Our Twin Story

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I don’t know why this is so hard. I’m always ok talking about our Judah Story, but for some reason, it just feels different with the twins. It always feels harder. Relatively speaking, it was a much less dire situation. Yes, we lost two babies. Yes, my heart was broken. But I myself wasn’t in any danger. My life wasn’t on the line with the twins the way it was with Judah. When it was Judah, I had known all along that something was terribly wrong. With the twins, I was totally and completely blindsided. I’ve been putting off posting our story with them for some time now. I’m not 100% sure why. At first, I said that the timing simply didn’t feel right. And while that may be true, while that actually may be it, I just don’t really know.

Bear with me while I’m crazy honest for a minute here. Part of me wonders if it’s because I haven’t fully dealt with it yet. I cried. A lot. I grieved. Excessively. I prayed. Relentlessly. But I sometimes wonder if I let myself feel it all the way. You see, losing the twins was honestly only the beginning of an unbelievably hard time for us. I often told people during that time that one of the things we were facing, all alone and by itself, would be enough to put me over the edge. But here we were facing several terrible, hard things. I was honestly just trying to make it by. Trying to survive. I’m a big advocate of thriving instead of just surviving. But this time, my friends, there were no chances for thriving. I knew the thriving would come. I held out for the thriving. But for the time being, I had to survive. For myself, for my kids, for my husband. For that portion of our lives, surviving was enough.

It’s hard to think about that time. It’s painful to remember. And yet, in that pain, there stands beauty beyond compare. We were so well loved during that time. And we so fully had to rely on Jesus. Blake and I grew so much, and our kids got to watch us stand up in the midst of so many storms. They were able to witness how the family of God was meant to function. They learned empathy and compassion in ways they would not have learned otherwise. But it was also a time wrought with fear. And dread. And sadness. Maybe that’s why it’s so hard. Part of me worries that if I talk about it too much, all the fear I felt then might rear it’s ugly head again. Blake and I both were just constantly afraid of what would come next. There were days it felt like it would never end. There were days that I would cling to the only sliver of hope that I had for a new day, a new season. Somewhere in the midst of all that, a friend said to me, “You know, after such a hard season, God usually brings incredible things. Big things. Things you would not have imagined. God has some awesome things in store for you. I can feel it.” I clung to those words like they were my life source. And you know what, she was right. So many amazing things have happened since those dark days of 2016. I’m so grateful…

Ok. I’ve got to start telling this story. It’s time to share the story of our twin boys.

It was the end of summer, and we had finally decided that we did actually want to have a baby. I had always wanted a boy, but after losing Judah, I wanted one all the more. I knew that no baby could replace Judah, but the thought that he was my only chance at a boy broke my heart. After only one month of trying, I got a faintly positive pregnancy test. We were thrilled. My belly got big fast. My appetite was insatiable. I wanted meat most of the time. Not only that, but I would eat three times my normal amount and then stop eating, not because I wasn’t hungry, but because I was too embarrassed to eat more. 😅 While I did feel sick-and unimaginably tired, my morning sickness was the best I had ever experienced in pregnancy. One friend even told me she had a hunch that it was twins. I shrugged it off and laughed saying she was crazy. But wouldn’t ya know it? She was right.

I remember being at out first ultrasound. The tech circled the first baby and said, “Ok, now here’s the baby….” then after making another circle, “and here’s the other baby. You’re going to be having identical twins!” We had our girls in the room with us and our oldest, Lane, said, “What?! How are we going to do 2 babies? We already have 3!” We laughed and were thrilled…and shocked…and nervous…and scared. We left the appointment with several other appointments in front of us. Because twins are considered a higher risk pregnancy, we also needed to see an MFM doctor.

We were scheduled to go to a class after our ultrasound, but we were far too much in shock for that. Instead, we sat in the car in the mall parking lot for a good 45 minutes at least. Except for an occasional “oh my gosh” or “I just can’t believe it” we were mostly silent. After some of the shock wore off, we told everybody we know, and we started planning. My sister created a “Twinsies” board for us to add stuff to from Pinterest. We had planned out products we really needed, and some we really wanted, to purchase. My parents had plans to move into the apartment complex next to us so they could help us with our 5 kids. We were still nervous, but we had a plan and an awesome support system, so as time passed, we grew more and more excited. We could not wait for the experience of having twins. We knew it would be hard, but we knew it would be so much fun too.

The whole time, all of us knew they were boys. I had this idea in my head that it was all part of God’s redeeming plan. I think we all shared that same idea. He gives and takes away. I was beside myself with gratitude. We often joked it was the “going out of business sale” two for one. While we had a few concerns, for the most part, they consisted of labor and delivery and taking care of the babies once they were born. I didn’t really think about the chance of losing them. At least, not until the week that we lost them.

It was the week before Thanksgiving and I was 12 weeks along. I had been reading a book where the main character gets pregnant. As the story progresses, she gets pregnant and loses the babies each time. It welled up some fear in me, but I pushed it down, telling myself it was only a coincidence, it didn’t actually mean anything. That night, I had a dream that at my doctor’s appointment, they could only find one heartbeat. We had lost the first twin. My dream ended with us praying that we wouldn’t lose the second. The next morning at my doctor’s appointment, my doctor was only able to find one heartbeat. He said the second twin was probably hiding behind the first, and that’s why we couldn’t hear both. I told him about my dream and asked if he could bring in the ultrasound machine. He didn’t even hesitate, and once on the screen, he quickly found the second heartbeat. I also had my exam that day, and I was starting to feel like I could breath again.

The next morning I woke up feeling really, terribly off. I was cramping a good deal, but I knew that was normal the day after having a pelvic exam. I rested as best as I could that day, but something just didn’t feel right. When my mother-in-law came over that night to help out, I locked myself in our bedroom and watched Gilmore Girls on repeat. And then I woke up the next morning feeling considerably better! We had Friendsgiving that weekend and I kept telling people that I couldn’t believe how good I felt. It was the first time that I felt good once I hit the 12-13 week mark. We had a great weekend, and I was so excited for the week of Thanksgiving. Blake always takes that week off and we do lots of fun, festive things. It was our second year doing it, and I was beside myself with excitement. We had out first MFM appointment that Monday, and then from there it was going to be all fun all week long.

Now, I was particularly nervous about this appointment. Along with an ultrasound, they were also going to go over all the scary possibilities that come with a twin pregnancy. Not only that, but it was also the same office where they told us we were going to lose Judah, and there was a very real possibility that we would lose me too. To put it lightly, it wasn’t our favorite place. Just being there brought back so many unpleasant memories. I had a lot of people praying for us that day. I couldn’t wait for it to be over so that we could move forward.

The night before that appointment, as I was reading my She Reads Truth devotional, the title read, “Blessed are Those Who Mourn.” Immediately a red flag went up in my mind. I tried to settle the fear in my heart and sleep. Eventually I was able to shake it off enough to rest, but as I woke up the next morning, it kept rearing it’s ugly head in the back of my mind. We went into the office for our ultrasound first. The tech looked at a few things, and confirmed what we already knew-2 boys! We were thrilled. Then she went to check the heartbeat. She excused herself and went to grab the doctor. When they came back, the doctor (who I had never met before) sat at the end of my bed, patted my leg and told me that there weren’t any heartbeats. I lost it. I wept openly. Which, if you know me, that’s not really my style. I might shed a few tears, but this time, I wept. Here we were in the same office where we had received bad news only a few years before, receiving more bad news. I was in complete and utter shock. They sent us down the hall to see our regular OB. He was just as confused as we were. Everything seemed to look fine, he recalled the dream I had and us checking on them to make sure everything was as it should be. Then he laid out our options – go home and wait for my body to deliver the babies, or schedule a D&C.

I couldn’t imagine carrying two dead babies around in my body for who knows how long. The last thing I wanted to do on Thanksgiving Day was to go into labor and deliver not just one, but two stillborn babies. My doctor had said to expect a lot of bleeding if I went into labor on my own. It didn’t take long for me to decide that I wanted a D&C, and I wanted it as soon as I possibly could get it. We were scheduled to have one early the next morning. My doctor graciously sent me home with some medication in case the bleeding got bad and his personal cell phone number, just in case I needed anything. I went home that day feeling totally numb. There’s nothing quite like knowing that you have two little lifeless bodies inside of you. All I wanted to do was snuggle up on the couch with my babies and watch Christmas movies all day.

That night I cried out to God in my bed. Pleading with Him, questioning why I had to face this again. Asking why it hadn’t happened sooner. Blake lovingly held onto me while I screamed at the Lord for who knows how long. Finally I cried myself to sleep, dreading the next day. The drive to the hospital in the morning was all too familiar. That feeling that you’re heading to death row. I had them check one last time just in case, but there they were, still and lifeless.

The D&C was over quickly. I felt a little dead inside after it was over, but I also felt a little relieved. My recovery was not an easy one, and as it turned out, I actually had to have a second D&C not quite a month later. It took about 2 moths for my body to get back to normal. My doctor was amazing and worked with us so well the whole time. We knew we wanted to try just one more time to have a baby. And I’m so glad we did…because that baby is our sweet baby boy Fletcher.

 

 

But What If I’m the One Hurting?

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Last week we talked about how to help the hurting. I threw out some good, practical ideas for people to help the ones they love through a difficult time. “But,” you may ask, “What if it’s me who’s hurting?” First of all, friend, I want you to know that I see you. Second, I want you to know that I know how difficult it can be to ask for, or even accept, help. I’ve shared before how I like for everybody to think that I’m super strong and I have it all together and I can handle anything, even immense hardship, all on my own. But dear one, that is not the way that it is meant to be.

Because of my physical condition during and after losing Judah, I had to learn how to accept help. I had no other option. And. It. Was. So. Crazy. Hard. I don’t like sitting around and I don’t like needing help, and I had to do both. I get my sense of determination (I guess that’s what we’ll call it) from my dad. I specifically remember shortly after losing Judah that it was my dad’s day to “watch me,” and I pushed my limits with him. He’s a lot more soft spoken with me than my mom, mother-in-law, sisters, husband, etc. and I thought I could get away with doing a little bit more when he was around. By about the second or third time he said, “baby, I know how hard it is to just sit around, but I really think you need to just sit and rest” I gave it up. I could tell it just about killed him to have to tell me to sit, and I couldn’t push him any longer. So I sat. I rested. And I learned a really good, hard lesson. You want to know what that lesson was? I’m gonna put it in all caps so that it will hopefully get through. Are you ready?

WHEN YOU’RE HURTING, THE PEOPLE WHO LOVE YOU REALLY, TRULY, HONESTLY WANT TO HELP YOU!!!!

There. I even put it in bold writing and italicized it for you. But it’s true. When you’re hurting, the people who love you really do want to help. The problem is, sometimes it’s hard to know how to help you. The other problem is, sometimes you don’t allow them to help you. Can I let you in on something else? Everybody benefits when you let them in, and let them help. End of story.

After losing Judah there was a time that I was sitting on the couch, resting (because that was literally all I could do), and my sisters were running to the store. I couldn’t go with them – because resting – so they asked if I needed anything. Anything at all. I told them, no, I didn’t need anything. But still they persisted. They even started throwing out ridiculous suggestions. It was in the midst of this that I realized, “You know, they see me sitting here, miserable and sad, and they probably just feel helpless. They probably wish there was just something they could do. If I give them something to get for me, it’s probably going to make them feel better. And it might actually make me feel a bit better too.” I did need mascara, so I eventually gave in and asked them to bring some of that back with them. Guess what? They got this light in their eyes. They visibly perked up, and said, “Ok! Mascara! We’ll bring some mascara back for you!” They were so happy to bring that small little thing back for me! And I was really happy for them to bring it back to me. After that incident, it was a little bit easier for me to let people help. I tried to think of it from their perspective, remembering times that I watched the people I love who were hurting. I remembered feeling desperate to do anything to help lighten their load. I remembered a time that a family friend reached out and asked if I could put together the food for the viewing for one of their relatives. I felt so relieved that I could help in such a real, practical way! I realized that when I let others help me, it blessed us both.

When we lost the twins, I even went beyond letting people help me, to asking people to help me. This was a huge step for me. The week we lost the twins was the week of Thanksgiving. We have so many fun traditions that specific week, and we had had a whole lot of fun things planned. I had been so excited for our week off. Once we left the ultrasound knowing that we had lost the twins, I knew I couldn’t hold up my end of those traditions. It was so hard to let go of so many things at once. I had a D&C the day after our ultrasound and my body was not in good shape. I was contracting like you wouldn’t believe and still bleeding a lot. Again, I was told to take it easy. My sisters brought over a basket of Christmas crafts and a really cute, comfy tank top for me to wear so that I could sit on the couch and still feel like I was doing something along the lines of what we had planned. (In case you hadn’t noticed, I have the most amazing sisters). I appreciated it so much, and it sparked a hope in me that I could maybe still do some of those things we had planned. The best and easiest way to do that was through Facebook. Oh. My. Goodness. You guys. The response I got was absolutely overwhelming. I was floored. Again, it was another reassurance that when you’re hurting, the people who love you really want to do something to help you.

Every Thanksgiving morning, I make homemade cinnamon rolls. I started the tradition the first Thanksgiving that Blake and I had as a married couple. There’s never been a year where I haven’t made them. That year would have been a first. It broke my heart knowing I couldn’t make them that year. After giving it some thought, I took a deep breath, swallowed my pride, and took a picture of the recipe (because I was making them before Pinterest), and posted on facebook saying that I know people were crazy busy, but if there was even the slightest chance that somebody could make them for us and deliver them at whatever time, it would be the biggest blessing. I had so many people reach out to me! People who don’t bake, or didn’t have the time to bake, offered to pick up store bought ones or to make the kind from a can. I would have been so happy even for that! I felt incredibly loved knowing that people were so willing to take time out of their already busy holiday schedules to fulfill a want (not even a need) for me. One dear friend did end up making the recipe. She delivered them the night before Thanksgiving along with some gifts. “These were made with love and a lot of tears” she told me. Even as I type this out and remember that night, her sweet words, and loving heart, I’m tearing up. People are such a blessing.

Another silly request I had was for a wheelchair. My sisters and Mom and I have made a tradition of going out on Black Friday every year. We like to go a little later at night after the crowds have died down, and it’s so much fun! It’s honestly one of our favorite nights of the year. If I didn’t have a wheelchair, my doctor said I couldn’t go. Again, I went to facebook, asking if anybody had one we could borrow. Again, the response I got was absolutely overwhelming. One friend, who lives far away, and I hadn’t seen (or really even talked to) for years messaged me. She said that she and her husband would be blessed to pay the rental fee for a wheelchair. Honestly, I cried as I told my husband of their generous offer. She said to me, “Please let me know how my husband and I can help. Mean it. I know God has a plan for you all and your beautiful girls, but please promise you’ll let us know how we can help!” Once again, the people who love you want to help you when you are hurting. We got the wheelchair. Some friends from church had one that they dropped off for us earlier in the week. I was able to go shopping with my mom and my sisters. My cousin, who often needs a wheelchair herself, actually came down to shop with us and she brought her wheelchair just in case! I told her I wanted to be wheeled side by side so we could hold hands in the store. 😁 Turns out she didn’t need hers that night and she actually pushed me for a good portion of the time we were out. She was, by far, the best driver. I’ve pushed her a number of times, and I think I can say that it felt good for both of us to have the roles reversed. She may not even know it, but she offered me a special comfort that night. I was blessed beyond belief that she was able to make it out to spend some time with us.

Now, I say all this with a word of caution. Please do not use and abuse the people who love you. I don’t want anybody taking advantage of anybody else’s generosity. If you need help, please ask for it. If people offer to help you, please take them up on it. But also, please realize that there will come a time when you need to start helping yourself. Give yourself time, let yourself grieve, let yourself heal, let those you love help you, and then take a deep breath, and start easing your way into routine again. There will be days down the road when you need help again. Days that are hard and you need someone to lean on. That’s ok. Reach out again. Or let them reach out to you. Shortly after having Fletcher, I posted a picture on social media about how I feel so blessed to have 4 sweet babies, but there are days when I feel like I have 4 babies and it can be so hard. I wasn’t reaching out for help, I was only trying to be honest and real. I got a lot of messages that day from friends asking how they could help. One friend simply told me that her husband would be dropping dinner off at our house that night when he got off of work. Everything in me wanted to say, “no, that’s ok, I can handle it on my own.” But I didn’t. Instead, I said, “THANK YOU!” and we enjoyed some really delicious Chinese food that night. I didn’t have to cook or clean and my family was fed. And you know what? I’ve been able to bring them a meal at a time when making a meal wasn’t easy for them. So let’s all agree to be givers, and accepters. Let’s give when it’s needed, and let’s accept when it’s needed.

I cannot stress it enough: When you’re hurting, the people who love you really do want to help you. And sometime down the road, somebody will need you to help them. Remember this time, when you were the one hurting, and return the favor. Let’s do this thing together. Let’s allow ourselves to help and be helped. If we all did, it would be a better world to live in, don’t ya think?