A little over two years after I gave birth to my stillborn twin sons my son Andrew, now age 8, was born. The two birth experiences couldn’t have been more different.
When the twins were born the room was silent. There were no cries from the babies (even though I knew they had died inside of me I thought that perhaps by some miracle the doctors had been wrong, and that they would be born alive and well). There were no cries of joy from my husband and me. I screamed in emotional agony as each boy was taken away to be cleaned and dressed. One of the nurses cried, too. Just writing about this brings me right back to that tiny, dark hospital room. It was the middle of the night, and I had been in labor since early the morning before.
The nurses asked if I wanted to see and hold them once they had been cleaned and dressed. I didn’t think I wanted to at first. I was scared of what they would look like, and how I would react to them. Plus, the effects of my epidural hadn’t worn off, and my lack of physical strength combined with my emotional state made me hesitate. My husband gave me the space and time to decide when we would see the boys. After a long while when the effects of the epidural finally began to wear off I told the nurses I was ready.
Soon, two nurses walked into the room holding my sons. Both nurses were smiling. I found that curiously comforting. A nurse gently handed me one the boys (we named him Andrew), and handed my husband our other son (named Joseph). The first thing I noticed about my son was how beautiful he looked. At the time, I thought he was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen. I look at his pictures now and see that he was tiny, not quite developed, and his skin dark and very wrinkly. But at the time I was too in love to notice those things.
I examined every inch of him, undressing him to see every part- knowing I’d never see him again. Everything was there- little fingers and toes, beautiful belly, pouty lips. I gave him a kiss, and then took Joseph from my husband. I examined him from head to toe as well, showering him with kisses. Then I held them together, breathing in their beautiful baby smell. I felt strangely proud to be holding them. They were my boys- to whom I had given birth.
We held them for a short while longer, then it was time to say goodbye. The nurses took them away, and I broke down once again. It was the beginning of many months of tears and depression. But I felt fortunate to have held my sons for that brief time, loving them the way only a mother could.
Two years later my son Andrew was born. That day was every bit as nerve wracking as the day the twins were born. We were in the same hospital on the same floor just down the hall from where I had given birth to the twins. Thankfully, the outcome was completely different.
My obstetrician left an office full of patients to be at Andrew’s birth. I liken the experience to being at a football game. I pushed for nearly three hours, but for each of those pushes I was encouraged by a room full of supporters. And when Andrew was finally born, the room exploded with joy. I will be forever grateful for that experience (and the birth of my fourth son, Matthew). I truly appreciate the gift of their precious lives each and every day. The twins have given me so much, but that will forever be their greatest legacy.