This is the second installment of a two-part story on how my wife and I lost our first baby, and fought like crazy to have another one. Read “Part One” of the story here.
So there I was, beer in hand. And there she was, pregnancy test in hand – apparently it was positive.
We were definitely skeptical. Even though all three pregnancy tests showed up the exact same way, Jackie and I figured there may have been something wrong with the box. So, we marched back to the same store, grabbed more of the same pregnancy tests, and paid the exact same cashier. Umm…awkward!
It took about five tests to finally convince us that Jackie was pregnant. I was a giddy school-girl. But I was also very cautious. “Oh please God let us keep this one!” was our constant prayer, and we took it seriously. Please, please, please let us keep this one.
Meanwhile, we were determined to keep the pregnancy our little secret. We agreed: absolutely NOBODY can know about this until the second trimester! Nobody… except some of our close friends. And some family members. Aaaaand some people from our church. When you continually find yourself saying “but you can’t tell anyone…” you know your secret is doomed. Well, ours was doomed.
Of course, there are ways of telling people the news without *actually* telling them. I mean, you can only order so many lemonades at an open bar wedding before people (like my dad) become suspicious. And as a general rule, if you are a woman near 30 and refuse alcohol in any social setting for any reason, the pregnancy flags start flying. It’s science.
Either way, pretty much everyone knew about the pregnancy within two weeks. Secrecy fail.
From the beginning, I enjoyed following the progress of our baby. Indeed, I had a “pregnancy calendar” set to Jackie’s due date that I checked daily. And while I still have no idea what a baby’s “crown to rump length” means, I was sure excited that it was getting bigger. Our little tadpole was growing up!
I was particularly excited about Jackie’s first sonogram. I couldn’t be there in person, but I got one heck of a phone call: “there’s two of them!”
Random side-note: I see lots of “LOLs”, but am often suspicious that no one on the other end is laughing out loud. For this reason, I hereby propose we add “ALOL” – or, “actually laughing out loud” to our online vernacular. And I’m about to be the first person to ever use it in a sentence…
So, I get the news, and all I could do was ALOL. Twins? Really?
Throughout the pregnancy, Jackie was a trooper. Since she was carrying twins, she was deemed “high risk,” which meant constant doctor appointments, endless contractions, daily monitoring sessions, and bed rest. I’m no expert on pregnancies, but I have seen the movie “Juno” and thus feel minimally qualified in saying that this was not a normal one by any stretch of the imagination.
That said, Jackie did go through many of the same experiences other pregnant women go through. For instance, one day I got a frantic phone call from what I thought was a heroin addict. Turns out it was my wife. She needed a cheeseburger from Five Guys and she needed it RIGHT NOW!!!
The months flew by for me. Working full time and going to school at night will do that. I went to as many doctor visits as I could, and was amazed by how many other fathers went to them as well. Like most men, seeing them move around for the first time was the coolest experience of them all. Our little girl, “Baby B,” was already throwing punches. And our little man, “Baby A,” was already taking them. It’s been 13 months, and I can tell you nothing has changed.
When we had free time, we watched the TV show “Lost.” All 121 episodes. That show was awesome, and Jimmy’s name came close to being “Sawyer.” **
**Actually that’s not true at all. I totally just made that up.
Speaking of Lost, there I was one morning studying for my upcoming Evidence Law final… totally lost. Jackie’s due date was over a month away, and I get a call: “it’s happening this afternoon.” The first thing that popped into my head was that their birthday would be on Cinco de Mayo… LUCKY! In the meantime, I was told to “keep studying” (a downright laughable order). I had to do something productive, so I moved the lawn instead. I also cleaned up a little bit around the house and re-arranged some of our furniture. I was basically nesting.
The C-section itself was rather anti-climactic. I mean, this is supposed to be one of my life’s most beautiful moments and here I am staring into a strange, creepy operating room. I went in with camera in hand and sat down. Minutes later, both babies were born. It was so bizarre. And instead of saying something meaningful, I just asked questions like “is all that blood normal?” Useless. Oh, and Jackie was totally high from her epidural. So to recap, we have a useless dad and a stoned mom. Great start.
Picture 9 nurses and 1 doctor all scrambling to care for our babies, and me sitting there wondering what I’m gonna post on Facebook. That was our delivery room.
I knew one thing: those babies were tiny. 4 pounds, something ounces. Out of nowhere, a nurse handed baby Jimmy to me. As happy as I was to finally meet him, I desperately wanted the nurse to take him back before I dropped him. Indeed, holding a newborn baby is far more responsibility than a man like myself should bear. Heck I shouldn’t even be allowed to hold a cell phone!
And then nurse placed Riley in my other hand. I’m pretty sure I blacked out for the next 30 seconds…
Anyway. Those babies spent a while in the “NICU” (where newborn babies go for intensive care). Neither of them were breathing well, and Jimmy wasn’t eating. Seeing my daughter in an incubator and my son with a feeding tube in his mouth was hard – my first experience as a helpless parent. That was the moment when it *truly* hit: I was a father. Holy cow.
Somewhere in there, my sister flew in town and I took my evidence final. For all I know I could have killed a man, too. It’s all a blur…
Eight days later, Jimmy and Riley were healthy enough to come home. Finally, the page of our lives that was marked by the loss of our first baby had been turned. What a mountain we climbed.
Without a doubt, adjusting to lack of sleep, crying babies and diaper disasters has been challenging. But know this: we count our blessings daily. We know what a miracle it is just to bring a child into this world, and our hearts melt for those who are trying desperately to experience that miracle as well.
God doesn’t promise everybody that they will get to have a child of their own, but He does promise us life through Jesus Christ – the child He lost. God was graceful to give us both. This is His awesome story of trial and triumph.
It’s one that ends with Jackie and me holding two healthy, beautiful babies… and one that, oddly enough, began with me holding a case of beer and a box of pregnancy tests.
His awesome story indeed.