CLIMB

Emma Lynn & Samantha Lloy


We found out we were expecting twins when at 19 weeks pregnant the technician immediately said, ‘What would you say if I told you there were two in there?’ We screamed with pure delight. How wonderful – twins. It was a relief to us, as we were having this ultrasound due to an ‘elevated’ AFP reading. Twins – well that explained it! Twins also explained why I felt so much bigger and had been feeling movement since about 10 weeks pregnant. What a blessing. Just last summer we had experienced a miscarriage when I was 12 weeks pregnant. Now we were getting two babies!

We called everyone with the news. They were all so excited. Everything went fine until June 24, 1998. I started having contractions. I had done this with my first pregnancy – at 25 weeks. That time I was put on terbutaline until 37 weeks and delivered my first child just days after they took me off the prescription. This time I was more concerned; there were two babies and I knew what to expect from the complications with my first pregnancy. They gave me some liquids to stop the contractions and kept me in for two days to monitor me. Everything settled down and I felt fine. I was sent home. After being home a few hours I was really feeling lousy. My back and chest hurt and I was having a hard time breathing. After a sleepless and miserable night, my husband took me back into the hospital.

I cannot remember how many tests they ran on me but I do know I was hooked up to every machine imaginable. I was miserable. They discovered I had pulmonary edema; my lungs were filling up with fluid and one was partially collapsed. They gave me a drug to take off the fluid and this seemed to help. Then they started running urine tests. My protein was climbing – a sign of pre-eclampsia or hypertension as they refer to it now. At that point they told me I would not be leaving the hospital until I delivered. Every day I collected my urine for a urine test and had blood drawn to check certain blood and enzyme levels. The protein was skyrocketing. Then without explanation, it slowed down to a slow incline. It was still climbing, but not as drastically. I was now a permanent resident of room 1105. Every day I had different tests run, blood taken, and they would monitor the babies every shift. They always looked great. I had one ultrasound done right after I was admitted and that showed the babies to look just fine. They thought we had two girls. All along I thought they would be identical girls.

After three weeks, I was going crazy. I told my doctor I wasn’t sure how long I could stay in there. After all it was summer and I was to be matron of honor in my sister’s wedding. They said there would be no way I could make the trip or even attend the wedding. My sister and I were crushed. I thought that was going to be the saddest day of my summer, but unfortunately that only turned out to be the beginning of things. They wanted me to get to at least 32 weeks; the longer the better. I had a tour of the NICU, met the neonatologist and nurses. Everyone thought that it was going to be o.k. The neonatologist had said that twins thrive better than a singleton – even at 29 or 30 weeks.

July 17, 1998 – 32 weeks exactly. My doctor’s partner is on call. I’ve seen her more than my own doctor. She said, ‘Today is the day’. My bloodwork was back and she didn’t like it. My platelet count was lower than ever. Even though the babies were both head down, she consulted with the perinatologist and they thought a c-section was best. Labor would be long since I wasn’t dilated at all. So I was being prepped for surgery. I was excited and nervous. Thank goodness my husband was there. He had barely worked since I went into the hospital. This whole ordeal had been so strenuous on everyone. Finally, we were going to meet our girls. God, how I prayed everything would be o.k. Everyone said it would be fine. They said my health would improve once the babies were out. My blood pressure would come down, everything would get back to normal. Boy were they wrong. Nothing could have prepared us for what was to happen.

Emma Lynn was born at 3:58 p.m. weighing 3 lbs. 7 oz. and Samantha Lloy followed at 3:59 p.m. weighing 3 lbs. 13 oz. My husband kept telling me ‘they are so little’. Emma looked to be of normal color, maybe a little pale and Samantha was beet red. I’m not sure when it was that they realized Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS) had been going on. They thought it set in just recently, what they call ‘acute’ TTTS. One set of nurses and the neonatologist showed me Samantha and then whisked her out to NICU. The other set of nurses that had Emma stopped by the head of my bed so I could see her. I was able to reach out and touch her. She was so beautiful. My husband waited while they finished stitching me up, and then went to NICU to be with the girls while I was in recovery. I was supposed to be getting better. But it didn’t work that way. My blood pressure was climbing slowly. I felt awful – in such a daze from magnesium sulfate. I spent 5 hours in recovery and they finally took me back to my room.

The next couple of days are real foggy to me. I was very sick. They tried fixing my blood pressure problem with drugs…then it bottomed out. Not too long after that it sky-rocketed. I had to have a blood transfusion, my hemoglobin was down to 5. They would not let me out of bed at all. Finally on Sunday the 19th they wheeled me in my bed to see my girls. It had been two days. My husband had been taking polaroids and video and showing them to me. I was wheeled in between their two isolettes and was able to touch both of them. It was wonderful. I couldn’t wait until I would be well enough to walk in there on my own and hold them.

The 20th had a much different picture in store for us. The neonatologist came to my room in the morning to tell me and my husband they needed to airlift Emma to the University of Michigan. She had drastically gone downhill during the night. (The nurse was taking my blood pressure as he told me –it was 220/180.) They had a pediatric cardiologist on staff at UofM and he suspected something wrong with her heart. I cannot even remember what exactly was wrong with her at that time. I was still so drugged out. I said o.k. I figured if anyone could fix her it would the UofM. My mother and my husband’s parents left for Ann Arbor to be with her. My mother had just started her vacation in California, but turned around immediately. My husband stayed behind with Samantha and me. It was a very hard decision for him to make.

I spent the day undergoing tests. They finally discovered a blood clot on my lung and I was moved to ICU. The NICU nurses brought Samantha to my room to hold for the first time. They knew once I went to ICU that I would not be able to see her. It was wonderful – pure joy. Holding one of my girls for the first time. Earlier that day I was able to touch Emma again as UofM wheeled her by my room before airlifting her to Ann Arbor.

I spent the next couple of days in ICU recovering. I was finally beginning to feel better. My husband stayed with me and made routine calls to UofM for updates on Emma and visits to our NICU to see Samantha. He was wearing down. My father and stepmother came to be with us to help. After all, we also had a 4-year-old to take care of. This was all so difficult for her. The reports from UofM weren’t great, but hopeful. Emma’s main problem was that she was retaining fluids – wouldn’t urinate at all. They had tried everything.

It was Wednesday, July 22nd and I was finally feeling much better. I had just gone down to NICU for a visit with Samantha – my first since leaving Maternity for the ICU ward. My stepmother was going to stay with me that night as my husband was leaving the next day for Ann Arbor to see Emma. Since I was out of danger and Samantha was doing fine, he was going to make the trip to see our other daughter. He had just left my hospital when UofM called. The first time I had talked to the doctor. They told me they may have to do dialysis the next morning if they couldn’t get any fluids off her during the night. It couldn’t have been 20 minutes later and she called again to inform me that Emma was crashing….and that she never expected this to happen this soon. They were doing chest compressions and she would call me back immediately. She did, within 5 minutes. My little girl was gone. I broke down. Of all the times, my husband wasn’t there with me. I had to call and tell him over the phone. I will never forget that. All he could say was ‘no’. Our little girl was 250 miles away from us. My mother or his parents had not been present when she died as it was late at night. We called them and they headed to the hospital, along with my sister, to hold our little girl one more time.

After getting this news, I had to hold Samantha. She was the only thing that could keep me going. My husband returned to the hospital to be with me and we went to NICU to see Samantha. It was, of course, bittersweet. I think that will be our feeling of many moments with Samantha. I kept looking at her wondering if she felt anything…knew that she had lost her identical sister – the one she was the closest to in life.

The next few days were nothing but planning for Emma’s return and the memorial service. I remember thinking that at age 31, I was not supposed to be doing this – my husband picking out her burial plot, me picking out caskets from pictures that my parents brought to my hospital room and deciding on the poems that would be read at the service. How sad it all was. The service took place on Saturday, July 25th at the hospital chapel – as I was still not allowed to leave. I was, however, back in my familiar grounds of maternity and all the wonderful nurses there. After the memorial service, everyone (with the exception of a few who stayed behind with my husband and myself) went to the cemetery for a small graveside prayer before she was laid to rest.

That was almost four months ago. Samantha came home mid-August and has been thriving ever since. She, as well as our 4-1/2-year-old daughter, are what keeps my husband and me going. The first few weeks after she was home, everywhere I went there were twins. Twins in the stroller we had once had, twin specials on t.v., twins in every magazine I picked up. It was horrible. I would break down almost every time I encountered this. I’m beginning to handle those occurrences a little better now. However, there are so many thoughts that haunt me. The ‘what if’s’ will kill you. What upsets me the most now is to think that the girls were never together again after being taken from my body…and that Emma was never held by her mother; except for the day she was buried. I never held her breathing, full of life, soft, beautiful body. My husband did – and I am glad for him. I am mad that I had to be so sick. I would have loved to spend every minute possible with them together.

My husband seemed to grieve for Emma the minute she left for UofM – I think he knew she would not be coming back. I, however, was in such a drug stupor that I don’t believe I had a grip on reality. My grieving comes and goes now. I still cry out of the blue. I still want her here with us so badly…I visit the cemetery often. Our 4-year-old is grieving also. She talks about Emma a lot. She thinks the rainbows are sent from Emma. Kind of ironic since we had a poem read at her service entitled ‘Our brief rainbow’…and that is what is etched on her gravemarker. That is what she will always be to us…our brief rainbow.

Kelly
…She wrote a letter to her daughter on their third birthday:

My Dearest Emma-

Your 3rd birthday is fast approaching….how can that be? Some days it seems as if we lost you just yesterday and other days it feels like a lifetime ago. In the beginning when I looked at Samantha, I could see you – envision two of you playing, running, giggling. Now, it’s nearly impossible. I cannot believe that I have actually buried a little girl that is as special and unique as Samantha.

A lot of things changed for us this year, once again. Sara Ellen, your baby sister, arrived the day after Christmas. The best belated Christmas gift anyone could ask for. And I have you to thank. I know you sent her here to be with us and watched over both of us throughout my pregnancy. You made sure she arrived here safely. You are a special angel to this family. I realize that, but my heart still aches to have you here with us. The ache isn’t as constant or quite as heavy as it was in the beginning…but it is still there. It changes from time to time. I never thought I could survive the loss of a child, yet I am doing just that. When I look at Megan, Samantha and Sara – I feel as if I would surely die if I lost one of them. Yet, I didn’t die losing you. Sometimes that makes me feel guilty. I still feel guilty for quite a bit. My brain tells me that nothing was my fault and completely out of my control – my heart feels otherwise. I guess that is just being a Mom.

Samantha is so funny – always making us laugh. Daddy and I both wonder if your personality would have been like hers – funny, but demanding. Strong-willed and loving, all rolled into one. Megan says she thinks you would be the nicer and quieter one. (I think she wants a break from Samantha). Sometimes I think she is right though. Samantha was our ‘fighter’ from the beginning. Daddy and I think that she is the work of both of you rolled up into one little girl. She still doesn’t understand much about you and the loss, but we to talk to her about you. She has mentioned you a few times, which has just made my heart sink. She likes to look in the glass case where we have your picture and special things. She is always getting the small stuffed white kitty out and walking around with it. It is an identical one to the one you were buried with. And she sleeps with the same blanket that you were wrapped in. That blanket is so tiny – I look at it now next to Samantha and can’t believe she was ever that small and that I buried a perfectly beautiful little girl in that same blanket.

I still see you as a little baby. The older Samantha gets, the harder it is for me to picture you at her age. I went through another grieving process when Sara was born. I was so afraid of losing her. I remember rocking her at home when she was 5 days old. Megan was at school and Samantha was napping and the house was quiet. I was enjoying rocking her over my shoulder and feeling her breath on my neck when I realized that she was 5 days old – the same age you were when you had passed away. I sat there and cried and cried while rocking her. Since she had been born she had not been away from my side – 5 whole days. I only spent 5 minutes with you in that same amount of time. Both of us fighting for our lives. I never got to hold you and that is what still truly hurts me the most. I am so sorry for that Emma. I hope you know how much I loved and wanted you and how much I still love and want you. You were truly our brief rainbow.

I love you always and forever,

Mommy