In my car, alone with my thoughts on the drive home, I called Amy, whom I have known since high school. We each went our separate ways after graduation, but we have this kindred spirit, this connection, a sweet, endearing love for each other that never faded, no matter how long between visits. To this day, she is the only friend where we end each and every call or email with 'I love you'.
Though never really conveniently located to each other, we still made time. We took trips together - just the two of us - taking pleasure in the simple things in life. We planned days together doing various things we both enjoyed - a trip to the beach, renting movies or just hanging out. And when my boyfriend/fiance of six years abruptly left me mid-wedding planning, I returned home from Oregon to my parents house, and to the dependability and comfort of Amy, who stayed with me while I pieced my life back together. She let me cry and built me back up, and was just there for me.
12 years later, my dad and stepmom still jokingly refer to it as The Summer of Amy.
When I called her that dark November night after my first ultrasound, the truth came out in heaving sobs. I was terrified - I had been blessed with one baby, but hadn't planned on two. She listened to me and calmed me down, assuring me that I could do this - when I wasn't so sure.
She followed my pregnancy week by week, the only friend that kept track of my exact progression, sometimes remembering my gestation better than me. Emails filled with stats and resources filled our inboxes. We amused ourselves with the guestimated size of these little aliens growing in my belly. How big are the babies this week? According to babycenter.com, they are little tomatoes!
|I love this picture of her cradling Tristyn's sleeping head in the palms of her hands, me in the background in the daze of new twin mommyhood.|
After my girls were born, and I had adjusted to twin motherhood, we stayed weekends at her and her husband's house, attempting to maintain composure with toddler twins, but not always succeeding. Nevertheless, they were gracious hosts, accommodating my every request for the girls: It must be dark in the room where they sleep. They can't sleep in the same bed together. Hubby and I don't like to sleep in the same room as them. Do you have a CD player for their nighttime CD? Amy even dutifully baby proofed their house lest we have a curious toddler (or two) getting into something that was off limits.
I was so excited for her to be a mom herself. I anxiously followed the trials and tribulations of their attempts to get pregnant, hoping that I could somehow affect the outcome by sending all my fertile thoughts. I marveled at her dedication, waking up at dawn to take her temperature, charting every last detail and researching their options.
I gave her space, assuming that the support from women in similar stages of life was preferred over me, complaining about two little monsters. She assured me that was not the case, so I nagged her for details and updates. And I felt her disappointment and frustration at each negative pregnancy test.
Finally, this picture popped up on my cell phone. And it was from her.
|In case you can't read it, it says simply "Pregnant"|
We speculated and fantasized - would it be twins? What would she do if there were three -- or more?? Her doctor told her she may have released five viable eggs - the possibilities were a bit daunting.
My daughters each gave their four year old predictions, which would change from time to time. Triplets! No, twins. Baby girls! No, one boy and one girl.
I awaited anxiously for each text, after doctors appointments, which I had set on my phone calendar. The reminder beep building anticipation with each notification.
Finally, after what felt like forever, the day of her first ultrasound arrived. Twins. Twins!! 2 perfect miracles right there in her belly - indelible proof right there on the U/S screen! Her very first pregnancy yielding not one, but two babies.
This was what I had been waiting for. A long time friend, one that I had shared everything with during my own pregnancy and postpartum, that I could lavish all my knowledge on. She needn't be bothered with wading through the cluttered labyrinth of the internet or buy expensive books written by twin moms - she had me! Still, I knew her experience would be her own, and very different from mine.
|My weekly calculation of her pregnancy that sat on my nightstand |
(37 weeks is "full term" for twins)
On the morning of August 4th, I mailed her a box of maternity items that I had saved just in case. And in an ironic, poorly timed gesture, I pulled my birth story from the archives on my computer and emailed it to her a few hours before going to bed that night.
Then, as I plugged in my cell phone just before crawling into bed, came her text. Baby A's water broke. We are headed to birthing center to induce. My mind reeled, and stupid thoughts took over - why would they induce?? Oh my god, 14 weeks - wait, they can't survive outside - can they?? Were there new advances in neonatal technology that I didn't know about? Could they save Baby B? In shock, I texted her back. Why are they inducing? But I knew the answer, and she calmly provided it for me. Heart rates are in distress. Both babies are dying. My uncontrollable sobs awoke my husband from a deep sleep. I couldn't speak the words as he waited for me to find air between sobs. Amy is losing the babies.
Unable to console me, I left my husband alone in our bed and moved into the guest room where I could cry. I told Amy I loved her and that I would keep my phone next to me all night, just in case.
I didn't hear from her until the next morning. She had delivered both babies, perfectly formed yet tiny, followed by a D&C. My heart felt as though it was being crushed. My soul dissolved into tears until I felt wrung of all moisture in my body, then I would start all over again. I avoided the worried, curious stares of my children, but they followed me through the house asking questions, knowing that something wasn't right. I had to tell them: The babies in Amy's belly? They both died last night.
Children get knowledge of death in bits and pieces, never quite comprehending. They regurgitated the concept that our cat Pumpkin was "up in heaven", but also knew that daddy had buried her body in the ground. I would think they had grasped it, only to realize no, they hadn't, when one morning Jaeda asked me 'Mama, where's dead Pumpkin?'
They wanted to know why. But why had the babies died? I gave them one of those generic responses that moms of pre-schoolers learn, 'They were sick and couldn't get better'. But why did they get sick? I didn't know. Would they still be born? No, honey, they won't.
I've known Amy for more than half my life. All of my friends and family know Amy, or know of her. But they probably don't know the details of our history. The depth of my love for her. When she lost her babies - a boy and a girl - I lost them too.
My only comfort is knowing in my heart that she will one day be a mother.
She already is.