Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Missing Emily Rose

Nearly five years ago, we went in for our first ultrasound when I was expecting again.  Karen was just over one and we were SO excited to be expecting.  Imagine our surprise and joy when the ultrasound revealed we were having twins!!  Considering the amount of work it takes for me to get pregnant, we both figured this was an answer to a prayer of how our family was going to grow (by leaps and bounds)!!

Because of my history, my doctor sees me every two weeks when I'm expecting.  Until he can hear the heartbeat by sonogram, we does ultrasound to check the progress.  As each week went by, our excitement grew.  After we hit the thirteen week point, we began sharing our news with friends and extended family.  Our parents and sister's already knew, but now the world was finding out.

At this time in Carl's family, we were fairly girl "heavy".  It was fun to imagine how the family dynamic would change if we were to have two boys, or how much more girl heavy it would become if it were two girls!

I ended up going three weeks between appointments because of family trips.  At 16 weeks I was back.  My doctor had a medical student working with him and I was asked if I minded if she did my ultrasound.  All the more happy to share our joy, I agreed.  We began imaging and I chatted away about the twins.  I didn't notice how quiet she had become.  After she imaged the first baby, she excused herself to get Dr. Brasch.  Off in my own little world, I didn't see anything out of the ordinary with her behavior, or the fact that despite my prattling, she hadn't gotten a better look at baby #2.

Dr. Brasch came in and visited with me for a few minutes.  He was asking me odd questions about whether I had been feeling ok, if anything out of the ordinary had happened the last few weeks, and finally if I'd had any spotting... I was a little confused by his questions, but was still not cluing in that there might be a problem.  Which was why I was taken so completely off guard when he gently said: "We think there may be a problem with one of the twins."


He began imaging the second twin and it was quickly revealed that she had no heartbeat.  In measuring her growth, it appeared that she died at about 14 weeks 5 days...  My heart broke in two that day.  I had experienced miscarriage, but never after seeing my baby's heart beating.  Not after living with the idea of her growing inside of me for 16 weeks!  The news then got worse.  I was far enough along, there was a chance that my body would recognize the death and choose to go into labor.  I could end up losing both babies!

The next two weeks were the hardest weeks I think I'd been through (up to that point).  Wondering every day if my body was going to completely rebel.  At my next visit at 18 weeks, Dr. Brasch reassured me that more than likely I wouldn't miscarry if I hadn't already.  He also told me that my body would likely absorb the baby.  Over time, this thought gave me some peace.  If I was never going to hold my baby, at least I would know that she lived as a part of me.

Slowly, over the coming months, we got over the urge/habit of referring to the baby as one of the twins and it just became a singular pregnancy again.  I grieved, but it was hard to dwell for too long on the loss because there was still a little one growing and fighting inside of me.

Four years ago today, I went in for a check.  I was several days overdue.  My doctor took my blood pressure and it was 180/100... yikes!  I'm normally more of a 100/60 kind of gal... Dr. Brasch's response was that I needed to get admitted immediately to be induced.  It took a few hours to get everything squared away - my Mom took Karen and Carl got to the hospital about 8.

Megan was born just after 2:00am on October 9th.  In the aftermath of her delivery, we were told that I also delivered the remains of her twin and that it was also a girl.  Unfortunately, there were complications post delivery, so I didn't really process this news until we were headed home with Megan, and a little package wrapped up in a blanket.

Originally, we had planned to bury Emily somewhere on our property so that she was close to us.  After visiting with a priest who is a good friend, we began to second guess that approach.  His only input was that we would want to be sure it was somewhere where it would be respected as a grave.  If we moved, were we going to dig up and rebury her or were we confident/comfortable that she was placed somewhere that would be respected if we didn't.    I wasn't happy with either of our answers to these questions.  So, we placed her little remains in the freezer until we came to a decision.

As time has a way of doing, it slipped by.  Megan had a bladder/kidney condition and every five or six weeks, we were battling a bladder or kidney infection.  This constant battle pushed most other things to the back of my mind.  Then I would open my freezer and remember Emily, and know that my freezer was not the proper burial place for her.  I couldn't find a scenario that I liked.  We could bury her at the cemetery, but which one?  Neither of the ones close to our little town had an infant section - so we would be buying a full-size plot.

There was one in Spokane that had an infant section, but it was in Spokane and not along any of my normal routes.  Would we ever visit?  Before I knew it, two years had marched by.  We celebrated Megan's second birthday and I became more resolved to figure out where to lay little Emily to rest.

Then tragedy struck again and my sister's daughter was gone.  Beautiful Jessica... 12 years we had her beauty in our lives and suddenly she's gone.  An idea came to my heart, but I didn't know if I could approach my sister about it.  Maybe I could bury Emily in the same plot as Jess.  Maybe we could place her in a little urn under Jess's coffin.... but how could I go about asking something like that of Jen at this point.  She had enough pain that she was dealing with, she didn't need me to ask something like that of her, did she?

But the Holy Spirit works in beautiful ways.  I walked into Jen's house the day after Jess's death and she pulled me aside.  She and Jeff had visited that night, and even in their pain, they could think of me.  They wanted to know if I would consider burying Emily with Jessica... even now, it brings tears to my eyes to remember.  God was taking care of everything.

It was so fitting.  Jess was a little mother to my girls.  She had a special knack with them whenever we were over.  In fact, there were many times I pulled up at Jen's house only to have one of the girls tell me they didn't want me to unbuckle them, they wanted Jess...

We had a funeral Mass for Emily the night before Jess's funeral.  It was small - just Carl & I and both of our folks, but it was beautiful.  The day of Jess's funeral, I tucked Emily, wrapped up in her small blanket, into Jess's arms just before they closed her casket.  They will forever rest together.

The day after Jess's funeral, we home again.  I opened my freezer to get something out for dinner and I smiled.  My freezer was no longer a tomb.  It was just a freezer.  And my little girl, she was in a proper tomb, resting in peace.

I think of Emily often.  I watch Megan playing and try and imagine our family if there were two of her running around!  Today, on the eve of Megan's birthday, I miss her more than ever.  I miss not having met her.  I miss not ever having held her.  I miss the kisses and hugs that would have been.  I miss the sister laughter and friendship that would have surely been there.  But I also thank God for taking care of her.  For having blessed our family with her little soul.  I may not know her in the life, but I will know her in the next.  She is with Jesus, praying for our family and most especially for her twin sister, Megan.  It is the grace of these thoughts that help me get through this week.

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1 comment :

Kortni said...

I feel like I should comment, but I am not sure what to say. I do know that you are an amazingly strong person who is obviously surrounded by great people. Prayers for you during the happy and sad time. Virtual hugs to you!!!