Saturday, January 31, 2009

Forgiveness?

He probably doesn't know how big his role was in my story.

He probably doesn't know that for years in that room I spoke his name through tears of anger.

He probably doesn't know that I finally forgave him and thought I was healed but when I saw him 4 years later... heard his voice... my hands shaking... I ran to my car and sobbed and sobbed. I may have forgiven, but I will never forget.

"Your fetuses are dead."
I don't know what ripped through me more- the fact that he told me the two babies I was planning to deliver that night were dead, or that he called them fetuses.
"Fetuses?"
Do you know who I am?? I am those fetuses mother- or am I simply the host womb- or is there some other technical term for me???
Fetus. I hate that word. When I saw that first ultrasound- those hearts beating- I fell in love with babies, not embryos.
When I would watch my enormous stomach make shapes I didn't know were possible- I laughed at my babies, not my fetuses.
And now- if this man, whom I've never seen before in my life, was going to tell me that my babies were dead, he better get the damn word right! They were my BABIES!!!!

The news he delivered didn't phase me or shake me for a moment. I knew what I felt and I challenged him. Sure- he had seen the images twice of a baby with no heartbeat, but what he didn't know was that he was looking at the same one twice. And it wasn't until I challenged him-physically placed his hand to my side to feel the kicks- that he got a second opinion.

By then my doctor had reached my side, but the damage was done. Somehow by using that word I felt it made them a little less which angered me because even before I learned about them they were my everything.

And so I spoke his name. I told everyone what he said to me. I told everyone who would listen his name and what he did to me and when the insurance called to charge me for a second c-section (from his office) I told them his name too- I had one surgery pal- they took two babies out but it was one surgery and there was no way that guy was going to earn another nickel on me!

But as the years passed my anger began to fade. Little by little... And as I shared my story and those awful words, I would not say his name. The sting was leaving me. I thought I had forgiven him. With my second pregnancy I had made sure he wouldn't be on the floor when I delivered and with my third I was feeling even more at peace... or so I thought.

A few weeks from delivering, I was in for a non-stress test- perhaps more to calm a mom to an angel than to check on the baby of another problem-free pregnancy.
When the nurse spoke his name and said he would be in to see me in a moment- to sign off on the test, I felt something in me go numb. I had forgiven him... hadn't I?

He walked right in, not even making eye contact and he said his name. A name that I had said millions of times. I knew his name. He glanced at my chart and asked me if I had any problems with this pregnancy. It was so hard for me to find my voice that evening, but I did. When I said I hadn't, he laughed and questioned why I was there. For a moment I caught his eyes and said, "I had a stillborn baby."
"Oh. Well this looks fine and healthy, no worries." and he left the room as quickly as he had arrived.

He didn't remember.

He. One of the major players in my story, had no idea who I was, had no idea that his words had held me prisoner for years, had no idea that I had chosen to forgive him, had no idea he had done anything wrong. He had no idea.

I walked as fast as I could until I reached my car. I paused. It was dark. I collapsed in the front seat, shut the door and began to sob. For while I may have forgiven him, I could not (as much as I have tried) forget.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

That Simple Question

It was a simple enough question, but as soon as it was asked I realized I didn't know how to answer it.

"How many children do you have?"


('How many children do I have? I have two... Jonasen and Andrew... They were twins... Why did I say 'were'... Well only one lived... Well, he was stillborn.... He was wrapped in cord...')


Did I really want to go there? Did I want to have this conversation with someone I didn't really know- someone who asked a simple question and probably expected a simple one-word answer? No.- and so I lied.


"One."


The second the word left my mouth I felt the air get sucked from my body and I wanted to get out of there as soon as I could. One simple word and it cut me- because I had lied. Why did I lie? I didn't have one child. I had two. If someone else said I had one child I hated it! And here I had done the same thing- answered that question the same way- I acted like he wasn't here. I didn't include him.


I felt sick, like I could throw up. That one word brought so much pain, so much guilt and I still can't believe I said it. I, his mother who loved him so very, very much, had denied his existence. When I had been telling everyone, everywhere about him- in this one simple question I felt like I had undone it all...


and I was ashamed.


I cried and cried asking for forgiveness. I knew in that moment that I never again in my lifetime would answer that question without including him. The problem was I didn't know how to answer it... One with legs and one with wings... One in heaven and one on earth.... One living. No matter how I sliced it, it left a question to the questioner and I wasn't sure I wanted to go into my heartache with this stranger who was probably just making small talk.


It took me a long time to find MY right answer to that question. That simple question always gives me pause but now I have an answer that works- an answer that works for me. By adding two simple words at the end of my answer it seems to be o.k. for me. I am not lying, I am not denying and whenever I answer that question they hear what they need and I hear what I need.


If you asked me that question today I would answer,

"I have three children at home."

as my heart would finish what my mouth didn't need to say

-and two in heaven.

Monday, January 26, 2009

My Comfort

I keep it in his baby book.

It was Monday, September 15th 2003. I woke up like I had many mornings as of late wondering if this would be the day they would come. Perhaps this would be the day that I would see my children for the first time, see the two little ones who had taken over my body for the last 39 weeks!

As every morning of my pregnancy, I started with a devotional and on that morning the reading was the 23rd Psalm and it read, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles." 2 Corinthians 1:3
What followed was a story about death and dying and comfort in times of trouble...
It was an odd thing to read 9 months pregnant and ready to deliver two babies. It was an odd thing to read at that moment when I had nothing but hope and dreams for my two babies. I tried to relate it to me- perhaps I would need comfort during the pains of labor??


Little did I know that morning that later that very afternoon, my doctor would call me in to be induced a week earlier than planned and when I asked her what made her call that day, what made her change her mind, her words were, "I don't know, God just put you in my head that day." And I am so glad she listened.


For that night they were delivered.
Both boys were wrapped and wrapped in cord. The very cord that gave them life had taken it from one. I was told had we waited that extra week I would have went home with my arms completely empty. My sweet Jonasen would not have made it.


And so those words were meant to comfort me. I cut out that journal page and it lies in Andrew's baby book full of dreams and wishes, never to come true.


Perhaps Andrew's life was to be a comfort to others, to let them know that there is no fear in death. It has been that to me. If one had told me before you could live with a broken heart, I never would have believed them. But you can. I know. I do.


And at the bottom of the page I read that morning, written for September 15th, 2003, oblivious to how my life would truly change that day it said,

"Christ, let me comfort others as You have comforted, carried and saved
me. Amen."

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Babies

It was the day of her funeral.
My dear sweet Auntie Irene had finally gone home. Her health had been failing her for years and while I wish she could have stayed longer, I knew that it was time. She was my Great-Aunt. Like a grandmother to me. And perhaps more importantly, a cherished friend. And now she was gone and I missed her.

I woke up that morning feeling a little sick- it was more than just a sadness in my stomach, it was something else and because I thought there was a slim possibility I took a test.

It was positive.

Days after losing Andrew I had a strong desire to be pregnant again. I wanted that feeling back. That was when I felt him, that was when he was alive, that was when I could sing to him and feel he and his brother kicking, growing, living inside of me. I wanted that feeling back. I wanted the old me back.

I wanted the world to see I had babies. My whole pregnancy I had been saying I was having babies and when people saw me with one baby- it bothered me. I wanted to use a plural. I wanted to have babies. And so here I was. It was what I wanted... wasn't it?

Suddenly I felt a pit in my stomach and thought somehow I was betraying my son. I hadn't grieved enough, I was moving on- flipping a page and that didn't seem right. I wanted my Andrew back. I'm not ready yet. It had only been seven months since I had become a mom. My heart wasn't healed. I couldn't do this again.

As my pregnancy progressed I tried to remove myself from the thought of being pregnant all together. I was afraid to love this baby growing inside of me. I was afraid that if I fell in love like I did that first time that I wouldn't recover. I couldn't live through another loss. Part of my heart was already gone. Could I live if someone took another piece? To be perfectly honest, I was scared. Terrified. And that is when I built my wall.

It was a late summer evening and I was sitting alone at the memory garden with my journal and pen. I sat next to the brick with my son's name on it and I wrote him as I often did. I wrote about my fears and my longing to have him back and not this new person growing inside of me. And as I wrote those words something changed inside of me.

In a moment I realized that I could not control my love for the child who was suddenly a reality to me. I thought I had built a wall around my heart and yet somehow this precious little one had found a way through. I looked at my swollen belly and whispered, "I'm sorry." I looked to the heavens, to the white fluffy clouds and said, "Thank you."

And that pregnancy was scary. Suddenly there was nothing I wanted more in life than this child. I would feel my baby move and wonder where the cord was, I would wonder what was happening and I felt so helpless. I knew that if I couldn't save one child, I certainly couldn't save another. In my first pregnancy I had prayed for God to let my children 'populate heaven' and in this pregnancy my prayer was, "Please Dear God, PLEASE let this baby stay."

As the days passed I couldn't wait to get the baby out of my body. I had seen preemies and thought, yes they are on a machine- but they'll come home- they'll live. I just wanted the baby out of my body. And at 37 weeks the babies lungs were developed and I found myself in that same room I was in, just 15 months earlier.

I remember commenting on how bright the room was-
The moment I spoke those words I realized that that night 15 months ago, it must have been bright, yet my eyes remembered it as being dim. This winter morning there was conversation and laughter- very unlike the silent filled room that cold September night. And there was a cry. That beautiful sound that I had been praying for. And there was no sadness except a secret wish that he could have been here to meet his sister instead of there.

People would now see I had babies.
They would see two-
I would see three-
and yet the word was the same.
Babies.

And back on that day when we said goodbye to a woman who had such a big place in my heart, I learned another amazing woman would be coming, and she did.

And as the announcements read that December,
Andrew smiled from heaven as we welcomed our daughter, Alicia Jane to our family.
And I most certainly think he was.
Smiling.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Perfect Gift

It was my second Christmas without him and I was in a better place, but I couldn't stop talking about him. It seemed that somehow I would fit him into every conversation, just to let people know that it still happened- that I still think of him. I would talk to perfect strangers about the twins I had and when they would ask a question I would always add, "Well, one died." I don't know why I did it, but for some reason I needed people to know. I wanted them to know.

I was shopping for my mother-in-law looking for the perfect something for her kitchen. I walked through the fine-dining section of the department store when something caught the corner of my eye. There was a small table, set with crystal stemware and fine china, and placed on delicate linens in the center of the table was a silver plated box. A gift. It was so small and it made me pause. I could feel my heart begin to race as I walked closer. Slowly, as if by taking my time God would hear my prayers and make the box just perfect before I reached it.

I took the box in my hands at it's edges, careful not to leave a fingerprint. I glanced at it and there staring back at me, was a reflection. A reflection of me. My mind began to spin, "A reflection of me. He was a reflection of me." And then my fingers gingerly touched the bow and lifted ever so gently... and it opened. It was a box and I knew it had found me. It was just the right size. A gift. A gift to me. A gift in which I could see my reflection. A gift where I could learn about myself. Just like another gift I had received a little over two years before. A gift to me, in which for a moment I saw a reflection of myself and ever since has taught me more and more with each passing day.
I placed the box on the counter.

"What a beautiful box." The saleswoman said.
"It's a gift for my son." I replied.

I paid for the box and had known I had grown in that moment. While I had found the perfect gift, I did not need to tell the saleswoman my life's story. I did not need to tell her that it was a gift for my son who had died. I did not need to tell her that it was the perfect place to hold his tiny ashes.
No.
"Would you like another? They're on sale?"
"No thank you. This one is enough."
On that day I bought the only gift I ever would for my son, and received an even bigger gift from him.
Peace.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Secret Society

I remember them saying something about a support group meeting.
I remember telling them, yes, but I have a baby. I don't think it would be for me...

Two months later I found myself sitting in a room full of strangers. I glanced around and I couldn't believe the number of people in the room. They were mostly women but there were some men. Everyone looked uncomfortable. Eyes avoided one another and the room was silent.

A nurse started off the meeting and encouraged others to share their story, explain what (or rather who) brought them to this meeting. I remember as the parents shared their stories that I had a burning desire to talk. What if they didn't get to me? What if I couldn't share his story?

I heard horror story after horror story of people who had broken hearts from children who took a piece of them when they left. Lost children, some in early pregnancy, and some who lived for months. I felt a common bond with these people. I felt one of them. I felt I belonged.

As I began to look around the room I noticed that these people all looked so different. They came in all ages, shapes and sizes. Some had a house full of children, some had none. Some were married, some were not. Some got pregnant very easily, others had struggled for years. And yet we were all here. All together. All suffering from the same unspoken sorrow.

I remember thinking that I was suddenly a member of a secret society. Something that no one ever talked about. This was a society I never knew existed until I became a member. This was a group I didn't want to grow in numbers, and yet I was so glad not to be alone. I lost my baby and suddenly people came out of the woodwork to share their stories with me and somehow, before I had an angel, I was naive that any of them had suffered a broken heart. These people now understood me. They got 'it'.

Going places I began to wonder... "Is she a member?" "Is she?" Everywhere I looked I saw people I didn't know and I became curious to know their stories. To know if we were connected in some unspoken way. I remember seeing a woman who was angered by another driver and I thought, "Wow- I wonder if she's lost someone recently." Suddenly my patience began to change. I had more of it. Everyone became a victim. Everyone could have been me. Everyone could be hurting and trying so desperately to get through just one more day, one more hour, one more minute.

I wished that members of the secret society wore some kind of symbol. I wished that I could identify them and talk to them for I knew with them I would not worry about what they might think of me. I knew they wouldn't judge me for still being sad for losing my son, for still grieving, for still crying.

I wish I had a symbol that others would see and know- This is me! This is who I am! I am a mom to an angel- a proud mom. I may cry, but I'm glad you asked. Ask me. I want to talk about him! I want to remember. Ask me!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What's in a Name?

We had a sudden problem.

It wasn't that we had learned that one of our sons had just died.
It wasn't that our minds felt like they were racing out of control.
It was the name.

Eight Names.
We had to come up eight names. We didn't learn the genders of our babies so we came up with eight names. Two firsts and middles for girls and two firsts and middles for boys.

The boy names were easy.
One month before I was born, my mom's only sibling, her younger brother, died. He was only 27 years old. Killed in a car accident on his father's birthday. There was no Christmas tree that year, but there was a new hope. A little baby. A great distraction. A first grandchild, born on Christmas Eve. Me.

Over the years I listened and they listened. They were the most amazing people I knew. The most amazing couple. The most amazing parents. The most amazing grandparents. I would ask questions and they would answer and I learned more from them and their lives then I ever would in any book or any classroom. I learned about life and I learned about death. I learned about God and His grace and His mercy. I learned about love.

They were the Jonasens and after their son died, so did their name. No one to pass on the name of a family that was so strong and so important. My husband loved them too. The first boy name was obvious for us. It would Jonasen. Named after his great-grandparents. He would carry on their name. He would carry on their history. Our firstborn son would be Jonasen. His middle name after his father's middle name. Our firstborn son would be Jonasen Michael.

The second boy name was my husband's choice. Andrew. He loved the way that "Drew" sounded next to our last name. He would say, "I can just hear it over the speaker at ballgames, 'and there goes Drew Doran with the ball!'" My husband beamed when he said the name and I could see him dreaming- wondering what a future would be like with a son. His middle name would be after my brother, Dan. Our second born son would be Andrew Daniel.

And so we had a problem.

Our first son was gone. Another generation and the name would not be passed on. We had planned our firstborn son to be Jonasen, and now that son was gone.

I could only see my husband's eyes, his red, tired eyes. The rest of him covered as I lie on the operating table. Without asking him the question, he gave the answer. He looked at our first born and said, "This is Andrew."

"No.
We had a plan...
You love the name Andrew."

Looking at our living son he said, "This is Jonasen. Jonasen Michael."

I looked at him again, tears rolling down my face.

"Jonasen needs to live." he whispered.

I knew he was right and I hated that this was happening. That his dream would never come. He would never hear that name over the loud speaker. He would never hear that name.

"But we can come up with another name... We could have another son... You could name him.."
My husband shook his head. No. Tears were rolling down his face.

This was Andrew.
This was our Andrew Daniel.
A very special name for a very special boy.

Just because he didn't stay, didn't mean he wouldn't live. He lives in our hearts and in our minds and his name is spoken. It is spoken in our home. It is spoken by our friends. It is being spoken to you.

Andrew Daniel.

Our very special boy.

Two!

Two lines!

There must be a mistake, I had forgotten when my last period was, but it felt like it had been a while. It must be a mistake- so much so that in the coming days I would take a total of six pregnancy tests (just to be sure). I remember the girl who worked at the CVS shook her head and said, "I'm sorry but if you've already had one that says positive, you probably are." I remember correcting her and saying, "No! This would be a good thing!"

Two lines!
At that moment I started to dream. I was going to be a mom and my life at that moment changed. I looked in the mirror and I swore I looked different and I wondered if others could see it too. I wondered if they looked at me and could hear my mind as every few seconds it screamed, YOU'RE GOING TO BE A MOM!!

Two lines!
I kept my news quiet until it no longer let me. I was sick morning, noon and night and nothing stayed down. It wasn't long before my coworkers noticed 'the flu' I had wasn't going away. One of my friends said, "I bet you're going to have twins!" Ya right, I thought. This is just the way my pregnancy was going to go and truthfully, being sick didn't bother me- it was just proof to me- yes, someone was growing inside of me.

Two lines!
I had lost 13 pounds that first trimester which was a lot on my five foot two frame. I was sick, but so happy. With each flush I remember saying, thank you God, thank you baby.

Two lines!
I remember us walking hand in hand to the doctor as others smiled probably aware as to why a husband would be accompanying his wife into the OBGYN. I remember my husband standing at my side and what we saw took our breath away. There on the screen was a little peanut with little arm and leg buds and in the very center there was a flickering light- a heartbeat that made mine stop. Suddenly it was official, if the getting sick every day didn't cement it, this did.

Two lines!
The doctor took pictures and printed them out for us- the first pictures of our child and she printed a lot! The doctor made a comment about how full my bladder was and I remember thinking we must be getting done soon but still she kept looking for something...
-or someone...

Two lines!
And then she said, "Look, there's the other heartbeat." My eyes widened as my husband said, "Why does our baby have two heartbeats?" She said, "There's the other baby." I looked to my husband as the words she spoke registered in his mind. His face went white and I remember the doctor quickly pulling a chair for him to sit in.

Two lines!
I couldn't wipe the smile off of my face. On the ride home I told him, "We're having two babies." "I know."
"We're having two babies."
"I know."
I said it over and over and over again until it sounded real. We got in the house as our dogs greeted us. "I'm having two babies." I told them.

Two lines!

Two babies!

Two.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Enough

I only have one of he and I together.

I do not have any with he and his brother.

It must have been only a month later but I had a sudden urge to see him. I needed to see him again and I couldn't.


I knew that the hospital had pictures. They told me that they had taken some and I could come and get them whenever I was ready, even if that day wasn't for years and years. Even if I was old and grey. They would keep them. Keep them safe.

About a month later, I needed them.

The urgency to see his face was so strong. I remember calling the hospital to see if pictures of my son, Andrew Daniel were ready. It felt so good to speak his name to someone.


They were.


My mouth went dry and suddenly I was scared. As much as I wanted to see those pictures, I didn't. His face was etched into my memory. Would seeing those pictures change something?Would they somehow change my recollections? Recollections that I was making concrete by playing them over and over in my mind, writing down every detail on paper- playing moments over and over.

I couldn't get the pictures. I phoned my mother. She said she could. And she did.

I waited until time had passed until I thought she had them. I phoned.
Her voice was soft, "Hello?"

"Do you have them?"

"Yes."

"How do they look?"

There was a long pause and she didn't need to say more, but she did. "Not so good." I heard her voice crack.

There was another pause and all I could say was "thank you."


I paced around the living room waiting and waiting and waiting (even though in reality only a few minutes probably passed). In those minutes I wondered about the images those pictures would contain. What did my little boy look like?


I saw her car pull into the driveway and waited at the door. When she entered I could tell she had been crying. I took the envelope from her, smiled, and went to my bedroom. I looked at my husband. He knew I needed to do this by myself.

He nodded.


I went to my room and closed the door. I climbed up on my bed and sat with my legs crossed underneath me. I pulled a pillow onto my lap.


I looked at the envelope. It was heavy. I turned it around and around in my hands and surely said some prayers.


My fingers trembled as I opened it's contents. And there before me was his face.

My shoulders began to heave and the tears began to flow. I didn't even attempt to stop them as I slowly looked at each one. I touched them as if they were him, ever so gently, his eyes, his nose, his dark red lips and his hair. (He had hair- at least a little- I didn't remember that.)


I looked at those pictures over and over and over. I looked at them until the shock of seeing them didn't overcome me anymore. I looked at them until they became my new memory. The pink boy born that night had changed. Now I saw these pictures. In a way they replaced that memory.


He was dressed in different outfits, the ones the hospital had given me, the ones I took out so regularly. Those outfits that I had spent hours holding- Holding them to my nose, hoping to recapture the scent of him, hoping to get that moment back- hoping.


After some time I moved the pillow off my lap unfolded my legs and stood. I breathed in and out and looked at myself in the mirror. My eyes were red and my face looked older. I had aged years the moment he left me. I wiped my tears. I felt better.


I exited the room and asked my mom which one she thought I should put up. I didn't have to hear an answer. Her face said it all. I remember talking with her about it and she chose her words carefully. 'Perhaps you should put this one in a frame' and then she added 'but keep it in your bedroom for you to remember.'


My heart broke. Why didn't she think he deserved to be out here on the wall? On this wall- next to his brother?

But I knew.

I knew that these pictures were hard to look at. They broke my heart when I first looked at them and my husband looked at them once and he had said that that was enough. They were uncomfortable. Everyone was uncomfortable and it made me so angry! I wanted those pictures hung on the wall. I wanted everyone who entered our home to know about him, to know he was ours, to know he was loved, to know he existed, to know he was real and not some figment of my imagination.

He existed.

So I turned and went to my room and put one of the pictures in a frame. The favorite one I had of just him.

And then I filled another frame. It had three openings. Surely one for the babies together and one of each of them individually...

But I didn't have that. I didn't have one of them together. And that may be one of my largest regrets. Why hadn't I gotten that picture of them together? I had picture upon picture of the two inside my womb, growing- Sharing a space together for nine months- Sharing a home. Two.

And so I found three pictures.
One of the old me.
When I arrived at the hospital, the old naive me who had no idea that her life would change in just moments. The old me. The happy me. The whole me. I look at her and try to remember what she was like. She seemed so unfamiliar.

And then two pictures of the new me. One with my angel. Our only picture together.

The other of me with my earth angel. The first picture, of many.


I paused for a moment and then placed it next to the the framed picture of him.
I placed it on my bedside table.


I looked at them and left the room.

And that is where they stay.


And if you enter our home, you do know there was another. His name is above our fireplace, framed next to pictures of his brothers and sister and for me, that has been enough.
He existed.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

He's already there.


I'm glad he came.

The pastor who married us came to the hospital when he heard the news. I had a question for him and when he walked through the door I knew I already had the answer, but somehow I had to hear it from him.


He was the pastor who married us.
He was the one who gave the sermon about "Populating Heaven"
He was the one who would later baptize all of my living children and would remember Andrew.
He was the one who would answer the question I knew the answer to, but needed to ask.

We hugged and I broke-

I remember him sitting as I told my story- what had just happened -tears streaming down both our faces. My tears like a faucet that couldn't be turned off. I remember my voice was steady and yet the tears fell like rain.

I spoke.

And he listened.
Of everyone I know, he is one of the best listeners and I felt he heard every word and listened as I unpacked my vulnerable heart right there and then. All its broken pieces- right there.

"Do we need to baptize him?"

And even now, I don't know why I asked the question. That night when they pulled Andrew's body from mine I knew I wasn't alone. I felt God's presence as surely as anything I have felt in my life. I wasn't alone. God was in that room. He held my baby- He held him so safe and secure and in that moment I knew I was going to be o.k. Perhaps that is why I felt that peace. No one will ever be able to tell me otherwise... And yet I needed to know, I needed to hear the words. I knew his body was still in the hospital, steps away from my room and I could see him again if needed.

Perhaps that is why.

and still I asked the question.
"Do we need to baptize him?"

He smiled and shook his head and for a moment I began to panic and my certainty dimmed as I thought why not? Doesn't he deserve to have that blessing? Doesn't he? I know God loves my son- I know my son is already with Him!

He shook his head and looked at the table where an empty pop can lay. He picked it up and pointed to it and shook his head.

No.

'That beautiful body was the container.'

He flipped the empty can over.
And as he motioned to the heavens he said 'No, The good stuff is already gone.'

I found my breath.

Of course! My babies knew God- they lept every time I sang His praises- they certainly heard as I prayed! And it was God that knit them together, so beautiful, so perfect inside my womb. It was God that gave me back my breath that night. And God who gave it back to me again in that moment.

'No. You don't need to baptise him. He's already there.'

He's already there.

I picked up my pen.

My family came into the room. They lived in town and so the hospital had broken it's visiting hours for a family who was broken.

I looked at my brother- (It was obvious his eyes had been crying)
And then my dad- (and his eyes)
And my mom- (and her eyes)

"Why are you all so sad? We have a baby. God gave us two- He let us keep one."

Even my husband was silent.

I couldn't understand why everyone was so sullen. The moment I had been waiting for for a lifetime had come. I saw my children for the first time, I was blessed.

We took turns holding them and looking at them and made small talk (or I tried to).
The silence was deafening. Much too much silence for a new mom who had just given birth.

I made the calls.
My in-laws
My Grandparents
My Best Friends.

We spent time together. We looked at the babies and loved the babies and cried for the babies. Tears of sorrow and tears of joy- and at times it was hard to tell the difference between the two.

I looked over at that little pink baby and he was starting to change.
It was time.
I called in the nurse, pulled up his little hat and kissed his little head- ever so gently- ever so sweetly.

It was time.

She took him from my arms and I turned away as she took him from the room.

That was the last time I saw him.

And then I was done. My voice was lost.

My family had gone and it was only my new family- my husband and my son.
One son.
Only one baby.
There were supposed to be two.
My voice had left me- even if it could form words- what would it say?

I looked at my new baby, asleep in his bassinet.
I looked at my husband, asleep on the pull out chair.

And I cried.

I cried and cried and cried.

There was a physical pain- far worse than the surgery I had endured hours before. A physical pain that would take a lot longer to heal.

I picked up my pen and I wrote.
I wrote for hours.
I was angry and sad and mad.
I yelled at God through my pen!

WHY?????????????

I wrote and wrote and wrote through tear-stained eyes- the paper I wrote on smudged. I wrote for hours.

And then a strange thing happened.

I took a breath.
And I let it out.
I took a breath.
And I let it out.

I realized suddenly that I was breathing again.

I closed my journal and looked at my husband and looked at that baby both sleeping so peacefully.

And I breathed.

I pressed my hand to my lips
-looked to the heavens
-and blew.

And so began my tradition.
Each night

A single kiss.

"My love will fly to you each night on Angels' wings. God-Speed. Sweet Dreams."

I was wearing red.

It was hard to concentrate.

Think about what he's saying!

Did they just move?

I looked down at my belly which was then just obvious to other onlookers in the pew.
I was going to be a mom.
I wished they knew my other secret by just looking. I had two babies growing inside of me.

Pay attention!

Did I just feel something?
I tried so hard to listen.

Focus!

"Populate Heaven"
And then I was hooked as he began to talk about God and heaven and weave the most amazing pictures with just his words. I was going there...
I closed my eyes and dreamed of those babies- the two babies inside of me growing and (did I feel something?) moving. I dreamed of them living their lives and those who knew them would know something was different about them and they would wonder... The way they lived their lives, others would wonder- what's so different about these children?- What fills them so?

God.

They would do it.
Populate heaven.

A smile filled my body and surely crept across my face. I looked down as my hands rubbed my belly. Something they did regularly now- without thought.

At that moment I had a prayer for my babies.
Please God let these babies populate heaven.

I looked down again at the love growing inside of me- appearing to grow right there in front of my eyes.
I glanced down again at my hands- fingers linked across that place where my children lived, safe inside my body.

I was wearing red.

Not A Dream

Five years since this picture was taken.
I don't have any pictures of them together as babies- this is as close as it got.

I remember leaving the house that day, my bag slung on my shoulder- looking around the house and thinking- when I come back to this house I will be changed. Little did I know then how true those words were.

I got the call that afternoon! YES! One week overdue and the plan had changed- I didn't have to wait one more week- I could come tonight!
I looked at the clock and the hands were stuck. The perfect pregnancy had gone so fast and now the clock had stopped? Was that possible? Probably only four hours of waiting- was it four hours?- Hours that gave me pause- think about how I got to this moment- pause- and think- and I began to dream- dream about who they were and feeling so blessed to watch them on their lifes' journeys.

-Fast Forward-

No heart beats- the ultra sound- the babies- black- no flicker of life.
"I'm sorry to say your fetuses are dead."
What was happening- is this a dream?
I looked from husband to mom to doctor- was I dreaming?
"But, I feel movement."
His arm touched my left hand, "I'm afraid that's just you breathing."
I took his hand and put it to my side. He felt it too. I saw him pause.
Am I dreaming?

My body was no longer my own, I was poked and prodded and yet I felt nothing. I was suddenly existing outside of my body. I could see my limbs jump as fluids entered my body- that couldn't be my body- I wasn't making those movements...
Am I dreaming?

They wheeled me in alone- so many of them and yet I couldn't tell who they were- nothing but eyes. They sat me up on the bed. I hugged one of them.
"God is in this room."
Did it come out of my mouth- or was it only in my mind, "I know."
And then my body went limp and they laid me down.
Am I dreaming?

And then eyes I knew- reddened eyes- tired eyes- crying eyes- the rest of his face covered by a mask. I'm certain he kissed my forehead.
Am I dreaming?

It felt dark. The room was silent.
Am I dreaming?

Did I know? I felt it as they pulled him from my body. They pulled him and something else went with him. A piece of me left- in that moment- I was changed.
It was silent.
I felt Him in the room. I felt peace.
Am I dreaming?

"It's a boy."
No enthusiasm. A fact. It was a boy. A boy. My boy. Our boy.
I opened my eyes. Did they focus? But he looked fine. He was pink. He was beautiful. Why aren't they working on him? Why didn't he cry?
Am I dreaming?

A minute later screams filled the room. They weren't mine. I had no voice.
Exhale.
A single tear.
Thank you God. Take him now, I'll be o.k.

"It's another boy."
Am I dreaming?

Baby A lay at my left. Baby B at my right. My boys. These were the babies that had been growing inside of me. They were swaddled in blankets, blue hats on their heads. They were beautiful. They were mine.

I still see it so clearly, I slipped my pinkie in his hand and I swear I felt him hold on.
Don't let go baby. Please don't let go.
No. This is not a dream.

I held them, I nursed one and I fell in love. And in that moment I had changed. Did I pause then to ponder it? I don't know. I had changed.
It was not a dream.