It was still dark as we drove to the hospital that morning. There is something about the dark right before the sun rises that I have always found beautiful. As we headed down the deserted interstate the sky sort of glowed with pre-dawn sun but the stars were still out. We were silent. We pulled around the hospital to the familiar parking lot we had arrived at together two other times before. Times when we also arrived to deliver babies. Times when we got to take those babies home.
We grabbed our bags and held hands as we walked in the hospital and headed up the elevator to the 6th floor. We checked in at the desk and had to sign the admittance papers stating why we were there.
"Fetal Demise-17 weeks"
So medical. So cold. So sad. I signed the papers and, after being asked, we elceted to not have them list us in the patient directory if anyone asked if we were there. I am addressing this because we got questions about it. This meant that if we gave someone our room number, and they came and asked for that room number, they would be directed to us because they only could have gotten that information from us. It did, however, also mean that those people who might call and ask for us or try to visit without talking with us first, would not be directed to us. Jim and I both really felt like this was something we needed to do together. We were confused about how we would be feeling and had no idea what the day might hold. It was a time for us to work through some of our grief and emotions, to meet our babies, to mourn their loss. It was not a time for us to worry about how those who came to visit were feeling or to try to comfort or cheer them. It was also not a time where I wanted visitors wondering or judging how we acted. There were tears and there was laughter, there was unease and there was rest, there was concern and there was comfort. Needless to say, we needed to go through this process ourselves. That does not negate the fact that we need people there for us, we just didn't need people literally THERE for us.
The day began slowly. We waited quite some time for the orders from the doctor on what medicine to start when. After arriving before 5am, we did not receive our first dose of medicine for the induction until 9am. We were told by many nurses and the doctor that the process would likely be very slow, requiring multiple doses of the medicine given over 6 hour intervals. We were also warned on at least a dozen occasions that when the time came to deliver, it would come suddenly. They said that time would go on and on with no progress and suddenly it would come so quickly that we likely needed to be prepared for no doctor or nurse to be in the room. I found this a bit terrifying.
We spent the majority of the day sitting, talking, and visiting with our nurses. The compassion they had was uplifting. I would just talk and talk and talk with them, feeling comfort in being able to visit about different feelings and emotions I was having. I think the phrase I said most commonly, which was usually accompanied with tears, was "people just shouldn't have to go through this". It felt so awful to think about birthing these two little babies who we would never get to watch grow. I talked about our pregnancy and the mono-mono debate that we carried for months until finally confirming it on the appt before they passed. I kept saying that I felt jinxed. Like if we would have never said they were for sure mono-mono, maybe everything would have continued to be fine. We talked a lot, about their lives too. It was a distraction, and a welcome one at that.
That afternoon we were encouraged to get some rest and to try to sleep for a bit since it would likely be a very long day, or two or three. It was restless sleep and almost unwelcome. I decided to sit up a while after 2 anticipating the next dose of medicine at 3. My doctor came in and explained that because I was just 8 months out from a c-section they thought it would be best to administer the medicine on a different schedule so that they didn't cause any damage to my uterus. Instead of two doses every 6 hours it would be one dose every 8 hours. This ended up being quite a blessing, because right around the time I would have gotten a dose, things picked up. I can't imagine how quick or painful it would have been if the medicine was administered.
Sparing all of the details, my back started aching right around 3:00. By 4:00, I started realizing what was happening. I literally broke down. I had been ok most of the day but now that the time was upon us, I could not pull myself together. I was in pain, physically and emotionally and I just couldn't wrap my mind around what was about to happen. I was scared. I was so, so scared. I only calmed down when trying to focus on getting an epidural. This was sometime between 4:30 and 4:50 that the anesthesiologist arrived. Jim was sent out of the room for a couple of minutes. During the process of inserting the epidural, my water broke. I have never sat so still through such pain. Jim walked back in the room at just the right time. We knew that as soon as I laid back down, we would deliver our babies.
The nurses were amazing. They swarmed our room and took control of a situation that I felt completely out of control with. They helped keep me calm and prepared for the biggest heartbreak I would ever encounter. Jim was by my side, holding my hand, we looked at each other and tears filled both our eyes. It still, even in the moment, felt like it couldn't be happening.
Baby A was born at 5:05pm. They hadn't begun the epidural drip yet, but the line was in and ready so they went ahead and started it in case their were problems with the placenta coming out. They delayed Baby B until our doctor arrived. Baby B arrived at 5:23pm.
If you look up pictures of mono mono twins at birth you will often see parents posting photos of the gigantic mess of knots that is their babies cords. Ours weren't knotted. They were as if you took two strings, and crossed them over and over until it was so tight that it could no longer supply the babies with what they needed. I felt a little jealous. Other babies got to live with far larger cord entanglements. How are some chosen and others not? That is a question I am sure I will be exploring over the next months, or more likely years.
They couldn't immediately tell the sex of the babies which was hard for us. After trying for over an hour to remove the bits of remaining placenta they decided it would be necessary to have a D&C procedure. Because I would have to be put under for that, we elected to have the babies baptized before heading into the operation. One of the pastor's from our church came and we had the babies baptized. Because we didn't know the sex yet, they were baptized as Baby Davis A and Baby Davis B. More tears.
Surgery went well and when I got back to the room we got to visit more with our babies. They had cleaned them up and had them in some tiny blankets. We took a few pictures for ourselves only. We talked to them, prayed for them, and sang to them. We told them we loved them. We told them what their names would be, if they were girls or boys. We told them the people that would take care of them in heaven. We asked them to take care of each other. We sang "You Are My Sunshine", because I always sing it to Charlotte and Oliver as well. The second verse was hard, and will never again have the same meaning for me.
There are so many more things I wish we would have said to them. Things I didn't even think about until writing this post. We knew the time would come for us to say good-bye. How do you pick that time? I am not sure how long it was, but I know the time came. We knew once the took them out of our room, we couldn't ask for them back. I am glad at that point that we had made the decision to cremate them and bring them home. For some reason, there was some consolation in knowing that we would be bringing them home. It was late, I think we both cried ourselves to sleep that night.
We got a call from our doctor the next morning. Pathology was able to confirm that our babies were sweet, identically beautiful, twin girls. We already had names picked out and we knew immediately that they were Ruthie Mae Davis and Imogene James Davis, Baby A and Baby B respectively.
I never imagined we would have two beautiful angels looking down on us from heaven. We were released from the hospital the next day. It seemed hard to understand. How could we be leaving without babies in our arms? That is not suppose to happen. There were a few times over the course of the 30 or so hours we were there where you could hear a baby cry. It was heartbreaking to know that we would never hear our girls cry. They sent us out the back stairwell, as to avoid any uncomfortable encounters on the way out.
On the way to the car, I told Jim I wanted to go to the gift shop and get the girls something. The hospital gave us memory boxes with the girls' blankets, stats, hospital bands, etc... inside. I wanted to add our own touch. I wanted to go to the gift shop, they needed a gift. A welcome to the world gift. A happy birthday gift. A you are just as important and a part of our lives as both of our other children gift. We headed to the gift shop.
I stood there looking at the shelves full of baby gear. Nothing seemed right. I poked around and prayed that something would stand out for me. I was feeling wrong for wanting to find something so badly when nothing seemed to fit my need. I turned to the left and looked down. There, hanging low, were a bunch of initials with little girl angels clinging onto them. Right there on the front was an R. I kneeled down and hoped beyond hope that there would be an I. I looked behind the first one, and there was the I. I was beaming. The perfect little gifts for our daughters.
We left the hospital. Things seemed ok. Little did I know that I was still in so much shock the hurt hadn't even begun. Here is my favorite picture of our girls that I currently have. I am hoping to request more pictures from our ultrasounds.