Looking back now on the time we spent with the twins, there are so many things I would do differently. Things that I wish I could have given them and words I should have said when I had the chance.
I have regrets about those short hours we spent with M & A. I just want to go back and do it all again.
If I had known ahead of time that they were going to be born that afternoon or if we had found them without a heartbeat at our next appointment, I could've had a little more time to digest all that would have to happen.
The way that it all happened, so quickly and suddenly, left me unable to come to terms with what was going to be our inevitable outcome. It felt like one second I was begging my husband to take me to the hospital and the next I was experiencing the end stages of labor, with the doctor telling me they weren't viable and wouldn't survive. And the next moment...I had my son and daughter in my arms.
I know I spent that morning and afternoon in shock and unable to process their passing. I cried, but it was in disbelief and confusion. In 12 hours I had gone from blissfully pregnant to handing over my children in a horrible goodbye. 12 hours may seem like a while to some, but I had spent the majority of it (until they were both sleeping in my arms) in denial. I thought up until the last moment that there was SOMETHING that could be done to stop the labor or save them. I didn't fully understand that they were gone: they had been alive on the ultrasound machine just before the delivery. They were there one moment and gone the next.
It was sort of like what my brain did during labor. It was a short labor, but the whole time my mind couldn't come around to the realization of what was really happening. I became dumb to all the things I knew about labor. The waves of contractions, the feeling of needing to go to the bathroom, the downward pressure. None of it registered with me. All I knew was that something was wrong and it was too early for me to be in labor. Any other thoughts were ignored.
I stayed in this denial through the end. They were too small...I couldn't be in labor...and if I was, then someone can give me drugs to stop it.
When they were born, I couldn't think straight. I let those around me make the decisions and tell me what was best. The only decision I remember making was that I only wanted to hold them together, not apart. They had to stay together. Even though at that point Michael was gone and Alena was still alive. They had grown side-by-side and they would be together till the end. That was the only 'fully aware' thought I could muster.
I needed to paint a picture of those hours so you can understand where my brain was at the time. It was fumbling around in my skull, refusing to accept that these two perfectly formed angels were no longer part of my living future. These two babies I had formed an intense bond with the moment I saw those two pink lines would never grow taller than 9.5 inches or weigh over 12 ounces. It wasn't something I knew how to come to terms with.
My time with them was a blur to me. I remember bits and pieces and how their tiny hands felt on my index finger. I remember my marveling at their tiny, perfect noses and sweet little lips. I remember the moment the nurse showed us their private parts and how I was so glad to know that they were exactly what we thought they were. I remember Mike holding them and the way he stared down at their faces, both in happiness and in grief - how he would go back and forth from crying to smiling. I remember telling the nurse that I didn't think Alena was breathing anymore when the life seemed to leave her. I knew it was coming after seeing Michael so still, but it broke my heart all over again to say goodbye to her.
We did take a little bit of time to take some pictures of them and for that I am grateful. But there are so many things I wish I would have done while we had the time. So many things I wasn't in the mindset to complete or even think of. Really all I could do is hold and look at them, trying to memorize every tiny feature. Anything beyond that would never have occurred to me.
And I wish it had.
Looking back now, I would have told them all the things I had meant to tell them at birth. I would have told them about their family, how they came to be, how long we waited for them and had loved them. I would have sang to them, just as I had while they were inside me.
I would have kissed them. I may have kissed my finger and pressed it to their foreheads, but I don't think I ever put my lips to their faces. I am not sure why and I wish I had that chance back.
I might have asked to bathe them or wrap them in their blanket myself.
And looking back, I should have allowed myself to be photographed with them. I just couldn't imagine looking back on those photos and seeing the grief and pain on our faces. I didn't think I could ever see my husband like that again, so I made certain we weren't in any of the pictures.
There are a lot of regrets about what I should have done, but I can't go back. I know that at the time, the shock was just too overwhelming to think so far in advance. I let myself off the hook for this, but I still wish I could turn back time.
Now I feel like I am trying to make up for it all after the fact. I am trying to remember, honor and love them in as many ways as I can. I've accepted that they're gone, but I still want to give them all of me...the way I would have if they had survived. I want to be the mother that I know I would have been, had they been able to come home with me full term.
Just because they didn't make it, doesn't mean that they don't deserve all the care and parenting I can give them now. It may not be the same attention and memories that they would have had, but they will be acknowledged and loved in every way I can imagine. It's all I can do and it doesn't feel like enough. It will never feel like enough, but each little thing makes me feel better.
This time in my life (3rd trimester) should have been all about them. Every purchase, every celebration, and every plan...that was what should have been. Even though they have passed on and my dreams have been irrevocably changed - this time is still all about them. That is not going to change.
My plans for the future have altered and I am no longer the same person I was just over 3 months ago, but this time in my life will remain theirs. As it always should have been.
After their original due date (a tentative Feb. 26th), I will try to look forward to a new chapter. A new plan.
I'll never be able to change what happened. I know that I will never for a moment forget the family we were supposed to be and I plan on keeping their memory alive, but I'm also hoping I can find a balance. Right now, that seems difficult and there is a lot of guilt involved in moving forward. So perhaps its just not the right time yet.
My eyes are searching for something ahead of me, while my heart is still firmly planted in October. It's a strange place to be, but each month that passes brings a few more smiles and some fragile hopes.
I will never 'get over it', but maybe I can get through it. With time, support, and memories of Michael and Alena, we will find the balance.
* Now is the time for de-lurking. If you read this blog and haven't commented, please do so I know you are here for support. I would love to know you are there.