Max & Charley

I would never have believed I would be writing a story such as this, but know I must share my experience with you since I have found some strength through others’ stories.

My husband and I, who are still deeply in love and connected after 10 years of marriage and 13 years together, finally were ready to start a family in 2005. At the end of that year we actively began trying to conceive and were baffled at how difficult it was. After a 2-1⁄2 year struggle with more than our share of issues, we finally got the news that I was pregnant. It was the happiest day of our lives and I swear we fell on the floor crying and holding each other so tightly. All we had ever wanted was to be parents. About 10 days later at an ultrasound visit, we were shocked to be told, “Well, you are having twins!” My husband said I turned totally pale and he almost couldn’t stand. We were in shock. Then, minutes later, we were THRILLED. What a blessing! What a joy! How special and exciting! Yes, we too carried the realistic fears about money, space, time and energy but all we could really focus on was that our dream had come true and maybe God knew how deep our love ran and that 2 babies had to be the recipients of our love!

Everything was going along beautifully although I had extreme morning sickness and had to start taking Zofran for nausea. We saw our babies grow every two weeks … measurements, ultrasounds, triple and quad screenings. We literally had over a hundred pictures of them. Everything looked perfect – they were strong and healthy. No risks were ever brought up. The day we went for the anatomy scan, we knew we wanted to know the sexes. To our surprise and happiness, we were expecting a boy and a girl! The perfect family … how much more could we have asked for. My husband and I cried, called all our friends and family and were so utterly in “la la land” with joy. We immediately knew their names: Max and Charley. We had always loved those names … and now they were finally going to be here.

On a sunny Tuesday morning, June 24, 2008 we drove to the doctor for a regular cervical length exam and I told my husband he could just go to work … he was very busy and it was told to us that this type of visit was not as important as him ever missing a “growth” or other visit. My husband NEVER missed one appointment, ever. He was on the fence since I had been so sick and he didn’t want to leave me, but he agreed and went on his way.

Well, this was the day – on this day, I faced the worst experience to ever touch my heart and I was there alone. As the tech tried to find baby A’s heartbeat (my girl) I could see she wasn’t moving … but I didn’t really know what I was seeing. I just thought her back was to the screen and I couldn’t see her heart. Quickly she went on to Max and there he was, heart beating and moving. The tech left the room muttering, “I need to run these figures.” I immediately felt sick. I was 22 weeks pregnant so I had been there many, many times and no one EVER left the room to calculate anything. I said to myself, “Why is she scaring me like this??? what is she doing? everything is ok … relax.” A new tech came in with her and I felt my throat close. What ‘s wrong? What are you seeing? PLEASE talk to me? The new tech said, “I am so sorry – baby A is not ok.” Not ok????? Then the doctor came in and said, “Your baby is not alive any longer.”

I was completely in shock and horrified. There really isn’t even a way to write this emotion. Tears filled my eyes and I felt as if I couldn’t breathe – like someone stabbed me in the stomach. We went over what it could be that took her life, they were certain it was something genetic but couldn’t be sure. I kept asking about Max and he seemed just fine. He had his own placenta and would probably be unaffected they said – but they would watch me very closely and take my blood weekly to ensure I could clot properly. That was it. It was over. How could it be over? How could she be gone? This just could not be true. I had been having very strange and vivid dreams during my pregnancy and I almost convinced myself I was asleep.

I went to call my husband and it was the worst call ever. He was way downtown and had to hear this and drive up to me, shocked, alone and in total distress. When we saw each other and fell into each other’s arms, all we could do was cry and cry. But shortly after, all we wanted to do was talk about Max and truly get his chances and figure out what, if anything, we could do to help him. There was nothing. Just go one like before and pray. How on earth can you just go on???

Well, you do. I did for him and I still do. I am now 28 weeks and have been doing physically fine and so has Max. Emotionally, mentally, spiritually… that is another story.
There are no words to describe having to carry life and death with you at the same time.
There is no moment of peace. I worry all the time about our son and want so much to have him safely in my arms.
I miss Charley so much and cannot really believe she will not be with us.
I talk about her every day, I talk TO her, I ask her to help Max and I stay strong.
I feel her short life was just perfect … no one ever touched her … she never felt any pain and all she ever knew was my warmth, love and the sounds of our voices singing to her. She remains safely in her Mommy until Max is born.
We plan to have a very private service to honor her life and that her life will forever be important and meaningful to us.
I love her so, so much and I have not even met her. She has impacted me forever and I will FOREVER be the Mother of twins … my Max and Charley.

… Samantha had her baby shower, and gave her guests information on multiple birth loss and CLIMB, and a personal letter from her about Charley.

Sean, Samantha’s husband and the twins’ father, wrote this letter to family and friends 4 days after they learned of Samantha’s loss…

To Our Dear Family & Friends: Samantha & I thought it was very important to express how we view the passing of our baby girl Charley – so you all may better understand our perspective and assist you in communicating with us moving forward.

Charley was a perfect little baby girl with ten fingers – ten toes – a sweet little face and a heart that beat strong for nearly six months. There was no indication that there was any reason for concern – she was growing and developing. Her loss is not “what was meant to be” or “for the best”… it was a tragic loss of a beautiful little girl who we created. We saw pictures of her from the time she was one week old – we named her Charley and were immensely proud and prepared to be the parents of twins – something we feel was truly a blessing. We still view ourselves as the parents of twins – giving life to two little babies made from us and our love. After all…being parents is the ONLY thing Sam and I have truly ever wanted…needed. Although we are overjoyed and very thankful our son Max appears to be a strong baby boy, his existence in no way can replace the loss of Charley. It is a very strange position we are in to mourn the loss of a child while continuing to care for – love & worry about our son. What we experienced is very different than a miscarriage – profoundly different. Her little fully formed body remains inside of Sam’s belly and will remain until the birth of our son. We have experienced the death of a child before realizing the happiness and joy of parenting a baby born to us. The despair and sorrow we feel could never be expressed properly. We intend to honor the memory of Charley. She was our baby girl. We feel robbed of the opportunity to share our love with this beautiful life we created. We feel blessed to have had her – if only for a short time and she will remain our baby. We do not intend to solely focus on Max – but instead remain committed to giving him the best chance to come in to this world healthy. Simultaneously, we find ways to connect with the life-force we created in Charley – ask for her assistance and have been blessed to have many “spiritual” connections to our baby girl since her passing.

It is very important to us that our friends and family understand how we view Charley’s life and passing. There is not a minute that goes by that she is not in our hearts & in our thoughts. We are not simply moving on. We are grieving our loss – while celebrating the wonderful joy that exists in knowing our boy Max appears unaffected. Please do not think⁄refer to her as “the other baby” doctors simply refer to her as “baby A” …to us, she was our daughter – is our daughter and we have suffered the loss of our child. Her name was Charley.

We ask that you keep these words and thoughts in mind when you see us & speak with us. Your love & prayers & thoughts are being felt and we are so very appreciative. Samantha has been unbelievably strong – eating every two hours – taking it easy & balancing emotionally between death and life. She is dedicated to the life of our son – as am I – but we are equally dedicated to preserving the memory & love and loss of our little girl Charley. Please keep us in your prayers – we can use all the positive energy sent our way. We love you all –

Sean & Sam