I could hold it together in the woods, on vacation. This past week we were in a cabin in the Dells on a trip we take every year that includes silly old-timey photos and carnival rides. This year our in-laws came along and rented the perfect little matching Lincoln Log cabin beside us. It was a vacation full of lollipops, smores, water slides and makeshift dinners on the odd little cabin grill. I looked happy. I pretend very well. However every second I was alone, when their faces were turned, I retreated to a private hell.
I got a phone call from the genetic counselor on the day we arrived. Not only does one of the twins I’m carrying have a life-threatening oomphalocele (that’s med talk for when the intestines protrude into the umbilical cord) but she also has an extremely rare, very debilitating chromosomal deletion that wasn’t detected in the preliminary amnio results.
There’s hope and there’s delusion. We’re losing our daughter.
I’ve had my game face on for six days. With sparse internet access, I’ve been off the grid and living in Pretend Land for the sake of my two born children who deserve to make happy memories on their vacation. This is who I live for:
If I’m perfectly honest with myself, I knew since the beginning this was coming. Baby A, aka “Squirt” has never measured correctly. The gap has now widened between her and the presumed healthy twin and those once-fierce kicks on my left side have faded into silence. I’ll know more Tuesday, but if she is still holding on in there, she is doing so very, very quietly.
It’s beautiful outside. It’s one of those days that seems like a Skittles commercial with blue skies straight from The Simpsons. Two hours after we came home from Wisconsin yesterday, we greeted a long-planned house guest. I sent Niko alone to a wedding last night. Today is Father’s Day. My in-laws are stopping by to drop off a dresser in an hour. Construction starts on our kitchen tomorrow. Right now I’m hiding in my room, escaping a potty-training two-year-old and ignoring four loads of camp laundry. I’m treading water in a pot that won’t stop stirring.
I don’t know how to talk about the twins now. Two heartbeats or one, there are still two babies in there. How will I tell my other children? How will I face that giant nursery I foolishly carved out for two cribs? How will I ever enjoy my own company again when every second I’m alone I collapse? How will I survive the delivery room, when I’ll have to face at least one tiny body I wasn’t able to save? In case you have a macabre curiosity, yes, both twins stay right where they are, peacefully and fully intact until it’s time to deliver the healthy one.
The healthy one? Well, that’s another matter completely. I’m not ready to go there. She’s healthy as far as we know and I can only face so much reality today. The new best case scenario is that I bring home one baby. I’m living each day by the day. Fall is a long way off.
Well. My time is up. There are people to feed, tears to wipe and a house guest who needs a towel. Sometimes the beauty of life is the sad kind.
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