A Life Remembered

One year ago today we found out that our precious twins had TTTS and needed surgery to try and save their lives. We miss you, Micaiah Jean.

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Twins Day

We’re celebrating today. Last year on this day, we found out via ultrasound that we were expecting twins. I was having really bad stomach cramps, and went to the hospital to get checked. The two in there must have been intensifying my usual heartburn! I knew the one year mark was coming up, remembering back to fall events that happened before, or after, we knew about the twins. But I didn’t realize it was today until Luke told me. I love having my husband to share these joys, and sorrows, as we go through this life. It will be good to remember Micaiah’s life today. She died on December 21, so that will be a day set aside to mourn her. But for now I want to feel the excitement and joy that our twins brought us. Read my first post about the babies here.

Birth Story, Part 3

It was during this hard time in the pregnancy that we decided to name the twins. The active dancer we called Micah, and our little wallflower we named Micaiah. Both names mean “Who is like God?” Even though we had opted for a surgical procedure to try to save the twins’ lives, we knew that their futures really were in Someone’s hands Who has no equal.
I was to remain on bedrest for at least two weeks, then go back to OSU for a checkup. Midway through the first week, however, I had a routine OB visit already scheduled, and was told to go ahead with it. It was there that we had an ultrasound and discovered that Micaiah didn’t make it. It was a real shock to me; I had been praying for them so hard and really believed that the LORD was going to restore Micaiah’s health. This was a milestone for me- a time I will always look back upon with joy, beyond the obvious sadness of the moment. Here was a time I had so much faith, more faith than usual, in a certain outcome, and was so sure of that outcome that I was in total disbelief at the different outcome. I’m so glad the LORD put me in a situation where, for the most part, I think I responded correctly, in faith. But, oh, it was so hard laying there, watching the doctor hover over her still body, looking for that flutter that would indicate a heartbeat. It seemed to take hours. Then, the doctor called in the other OB, to verify, and time continued to crawl.
I’m not usually on this end of sorrow. The two doctors shared their condolences, the first of many such sentiments I would hear over the next few months. I almost feel worse for the person who has to say they are sorry to hear my news, than I feel for myself, because I know what it is like to be in their shoes, trying to think of something to say. It’s a necessary part of life, to experience both sides of loss.
The pregnancy from here progressed by the book, since there no longer were two babies needing nourishment. I loved seeing Micah grow bigger at each scan, but it was painful to see how much bigger than Micaiah she would grow. I hoped that Micaiah’s body wouldn’t be damaged by Micah’s increasing size; I wanted to see her when she was delivered, intact. Maybe we could even get footprints. The doctors all warned me not to expect anything of the sort, that since she would be in there a while after she died, that many changes could take place. But all along during ultrasounds, I could recognize her, still in that little hammock taking a long nap. Even though it would be hard, I looked forward to the day I would see both of my girls.
We decided to have Micaiah’s body cremated, and to bury her on our property. In my last month of pregnancy, I contacted a local funeral home to ask about cost and what to expect as far as procedure. To my surprise, they didn’t charge at all for the cremation, considering it a service they do for the community. They were very kind in explaining how things would go in the hospital and after my release. I also spoke with the head nurse of labor and delivery in that last month, to make sure they were aware of my circumstances before I got there. My doctors had said that Micaiah was technically considered a miscarriage, since she died so young. I worried then that her body might be misplaced or discarded against my wishes in the aftermath of delivery, and wanted to be certain that wouldn’t happen to her. The head nurse assured me that every deceased baby, no matter the gestation, in this kind of situation, would be handled respectfully and according to my plans for their care.
That was such a relief to me, and I looked forward to D-day even more, knowing that I had good people looking out for me at the hospital and funeral home.

Birth Story, Part 2

Early the morning of my level 2 ultrasound, I was sitting in the light of our Christmas tree, checking for movement. We now knew both babies were girls, but didn’t yet know they were identical. Once I was able to feel the twins’ kicks, and even distinguish one baby’s from another’s, I wasn’t as uncertain going into doctor visits anymore. But that morning I was unsettled. There was movement, but from only one place.
During the scan, the tech went through her measurements of Baby A, and we all noticed how active she was. Then, when she looked at Baby B, I noticed how this baby’s head looked a little squashed, and she was lying on her side like someone napping in a hammock. The tech had trouble taking some of her measurements, but during all of this initial stuff, I still didn’t realize anything was wrong.
After a really long wait, 3 medical personnel came in and shared with us that our girls were suffering from a disease called Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome. Basically, the placenta was giving Baby A too much, while not giving Baby B enough. There was an incredible amount of fluid in Baby A’s sac (making me incredibly huge and uncomfortable), and next to nothing in Baby B’s. The sickness was severe; if we did nothing, they both could die. If we wanted to try to help them, there were a few different options, but we would have to do something right away. They wanted me to be admitted that evening to the hospital. I remember the shock I felt after they all stopped talking. Luke and I looked at each other- What now? After they left us alone, we embraced and prayed about the situation. We knew we could not just do nothing, but we weren’t sure what to do, either. The nurse who worked with the OB on our case there at OSU talked with us further about the situation, and we decided that we would go home for the night and pray about what to do the next day. There were two different procedures on the table: one was to just drain off some of Baby A’s fluid, and hope that Baby B would recover once that extra weight was off her. The other was to go in with a laser and try to cut off some of the blood vessels in the placenta that were feeding into Baby A, so that both babies could get a more equal share. We talked about it, called friends and family to pray about it, and asked my OB his take on it, and decided the next morning we’d go in for the laser procedure.
I had to have an epidural for this laparascopic surgery, my third one. Everyone was so nice in the operating room; they understood what an upsetting thing this was, to have the twins be in danger. Plus, this procedure was rather new, so it was like I was contributing to their research, which made me feel good. When they set me back on the table, though, my blood pressure dropped really quick, and I felt like I was dying. The doctor and the nurses were all gathering around my head, rubbing my arms and talking to me. It was awful. I kept saying Psalm 103 to myself to try to stay awake (and I think people who enter Heaven quoting Scripture might get something special…kidding!), until finally I started to feel more normal. At least as normal as one can with no feeling from the ribs down.
I was awake the whole time, only a little sedated, so I could hear them talking while they worked. “This one? Where’s its origin?” or “Look at that bunch there…” Kinda weird.
Before and after the procedure, I was visited by my paster and one of the elders. After the procedure, my pastor read Psalm 103 aloud, and I cried.
I was taken to a room where I would be kept overnight, and then in the morning the doctors would check on the babies to see how they tolerated the surgery. It was a double room that I shared with a girl who was having preterm labor. It seemed like every hour she had to wear a fetal monitor for a few minutes, so I kept hearing that galloping sound throughout my stay. It didn’t bother me, though- I don’t think hearing a healthy baby’s heartbeat ever could.
Morning came, and I was hopeful. I’d been feeling movement all night, so I was reasonably certain things were fine with the twins. My hopes were confirmed when both babies showed strong heartbeats via ultrasound. We were so happy.

Birth Story, Part 1

There are those items in every home that, if in the event of a fire, will be grabbed up. They are our valuables, our papers, our can’t-be-withouts. For us, the children come first, of course, and I often try to think things through so that just in case the unthinkable happens, we get everyone out of the house. It is important to plan who gets who: I could probably take two of the littles at a time, so could Luke, and the rest would probably be old enough to walk out on their own.
As of May 3, we have another prized possession that will accompany us out of the house, alongside Luke’s safe and our external hard drive.
This is her story.
I knew right away when I was pregnant this time, and wanted to be more careful about eating right. Even my best efforts seemed not to work, though, because by mid-September I was having horrible heartburn after every meal. This was not typical morning sickness for me. It got so bad that one night we went to the emergency room, thinking it might be my gall bladder causing all the trouble. I can’t stand being in the hospital, so once we found out I wouldn’t be able to have surgery while pregnant even if it was my gall bladder, I remember asking Luke if we could leave. He said no, that we should stay and let them run any tests they were going to.
The doctor ordered an ultrasound, to look at my organs and see if there was anything wrong. While the tech was doing that, she said, “Let’s go ahead and look at the baby, shhh, don’t tell.” As soon as she was hovering over my uterus and I saw more than one little cloud floating against the blackness, I knew. The tech looked at us a little funny, and said, “Do you see that?” I think Luke guessed it, too- twins!
I loved them instantly. What a discovery in an emergency room cubby. It was so early, but unmistakeably two of them. I think the LORD told us then and there for certain reasons- maybe so I would continue to eat well, maybe so I would be more careful to slow down. Definitely so we would be lifting up their little lives to Him, their Creator and Sustainer.
The next few months passed with exciting OB visits. It is common in the first trimester to lose one twin without the mother even noticing, so I would try to prepare myself in the event that there might be only one baby there to see. Much to my joy, then, were the times I would first get to see two beating hearts, then two wiggling peanuts, then two bobbing heads and two sets of squirming arms and legs.
To Be Continued

Bleeding Afresh

We have reached a lull in our stormy twins experience. The rains will not likely subside until the babies are delivered, and some emotional aftermath is to be expected, too. For now, though, I actually have many days in a row that I barely think of her, while am almost constantly thinking of her. Still, there is the odd day where I run into someone in town who didn’t know, or am asked by a stranger why I am so big (“Are you sure it isn’t twins?”), or am supposed to call my insurance company and update them on my pregnancy. Then all the feelings are right there again, making it hard to breathe. It hurts, I tell Him. Lord, it hurts. I can identify a little with Ann Judson, first wife of the missionary, Adoniram, who said:
“When for a moment we realize what we once possessed…the wound opens and bleeds afresh. Yet we would still say, ‘Thy will be done.'”
I’ve found that last part especially true, and some comfort to me even today. In my conversation with Him this afternoon about my sorrow, it was as if He was saying to me, “I have something better for you. Something different.” I can’t “bleed” long when I realize that if this is the plan He has for me, it must be better. It must be perfect, as He is.

When The Answer Is No

While growing up, I remember there occasionally being rabbit nests in our yard. One spring my dog, Sophie, brought me this little whilte ball of fluff in her teeth, maybe expecting me to begin playing fetch or some other game with it. I discovered it was a baby rabbit, and quickly went searching for its nest. When I found it, I tucked the little thing back in with its siblings, hoping that whatever Sophie did to it could be undone. The next morning from my bedroom window I could see that a little white body lay in the grass outside the nest. I went down, scooped it up into a shoebox and went across the street to ask my neighbor if anything could be done. She told me that the mother likely rejected the baby once it smelled like dog, and unfortunately this is how things go sometimes, and no, nothing could be done. I remember being angry and filled with questions- why couldn’t I have fixed this? Why couldn’t my efforts have saved a life? It bothered me for a while, but animals are only animals after all, and eventually I was able to move on with my life quite easily.
Sometime between Saturday and today, little Micaiah’s heart stopped beating. The procedure we chose to try to save the lives of both babies apparently did not help our little baby who was lacking in fluid and space. Our many supplications for the Lord to please restore and revive and sustain Micaiah were answered, only not with the answer we wished. God said no. So far, Micah is strong and active, and our hopes are that she can not only survive, but carry on in this pregnancy as a singleton birth. If my body can treat her as the only one there, she should have things pretty easy from here on. So at the same time we are grieving the loss of Micaiah, we are tentatively grateful that Micah is still with us. Having one survive the procedure was one of the three outcomes explained to us, each with the same probability- 33%. I should be happy that we did not have the other outcome we had a third of a chance of happening- losing both babies. But I still have the thought- the Lord is above probabilities. He is not limited by how slim a chance a baby has at life. He can do anything. I am older now than I was when I found and could not help that baby rabbit, but the questions remain, and come with even more intensity. So why didn’t He fix this? Why couldn’t the efforts of the surgeon and his team have saved this life? I loved them both the moment I saw their little clouds on the ultrasound in September. It is going to hurt to not be able to wrap my arms around them both. But to have one to hold is more comfort than I could hope. Thank You, Lord, for this loss. Thank You, Lord, for this gain. Thank You for the reminder that You, and no one else, are in control. Teach me how to be okay with the fact that just as You give, You also take away.

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name.

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

I had been reading through Isaiah when I became pregnant. The morning after our trip to the ER and the discovery of the twins, I was on chapter 44:
“But now listen, O Jacob, My servant,
And Israel, whom I have chosen:
Thus says the LORD who made you
And formed you from the womb, who will help you,
‘Do not fear, O Jacob My servant;
And you Jeshurun whom I have chosen.
‘For I will pour out water on the thirsty land
And streams on the dry ground;
I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring
And My blessing on your descendants;
And they will spring up among the grass
Like poplars by streams of water.’
“This one will say, ‘I am the LORD’S’;
And that one will call on the name of Jacob;
And another will write on his hand, ‘Belonging to the LORD,’
And will name Israel’s name with honor.

Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb,
“I, the LORD, am the maker of all things,
Stretching out the heavens by Myself
And spreading out the earth all alone,
Causing the omens of boasters to fail,
Making fools out of diviners,
Causing wise men to draw back
And turning their knowledge into foolishness,
Confirming the word of His servant
And performing the purpose of His messengers
It is I who says of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be inhabited!’
And of the cities of Judah, ‘They shall be built.’
And I will raise up her ruins again.
These words were so timely and such a comfort to me, with my head spinning that morning, filled with new revelations from the night before, and new fears to accompany them. But God reminded me through this passage that none of this ever comes as a surprise to Him. He created all things, by Himself, and He alone will sustain and confirm all things until the end. Even ruins have hope in His economy. That’s the kind of God I want in charge of my life. How about you?

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name.

Pray More Intelligently, You Will

I’ve asked Yoda to come write a guest post for me… not really. This week at the obstetrician, I found out some really neat information about the babies, and hope you will be praying for a few specific things.
My OB did an ultrasound on Thursday, and the babies are the same size and growing great. He saw what he hoped was one of the babies’ amniotic sacs, but can’t be sure. As it turns out, that membrane surrounding the baby is verrrry important! Here are some of the different scenarios that could be going on with the twins and their sacs:
-they share a sac. This means they are identical twins and will be delivered via c-section (my OB’s policy)
-they each have their own sac, are fraternal and the sacs are strong
-they each have their own sac, are identical and the sacs are strong
-they each have their own sac, are identical but one sac and/or the other is weak
So far, any of these are possible, so we are of course praying for the best possible scenario- the babies each have their own, strong sacs, and that they can be delivered naturally. As their growth is watched, if at any time one starts getting bigger than the other, this may be an indication of a weak sac(s). I’m hopeful, though, that what he saw was a sac, one of two strong sacs, and we never see that happen. Thanks for joining with us in prayer. Strong Sacs! I’ll have the awareness bracelets and ribbon magnets for your cars out next week. 🙂