Saturday, March 18, 2006

st. patrick's day

St. Patrick's Day for me and for Rob will be forever remembered. Not for green beer. Not for 'shamrock shakes' from McDonald's, but for the daughters we fondly and wistfully think of every March 17 - from 1985 onwards -- the day of their stillbirth and the day of our first encounter with grief.

Today they would have been 21 and its only now that i've ceased working, running around, visiting with my daughters and grandkids, working out and walking the dog that its sunk in. This was the day they were 'born'. They were actually supposed to be born in July of that horrible year, but instead of things going smoothly like everyone hopes for, things went horribly wrong and no-one was the wiser until it was too late. We didn't even know we had twins until i got a phone call from the doctor, after being investigated for being large for dates and having 'knockout fights' within my innards every day, it was discovered and told to me like this: "Kathy, you are pregnant with twins and one of the babies is already dead." WHOMP -- first blow. I could heardly breathe. I kept asking him: "Are you serious? What??!!! Is this true?" It just caught me off balance. I asked him: "What am I going to do? what about the other baby?" He matter of factly informed me that I would have to carry the dead baby to term with the live one.. . which made me really uncomfortable thinking about that. .ugh. . . Second blow. . .had a hard time with this reality. I felt like it was all some ghastly nightmare and i would wake up at some point. I remember looking at my stomach and feeling so strange. They booked me for a specialized ultrasound, one long week later. I don't know if there was a longer week in my life prior to or since? I cried all the time. . my 3 year-old daughter didn't know why I had become like this. She would put her hand on my shoulder and say : "Don't cry, Mommy, its all right." It was hard to go to work, cook suppers, be there for my daughter. Rob felt helpless.

Ultrasound time. . .i'm on the table -- silent technician -- I knew. . . I waited for the doctor to review it with me, which he did. He asked me if i'd felt any movement. . . i didn't know. . . i guess? kinda rolling movement, maybe? I didn't like the look in his eyes. His mouth was tight. . .like my throat. "Mrs. Allan, I'm sorry to tell you that the viable twin has died." Third blow. I had to get out of that place, back to a place where there was still life, this was a bad place to be. . i wanted to go home. I don't remember the ride home. However I remember not wanting to go out in public the following week - for some reason they would not induce me for another week. I wasn't retaining much, they would tell me stuff, but it was just like I was hearing them underwater. . . I didn't want to see pregnant women, I didn't want to see babies. I didn't want people coming up to me and asking: "So, when are you due?"

Its hard to induce labour when its not time . After 8 hours of unproductive agony, i received a day off and then the date was set again. . St. Patrick's Day. . I got some green jello in the labour room. . i don't remember if i ate it? i don't think so. . . The labour started and i went through the whole thing. . . just like my first baby. . . only this was so pointless. A mother can go through all kinds of pain if she's going to be able to hear that first cry and hold that little squirmy darling. . but this? this was just indescribable. I wished that they would knock me out so that I could just wake up when it was over. They said they couldn't do that without performing surgery and i didn't want that Time came to go to the delivery room and Rob was beside me, thank God for him! They had me on laughing gas to help take the edge off. . . i was laughing my head off!!! which sort of put the tense medical staff at ease. . . we all laughed. . it was insane. . we knew it. The gas stopped, it was time and things grew quiet. The doctor delivered one, then the other. . in silence . . aside from my weeping and the nurses with their tears falling. All at once the mystery was solved -- our daughters were casualties of a double umbilical cord 'accident'. . . they were lying in the 'wrong' positions and this caused their lifelines to become tangled and knotted. Rob looked at their tiny forms. . .i couldn't do it. I was too afraid of how they would look, too afraid to bond -- the final blow. . . going back to a maternity ward with empty arms -- hearing the cries of newborns and the excited conversations of happy, joyous families. . . I had my own room - i was exhausted but sleepless -- my eyes would look at things but not see. The next day they sent me home. I was never so glad to see St. Patrick's Day end. Rob had to handle the final arrangements -- I couldn't deal with anything. He chose a pretty, white casket - my grandparents paid for the plot, we chose the stone and our twin daughters were laid to rest in the 'children's garden' of the cemetery.

I recovered physically, but i was just so hollow. We received so many cards of sympathy, flowers. It was overwhelming. However, some people told me stuff like "God doesn't make mistakes, you know, its His will." I can't describe the fury those comments stirred in me. I'm sure they meant well, but those words felt like they branded my soul. . they stung and burned.

Sometimes I would have these nightmares in which I'd hear babies crying and I'd be frantically running and running, trying to find them and i never could. I had such a scary jealousy when I saw pregnant women, babies. . . and if i saw twins, or heard the word 'twins'. . . .oh i can't even say.

I was a zombie. . i felt so bad for my little girl. . . who wanted her Mom back. Thank God for her though, i was forced to eventually snap out of it. Rob had his own way of coping with all of this. . he became quiet. . and i could just not stop going over and over it all. . .countless time upon time. . I didn't understand him and he wasn't like me. . . Yes, thank God for our daughter! She helped us through the tunnel. We remember a touchingly bittersweet moment at the shopping mall a few months later. She had received 2 helium balloons from the cashier at Sears. When we got out to the car, Lindsay let go of her balloons and we all put our heads back to see them zoom up and up and up, until they were just little dots. She said: "These are for my baby sisters, to make them happy." Children are awesome.

You know, writing this took me right back . . . I didn't go to their grave today. It sounds callous, I suppose. But I know that they're not there. . and life has gone on. Now i imagine how they would have looked, what their voices would have sounded like, what kind of food would they have enjoyed? would they be musical? athletic? I wish that we could have had the privilege of knowing them. . and them knowing us. We loved them so much, the promise of them, the twinness of them, which blew us away! I got pregnant again a short while later. . but that baby never took a breath - i miscarried at the start of my 4th month, which just about finished me off. . Rob too. . I felt like i was losing my sanity by that point and I kept thinking that I was being punished by God. . i don't think that now. I don't know why any of that happened, but it did and its okay now. In July, 1986 we had our 5th and final child: another beautiful daughter!!! I can't even tell you what that joy felt like. . . it was like a beautiful tidal wave of emotion. . . it just rolled right over top of us and cleansed away all the cloying grief and made us feel new again. As we held our baby and looked closely at her, we saw a perfect red heart-shaped birthmark beside her right ear. A sign. . . . . of love, our love, God's love , everything was going to be all right.

25 comments:

sanityflair said...

Hi Kathryn,
I'm from singapore and i just clicked on "next blog" and started reading your entry. It was quite sad to read of what you've gone through despite the fact that i don't know you at all but i'm really glad that you're not bitter or anything as i could tell from your previous entries and well, don't give up in pursuing God in your relationship with Him :)
It's incredible too that you already have 2 grandchildren. God bless yeah? :)

Anonymous said...

Wow! Thank you for sharing something so personal and powerful. I just stumbled on your blog and wanted to comment. I think it is the best written most engaging piece I've ever read on here.
Love & light,
A

Lindsay said...

I often wonder what the twins would have been like, too - who they would have looked like,what you would have named them...if they'd lived, you'd probably had stopped with them, right? Kalyn would never had existed. James and I go see their grave all the time, and he seems to cheerfully accept the fact that he has 'two aunties that are dead'...in fact, now that it's been mentioned, I think we'll go visit them today, Baka and Oma too, of course!

Kathryn said...

thank you, Minwei and "A" for reading my blog and for your affirming, caring comments. Yes, I've been privileged to have 2 amazing little grandchildren! God bless indeed!!! I'm not bitter, and I will never give up pursuing my relationship with God. I didn't mention it, but when I was in the labour room that day, i looked out the window and saw a cloud shaped like a baby!!
It gave me some hope.

Linds. . we all seem to feel 'at home' at the cemetery, eh?! I take a lot of my walks there. . starting doing that after your sisters were buried there and have always loved to walk through there. Sometimes I sit by the grave and tell them about our family and how much we wished they could have been with us. I know that its just for my benefit, and it helps. I like that you visit their grave when you're there. .

supersimbo said...

kat.......seriously you tell the best stories, real, happy sad and just touching to read.................cherith should have had two older brothers but one was stillborn. It was her folks first kid or would have been...................
it just blows me away to think about what you must have been through emotionally, i could never begin to understand. Thanks for sharing it

Kathryn said...

hey, Ally! Thanx for reading. . i know it was very personal. . it was just 'the day' and it was on my mind, so i thought i'd write about it -- i've never written about it before. . i've not talked about it with others to any great degree either. . that sort of thing usually doesn't come up in casual conversation.

I feel soo bad for Cherith's parents, and that it was their first child who was stillborn. . oh my that must have been so devastating for them. My Nana lost her first daughter - a stillborn as well. .my Aunt Kathryn - for whom I'm named. My Nana gave me the sympathy card that my great grandmother had given to her when she lost Kathryn. It was a perfect thing to do, so meaningful. You know, i've always felt the 'weight' of being named for my aunt. . its hard to explain, like my life was to count also for hers? and maybe to help heal my grandmother's heart?

Denise said...

Amazing. You are an amazing woman, Kat. I've always known it...now its been confirmed. Praise the Lord for you!

Kathryn said...

Dee. . I happen to think you're pretty amazing! You have such faith in God and you just go where He sends you. You're such a warrior. I'm so glad to know you!

Tracy said...

Thank you for telling that story Kathy. I remember when this took place, but I was much younger and didn't really hear all or understand all that happened. But I remember knowing that you were sad. Everyone was sad. I could feel it. Having been through a miscarriage myself, I now have at least an inkling of the grief you felt. But what you suffered was just absolutely horrid. A nightmare. But you overcame it (you know, enough to move on) and became pregnant again - that must have been so scary too! I was brought up making many visits to the cemetary with my Nanny, and I think of your girls most times I'm there. The problem is, there are so many to think of now.....I'm no longer sure what my point is here. But again, thank you for having the courage to tell that very difficilt story, and showing us how wonderful things do happen in the end.

Lindsay said...

What I don't understand is, why didn't they do a c-section? It might have done something to reduce the psychological trauma. Did they offer you counselling?

Krista said...

Oh Kat, these tears welling up in my eyes won't go away!

I would have been 7 when this happened, and like Tracy I didn't really understand it all at the time, but I knew that a lot of people were very sad. Thank you for telling your story, and revealing to us your incredible ability to overcome the unthinkable! You are so inspirational!

I always make a point of visiting your girls when I'm at the cemetary. All those little angels who never had a chance. I hope all their mums and dads learned to find joy in life once again, just like you and Rob did.

Kathryn said...

Tracy, Krista and Lindsay. .

thank you so much for your very thoughtful comments. . Linds - i don't remember being given a choice, but I did not want surgery, so birthing them was the only other option. No counseling was offered. I really could have used it though, or at least a support group of some sort. Tracy - i'm so sad that you had to go through the trauma of a miscarriage! I sympathize completely with you. Thank you all for your sympathy - it means so much to me. I'm very heartened to think that you all think of our girls and/or visit their grave when you go to Mountview. I also think of all the other little ones buried there. . and hope that their parents are doing okay now. I've also visited the graves of your grandparents, T&K - I remember being very sad for you all when they passed. Rob's Oma is at Mtview, and Rob's Dad and Joy Cranford and the Wheelers and so many people. . Paulette's grave too. . i loved the Lamb's Ears planted at her grave, so I bought some for my front yard, so that I would think of her every time i looked at them.

Evangeline said...

Oh darl... *huggggggggggggggg*

Thanks for sharing. I need a tissue now, I'm sniffling.

Kathryn said...

Evangeline!! welcome and thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a big hug! I appreciate it very much. Thanx also for adding me to your faves. .I've added your blog to my faves too! If i knew how to add links I would add yours and lot of others too!!! but I am clueless!!!

faith said...

*hugs*

Oh Kathy...oh dear friend...wow...

Kathryn said...

Faith. . thanx for the hug!!! love from me!

Lindsay said...

Does Kalyn still have that heart birthmark on her head? It was so weird, almost like a tiny heart tattoo!

Kathryn said...

No, it disappeared. By the time she was 6 months old it was completely gone!!! Isn't that cool?

Emma said...

wow... i dont know why i put off reading this post for so long, but i'm so glad i finally did... thank you for sharing so much of your pain and your love. I've never met you but still, in my heart, i can tell you really are this incredible wonderful woman... thanks for giving us another glimpse of who you are.

Kathryn said...

thank you Emma for your kind words! I realize that i am a bit 'long-winded'. .LOL! I know this about myself - but i can't seem to ever keep things short!

I'm glad to be getting to know you through Ally. . on your blog and through your comments on his blog too! You are a dear, big-hearted young woman - I can pick that up as I read your words.

much love to you!
xo

The Phantom Piccolo said...

You always have a way of bringing me into a story like I'm a fly on the wall. Thank you for sharing such a personal story.

Anonymous said...

My God. I just don't even know what to say. Thank you for sharing this. I know that this story is a piece of your very soul. You told a difficult story in a hauntigly beautiful way.

Kathryn said...

Hi Carrie and 'anon'!!!

Sorry I didn't reply sooner - i've been on holiday!!! Thank you both for reading and leaving such lovely, affirming comments. I appreciate them sooo much!!

Sarah said...

*hugs* that is so sad and yet so beautiful kat

Kathryn said...

thanx for reading that, hon. I'm glad you have you blog links on the boards now. . I'll drop in for a visit!