No Pets, No Babies for 3 Years.
That was the deal when we got married in 2014. My husband Nick and I said over and over again, “No pets, no babies for 3 years.” I knew we’d never have a cat because Nick “hated” cats, but maybe a dog someday when we have babies and start to settle down a bit. Well, let me tell ya, things changed when we had our first mouse in the house. I didn’t even realize I was afraid of mice until one ran across my living room floor. I screamed bloody murder and climbed on top of my kitchen island until Nick came in the room and let’s just say he took care of it. That was the one and only mouse we ever saw in the house, but the garage which is attached to our house, was a completely different story. We set up traps in the garage 3, 4, sometimes even 5 at a time and as soon as we’d set a trap, we’d catch a mouse. It was gross. On one side of our house is a lake and the other side is a hay field, so the mice were endless. The final straw was when I found a dead mouse in the back seat of my car! EW! That was it. It wasn’t even much of a conversation, we were getting a cat. So, we went to the local humane society and adopted the cutest little black kitten. The intention was for the cat to be an outside cat that was also allowed in our (heated) garage. But of course, we fell in love with our sweet little Johnny Cat. He quickly became the best little snuggle buddy and mouser. Mr. “I hate cats” now adores his little buddy and holds him like a baby. No joke. Johnny sure does his job too! Almost daily, he leaves presents for us at the door. You have to watch your step because you never know what you might step on as you exit the house. Guess what? We don’t have a mouse problem anymore and I got a kitty! Win, win!
And as for babies, yeah that didn’t last either. The summer before our second wedding anniversary we decided we wanted to start a family…
Nick and I work for the same company; that’s how we met. Every year our company has a National Sales Conference in early January where all of the sales reps from all over the country get together. This year, I was asked to present a topic about marketing, something I’m passionate about. I have no problem speaking in front of a large crowd of people, but there’s something about speaking in front of your peers that’s intimidating. Not only was it my peers that were in the room, it was also all of corporate management, including the CEO of the company. I prepared for a month leading up to the marketing session. The CEO approached me afterwards, shook my hand and said, “That was the best presentation I’ve seen in years.” Nailed it! Leaving the conference, I felt on top of the world in my career. Sales conferences are always a blast, filled with big personalities, late nights and too many cocktails. We flew home on a Sunday night completely exhausted and couldn’t wait to put on our pajamas and get in our own bed. As soon as we walked in the door, my phone rang and it was my mom. I figured she wanted to hear about the conference and my presentation. I almost didn’t answer because I was so tired, but I thought I’d give her a quick recap before I called it a night. We talked for a minute and then she asked me to get Nick and put her on speaker phone. The next words out of her mouth were, “I have cancer.” And just like that, my world crashed. Uncontrollable tears lead to panic attacks and the rest of the conversation was a complete blur. The next morning, I was in the car by 4:00am headed to Indiana to be with my mom. Truth is, I needed her way more than she needed me at that moment. I sobbed the entire 13-hour drive home as I called a few of my close friends and struggled to say, “My mom has cancer.” It shouldn’t have come as such a surprise, since her mom had breast cancer too. Not to mention, it seems like cancer is everywhere nowadays, but this was MY mom. Honestly, you can never prepare yourself for something like that. The weeks turned into months and cancer had become very much a part of our lives. She had a double mastectomy, followed by intensive chemo treatments, hair loss, then radiation. Seeing my mom so down, so weak and so sad was so incredible hard. I’d never seen her cry so much and I wished I could trade places with her so she wouldn’t have to go through it. It was painful to watch and it affected our whole family. I knew my mom was strong and she would get through it, but it was a process.
That summer, Nick and I decided we wanted to start a family of our own. We’re both big planners, so of course we wanted to try to have a baby at the perfect time. We work on the school schedule, so having a baby at the end of the school year would be ideal. We figured it would probably take a couple months to get pregnant so if we started trying in July, we could have a baby anywhere from April on. I stopped taking birth control a couple months prior and found a free app to download that tracked my periods. How in the world would I keep track of a period without my Clue app? The Clue app tracks your ovulations as well. Bonus! So, in July, on the first day of my ovulation, we had unprotected sex (sorry mom, but I’m married!). Afterwards, I asked Nick what I should do. “Should I lay here a few minutes? Should I lift my legs up? Am I being ridiculous?” Probably, but he jokingly said, “Maybe you should do a handstand?” OK! I figured it couldn’t hurt! I very carefully crawled off the side of our bed and put my hands on the floor. Nick grabbed my legs and held me up as long as he could. We were both dying laughing at the stupidity of the whole idea and my naked body upside down! (Again, sorry mom!) We laughed it off and went about our day.
Two weeks later, I was late. I had Nick buy a 3-pack of pregnancy test. Even though I live in a state that I hardly know anyone and I have a wedding ring on my finger, that’s embarrassing stuff! The next morning, I glanced at the instructions and figured how hard can it be to take a pregnancy test, right? You pee on the stick, then let it sit. One line means not pregnant and two lines means pregnant. Got it. I ripped open a test and did my thing. One line popped up. Nope, not pregnant, so I threw it in the trash. No big deal, we figured it’d take few months anyway. A few days later and still no period, so I thought I’d try another pregnancy test. Same thing happened, one line popped up, I threw it in the trash. Weird. The Clue app had been so spot on with my periods the past few months I was surprised that it was off this month, but whatever.
Meanwhile, my grandmother passed away. We headed to Indiana to be with family for the funeral. The morning of the viewing, I still had not started my period and I was a week late. I took another pregnancy test. Again, one line. I threw it in the trash and went to get back in bed in my old bedroom at my parent’s house. I told Nick I was getting frustrated that I hadn’t started my period and yet all three of the pregnancy tests were negative. He got up to go to the bathroom and then came running back into the room holding the pregnancy test from the trash. It had TWO lines on it. I figured it probably got knocked around when I threw it in the trash and obviously it was defective because a minute ago it only had one line on it. At this point my mom heard the commotion and got all excited about it. Nick ran into CVS to buy more pregnancy tests, because there was no way I was going into my small hometown drugstore to buy pregnancy tests. Since he’s from Vermont, I figured there’s a slim chance he’d recognize anyone in there anyway. But sure enough, he recognized the woman at the register. He’s pretty smooth though, he checked out in the back at the pharmacy and asked for a brown bag so no one would know what he bought. I knew he was a smart man when I married him! Why we even cared is beyond me, but at the time, it mattered! Anyway, now I had a fresh set of pregnancy tests and two anxious people waiting for me to go to the bathroom again. But first, Nick read the instructions. Again, smart man! You pee on the stick, set it on a flat surface and then here’s the step I missed… “WAIT 5-7 minutes” for the results. Whoops! I definitely didn’t do that part on all three pregnancy tests. When I finally worked up the urge to go to the bathroom again and try test number four out, Nick made sure I did all of the steps correctly. And guess what? Apparently one line pops up right away, but then when you let the test do its job for a few minutes, then the second line can pop up. Who knew? Wait, this means, oh my gosh, I’M PREGNANT! I couldn’t even believe it. Finding out on the day of my grandmother’s viewing was perfect timing! Talk about the circle of life! My dad had just lost his mom and was trying to act like Mr. Tough Guy even though we knew he was on the verge of tears. But this news of me being pregnant changed everything. He cried and hugged us and suddenly the day didn’t seem so dark. My dad is one of six kids, so his family is huge and he also happens to be the loudest of the bunch. When our immediate family walked into the funeral home for the viewing most of the family was already there and the first thing he did was say very loud and proud, “Abby’s pregnant!” We all shot eyes at him and he said, “Was that supposed to be a secret?” Oh well! It was good news and it was exactly what my family needed.
Triplets? Twins? WHAT!
Waiting for that first OB appointment at eight weeks felt like the longest weeks of my life! We couldn’t wait to get in there and check the first of many things off list. The doctor came in the room, we talked for a few minutes and then she got right to the ultrasound. We had no idea what we were looking at on the black and white screen, but all of the sudden the doctor said, “You’re having two babies.” I’ll admit, my hearing isn’t great and I thought sure I heard her wrong, so I practically shouted at her, “WHAT?” Nick was smiling from ear to ear, asking appropriate questions about what he was seeing on the screen. That’s when I heard him say, “Is that a third sac?” I thought I was losing my mind and my hearing! The doctor said, “Yes, you almost had triplets. There are actually three sacs…. See one, two and three. But the third sac is empty.” Nick was beaming! Again, “WHAT!” All I could think about was that there was no way I could have three babies; I only had two hands and two boobs. I can’t do three! I’m not sure I could do two, but definitely not three! No way! The doctor then proceeded to show us two little dots inside two little circles and they both had heartbeats. I laid there in complete and utter shock. TWINS. What? How did this happen? Almost TRIPLETS? What in the world? Is this a dream? We weren’t on fertility drugs. We don’t have a family history of multiples. And most of all, we planned for one baby and now I was pregnant with two babies. I don’t remember the rest of the appointment, I just wanted to get out of that room and call my mother. And that’s exactly what I did as soon as we walked out the door.
My mom had just finished up her last treatment of radiation and had started working again. She was starting to get back into her normal routine and we had GOOD news to share! It was exactly what our family needed after the cancer hell we’d been through this year! Now we were getting double blessings! So anyway, I called my mom at work and blurted, “I’m pregnant with twins!” Oh, the happy tears! Wow, thank you Jesus! Next, I called my dad and he didn’t believe me. He thought sure I was joking. Our conversation went back and forth for several minutes until he finally understood that this was not a joke and I was really pregnant with TWO babies! The next call was to my sister. She screamed and tried to put words together but mostly just screamed. She was thrilled!
The rest of the day, I sat at my kitchen island staring at the sonogram pictures. The first picture had three sacs, which showed I was almost pregnant with triplets. Crazy! The next picture was zoomed in closer on the two sacs that had tiny little babies in them. Then there was a series of close up pictures of each baby. I still couldn’t believe I was pregnant with twins, but it just felt right. Nick and I are crazy. We never choose the easy path, so go figure we’re naturally pregnant with twins. The only thing we could come up with of HOW this happened was that damn handstand. That has to be it. Handstands after sex = twins. Mark my words.
The old rule of thumb is to wait until you’re in the second trimester to tell people that you’re pregnant, right? Screw that! We were so excited that we were pregnant with twins; there was no way we could keep it a secret. We told all of our close friends and family. Then I started telling strangers on the street, because I couldn’t contain it. Twins! It was so exciting! Strangers were hugging me and rubbing my belly. I couldn’t stop smiling; I was radiating good energy! We waited until 12 weeks to post the news on social media and tell our work customers, but besides that, we told everyone.
The doctors had told us from the beginning that this was a high-risk pregnancy carrying multiples and that our goal was to make it to 36 weeks. We knew that pre-term labor was a possibility and we’d more than likely spend some time in the NICU. It didn’t matter, we had zero fears. The doctors also told us to plan early and prepare our home because there was a good chance I could be put on bed rest later in the pregnancy. Plan early? Are you kidding me? Music to my ears, we love to plan! We’re on it! I downloaded every baby/pregnancy app I could find, started reading twin mom blogs & ordered books on twins. I even started following random twin moms on Instagram. I had a lot to learn! Nick was all over the baby registry. He was researching car seats, double strollers, baby monitors, etc. Then we discovered Buy Buy Baby. That place is like heaven for a pregnant woman and you can use your 20% off coupons from Bed Bath and Beyond, even better! They have baby everything and the staff is actually knowledgeable about the products, which never happens anymore. We were blown away when we first stepped foot in the door. The guy that helped us setup the baby registry, also helped us pick out an awesome lightweight double stroller. By the end of our 2+ hours in the store, I tried to get him to go work in sales somewhere else so he could start making commission. He was that good! Maybe he could fill in for me for me when I’m on maternity leave?
Oh, and the nursery! Pinterest became my best friend. I started pinning ideas for twin girls, twin boys and one of each. We were obsessed with finding out the genders. I had OB appointments every two weeks with ultrasounds. Perks of a high-risk pregnancy! At every visit, we begged the doctor to look for the genders. But with twins, the babies are a little bit smaller than if it was just one baby, so finding out the genders was difficult. We couldn’t wait to get the guest room furniture out of that room and start putting the baby furniture together! We decided on plain white cribs that would work either way. Nick had the cribs and changing table put together in no time. We snagged a 4moms play yard for half off. Score! I found a used 4moms mamaRoo that was still in the box and only used once. Another score! Car seats and the double stroller were ordered and on the way. The registry was done and baby shower invites were at the local printer! We were almost ready!
Besides the fact that I was extremely tired, the pregnancy was very simple. I had a permanent smile on my face and a rapidly growing belly! At our 18-week appointment, the doctor confirmed there was definitely a baby girl in my belly, but we couldn’t get a good look at the other baby. Oh my goodness, hello baby girl and hello pink everything! I was thrilled! But now we’d have to wait another two weeks to find out the second gender and do a big gender reveal.
We had two Thanksgivings to attend and that meant lots of eating. Praise the Lord for maternity pants! I don’t know why I tried to put off wearing maternity pants in the beginning. I was a little afraid of pants coming up to my boobs, but once I finally bought a pair there was no question, I was hooked and determined this was God’s gift to pregnant women. I wasn’t sure I’d ever want to go back to my normal pants. This was the first grandbaby on Nick’s side, so his family was especially thrilled about the twins! The babies were kicking like crazy and everyone had their hands on my belly all day. His 86-year-old grandmother was so excited about her first great-grandchildren on the way! The day couldn’t have been better and we had so much to be thankful for this year.
19 weeks, Black Friday
We love breakfast! We especially love breakfast on the weekends when we’re both home and can make a big breakfast together. That’s exactly how our morning started the day after Thanksgiving. We made a big breakfast with pancakes and scrambled eggs. We were having friends over the next day, but for now the dishes and cleaning could wait. Our plans were to relax on the couch in our pajamas all day. Perfect! I was excited to read through all of my pregnancy apps since I had just turned 19 weeks. I was about to get snuggled up under a blanket, but surprise surprise, I had to go potty. So I went to the bathroom, peed and then stood up to pull my pants up when I felt a gush of water come out of me. I screamed for Nick and sat back down on the toilet. Water was pouring out of me like a faucet and I knew it wasn’t pee. He came frantically running into the room and I said, “I think my water just broke.” He immediately called our on-call doctor and she told us to meet her at the hospital ASAP. We rushed around, changed out of our pajamas as fast as we could and jumped in the car. Our hospital was 15 minutes away, but that drive felt painfully long. I called my mom who was at Kohl’s with my sister Black Friday shopping. I briefly explained to her what had just happened and said we were on our way to the hospital. The rest of the car ride we rode in silence except for me occasionally saying, “Jesus no” and “slow down” to Nick. We were terrified and I wanted so badly to be wrong.
A sweet older woman greeted us at the door of the hospital and walked with us to the birthing center where we were meeting our doctor. From her perspective, my belly was big enough that she probably assumed I was full term and ready for labor. She tried to comfort me and said, “Don’t be scared. This will be a day you’ll never forget. Once that baby is in your hands, it will all be worth it.” But I knew 19 weeks was way too early for me to go into labor.
Once I got into a hospital room, the doctor asked me to take my pants off for an exam and an ultrasound. Immediately I remembered I hadn’t shaved my legs, shit! I apologized for my hairy legs and the doctor tried to make me feel better by saying, “Don’t worry, I didn’t shave my legs either.” Shew! Then the doctor confirmed three things: 1. That both babies were alive. 2. My water had broken in one sac. 3. She was calling for an ambulance to take me to the bigger hospital an hour away. I told Nick to drive our car to the hospital and I’d meet him there. That way we’d have a vehicle at the hospital. I told him I would be fine in the ambulance alone. That seemed logical, right?
The next thing I knew, I was getting strapped onto a stretcher and loaded into an ambulance. One of the men who loaded me gave a hand signal of three fingers to the EMT in the back with me. I asked, “What does three mean?” He replied, “You’re not supposed to ask that.” I said, “Well I just did, so please tell me.” And he very softly said, “Lights, Sirens, Speed” and then shut the door. And that’s when it hit me, this was bad. Very bad. I immediately regretted sending Nick in a separate car. What was I thinking? The EMT reminded me what the doctor had last said to me that I needed to remain calm so my body didn’t go into labor. Yeah, OK. So, I prayed. I prayed for our babies and I prayed for Nick to safely get to the hospital. Then I called him and reassured him that I was OK (kind of). Next, I called my mom, who had been blowing up my phone since I called her earlier. Her and my sister were back at my sister’s house with my dad and brother-in-law by now. My mom was hysterical on the phone and couldn’t stop crying enough to hear what I was saying so she handed the phone to my sister. She was much calmer and relayed the info back to the rest of my family. The EMT reminded me again to stay calm, so I asked my sister what deals she found Black Friday shopping. She listed off the things she bought and told me about the long lines. I paid about as much attention as I could, but being on an uncomfortable stretcher, facing backwards, watching the cars all stopped on both sides of the road, feeling like I was going to bounce off the stretcher every time we hit a bump and the horribly loud sirens on repeat the entire drive didn’t exactly help.
When I arrived at the hospital the EMT wheeled me up to the 7th floor birthing center. Along the way, every person in the hallway gave me the saddest look. I thanked the EMT workers for delivering me safely and for the sleigh ride. Under completely different circumstances a stretcher might be a way more enjoyable ride! Nick arrived within minutes of me, which meant only one thing: he drove way too fast. But whatever, he was there and I needed him.
We met a high-risk maternal fetal medicine doctor right away for an ultrasound. The doctor re-confirmed that the babies were both alive and my water had broken in one sac. The first big noticeable change was that I had started bleeding. She proceeded to quietly check out both babies. She only spoke to us when we asked questions. What we had gathered at that point was that I was definitely going to lose one baby, but they were going to try to save the second baby. Praise the Lord! We had hope! Nick called our families to give them the update as the doctor continued with the ultrasound. This wasn’t a normal ultrasound like we had been used to, this was hours of an ultrasound. Towards the end of the ultrasound, I felt another gush of water. The doctor quickly moved the wand all over my belly. I hoped and prayed it was just leftover water from the first sac. She slowly lifted the device from my belly, dropped her head, took a deep breath and then looked at me and said, “I am so sorry. The water broke in the other sac. You are going to lose both babies.”
At this point we were basically going through the motions. It was too much to even process at the time. We met with an anesthesiologist who talked to me about an epidural. I had never given birth before but I couldn’t imagine why I’d need an epidural since the babies were so small. But he said his team would be on standby if I changed my mind.
So now we wait. Wait for my body to go into labor. Wait to deliver the twins knowing they wouldn’t be able to survive outside the womb. Just wait.
19 Weeks, 1 Day • November 26, 2016
It was my mother-in-law’s birthday and we were in the hospital preparing for labor. Ugh. I felt terrible that this was happening on her day.
During the night, the bleeding increased dramatically. Every time I got up to go to the bathroom it looked like a murder scene across the floor. It was very scary seeing that much blood come out of me. On top of the blood loss, my body developed an infection and then a high fever. My conditions were getting dangerous. The doctor said I needed a blood transfusion and then we needed to get the babies out as soon as possible. At this point, my levels were so low I knew I had to trust God and trust the doctors. My life was in their hands. The doctor told me I needed to remain calm so my body didn’t go into shock, because we needed my body to go into labor. Nick and I are not exactly calm people. We’re high energy, big personality, control freaks. Believe me when I say, we had the presence of God with us because the entire time we were in the hospital, we were calm.
My body reacted fine to the blood transfusion. Praise the Lord! Immediately afterwards I was given a disgusting sandy-like tablet to put in my mouth to help induce labor. Although I had already started dilating, the doctors wanted to speed it up. Contractions had started and I was still losing a lot of blood. The only way for my body to stop bleeding was for the babies to come out, so another sandy tablet was issued. As the contractions increased with frequency and intensity, I finally realized why I might have wanted that epidural, but it was too late at that point. The room was suddenly filled with nurses and doctors. I had a moment of panic as I realized I didn’t mentally prepare for labor at all. At our 18-week checkup, we had agreed on a planned c-section for the twins. I had read so much about twin births and we felt that would be the safest option for all three of us. In between contractions, I looked at my nurse and said, “I don’t know how to do this.” She smiled and said, “Your body knows what to do.” And she was right. After a few pushes, the first baby came out. A girl. Nick and I smiled at each other because we knew the gender of one baby but still didn’t know the gender of the other baby. The doctors briefly showed us the baby, but then put her aside and asked me to keep pushing. Eight minutes later the second baby came out. Another girl. Oh, my heart. Twin baby girls. I had just given birth to two baby girls. My heart exploded and shattered all at once.
Nick and I had a few moments alone with the girls. They were each wrapped in their own individual blankets that were way too big for their tiny little bodies. They were perfect little girls. Little. So little. Too little. But perfect. They each had 10 fingers and 10 toes. Proportioned bodies. They looked like babies, just way too small. They were about the size of my hand. The babies had passed away during delivery, so we never got to see them alive. We mostly sat in silence just staring at the two beautiful little baby girls that we made. Our precious twin baby girls. We decided not to take any pictures. We didn’t want to remember the girls like this. We wanted to remember them alive and kicking in my belly. We wanted to remember them for the five months of pure bliss they brought into our lives. Those were the best five months of my entire life.
We said our goodbyes and the nurse came back in to take the babies. I carefully handed each fragile baby to the nurse. One at a time she pulled the blankets over their heads, then slowly walked out of the room. That was the last time I saw the babies. It felt like my heart was ripped out of my chest. And that’s when the tears came. We cried. And cried. And cried.
The doctors were right, the bleeding slowed down after delivery. But since my levels were so low, they wanted me to spend at least one more night in the hospital.
After a couple hours of recovery, the horror started to really set in. As if losing the babies wasn’t enough, we were then faced with impossible questions like… “Would you like to name the babies? What would you like to do with their bodies? Would you like an autopsy done? Would you like to have a funeral for babies? Would you be interested in counseling?” and the dreaded “How arrrrree youuuu?” It was a nightmare. We just wanted to go home.
We did what we thought was best at that moment. We’re planners, so of course we had names picked out, but we decided not to name the babies since they never took a breath of air. As for what we wanted to do with their bodies, excuse me, “What!” Since the babies were legally ours, we had options to take them home, have them cremated or buried. We didn’t want to do anything with their bodies. We couldn’t even fathom making that decision. Especially not right now. We chose nothing. And answering the “how are you” question was impossible.
We were supposed to have friends over that night for a Friendsgiving dinner. Yeah, that wasn’t happening. But we had 6 couples planning on coming to our house. Nick made 6 dreaded phone calls and let them know what happened. It was painful to listen to the words come out of his mouth, “Abby’s water broke and we’re in the hospital…. No, it’s not like that, we lost both babies during delivery…” Silence. Tears. “Thanks Bud” and click.
Nick’s Dad offered to go to our house and take down the cribs for us. The cribs! I hadn’t even thought about the nursery and all of the baby gear we had already accumulated. On one hand, I was mortified that my father-in-law was going to my house without us there. I knew we left the house a disaster… dishes in the sink, breakfast pans still on the stove, our bed was unmade, clothes on the floor, etc. But on the other hand, taking apart the cribs sounded horrible. Yes, please go!
Before we left the hospital, we were given the babies’ footprints and weight cards. Their tiny little feet printed on the tiniest little piece of paper was all we had left. Walking out of the hospital, empty handed was one of the most painful moments. You hear women say all the time that holding your baby for the first time makes you forget all about the labor pains. That’s not true. Yes, my babies were small, but I still had horrible contractions. Holding my precious, motionless babies in my hands and not hearing them cry hurt so much worse. It’s something I wish no woman would ever have to do. Ever. And walking out the door knowing my babies were still somewhere in that big hospital killed me. I sobbed the entire walk to the car and the entire drive home. I couldn’t believe what had just happened. My belly was deflated and I felt so empty.
When we got home, the house was spotless. Not only did my father-in-law take the cribs apart, he found the old furniture that we had yet to give away in the basement and set the room back up as a guest room. He did the dishes and made our bed. I can’t tell you how much that meant to us. We were absolutely mentally and physically exhausted. Nick and I climbed into bed and didn’t move for 24 hours.
The next few days were strange. We didn’t really know what to do with ourselves. We replayed the events of the past weekend over and over again trying to make sense of it all. It didn’t even seem real. We prayed together, cried together and did our best to comfort each other. We tried to talk with family and close friends about what happened, but it was so hard to put it into words. We took time off from work to process and grieve. Thankfully we work with wonderful people that were understanding and respectful. Sympathy cards filled our mailbox. Our house was starting to look like a funeral home; we were running out of places to put flowers. The delivery woman from the floral shop looked like she wanted to cry every time she rang our door bell. I worked up the courage to post something on social media about what happened because I couldn’t handle going through the story with everyone one at a time. The amount of love and support we received was simply overwhelming. People we hardly knew reached out to us and sent cards, letters, flowers, food, gifts, etc. Although our hearts were broken, we felt so much love.
Like clockwork, my breast milk came in 3 days later. That was bittersweet. I’ve wanted boobs my entire life, but my sister got all of the boob genes. For one week of my life, I had boobs and they were awesome! I think I flashed myself in the mirror more than I flashed Nick. It was something that made us smile and we needed that. Cold cabbage and Benadryl did the trick of stopping the milk, which was disappointing, but necessary.
We were able to re-route the delivery of the car seats, but the double stroller arrived a few days later. Nick called ahead to make sure we wouldn’t have any issues returning cribs without boxes, but standing in the return line at Target with two cribs, one in each cart, was one of the hardest parts of our week home. I didn’t want Nick to have to do it alone, but I’m not so sure me sobbing the entire time helped. The baby shower invitations, yep, those went directly in the trash. We got through each day, one step at a time.
I've learned that every day I have a CHOICE. Although it may be easier to stay in bed & cry, I'm CHOOSING to get up, get dressed & be thankful I'm alive & healthy. Going back to work this week was tough… but I DID IT & one of my schools showered me with love, hugs & flowers today!! 😊Happy Friday everyone!! #thankful #blessed #choosehappiness #keepsmiling #keepbelieving
Nick and I agreed in the hospital that we were not going to focus on what went wrong, but focus more on what we needed to do to bring home a baby the next time. We were determined to start a family and this was not stopping us. We wanted to start trying again as soon as possible. The doctors had told us to wait at least three periods and they’d also like to do some testing to try to figure out what went wrong with the twin pregnancy before we start trying again.
The first set of results came back and the doctors called it a “fluke” that my body went into labor too soon. My water broke and then the placenta started pulling away from the uterine wall which caused all of the bleeding. A “fluke” wasn’t the most explanatory of words, but we accepted it. Then the testing started on my body… First, they did an ultrasound on my uterus to make sure it was going back to normal. And it was, except for the fact that there was something vascular leftover in my uterus. Not good. This meant one of four things: 1. It could be a blood clot, since I had a lot of bleeding during delivery. 2. It could be leftover placental tissue. 3. It could be cancer. 4. It could be something else. Regardless of what it was, it should not be in there and it needed to come out. I needed more blood work, an MRI and to say all of my prayers that it was simply a blood clot that may pass on its own through a period. If it didn’t pass on its own, the doctors may need to scrape it out and that was a huge risk that may cause more bleeding. And that’s when the harshest, most devastating words I’ve ever heard came out of my doctor’s mouth as she said, “You might need a hysterectomy.” NO. NO. NO. This cannot be happening. We left the doctor’s office in silence. Road home in silence. Nick walked in the house and got straight in bed. We had been walking a lot during my pregnancy and we made it a point to continue to go outside and walk every day after we left the hospital. Let’s get one thing straight though, I do not run. But when I got home that day, I put on my tennis shoes and I ran like hell. I ran all the way to the farm at the end of our road. I only stopped to wipe the tears that were streaming down my face and neck, then ran back home. I thought losing the twins was the worst thing that could happen to me, but losing my uterus as well seemed unbearable.
Meanwhile, we needed to make a decision about what we wanted to do with the twins’ bodies. They were still in the morgue at the hospital and we had received a couple phone calls about it. It was time to decide. Ugh. We agreed on cremation, but no funeral. Which meant two weeks later, we had to pick up the babies’ ashes from the hospital. Nick picked up the urns from the hospital, brought them home and set them on the kitchen island. They were the size of a double shot glass. I probably needed a drink at that point, but I knew alcohol was not the answer for me, so I stayed far away from alcohol during this grieving time. I sat at the island staring at the urns for what seemed like forever until I finally picked them up, one in each hand. I’m sure the actual weight of each urn was next to nothing, but they felt like the heaviest things I’ve ever picked up. I didn’t know what to do with them. Where should I set them? I moved them from the kitchen island, to the window sill, to my nightstand, to our dresser, back to the island, etc. I cried every time I glanced at them. The weight of having the urns and our babies’ ashes in our house was too much to carry. One week later, we agreed to spread their ashes. We chose a special place, Nick prayed over their ashes and then we said goodbye, again, to our baby girls.
Months of doctor’s appointments, tests, scans, blood work, ultrasounds, etc. went by. We were mentally exhausted and our hearts were so heavy. We were still grieving the loss of the twins, trying to get into a new normal routine and also dealing with the fear of possibility needing a hysterectomy. There were moments that I broke down and told Nick he could divorce me if I couldn’t bear his children. I felt so defeated. Although that conversation came up a couple times, Nick never let it go on for long. Each time he assured me that we were in this for the long haul and no matter what, we would have children someday. He even brought up the idea of adoption. During those months, we prayed hard. Harder than I’ve ever prayed before. We needed Jesus and we needed a miracle. This had spiraled so far out of our control. Our lives were completely upside down. We had to lean on each other and trust that even though we didn’t understand all of this, God was in control and He had a plan for our lives.
On my 4th irregular period, my body, on its own, passed something solid. OMG, OMG, OMG. I felt it pass, I saw it in the toilet and I made Nick look at it. “Should we fish it out or flush it?” We flushed it goodbye! Peace out! It didn’t matter what it was, it was out and we were ecstatic! I got in for an ultrasound the next day and sure enough, that was it! The spot was GONE! HALLELUJAH! PRAISE THE LORD!
So, what’d we do next? Went on vacation to celebrate!
WE NEEDED A VACATION. An adventure. A challenge. A new experience. So somehow I convinced my husband to hike 25 miles in the Grand Canyon with me & visit the most powerful, breathtaking waterfalls on earth! The roar of the water, the unbelievable colors & the vastness…Ahh! It was truly HEAVEN ON EARTH & exactly what we needed! 💙 #chasewaterfalls #chasedreams #keepbelieving #keepsmiling #wildlandtrekking #mooneyfalls #havasufalls #grandcanyon #hiking #camping #happyherbergs #omg
More pics on my Instagram about our vacation in the Grand Canyon! It was incredible!
What I’ve Learned…
Never judge anyone for how they grieve. Death is strange and how you deal with death is completely up to you. There is no right or wrong way to do it. I read a couple different books on grieving and quickly learned there is no manual. Staring at the babies’ footprints, rehashing what happened and connecting with other women who had been through similar situations helped me.
Talk about it. I’m a woman. I needed to talk about it. I still need to talk about it. That’s why I’m writing this blog in the first place. Talking about it has helped me move forward. I think about the twins every single day. When someone lets me vent a little bit about missing the twins or what we’ve been through, I feel better than I did before that conversation. My twin baby girls will always be in my heart.
If you know someone who is going through a hard time and you see them somewhere, say hello and acknowledge what’s going on their life. I get it. It’s weird, it’s uncomfortable and people didn’t know what to say to me, so they said nothing. But during a 10 minute or hour-long conversation, they’d just look at me with the saddest puppy eyes the entire time. That made it worse. Even close friends did this to us and it hurt. Just say you’re sorry, you’ve been thinking about me or praying for me. Even just a big hug. That’s it. Sometimes saying nothing hurt me worse than people who said the wrong things.
People will say the wrong things to you. Oh, will they ever. Again, I get it, you don’t know what to say, so it comes out all wrong. I’ve been there too, I know I have. Here are a few of the things we heard… “You’ll be pregnant again in no time!” “At least now you don’t have to deal with two babies at once.” “Yep, I knew it, twin pregnancies are too risky.” “You’re young, you have plenty of time to have babies.” “It’ll be easier having children one at a time.” “Now you can drink!” “Oh, did you just have a D&C?” The list goes on… I learned to take these comments with a grain of salt and try not to let them get to me, but I was fragile so that’s easier said than done.
“How arrrrreeee youuuu?” I hated this question for so long after we lost the twins. Faking an answer just isn’t me, but trying to put into words of HOW I was doing was incredibly difficult. Even a cashier asking, “Hey, how are you?” hurt. Strangers ask that all the time and don’t really care what your response will be; it’s just another way of greeting someone. But for someone who is going through a hard time, that question has some serious weight to it. I try to make a point not to casually ask that question anymore as a greeting. If I ask you how you’re doing, that means I truly care how you’re doing. And if it’s impossible to answer that question, I get it. I’ve been there.
Technically, I had a miscarriage. I was 6 days shy of the twins being considered stillborn babies. In my mind, if your body goes into labor and you vaginally deliver your baby, hold your baby, cremate your baby, then that should not be considered a miscarriage. I am not discounting the heartache that would come from a 1st trimester miscarriage, at all. What I went through was something I wish no one would ever have to go through. Miscarriage or stillborn loss — My heart hurts for the women before me and the women after me who have suffered this kind of loss.
Everyone is going through something. Just be kind. There is hurt and pain all over this world. Everyone is dealing with their own battles. I read so many stories of people dealing with grief and each story seemed worse than the next. But pain is pain and people need kindness from others. Love God and love people. I’m a Midwest girl and sometimes I have a hard time living out East because I’m so used to everyone being friendly back at home. Here, I smile and say hello to strangers every day; only half the people acknowledge me, the other half turn their face away. Just be kind. You never know how much a simple smile can brighten someone’s day, especially mine.
God is Good. You may think, how can she possibly say that? But it’s true. My mom survived stage 3 breast cancer and is now in remission! I’m alive! In the beginning, I didn’t think I would ever stop crying, but I did. I didn’t know how I’d get through each day, but I did. We have so much to be thankful for and so much hope for our future. I don’t know how people get through tough times without faith. I did NOT get where I am today on my own. I have felt the presence of God wrap his arms around me during my darkest hours. During the tough days that followed, He was there. I know we’ve had angels watching over us from the beginning and now our baby girls are watching over us from Heaven. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5. Nothing about losing the twins has made sense to us, but that’s OK. We’re at peace with what happened and we have HOPE for our future because of Christ. God is Good.
Handstands. I am not athletic and there is no way I could do a handstand on my own. The past year has been quite a battle trying to get our lives turned right side up. But we did it! I finally feel like I’m standing on my own two feet again. I know more hard times will come, but with every trial that comes our way, we will gain strength. Strength to move forward. Strength to become better people. Strength to stand on our hands when our lives get flipped upside down.