I grew up in tumble and rush, grasping at one good thing after another - graduated high school at 16, married at 18 and joyfully birthed my first child at 22.
Liam was born two years later, another planned home birth, another gift to my heart. I think it was my children who taught me that life is not best lived in fast forward. Soon after Aria came to be, I began imagining two children born in our youth and two more born later on. We were so young. Why rush?
But.... juggling that second baby and a clever two-year-old was no small task for my 24-year-old self. Brandon started to feel certain that we were done having babies. I wavered. In the face of a free (and reversible!) surgery and a confident husband, I agreed that our family was likely complete, Liam still a babe in my arms. (Public service announcement: initial surgeries may be free, but reversals are anything but.)
When Liam was 2 I mourned my last baby with stoic acceptance. When Liam was 3 I began having serious second thoughts. Alas, Brandon did not. When Liam was 4 I ached in earnest for a new baby, as so many of my friends continued to grow their families. I couldn't believe that at 28, I was supposed to be done. It seemed unreal. I felt So Old. By the time he was 5 it was a deep, soul pain, one I brought out to share with my husband from time to time and then sadly put away.
When Brandon told me last year that we could try again, it really was a miracle to me. And such evidence of his love! He said I must be satisfied with just one more child, not the two I had long imagined. This seemed like a good bargain! Still... would the reverse surgery work? Could we really spend the money? And then, after all that, would we conceive?
Through many months of trying, with miscarriages and frightful pressure that it wasn't all for nothing, I prayed quite seriously for twins. If I had twins, they would have companionship even when Aria and Liam struck out as adults. If I had twins naturally and with no family history, it would surely have been meant to be. If I had twins, Liam could have his boy and Aria could have her girl. I know that is far-fetched, but why not dream, and why not be honest with God about my dreams?
And then came the pregnancy. And such debilitating fatigue, like I'd never experienced before. And worse nausea. Somewhere along the way I gave up on twins, starting to wonder if I could manage to keep life going with the addition of ONE little bundle of joy.
On Saturday we had our first ultrasound. Just a gender determination ultrasound. I was a little over 14 weeks. Moments into the procedure, in an awkward stumbling way, the highly trained ultrasound tech revealed that we had actually conceived twins.
And then, she explained that there was now only one heartbeat. It's a girl. "That's wonderful," I exclaimed, through tears both of the saddest and happiest kind.
Our twin had passed away somewhere between 9 and 11 or so weeks. The fetus probably had some abnormalities. Honestly, Brandon was relieved, which was a logical response. I was broken. To have actually carried twins so long, an answer to a ridiculous prayer. It's painful to know, but I'm glad I know. It's painful to accept that this is the best way, but I logically accept that. Emotionally it is everything - such joy and such loss.
Fortunately, baby Eleni looks absolutely perfect. She is well developed for her fetal age and moving around like a happy little thing. We will hope now that my body will not attempt to expel the twin fetus, but will either absorb or maintain it in a way that is safe for Eleni. If so, I will still be able to have the home birth that we so desire.
When I sink down, down into the grief of this sudden loss, I find the best way out is to focus my heart on the gift I've been given: one precious healthy baby girl. I can't believe she is really going to happen to me. And I am so, so SO grateful. On Sunday night I began making burp cloths from Folksy Flannel scraps I've saved forever, in hopes that I could use them for just this purpose someday. They are Very Girly, which makes me very glad.
And that is the story, so far, of our babes. Thanks for allowing me this space to share.