Ten Fingers, Ten Toes
A story of one man’s struggle
“For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)
In November, my wife and I found out we were pregnant with our second child. We were very excited to have another beautiful baby in the family and had already been trying for the last couple months. Shortly after finding out, that same excitement that filled our house, also grew dull in the same way. Morning, or as I like to call it, “Anytime of the day” sickness kicked in and it wasn't anything like before. The sickness was so bad that food wasn't the only thing that would cause her to get sick. Something as simple as trying to explain mathematics would cause her to lurch for the bathroom. Still to this day, I have no idea why the mere thought of adding two numbers together would cause someone to lay lifeless next to the porcelain doughnut but it did.
Anyway, December 22nd, 2014, a day I will never forget. We had an ultrasound that revealed that we not only had one, but two babies. The technician was even able to say with almost one hundred percent certainty that they would also be identical. Because I’m a geek about technology and capturing memories, I happen to have recorded this whole thing on my phone’s voice recorder. Let me just say, that moment was priceless and so incredibly special. Were we stunned and not sure what to do or say? YES! But, man was I excited! Double the fun, double the adventure, double the, well everything. You get the point. My wife was excited for the endless matching of clothes, which for me, I’m all about finding ways for me to know who is who. She was proving to test my creativity on a grand scale. So if they were going to be wearing endless supplies of matching clothes, that meant I would have to step up my creativity. Thing 1, thing 2 shirts or buzz cuts became a legitimate consideration for me.
We left the doctors office stunned and excited at the same time. We got in the car, looked at each other in the eye, a smile began to raise on both of our faces. “We have two.” Now time to call the parents. Both sets of parents reacted how I thought they would, “Your joking… [pause] you’re serious… [pause] no way!!” No wonder why my wife has been struggling with sickness.
Three weeks later, we had another doctors appointment to see how things were progressing. It was at this doctors appointment that things seem to have turned a new page. The excitement tamed, the tension grew, and we needed to be prepared for what was going to happen next. We again, had an ultrasound, both babies heart beats were fine and all seemed well. They walked us back to one of the offices and sat us down to go over the ultrasound results. The results were ones that we were already familiar with, one of the babies has a condition called, Cystic Hygroma. We sighed because we've been down this road before with our first child. Her’s disappeared at 16 weeks but still it’s the week after week stress trying to figure out if it’s going to go away on it’s own or is one of our babies going to have a rare chromosomal issue. We then were referred to a specialist where we would need to start having our routine checkups, again, not anything new.
At our first visit, like anytime you see a specialist, you see a counselor. During this meeting, the counselor mentioned that a new blood test became available which would help rule out, not all, but a lot of the major disorders. Best part about it, it’s not invasive. We thought, for peace of mind, let’s do it. Two weeks later, we received a phone call, results were clear and we got the added bonus of finding out the gender. We wanted to know, so they told us…
Yep, I just found out that everything I've learned with my daughter, also notice daughter is singular, all this knowledge will now be thrown right out the window and I’ll need to start fresh with boys. Oh was I excited though. I love a good adventure! My head filled with firsts; camping, fishing, hiking, peeing in the bushes, and most importantly, how to be a man in today’s broken society. The adventures seemed endless.
For girls, you always imagine that she’s your little princess. Date her like you would your wife. Love her unconditionally. Be the listening ear and don’t be quick to offer advise unless it’s wise and timely. Teach her what to expect in a man. Don’t let the guys of this world teach her how to be. I can’t wait for the future but at the same time, I try to harness the present as much as I can. If I can hit even half of these every day, I’d like to think I’m that much better at being a father. Something I strive for each and every day.
Things started getting a bit scary a couple weeks later. At each of our ultrasounds, the doctors kept getting more and more vague in their findings. Eventually, they came to the conclusion that our sons may be the unfortunate recipients of a rare placenta disease known as TTTS (Twin-to-Twin-Transfusion Syndrome). Further discussion prompted the call to the Fetal Care Center of Cincinnati, where they are known globally for having a high success rate for fixing the issue, but the odds tend to be better after twenty weeks along, we were currently fifteen weeks.
Three days later, Monday, my wife and I were on a flight to Cincinnati. The doctors felt that we still had time, but still would like to see us as soon as we can to get any ultrasounds or tests they wanted to get done while it was still early. As you can imagine, everything happened pretty fast from the time we made the phone call until we touched down Monday afternoon.
The following morning after arriving, we got up before the sun to start the day strong. It was -20 degrees out, which I thought was a bit odd but then again, I've never been here before. Our day was booked out to two o’clock in the afternoon with something happening every hour. Started off with an MRI, then an hour later, had an ultrasound. We got all checked in and waited for our name to be called. A nurse escorted us back to our room and started the ultrasound. Things just looked different up on the screen, the nurse almost immediately said she was having issues finding something so she called in a doctor to help. A couple minutes later, the news that I will never forget.
“I’m sorry, we don’t see a heart beat in either baby.”
Time stood still for which seemed like an eternity. All the pain, all the flashbacks these last sixteen weeks came rushing at us like a bull racing towards a red scarf. All we wanted to do was to come home. So we did. We got cleared from the hospital and we caught the first flight back home. It wasn't long before we were walking back through the front door of our house but this time with a heavy burden.
Defeated, violated, stripped of life, robbed, cheated, sad, angry, why, when, how
It took exactly twenty five hours to change the course of our lives. That’s how long it took from the time we landed in Cincinnati to the time we walked through our front door. Life may not seem the same anymore but we have Christ to help us walk through dark alley’s of our life. He provides the light when we can’t see in a dark confusing world. I’ll put my faith in the light of life any day even though it’s harder than I can ever imagine it being.
I can’t help but imagine my boys on either side of Jesus, looking up into his warm, loving eyes and Jesus saying, “your safe, healed, and I have you.”
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NIV)
Josiah Dean, February 25th, 2015 at 7:03 pm
Joshua Andrew, February 25th, 2015 at 10:24 pm
Dear Josiah & Joshua,
I know mommy has written to you several times these last couple weeks. I hope you've heard her heart through those words. She misses you two very much! I’m sorry I haven’t written. I guess I never really wanted to accept the way things are and how they’re going to be from this point moving forward. Ever since we found out that we were having two boys, I've had to remind myself to hold back some of my thoughts for the future because all I wanted to do is to show you two the world, teach you about all the things that I've learned in my life. I wanted to mold you two into little men. Then we found out that you've gone to see Jesus and my heart broke in more ways than I can express.
Your sister is an amazing little girl, she brights up our life each and every day. Sometimes I wonder if the things she says comes from you two. She has a vibrant personality and her heart is as big as your mommies. We’re pretty blessed to have two beautiful girls with hearts as big as they are!
Please don’t be shy. Talk to us often? We’ll always have a listening ear. I was looking forward to telling you two to look after your mother and sister while I was gone away from home but maybe it’s more appropriate to ask if you guys could watch over us please? Help keep our hearts looking up your direction. I know you’re being well taken care of and I feel at peace about that. Daddy needs to rest now. I love you! By the way, welcome home boys!