I have been meaning to sit down and write out my story. The story of my beautiful angels and how it all happened. I want to write this in the hope that it may help another mother one day who may be going though something similar, as some others’ stories have helped me. Writing everything out is hard, almost like re-living it in my head. But I think it will be healing to have it all out in writing.
It all begins as a love story, of course. My husband and I met at college in a ballroom class- he was a student and I was the teacher’s assistant. We became friends and later began to date. It went well enough that a number of months down the road we got engaged, then married of course. The surprise was that just over a month after our wedding, we got pregnant. We were astonished and, truth be told, Warren was upset at first, but we felt that this baby must be sent from the Lord and we were meant to become parents sooner than we’d planned. The surprises didn’t end with a positive pregnancy test thought, because a month later at our very first scan, we learned we were having not one, but two babies. We were shocked again, and called our family members to share the life altering news we’d received. In those weeks that followed I would go to an ultrasound every two weeks to check fluid levels and growth of the babies.
Pregnancy is difficult, as any mother can tell you. And a twin pregnancy is no walk in the park. I was sick for months with aches and cravings and the worst heart burn you can imagine. But every couple of weeks I’d go in for another check up to see how great our boys were growing. There were a few unexplained things about the babies once in a while, for instance- pretty early in the pregnancy the doctor thought one of my boys had a clubbed foot, but the worry went away a few check ups later. Also, throughout my pregnancy, and especially obvious after about 22 weeks, was the excess amount of fluid I was carrying in both of my babies sacs. Because of this, around 28 weeks I began seeing the MFM doctor as well as my regular OB, so I was seeing one of them each week. My Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist, Dr. Ball, was concerned with the amount of fluid that was present because there was no obvious explanation for it. So, to keep on the safe side of things, I began going in even more often for “NST” (no-stress-tests) on the babies to make sure everything was going okay.
On Monday, August 22nd, when I was in the middle of my 32nd week, I went into the doctors office for a routine NST. After being hooked up to the monitors for 30 minutes, and a mini ultrasound to check their movement, we were told they looked good and I was to come back on Wednesday to see my OB.
That Wednesday went by slowly for me. I slept in as much as possible, since sleeping at night had become difficult with my body in the state it was. When it was time for my appointment I got in the car and took myself to the hospital where my OB’s office was. I was weighed and my blood pressure was checked, just like normal, then my doctor came in and we chatted. We talked for 20 minutes about birth and how I wanted it to go. When we’d finally talked about every bit of the birth I’d never experience, we moved into the exam room to check the babies. I had to change out of my pants for a cervix check, then the doctor came in and got out the ultrasound machine to see the babies before checking my cervix.
Next came the longest minute of my life.
I lifted my shirt layers off of my giant belly so he could squirt that jelly stuff on for the ultrasound. As he spread the goop around to get a clear image, I immediately knew something was wrong. By now I’d seen about a million ultrasounds, and my babies had always been very active. But on the screen in front of me was a very still image of Matix Jack, my baby “A.” The doctor moved the little instrument to the other side of my belly to see Tegan, and again the image was hauntingly still. Not wanting to believe it, I looked at him confused. He moved the camera back and forth, checking one more time to know if what he’d seen was true. My throat started closing up and I could feel my nose turning red. The doctor looked at me and said a sentence I will never forget, “I’m sorry, but I can’t find the heart beats. I’m afraid your babies have passed.”
He took out a towel and wiped my belly off as I started crying, uncontrollably shaking my head. I couldn’t believe what he said to be true.
He said, “You can go ahead and put your pants back on, I will be back in to talk with you in a couple of minutes.”
He left the room and I jumped off of the exam table, bawling. I shakily changed back into my clothes and got out my phone. I started dialing Warren at work. There was no answer. In the next minutes I called him over and over while crying out “God, no!” and “Why!!”
I couldn’t keep waiting so I left the little room and walked out of the office to the elevator, down a floor to where the MFM office was, walked in and asked to be seen. I couldn’t believe what we’d seen to be true and had to know it was real. While I was waiting for this second exam, my mom found me and we cried together. While thinking of the time between my check up on Monday and the position I was in then I couldn’t believe I hadn’t been more attentive at noticing and counting their movements. I couldn’t see why God would send us babies before we thought we were ready just to take them from me now. Crying there, and still calling Warren over and over, he finally answered. He had left work to come, but I could barely get the words out. He thought I was in labor and we were having babies.
We got in to the second exam room and repeated the gooping of my stomach, and there was the still image again. Mom and I cried, knowing now it was sure. We left their office to return to my OB’s and talk with him about the next step, which is where Warren met me and learned of the circumstance. My mom, Warren and I all sat in a little room waiting for Dr. Edmunds to come in and talk to us. I continued to cry, holding onto Warren as my tie to this world.
The doctor came in and, bless his heart, looked like he’d been crying a little. He told us as delicately as possible that we had two options- first, we could go home and see if my body would start the process of labor on its own, or secondly, go downstairs to labor and delivery, admit myself and induce. I couldn’t bare the thought of holding my dead sons’ bodies inside of me while I mourned, so I chose to go downstairs immediately and induce.
The process was long, and my body didn’t react well with the drugs they were using to induce labor. After a full day of pitocin and no progress, they decided to try a different approach and gave me a different drug. The second one worked so well that I had to take something to slow down the contractions. In the afternoon that Thursday, I decided to get the epidural so they could speed up the induction process. By midnight that night I was finally dilating and the doctor could break my water. And by 10 am the next morning, (Friday August 26th) I was pushing.
Matix Jack Febbo was born at 11:05 that morning, weighing 4 pounds exactly. He was closely followed by his brother Tegan James Febbo who weighed 4 pounds 10 ounces. While I had cried all of Wednesday and off-and-on through Thursday, this morning was different. There was an almost palpable feeling of joy in the room while we were holding those perfect little bodies. I felt happy looking down at the fruits of my labors and noticing just how cute those little faces were. It was surprising to see how different the two of them looked, seeing as the were identical twins.
A professional photographer came to gift us pictures of our angels. I had wonderful nurses, great friends and family visitors and a good bereavement support group all around me for the days I was in the hospital waiting for delivery.
In the week following we had to make decisions about their funeral services and try and heal as best we could. Exactly one week after their birth, we buried my angels with friends and family surrounding us.
We never did find out just exactly why they passed, or what happened to stress them. What the specialist suspects was an acute onset of TTTS, which is twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome where blood vessels in the placenta are connected meaning blood and other nutrients can be transfused from one baby to the other. We don’t know if that’s why there was so much fluid or if the fluid was just over supplemented for no reason.
These weeks since parting with my babies have been the hardest in my life. Each new day I have to choose that I can make it through and push on to live without them. I have been so blessed with friends and family rallying around to support and uplift, and I am also blessed with a testimony of the gospel and knowledge that I will be with them again. But the days I spend here on earth without my precious angels all seem long and empty. A means to an end. A test to prove that I deserve to be with them forever. There’s no good thing to be said about preparing for a certain life for months on end just to have it ripped away from you without your consent. Going back to a life of a student at school seems unfulfilling and meaningless without my babies to care for, but dreaming of our angels rooting for me, and our future children playing in heaven, keep me going. They keep me here, trying to make this- the sourest lemon God can give- into lemonade.