Today was a tough one...some of you know but several of you don't know that my husband and I were expecting....TWINS in April!!! And today we said good-bye to them, too soon. Here's our story and my hope is that in sharing, it may give peace and hope to other people going through this type of loss.
I think you probably know that we have been blessed with two amazing and wonderful little boys - Andrew and Benjamin.
They light up our world and we cannot imagine our lives without them in it. Having children has been the most amazing and wonderful experience for both my husband and I. We were not sure however if we would have more children or not.
In February of 2013 tragedy hit my friend's family as they lost their little six year old boy suddenly to a virus. This hit me really hard and at that point, God put it very strongly on my heart to have another child. Life is simply too short. We prayed about it, talked about it and wondered if this strong feeling would continue. We were never closed to having more kids but life was happening around us and we were not putting it as a priority and were getting older. The strong feeling continued however and although we were not trying to have another child at this point, God intervened and we were so excited to learn that we were expecting again! We found this out two days before my friend's son's 7th birthday and we were thrilled. We knew it was God's will.
Because I am very high risk due to a blood clotting disorder, I am monitored very closely during pregnancy. I also had my second child 6 weeks early so we were planning to take precautions to prevent pre-term labor again. And my age of 37 puts me in another risk category...
I went for several blood tests. My levels were initially going up nicely. But then after a few weeks they did not go up as they should although my doctor was not concerned at this point since they were still rising. My progesterone was very low so I started suppositories. I was concerned and waited through Labor Day weekend for my 7 week ultrasound on the following Tuesday. I asked my husband to come with me in case we heard bad news. We prayed. And God answered our prayers. Not only did we hear one heart beat, but we heard and saw TWO!!! They were measuring about a week earlier then my calculations and were a few days apart from each other. We were shocked about the twins but also so very excited! we had faith in God that things would go according to His will. The ultrasound tech said there was a bit of blood behind the placenta that would probably come out and although that could be sign of miscarriage, she thought it looked ok. My doctor was not concerned but told me to take it easy and we went ahead and started my lovenox shots and I also started baby aspirin.
I continued to have more blood tests looking at progesterone but not HCG at this point because the doctor didn't feel it was necessary. I doubled my progesterone suppository dose when we learned we had two babies. Levels were good.
Two weeks passed. I was now in my 9th week but still not feeling pregnant. No nausea. A bit of a belly but not too much. My cravings (for watermelon of all things that I actually can't stand) started to go away. I had my first baby appointment with the nurse practitioner. She measured my uterus to make sure it was growing appropriately for twins. After she checked she did not say anything. I asked about it and she vaguely said, yes it looks ok. It's small but you are still early. My mind tried not to read between her words. She did not have the equipment to hear heart beats that early although she tried. But assured me it was fine that we did not hear them here.
The following week, Sept 17 on my oldests 5th birthday, I went for another ultrasound. This time alone. I told my husband not to worry and I would go by myself so he didn't have to take more time from work. As I was driving, I was listening to KLove and one of the singers was telling his story of why he wrote one of his songs. He said he had been going through loss - loss of a parent and his wife just miscarried twins. I prayed this wasn't a sign to prepare me.
As I waited in the waiting room, I noticed a sign on the door that I didn't notice there two weeks ago. It said "as you prepare for your ultrasound, please be sure to bring a support person with you". Again I prayed this wasn't God's way of preparing me for bad news.
I was called back to the room where two weeks ago we got the best news. On this day however, it was very different. They started the scan and the tech was very quiet. She asked me how many weeks I was again? I knew this wasn't a good question. I told her I was 9 but they had measured a little small the last time. She said, they are still small - 6 weeks 4 days and 6 weeks 1 day. She said she was trying hard but just could not find a heart beat. At that moment my heart broke. I heard the news I was trying so hard to suppress in my own heart. She would not say the words however and wanted a doctor to look at the scan to confirm.
My doctor was out of town so I met with his colleague. She was so matter of fact. Clinical. Cold. Making uncomfortable jokes. Talking fast. I was in shock. She referred to my babies as material. She told me my options. I was numb. I wanted to shout at her that they are not material!!! They are my babies! They are life!!! They had hearts that beat just two weeks ago! Heart beats that I heard. Heart beats that I saw. They had life in them!!!! We were excited for them to join our family. We were preparing for sleepless nights. For continuous feedings....none of that would happen now and I was crushed.
I sat in my car after and cried. I called my husband and cried. I couldn't even get the words out. We sobbed together.
I thought of what was going to happen. Would I have them naturally? When and where would it happen? Would I need a D and C? What happens after? Do they just get discarded like they didn't matter? All of these thoughts were so unbearable to me...
I spoke to a few friends who have been through this before. One of my friends here had to have a D and C last year at the Catholic hospital. I also called my priest, who was nothing but supportive. Both my friend and our priest shared options. David also found a helpful website about miscarriage. We now had options. Options we had no idea were even available. The sisters at the hospital do a communal burial for babies lost before 20 weeks. How wonderful I thought but that wasn't our hospital. So I called the chaplains at the two hospitals and learned that this was possible for us too! Relief.
Our priest also shared how we can have a prayer service for our babies and even a private burial. They mattered. They lived. And now we could honor their lives. I felt so peaceful with this thought. He also sent us a holy card letting us know he was holding a prayer hour for our family. He has continually been praying for us as have many of you. We are grateful for that and feel lifted up by your prayers.
On Sept 21 my babies left my body and today, Sept 27 we were able to have a private prayer service with our priest at our church followed by a private burial at one of the Catholic cemeteries here, the same cemetery where our friend's son is. It was the perfect option for a difficult situation. Father Jeff was so supportive and caring to our situation. We are grateful for him and also for the chance to say good bye in this way today. The funeral director, who is also a parishioner at our church, was also quite helpful and compassionate to what we are going through. We are thankful for them.
Father Jeff suggested we name the babies to help with closure. We chose Catherine Mary and Gabriel Alexander. We prayed about this for awhile and were lead to these names. I felt in my heart that we had a boy and a girl. We chose Catherine after the patron saint of preventing miscarriage and abortion. And Mary after my grandmother who's birthday was Mar 25, a date close to my due date. We chose Gabriel after the archangel who told Mary that she was carrying baby Jesus. Alexander is a name that was on our baby name list from the start of our family. It was also my friend's son's middle name and a family name of theirs. I felt a connection with their family throughout this pregnancy, especially since their son was a twin who was lost to miscarriage, and thought that if we had a boy we would name him that. So I asked my friend if we could name the baby after her son and she was thrilled at the idea.
I am sharing the details of our story because I know so many people suffer this type of loss and don't feel like they have options or even have the right to mourn. I have several friends who have been through this and I have always been sad for them and prayed for them when it happened; however, I never fully understood the depth of the loss until it happened to us. We were so excited to become parents again and absolutely thrilled that God entrusted us to not just one but TWO babies!!! Our boys were excited to welcome new babies to the family.We are still their parents. They still lived. And we will not forget them and how they touched our lives, even if their life was so short. Someday we will meet them in heaven...until then we entrust Jesus to take good care of their souls.
God bless every one of you who has suffered this type of loss or are going through this now or in the future. May God give you peace and strength and guidance through this difficult process. If you have gone through this and not realized your options at the time, please know that God is with you and your baby or babies. They are taken care of as Jesus said, "Let the Children Come to Me".
Here is a song that has been comforting to me and I hope it will be for you too. "Worn"