Worth it

I always wanted four kids.

For as long as I can remember, that just seemed like the ideal number to me.  No one would be left out.  No two against one.  It was a big family without being too big.

But I didn’t meet my husband until I was 31.  I had no idea whether we’d actually be able to have the four children I’d idealized, but we gave it the old college try.  When I became pregnant with our twins in 2010, we had three young boys at home, 4, 2, and 10 months.  We were thrilled by our family size and the joy that our boys brought us, but we needed a breather.  They’d come so close together that we intended to wait a year or two before maybe trying for a fourth.

And that November, just a few months before our baby boy turned one, I was late.

I remember shaking as I saw the lines appear on the pregnancy test.  I was charting my temperatures and so careful about my dates.  I couldn’t understand how it had happened.  But there it was.

Positive.

A few weeks later, I was washing in the shower and thought that my stomach felt a little larger than it usually did by seven weeks.  I knew it was twins.  I don’t know how I knew, but I knew.  And I’m glad I did, because otherwise, I might have rolled off the table in the ultrasound room when the picture on the screen confirmed it.  I was excited and overwhelmed and anxious, but mostly, I was giddy at the prospect of bringing two more babies home to our wild, wonderful family.

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FIVE!  We were going to have five children under five.  We were going to need five car seats.  We were going to need a new car.  Two more stockings would hang on our railing the next Christmas. We kept saying it over and over again.  Twins?  Twins!  It was just so hard to wrap our minds around the changes two more babies would bring, but we felt blessed.

And then, in March, we got the devastating news that they were dying.  It was the only other ultrasound I had besides that first one at eight weeks, despite my several requests to my doctors that I be monitored for issues.  For TTTS.  And now, at almost 20 weeks, we were learning that our baby girls (girls!) were very ill and would require immediate in utero surgery at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia if there was any hope for their survival.  Whatever it takes to save them, we said, it will be worth it.  We will do it.  But Fiona’s heart was no longer beating the day after the surgery.  And suddenly, our world came crashing down around us.

We’d wanted four children, but not like this.  Not five minus one.

Our lives became a whirlwind of doctor’s appointments, hospitalizations, scrambling to find childcare for our three boys when family promised help but didn’t follow through, eight weeks of bedrest, round-the-clock medication to stop premature labor. It was so very hard.

It will all be worth it when she’s here with us, we said.  This is unbelievably hard, but it will be worth it.

Finally, a traumatic labor, delivering a preemie, healing from a c-section, burying Fiona, Brigid’s life in the NICU with its ups and downs, having her airlifted to a higher-level NICU farther away, pumping milk, daily visits for morning rounds and a crash course in neonatology and respiratory therapy and cardiology, precious few hours spent with her each day before having to head home to take care of my three boys.

One day at a time.  It will be worth it.  She is growing and she will come home soon, and it will be worth it.

And then she died.

All of that work.  My husband’s near nervous breakdown trying to juggle his full-time job and our three children while I was on bed rest, back and forth to the hospital, the surgeries, the freezer full of breast milk I’d carefully pumped for her.  It wasn’t worth it.  None of it mattered.  She’s gone, too.

We’re back to three.  We weren’t even trying for four.  Then we had five.  And now we have three again.

Why?  (WHY WHY WHY?)

It wasn’t worth it!

But this November will be three years since we learned we were expecting them. Three years since my jaw dropped seeing those lines on the test.

And now I don’t hesitate for a second to say it was absolutely worth it.  Every second of anxiety, of stress, of physical pain.  Every minute spent in the NICU with her.  Every tear shed, every hour spent driving to the hospital, every day my house was a disaster because I couldn’t clean it, every dollar we spent on hospitals, and doctors, and surgeries, and childcare, and caskets, and holes dug, and funerals.  Every bit of heartache and every day spent grieving.  They were all worth it.

She was worth it.  They were worth it.

Because they are still my daughters.  Because my love for them is never ending.  Because I am still the mother of twins.  Because they changed me forever.  Because so many things in life became so very clear.  Because I now live my life with an eternal perspective that I didn’t have before.  Because I can empathize in new ways.  Because my children learned about death and heaven in a way I might never have been able to teach them.  Because, for the first time, I am not afraid of being myself.  Because now we have our four children, but it was six minus two – eight minus four, actually – and we are so blessed by each of them.

Because every moment with them was a precious, special gift, if I had the choice to do it all over again, and knew that the outcome would be the same, I’d still choose them.

It was worth it.

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13 thoughts on “Worth it

  1. I agree. While we know Time will never heal our wounds, time does change our prospective. I wouldn’t change the short time we held our daughter for anything. My Son understands his big Sister is in Heaven. A supportive friend told me at my bedside as we lost our daughter, “Death does not end your relationship, You will always have a daughter and you will always be her Mother, honor that”. Our daughter gave us the gift of compassion, compassion for life and loss.

  2. What a beautiful story of God’s grace. Thank you for sharing it. You’ve touched my heart.

    I too have lost a child. Chase was born sleeping on October 16. Like you, my pregnancy was a surprise but I embraced it. I wondered why God gave us this gift just to take it away. But, like you, I wouldn’t change a second of it. I was blessed to be Chase’s mom, and I’ve been blessed throughout the experience. It has changed my perspective.

    God bless you and your family.

  3. Written so well. Your words hit my heart because I understand. We wanted 3 not 3 minus 1. Missing Liam 12-15-2011 to 1-13-2012. (29 days old, born at 31 weeks gestation) . Sorry for the loss of your precious daughters.

  4. Wow, I’m standing sobbing in my kitchen waiting for my children’s dinner to cook. What a beautifully written sad piece. I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope your husband is alright, they so often get forgotten and what would we do without them?! I have three children, minus one – my first born daughter, and I have a picture of her little hand wrapped around my finger like that, covered in tubes. My heart is heavy for the life we did not have together, and yet bursting with love for the two, (waiting for their dinner) that may not be here if she was.
    Thank you for sharing.x

  5. Beautiful, just beautiful. I have a new friend in my MOPS group that I haven’t met yet because at my first meeting, she was on bed-rest suffering from preeclampsia and soon after gave birth to her preemie and has had horrible complications, But she is so faithful, her family is, and it’s such a wonderful testimony for everyone (myself included!) to see.

    Thank you for sharing!
    Nicole
    WorkingKansasHomemaker.com

  6. What a beautiful account of a hard/sweet experience. I, too, lost two little ones and I know that they will be mine one day. The peace that comes from the Lord is such an amazing gift!

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