This is essay number two in the series Mother's Day 2017.
I heard once that there is healing when you share your story, not just for yourself but for others, too.
I became pregnant with triplets (naturally) in 2009. At the end of the second month of my pregnancy, I lost one of the babies. At my second ultrasound, I remember the ultrasound tech saying under her breath that there were only two heartbeats. As she told me this, she made no eye contact and kept her eyes on the screen. I am sure she had to deliver this terrible news to parents all the time (or, at least more often than she would like). News no parent wants to hear. I would not say she was emotionless, but with the kind of job she has it seemed as if she was protecting herself from getting too emotionally connected. Like, she didn’t know what to say to comfort me or console me. Let’s face it, are there really any “right” words to say in a situation like that?
I was devastated. That was a life. That was a baby. It had a heartbeat (we didn’t know the sex yet). Although, I would never meet that baby here on this earth, I knew that I would meet them one day in heaven. But, that didn’t keep me from getting sad, asking questions, blaming myself, etc. When you’re pregnant, you mentally prepare yourself for what life will be like after the baby, or in my case, babies are born. How the feedings will work, how/when will they and/or me sleep, and so on. I had to switch my thinking to only two babies now. It was difficult to morn the loss of one baby, while still carrying, and trying to be joyous about the two babies I still had growing inside of me.
At 32 weeks, I gave birth to twin girls, Mya and Braelyn. Mya was born vaginally, and Braelyn was an emergency c-section. Unfortunately, I was very drugged and don’t remember much from their birth. The little that I do remember isn’t necessarily good memories. Of course, I was so happy that they were born and were here, but the process in which they got here wasn’t a peaceful journey. That is a story for another day and time, though.
They were so tiny, only 2 1/2 pounds each, so they needed to be in the NICU. Mya could breathe on her own, and only needed a feeding tube. Braelyn needed some help breathing, and had a feeding tube as well (breathing problems are fairly common with babies born via c-section). Their incubators were right next to each other but I’m sure it seemed like miles to them considering they used to be wombmates. They slept most of the day, because they were only 32 weeks, and had a lot more growing to do.
The picture above is the first, and only time I was able to hold them together. Because I was so loopy from all of the drugs, this was the best day of my life. Although, I am sure if their delivery was pleasant (I could remember all of it, I was able to hold them right away) that would have been the best day of my life. I spent every day with them from 8 a.m.-7p.m, I was up in the NICU holding them and changing their diapers.
At just a few days old, Mya got necrotizing enterocolitis (a bowel infection). They tried to save her by transferring her to another hospital where she could have a special surgery. Her only hope at surviving. It was the middle of the night, 2 a.m. when the surgery began. I was terrified for her little life. She could die from the anesthesia alone, because her tiny 2 1/2 pound body was so fragile. I remember sitting in the tiny parent’s suite feeling so helpless, crying and begging God not to take her. I had a feeling she wasn’t going to make it. I wanted to be hopeful and have faith. But I just knew. Those were the darkest hours I have ever walked. Waiting to get the page from the doctor to hear the result. How badly were her intestines damaged? Could they fix them? This was Seattle Children’s Hospital; the best of the best. Please, God. Please.
A few hours later, the doctor paged me to come back up to the surgery unit so that he could debrief with me about how the surgery went. I could already tell from his demeanor that it wasn’t going to be good news. It’s funny the little details you remember in traumatic situations, like this. He was a tall slender man, early 30s, red curly hair, pale skin, freckles. He seemed very gentle and kind. I wondered if he was married. If he had kids of his own. Did he treat my daughter as his own? Was he as gentle with her as he would have been with his?
I just knew what he was going to tell me. You know, that feeling deep down in your gut, that you don’t want to believe? That feeling. I could feel it in every part of my being. Doctors, they don’t just tell you what it is they are trying to tell you right away. They sort of beat around the bush, and tell you in a “nice” way that your child is going to die. I must have not gotten the hint because the next morning at rounds (where all of the doctors meet and talk about each patient and their plans for treatment) I asked them what the plan was, what were we going to do next? They sort of all looked at each other then, starred back at me like I was crazy. One of them finally jumped in and told me she wasn’t going to make it and that she is slowly dying (her vitals were getting worse and worse). This was me trying to have faith. Even though the doctors said she was going to die, I knew that God could heal her. God moved mountains. He allowed the lame to walk, the blind to see, the deaf to hear… Certainly, He could heal my daughter.
Her tiny little hand wrapped around my index finger as we waited for family to arrive to say goodbye. I cried and cried. I kept begging God to heal her. Nothing. The machines were barely keeping her alive. I could see her slowly slipping away. We all took turns holding her. There was a nice hospice lady there to get prints of her hands and feet for keepsakes. She died in my arms at just 12 days old.
I don’t believe there is a worse feeling than holding your child in your arms limp, cold, pale, and almost lifeless; watching them take their last breath of air. Unplugging all of the machines that allowed her little body to live just a few hours more. “Crossing over”, as they say. I like to think that an angel came down and took her to a better place. A place where she would not be in pain anymore. Where her body would be perfect.
Again, I had to change my thinking from taking care of two babies, to one. I breastfed them, so even pumping was emotional for me. As I pumped for the first time after finding out that Mya was going to die I thought to myself, ‘well body, there is no need to produce this much milk anymore…there is only one baby now’. I remember feeling really sad about that, and each time after as I pumped I felt sad that my milk would no longer be going to nourish Mya anymore…she isn’t here. I will have to pump a little less now, since there is only one baby (breastfeeding is based off of supply and demand).
As days passed, I would hold Braelyn. It felt so different, holding only one baby. Taking care of only one baby. I told Braelyn that her sister didn’t make it and went to be with Jesus. Looking back, I am sure she already could sense that by my emotions. How could I not be depressed after losing a child? I still had to be strong for Braelyn though. There would be days where I would just cry, and hold her all day, missing Mya. I am sure Braelyn missed her too.
It felt like deja vu when Braelyn died in my arms, two months later. She got pneumonia, and the doctors were unable to save her. The nurses were trying to explain to me what would happen as she passed, what to expect, and whatnot. I wasn’t even listening. I already knew the drill. It felt like I was in a daze. Like, my whole world was stopping but everyone else’s was still moving. Why is everyone’s world still moving?! How could this be happening again? I had three babies. Now I was going to have none?
Again, I held my limp baby in my arms, surrounded by family. Although, Braelyn looked like a normal sized baby now. She was about 6 pounds…much bigger than 2 1/2 pounds. Just two weeks before this, I thought I was getting ready to take her home. Now this. It seemed so unfair. She was looking so healthy a few weeks before. I never thought I would lose her too. I could’t believe it. It felt so wrong. I should be taking her home. I held her close as she breathed her last breaths, wishing nothing more than to take her pain away. To somehow switch her places so that she could live. She gasped her last breath of air. Again, I pictured an angel, gently taking her to a place where there is no pain or suffering.
I was mad at God for a while. I wondered why He gave me three babies if he was just gong to take them all away? I now know that this way of thinking was all wrong. He didn’t take them away. We live in an imperfect world where there is death. Good people, innocent people aren’t exempt from death. Everyone on the earth has two things in common; we all are born and we all die.
That, by far, was the hardest thing I have ever had to go through. Holding your child, helpless in your arms, knowing there is nothing in your power you can do to help them, and watching them take their last breath. I wanted nothing more than to trade them places; I would have given my life for them to live. I pray to God that I will never have to do that again.
In our flesh we are weak, but He makes us strong. I may seem “strong” by writing this, and the trials I have overcome, but this was really hard to do. I took breaks as I was writing this to just cry because I had to relive what happened in my memory. Remembering little details. There is healing in tears. I was arguing with myself about whether or not I should post this; to be put into such a vulnerable position. For people to see you at your weakest point. But this is life. Death is a part of life. We are never ready for it. It is never a good time for someone to leave this earth. It is always too soon. Thankfully, the bible says that this life is but a vapor, and eternity is forever. We can all have that.
John 14: 16
“Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
Hannah is a midwife and world traveler. She is a healer and a status quo breaker The most disarming thing about Hannah is her sincere love and her strength that radiates to warm those around her. Find her in instagram as hannymcl or follow her blog at hannahelizabethmclaughlin.wordpress.com.
Karelys Beltran is a Sinaloa native and Denizen co-founder who is passionate about self-education, personal development, and bringing people together.