same as losing a 7 month old, but it’s still losing children. It seemed like such an out-of-body experience as she placed her hand on mine and told me how very sorry she was. She was gone shortly after that. I have no idea who she was. I believe that as I go through life, I will have opportunities, both big and small, to share my story. I’m very open about what happened, about the processes I’ve been through both physically and emotionally and I’m not afraid to tell people what I regret. I’m glad to have started blogging, to have a spot to share my story in hopes that it brings comfort or understanding to someone who is going through something similar. So, that’s where I’m at. I have my ups, I have my downs. I’m not sure I’ve handled this whole experience as well as one can, but I’m doing my best. I’m longing to share my story with others, to let them know the despair they feel will eventually subside, but to also let them know it never truly goes away. To let them know it’s ok to feel how you feel, no matter what. It’s ok to embrace your fear, your anger, your guilt and work through it. Don’t bottle it up or repress it. It’s ok to lose friends and relationships and to tell them you WILL change and that it’s ok. I want to encourage parents to not turn towards bitterness about their experience…to embrace the anger, pain and hurt for a time, but then to try to move forward. To start seeking out a purpose, a reason for the loss. To say I had it all figured out, I’d be a liar. I don’t. But I’m trying and hoping that some answers are coming our way soon.

I’ve seen changes in myself that I never expected. I’m much more conservative (not in a political sense) than I’ve ever been. I’m taking a deeper look into how I spend my time. Taking a closer look at what exactly I’m doing with my time, with my life. Focusing on fostering the relationships that are important to me and letting go of the ones that aren’t benefitting me. I think the Hubs and I are putting in a small garden this year, we’d like to start paying much closer attention to what goes into our bodies – trying to make the move to more organic foods, and trying to eliminate processed food. We’re also tossing around schooling options for A and one thing that has come up is a part-time homeschooling option. These are all things that were incredibly foreign to whoever I was before losing the twins. I hope this, in some way, wraps up our story for you. It’s taken me almost a year to write 4 installments and I feel their story deserved that much time. We will continue to recognize them on special Holidays and will recognize their birthdays on 3/24 and 3/25. We will forever consider Megyn and Whitney a part of our family, and will pay tribute the small but HUGE impact they’ve made in our lives. Although their time with us was short, the changes, decisions and goals we’ve made are substantial and never would have happened without them in our lives. We love you Megs and Whits and we WILL see you again; and until we can tell you in person, thank you for being in our lives, thank you for the changes you have brought about and thank you for making the ultimate sacrifice so that we can go on to fulfill our life purpose and destiny.

The Twins – Part III

Baby B
Whitney Quinn
3/25/2011 1:19 AM
2.96 ounces (84 grams) 16.5 cm long

Here’s the thing about twin deliveries.  You pretty much know what to expect with Baby A, but Baby B typically has a mind of its own.  There’s a reason twins are always delivered in the OR, even vaginal deliveries. Even if both babies are head down, there’s a strong likelihood of Baby B flipping around after Baby A is born requiring an immediate C-Section.  We never made it to that point, obviously, but I just wanted you to have that information.

After I delivered Megyn, I was stuck somewhere between euphoria and immense sadness.  I felt like I had all the time in the world to marvel at this little being, yet I had never been given the opportunity to know her.  I was slightly on edge at how quickly she was delivered and so every little “feeling” I had going on down below had me ringing the bell for the nurse.  No one expected to wait as long as we did for Whitney to be born, but there really is no textbook process to follow either.  You see, during live births, the baby’s own movements help guide her down the birth canal.  Since my babies were already dead, they had no way of helping themselves.  We had a lot more lucid time with Megyn than we did with Whitney.  I was able to talk to her more, to look at her more, to inspect her tiny body more.  I kept having feelings of my water breaking.  You see, we’d been told that the girls were in separate amniotic sacs, so it would make sense to feel my water break twice.  However, once we called the nurse she informed me what I was feeling was blood.  Lots and lots of blood.  They had those puppy-pad things underneath me and she changed it.  Then we called her in the second time I thought my water broke.  Again, blood.  Lots and lots of blood.  The third time I thought my water broke, she took the third puppy-pad, weighed it (to determine exactly how much blood I had lost) and called my doctor.  This is where things got interesting.  My doc comes in, looking exhausted and for some unknown reason, I apologized for waking her up.  Looking back, I could tell my medical staff was concerned, but at the time, they did a great job staying calm and performing their duties.  Whitney had to come out, and she had to come out now.  She obviously wasn’t coming on her own no matter how many contractions they could make me have.  I’m not even sure how to phrase this next part, the best way I can think to describe what happened is that I was calved.  You see, Whitney was tangled in her umbilical cord.  There was no way she was coming out.  I remember laying flat on my back, watching my reflection in the light box above the bed.  I remember thinking, “Gosh, I really do like my glasses.  It’s nice how the blue frames match the blue hospital gown.  I look kind of pretty laying here.”  I could see, in the reflection, the doctor with her arm halfway inside my uterus fishing around for my little girl.  Her hand kept bumping against my belly…reminiscient of what baby kicks would have looked and felt like had I made it that far.  I can’t recall how long it took her, but I do remember my blood up to her elbow when Whitney was finally born.  I remember a faint sigh from the nurse, Sam, standing by my head.  I didn’t know why at the time, her response was so different from when Megyn was born.  After her umbilical cord was cut I was asked if I wanted to hold her, or if I wanted them to clean her up.  This is my point of most regret.  I was under the impression everything would be as it had been with Megyn, so I told the nurse to go ahead and clean her up.  Hubs went with her.  I wish I would have taken my little girl in my arms right away.  The doctor was still feeling around inside my uterus, I suppose she was trying to figure out where the bleeding was coming from.  It didn’t take her long to tell me my placenta had only partially come away from the uterine wall.   That she felt the safest thing at this point, was for her to perform a D&C to remove the remaining placenta.  I cannot tell you how quickly and urgently they prepped me for surgery.  They were worried I was going to bleed to death.  I got to hold Whitney for a few moments before surgery, but it wasn’t long before the anesthesiologist was there injecting me with sleeping medicine so I was fuzzy.  Whitney was a beautiful sight.  She had long legs, just like her sister, and she had one eye open.  They are normally still fused together at this point, but she had one eye open.  You see, it was very obvious that Whitney was the one that was starved of nutrients and blood when my placenta failed to equally distribute their needs to them.  She was basically white.  She almost appeared to have skin, like you or I , but at that stage, babies don’t have skin.  Her little limbs were laying in funny directions, almost like a rag doll.  She looked as though she had starved and my heart broke for any pain or hurt she had to endure.  Yet, somehow, she still had perfect feet, perfect hands, 10 fingers and 10 toes.  The girls were identical, so we know based on the stronger features of Megyn what she would have looked like.  The one eye that was open had a blue hue.  I know you can’t tell eye color at that stage, but I believe my girls would have had blue eyes.  I told her that I loved her, that I was so sorry and that her sister was waiting for her.  I told her how glad I was they were finally together again and that they would have each other.  I cried, I smiled and I touched her little hands and feet.  I couldn’t stop looking at her, this tiny little miracle of a person…I don’t think, if I could gaze at them forever, it would be long enough.

My room had flooded with hospital staff.  Maybe it was because it was 1am.  Or perhaps they recognized the gravity of the situation.  I handed off Whitney’s tiny body, still warmly and securely wrapped in a blanket and was quickly wheeled to the OR.  I don’t remember much of what happened next.  Just that everyone was very kind, and I was very sleepy.  I was thankful for the strong drugs, thankful for the respite from the nightmare I was living.  Looking back, I could not be more thankful for the procedure my doctor performed at 1am to bring Whitney into the world.  It wasn’t pretty, it’s not a fun tale to re-live, in fact, it’s downright gruesome to some.  But, had she not hand-delivered Whitney, Whitney would have been extracted, most likely in many pieces, during the D&C.  My doctor recognized the emotional importance of delivering Whitney, whole, from my body while I was awake.  Again, my medical care was beyond outstanding.  She easily could have come into my room, taken account of my blood loss and insisted I needed a D&C immediately despite what would happen to Whitney’s body.  But she didn’t.  And for that I am eternally grateful.  In the days that followed, I learned what happened while I was in surgery.  The surgery itself didn’t take long, but it was an eternity for Hubs.  As soon as I was wheeled out, the nurses came for the girls.  They asked to take them to another room to clean them up, gather foot prints, hand prints and take pictures.  They would be returned to my room as soon as they were done.  Hubs agreed and suddenly, he was alone.  He’d just lost 2 daughters, witnessed their very traumatic stillbirth, given permission for their tiny, frail bodies to be taken to another room and watched in fear as his wife was taken away for emergency surgery.  He told me afterwards that he couldn’t stop staring at the floor, at a lone drop of my blood that had rolled off the table at some point.  In the midst of all of this, there was a Code Blue announcement that came over the speakers.  He panicked.  He said the Code Blue was for Oncology, but at the time he either truly didn’t know what Oncology was, or couldn’t remember.  He said he was frantically searching his phone to find the definition for Oncology.  He thought the Code Blue was for me.  My broken heart broke even further listening to my husband tell this tale; his voice cracking and breaking.  How alone he felt.  How scared and frightened he must have been.  How sad I was for him.  For me.  For all of us.  And just how much more were we expected to take?

I woke up back in my room, and immediately asked for my girls.  They had been returned to our room, swaddled together in a little blanket, and were laying in a bassinet just like any other baby.  Hubs handed them to me and we proceeded to talk to them some more.  Over and over again we talked to them.  Told them we loved them.  Told them we missed them.  Told them we were so glad they had each other, but that we missed them terribly.  The tears would come, the tears would go and we would take turns holding them.  I would un-wrap them to get one more look at their amazing little bodies only to swaddle them back up for fear of them being cold or uncomfortable.  The nurses had taken great care to make sure the girls were touching each other; their arms were intertwined, their hands resting on the others chest.  I had just come out of surgery so I would fall asleep quickly and wake up wanting to hold them again.  I had Hubs roll their bassinet beside my bed so they would be close while I was sleeping.  Even though we never really talked about it, both of us knew we didn’t want to avoid the unavoidable.  There was a point coming where we would have to say goodbye and both of us knew it was quickly approaching.  They looked so peaceful wrapped up together in their blanket and I loved how they felt in the crook of my arm.  I loved watching Hubs hold them in the palms of his hands…listening to the heart-wrenching words of a daddy telling his little girls how sorry he was that he couldn’t protect them…that he couldn’t take care of them.  The nurses had been fantastic about telling us what would happen to them.  We’d already made the decision to have an autopsy performed on them and to have their bodies cremated.  We knew the girls would spend the night together in the hospital morgue and would be picked up by the funeral home the next day.  I was given hospital bracelets for them and had the option of seeing them again whenever I wanted before I was discharged.  Once we said goodbye though, that was it.  They would be gone.  There would be no seeing them again.  The only thing we had left at that point, the only thing we could do for them was to ensure they would be together.  Really together.  The staff was happy to comply.  When we called the nurse to come get the girls, I told them again that I loved them, that I would miss them forever and that I was again, so grateful they had each other.  I gently kissed each of them where I could and watched as the nurse gently placed them back in their bassinet and covered them with a towel to keep them hidden from wandering eyes in the hallway.  She returned shortly with a beautiful, heart-shaped box.  She wanted me to see how they would go to the morgue.  She also told me they were together, tucked inside the box and she, herself, would be taking them to the morgue right then.  It was all I could do to nod my agreement.  I was moved to the post-partum unit, all my wires and tubes removed.  I crawled into bed, Hubs in the chair beside me and passed out.  I woke up a few hours later, it was still dark.  I couldn’t hold back the tears and wanted my husband.  He was sleeping so hard my voice alone wasn’t enough to wake him.  I struggled to sit up in the bed and then struggled out of bed towards him.  Once I woke him he just sat there and held me as I cried.  There would be a lot of that in the coming days, weeks and months.  I woke up later that morning to my doctor, my actual doctor seated by my bed.  I was so far beyond able to control the tears at this point and even though I didn’t want to cry in front of her, I couldn’t help it.  She told me I would be ok.  That I was strong.  And she also told me that as much as she would like for everyone to arrive at her office or hospital and go home with healthy babies that’s not how it works.  That at the end of the day she’s there for the shit.  Her exact words.  She got me discharged with instructions to see her in a few weeks.  She also had strict instructions for Hubs that included calling her if I couldn’t sleep or couldn’t eat.  He was to keep a close eye on me.  My transport out of the hospital arrived shortly and my first encounter with the real world was close at hand.  You see, Hubs had gone to get the car so this young man and I were alone.  He was a very nice, polite young man.  I guess whatever unit I was in is also the unit where moms with complications go for monitoring.  He asked me as the doors opened and the morning light flooded my dry, stinging eyes when I was due.  It was the first of many painful conversations I would have.  I had to tell him that I had just lost twins.  He was horrified, embarrassed and ashamed.  I didn’t fault him though, how was he to have known?  These kind of things don’t happen.  I don’t remember my drive home.  I remember being ready to hug my little girl though.  To hear her sweet voice, to hear her laugh, to see LIFE.

Names are important to me.  As is their meaning.  It was an episode of House Hunters International that I heard the name Whitney and was like, “Hey, that’s a really great name.  I need to run that one by Hubs.”  When it came time to name the twins, I struggled with Whitney’s name.  I liked it, a lot, but the meaning of Whitney is “white island.”  It didn’t seem to fit to me.  She’s no island I kept telling Hubs, she’s an identical twin!  I really liked the name but refused to commit to it 100% because of the meaning.  Their names were only quasi-established when we learned they had died, but they were cemented right then and there.  There was NO WAY we could have known what we would see in the delivery room.  Megyn was red when she was born.  She got all the blood; too much actually, it caused her heart to fail.  Whitney was white.  She’d been starved of her nutrients and blood supply.  And while she was right there in my womb next to her twin sister, I’m sure she felt like an island, left all alone fighting a losing battle to stay alive.  No one knew of her struggle until it was too late.  The meaning of her name still gives me chills when I think about it.  In some small way I feel like God was there all along and this is my clue to that fact.  That even though their lives ended too soon, it was His plan.  It was in His plan all along and the little story of her name is His was of letting me know He was, and is, in control of the whole thing.

I can’t seem to name this baby…

Last Friday did not disappoint in its promise to be filled with emotions.  My inability to stop crying after leaving the doctor’s office with the best possible news was a testament to the pent-up stress and worry I’ve been carrying since July.  The weekend brought with it the stress that one feels when one realizes OH MY GOD WE HAVE A NEW BABY COMING AND I’VE WASTED HALF MY TIME BEING WORRIED AND OH MY GOD HOW AM I GOING TO GET EVERYTHING DONE AND OH HOLY CRAP WE PROBABLY DON’T EVEN HAVE 20 FULL WEEKS BECAUSE A WAS 2 WEEKS EARLY AND THEY SAY THE 2ND (4TH) ONE COMES EARLIER AND I KNOW WE DON’T NEED A TON OF STUFF BUT WE STILL NEED SOME STUFF AND I DON’T WANT TO WAIT UNTIL AFTER SHE’S BORN BECAUSE THEN I’LL BE DOING EVERYTHING WITH A TODDLER AND AN INFANT AND OH MY GOD THERE’S STILL THANKSGIVING AND CHRISTMAS TO DEAL WITH.  So, alas, here I am, 6 days out from my BIG doctor’s appointment and I’m not feeling the magical release I was hoping to feel that would remain for the duration of this pregnancy (I didn’t really expect it to happen, but I was slightly hopeful).  And I can’t seem to name this baby.  Names are important to me, and it is also important to me to have a name quickly so that I/we are able to call this baby by name.  The problem is, the last time we FINALLY decided upon names, our babies died a few days later.  I feel like once I name this little girl I’ve started the beginning of the end.  I suppose she already has a name; I do believe, after all, that God knows us before we are even formed in the womb so it really doesn’t matter that we haven’t decided upon or discovered her name yet.  If she already has one, the act of us actually making a decision isn’t going to affect the outcome of this pregnancy at all.  Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.  If I’m being honest with you, I think she already has a name.  There’s one I tossed out a few days ago and just as easily as A’s name was decided upon, this one went over well and meets all of our requirements.  Hubs liked it and even came back a few days later to tell me he’d been thinking about it, and really liked it.  I think he’s ready to commit, I’m not.

In addition to the naming conundrum…I can’t buy anything.  I want to, badly.  I at least purchased her a tiny sock monkey doll so she’ll have SOMETHING we’ve given her at the hospital.  It was one of my biggest regrets with the twins…to not have anything to give them, to put in their bassinet, that we had purchased for them.  But I don’t feel the joy and excitement one should feel purchasing teeny-tiny baby items and I still feel a lot of fear.  I think my defense mechanisms are working overtime.  If I don’t buy anything, then I won’t get so attached.  I don’t want it to be that way.  I want to go out, happen upon some toy, blanket or piece of clothing and feel that tug to purchase it for MY little girl.  To have that quick mental image of her wearing it or playing with it.  I have a whole list of items I want to purchase and I probably need to start getting at least a few, but I’m just still so scared.  Even though I feel her move daily, it’s not constant.  She’ll have REALLY active days then be fairly quiet for several days which leaves me constantly shaking my belly to wake her or darting to my room for a quick doppler check.  I’m so sad for the loss of innocence about pregnancy.  I would love to go out shopping, blissfully unaware of the potential tragedies that are experienced everyday.  I would love to make purchases lovingly and not make purchases with the thought, “Gosh, I really hope she gets to use this.”

I have an unexpected “day off” today.  Hubs will be out pretty late tonight for a meeting, so he hung around and took A to school.  My mother-in-law called yesterday and wanted to pick her up from school and keep her for a few hours.  So basically, I have until 5ish all to myself and I don’t even have to cook dinner thanks to some yummy left over beef stew in the fridge.  It actually worked out great.  I have several errands to run and a few things to do around the house.  I ordered most of A’s Christmas presents yesterday off Amazon and need to pick up one more thing for her today.  I have NO CLUE what I’m going to do with all the boxes once they arrive.  NO CLUE.  I need to run to the post office, purchase several birthday gifts for parties this weekend and I’m sure I’ll go to Target.  I always go to Target.  Also on my agenda for the day…order baby bedding.

March 23, 2011

We’ll start here. This is where my story starts. I didn’t have a story until this point; I don’t feel that I had really LIVED until this point. And this day is what has prompted this whole, crazy, rambling to start.

Ok, March 23rd. You see, I was 18.5 weeks pregnant with identical twin girls. I was at a regularly scheduled ultrasound and doctor’s appointment. What I didn’t know while sitting in the waiting room that March 23rd was actually to be the beginning if the worst day of my life; it was to be the day my whole world came crashing down around me. I conceived identical twins on my 30th birthday. We already had a chile, an almost 2 year old at the time, but were ready to expand our family…so we tried and were successful. Very successful since our actions resulted in identical twins. We were SHOCKED to say the least when our first ultrasound at 8 weeks revealed two heartbeats. Neither of us were really excited, we were shocked, nervous and dumbfounded for days. I am horribly sick when I’m pregnant, even more so with the twins so on top of a fragile emotional state, I was physically ill. It was a difficult pregnancy from the beginning, but everything looked good at 9 weeks, again at 10 weeks and when everything still looked good at 14.5 weeks, we were getting excited and the reality that we would be welcoming twin girls was setting in. Now, identical twins are in no way genetic…they are spontaneous. Which basically means my fertilized egg spilt into 2 embryos once the cells started dividing. Identical twins are automatically riskier than singleton pregnancies for several reasons. The biggest being that the babies share a placenta and sometimes, albeit rarely, an amniotic sac. This is why at 14.5 weeks when everything still looked good, we started to relax a little bit. One of the big risk factors is Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome. We’ll talk about it later but the short of it is the close monitoring of each babies’ growth (they should be almost identical) and the amount of fluid around each baby. At 14.5 weeks both these things looked great…everything was measuring perfectly.

I hopped onto the table only slightly annoyed that I was being seen about 40 minutes late. It was dark and warm in the room. “Have you been feeling any movement?” Anita asked. “No,” I replied making a short joke about hoping they were ok in there. Strangely enough, I was exactly correct in where I thought each baby was located, so maybe I had felt them move. She put the transducer on my belly and started looking at the monitor. She was quiet, but I wasn’t incredibly concerned. I commented in the head size of one of the babies…it would turn out to be Baby A – Megyn. “B, I don’t see a heartbeat in either one of your babies this morning. I need to call Dr. A.”. She leaves the room, my heart is racing and pounding. There was a huge lump in my throat, but I wasn’t crying. Looking back, I had no idea what had just happened. I’m ashamed to admit this but one of the many thoughts that went through my mind that morning was, “well, at least I won’t have twins to take care.” Defense mechanism anyone? It seemed like an eternity that Anita was gone. “I’m sorry” I said to my husband. It was the only thing I could think to say. We didn’t talk the whole time she was gone. Just stared at the screen silently wondering how they could still be inside of me, but not alive. We had no warning, no idea and we had JUST named them. Like, a few days before.

So my doctor, that I adore, walks into the dimly lit room, takes one look at me and her face falls. Then there was a whole lot of conversation that took place between her and Anita, some explanations about what was to come, no it wasn’t my fault, a lot of studying the images on the monitor and then came the terrifying piece of information that I was going to have to be induced and deliver both babies. “Can’t you just do a D&C?” I asked. “No,” she quickly replied “they’re far too big for that.”

I asked about surgery to remove them, she said no to that too. In fact, she went on to tell me that putting me under anesthesia and cutting me open to remove dead babies bordered on malpractice. And she’s pretty liberal. As the story turns out, her insitance that I deliver both babies was actually one of the greatest things she did for me, something I will never be able to thank her for enough.

I was whisked down to her office immediately. I had to follow my doctor back through the waiting room with a stupid smile plastered on my face. The doctors aren’t supposed to be there, it’s an ultrasound suite. Earlier that morning I had seen another doctor leave and commented to my husband that it wasn’t a good thing if the doctor had to come up. And here I was following my doctor out of the ultrasound room, smiling stupidly because I didn’t want anyone waiting to think something may have been wrong with me. Why did I think smiling was the best option? We’d just discovered the loss of 2 lives. And the loss of my own as I knew it. Once inside an exam room at my docs office I went through a fairly painful procedure of having rod like medication inserted not my cervix to begin the process of dilating my cervix. The room was filled with her nurses that I have known for years and even the midwife that practices in the same office, for she too has lost a baby at roughly the same gestation. She was there for moral support and also to answer any questions we may have had for her. The plan was for me to return the next morning for a second round of medication then be admitted go the hospital the following evening for an induction.

So I was sent home with a few prescriptions for pain killers. I had to make several difficult phone calls to family members. The thing that really got me was when I told my mom and dad that we had gotten some bad news at the doctor each of them said, ok, what is it? I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what else they thought it may be? You don’t realize in the moment thay you are changing someone else’s life forever, but having to tell both my parents that neither baby had a heartbeat was, well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news. I became a fixture in one of the worst days of their life.

I spent the evening with my mom, S and A mouthing off about how it wasn’t a huge deal. That they were never going to be healthy kids, I didn’t want it to change me, I wouldn’t let it take over my life and a whole other gamet of thoughts and conversations that would turn out to be untrue. Blah. It was an awful day – and it lasted for weeks. It was a day that just wouldn’t end. I will say that I spent the night on the couch crying into the soft fur of Cosmo (or Bubba, as he’s affectionately called around here), who was kind enough to allow me to lay on top of him. I didn’t sleep much, couldn’t, didn’t want to.

So this is where my story begins. This is where my journey starts. In spite of my confused, grief-laden comments on March 23rd I am forever, deeply changed by the loss of my twins. Welcome to my journey to become the person God intended me to be. It’s going to be a long road no doubt, but there is greatness along the way, and my purpose is so much greater than I ever imagined. He has big plans for me and will use this tragedy in my life for greatness. I am so sure of it and I’m excited to walk this road to see how He uses me.