Disclaimer: This story contains details pertaining to child loss that may be upsetting to some.
“We were meant for twins. We were chosen to be Hollyn and Rumley’s parents.
Honestly, I was shocked to learn we were having twins. My OBGYN had previously told me getting pregnant was a slim to none probability for me because my myomectomy caused extensive scar tissue.
Once the shock wore off, I dove in and read everything I could to prepare myself. My short pregnancy was relatively easy. ZERO morning sickness. I really thought it would be horrendous with two.
I started showing at 9 weeks and immediately had to shop for bigger clothes. My ankles started swelling at 15-16 weeks. But other than that, I loved feeling and knowing my body was growing and supporting life.
Panic, worry, anxiety, and every other emotion one can think of began to settle in around 18-19 weeks when I learned my cervix was beginning to shorten. Then we learned Hollyn had vasa previa with velamentous cord insertion. I never felt impending doom like I did that day and I could never quite quell it moving forward.
The worst part, however, was everything people said leading up to their due date:
You’re going to spend a fortune in childcare.
You should just quit your job and be a stay-at-home mom.
You know they’ll be in the NICU for a long time.
You won’t be able to sleep after they are born.
This is going to be such a life adjustment for you.
What?! Like I can’t handle being a first-time mom to twins and still have a successful career???? Mind boggling.
I dealt with all the comments in stride. I realized this is just what people say to start a conversation.
But then things changed. Bed rest. I loathed it because I wanted to be out of the house, going to work, and engaging in a normal routine. Instead, I was on bed rest at the hospital and praying I could keep the girls safely growing every single day.
Twenty seven weeks is not much time for little babes but it’s all I could get. The next 9 days were a blur:
Pump, wait for someone to take me to the NICU, talk to the nurses because there’s so much going on and it’s confusing, pump, hydrate, pump, forget to stay on top of my pain meds and pay for it, pump but ‘oh you aren’t doing it correctly,’ go back to the NICU, learn more words and terms I don’t understand, did I remember to sterilize everything today, pump, I’m hungry, ‘you should be producing xx ounces, better start hand-expressing while pumping,’ sterilize, back to the NICU, pump, drink more water, pink drinks from Starbucks, power pump, body armor, sterilize, pump, whatever you can do to get that milk flowing, I’m hungry, cesareans really hurt, ‘you need a different flange,’ drink more water, have I pumped in the last 3 hours, back to the NICU, ‘hey xxx, what did I miss,’ etc.
It was daunting.
Then the unspeakable happened. We got a call in the early morning hours. Hollyn had blood in her stool and they believe she developed Necrotizing Enterocolitis.
A baby’s GI system isn’t fully developed until 32 weeks and somehow Hollyn had bacteria leaching out of her intestine. She then became septic. And we lost our Hollyn.
Even when our nurse came in and asked us to call our loved ones, it still had not set in she wasn’t going to make it.
I just knew the doctors would find a way. They would save my baby. It’s just like in the movies…right???
But the biggest amount of hope I had became splintered and shattered like tempered glass when she was brought in to us.
Not hooked up to oxygen. With no heart beating. With her little eyes closed.
We saw our little girl’s face for the first time, and I immediately hated it. Because I knew then it would be the only face of hers I’d ever see.
No smiles. No tears.
No look of anguish because she can’t have more candy.
No puckered up lips coming in for a kiss.
No excitement for learning something new.
No sour face from tasting her first lemon.
No this face. No that face. No…no…no…no…no.
Life changed in that moment. And I’ll never be okay. Grief is such a fickle thing.
Their birthday will always be bittersweet. I will always be celebrating the life of my littlest love in heaven while also celebrating the life of my growing love here with me. What a dichotomy.
How can one day be so poignant?! But yet it exists with abounding love and tears. For my Hollyn Ottilie, and for my Rumley Belle.
I learned after this tragedy that many do not know what to say when faced with offering support for a grieving loved one. One statement said to me stuck like a searing piece of metal flying in your eye, except it somehow manages to travel down to your heart and make a scar:
‘At least you still have one.’
The ‘be happy for what you’ve got’ and ‘things will get easier over time’ statements were, again, taken in stride. Not the best things to hear.
But that one…at least you still have one…hurt. It’s forever engraved in me.
I recognize this statement was made in an effort to look at the positives. Don’t get me wrong…I’m bursting with love for Rumley. She’s everything I never knew I needed.
This part of life is the best I’ve ever lived. It’s incredible, it’s sweet, it’s HARD, and it’s amazing. It’s melodious chaos.
I’m in awe every single day, and yet I’ll never forget that statement. We were made for twins.
We only had 9 days, but we had both during those 9 days. Even though we were confused, sleep deprived, still trying to tackle multiple hurdles we experienced every day, we were parents to twins. And we loved big.
I’ll forever be conflicted on their birthday. Unfortunately, I have no ‘things will improve’ or ‘watch and see’ statement to end on. Sometimes there are no words to make a situation better. Only hugs, remembering, and validating.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Karli Land. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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