How I found light in the dark.
It's always been my dream to be a mother of twins.
I'm not sure why I've wanted this so much. Perhaps my desire stemmed from my husband's extraordinarily close identical twin brothers. Perhaps I wanted this for my children, too. I didn't have that closeness with my siblings.
We tried to become pregnant from the day we were married. As the years slowly and anxiously passed, we realized conceiving wouldn't be as simple as we hoped. It became apparent that we were dealing with infertility.
A period of treatments followed. It was a rollercoaster ride with so many downs. I broke down a lot. It was hard to see any light at the end of this long, dark tunnel after so many disappointments.
After I couldn't delay it any longer, the IVF route had to be taken. The only reason this was an option was because twins were now a possibility, since the odds of having twins were greater with IVF. That thought was very exciting and made the whole procedure more bearable.
Fortunately, we didn't have to go through this multiple times. After the dreaded two-week waiting period was over, we heard the most wonderful news anyone struggling with infertility can hear: "Mrs. Sunflower, congratulations — you're pregnant!"
Tears streamed down my face as I shared this news with my husband. My numbers were very high, which indicated a possible twin pregnancy. Just a few short weeks later the news was confirmed: I was carrying twins! My dream was actually going to come true.
A few weeks after, on the day of my sister's wedding, I suddenly felt myself losing water. I became hysterical because I was sure I was going to lose the babies and I didn't think I could bear the blow.
Thankfully, the babies were doing well but I had to stay on bed rest for a week and sadly missed my first sister's wedding. Honestly, I didn't care; my babies were safe and that's what mattered most.
The pregnancy progressed nicely after that scare.
Without warning, 31 weeks later the same thing happened. This time the hospital wouldn't release me. I was scheduled to stay in the hospital until I gave birth, initially thinking I'd be stuck on bed rest in hospital for 10 weeks.
But that wasn't to be. A mere 2 days later, the babies had to come due to an infection. Born at the end of 31 weeks, my dream of having twins had finally come true.
My twin boys were premature, and although I ached to hold them, I wasn't allowed. It felt surreal, like a dream. I gazed at them for hours, imagining the day I could finally take them home and these beautiful twins would become our reality.
Days, then weeks, passed. My husband and I were starting to make plans for their homecoming. Although they had many ups and downs in the NICU, things looked good. There was talk of taking them home once they gained a bit more weight.
I usually went to visit them once a day, mostly in the mornings as I was still weak from the C-section. One fine morning, I decided to go shopping first.
Before I went, I called the NICU to hear how my precious twins were doing. I was transferred to the head nurse who told me that my oldest had woken up with a bloated stomach. A while later his vitals were flying, and they quickly had to take him for emergency surgery.
Apparently he suffered from a very rare condition in which half of his intestines were burned.
We rushed to the hospital and arrived while he was still in surgery. We were told that by a miracle, a top surgeon was just visiting the hospital and agreed to operate on my son.
After the operation, the surgeon came by and told us that the prognosis was bad. The next 24 hours were critical and even if he pulled through, he would likely be brain damaged.
I felt frozen. I tried to make sense of what was happening, but I couldn't. This couldn't happen to me of all people, could it?
As I witnessed my little warrior fighting for his life, I was devastated. Heartbroken. His tiny body was barely visible under all the tubes and wires keeping him alive. He wasn't breathing on his own.
After sitting by his side for many hours, we decided to go home for a bit. Less than five minutes after we arrived home, we received the phone call from our doctor to turn right back because this precious soul's end was near.
My heart fell. I wasn't ready for this. No one is ever ready for the loss of a child.
We raced back and arrived just in time for a callous doctor to tell us, "He's gone" — the words no parent EVER wants to hear in their lifetime.
We saw his heartbeat slow down towards the inevitable. Apparently he wasn't gone yet. He saved us just enough time to say our goodbyes.
I couldn't do this; I didn't want to do this. My baby, my long awaited precious gift from heaven, was being taken from me, as was my dream of being a mom to twins.
As cold as it may seem, I was heartbroken about the loss of my dream, too. I was devastated that my son would never know his twin and never find what could've been a beautiful relationship.
I mourned two things: the loss of my sweet child and the loss of my dream — a double blow to me. It was all too much, so I froze. I became numb. I couldn't even cry when he finally died. My husband, the man who never cries, was bawling like a baby, though.
I decided to try and find some positive in the situation. First, I wasn't alone: I had a beautiful baby I adored, an infant I never, not for one moment, ceased to be thankful for. Since my dear son never came home, I didn't have the time to properly bond with him, and perhaps that made the loss the tiniest amount easier.
The loss of a baby is always a tragedy. The loss of my baby was utter devastation. I've learned to never take life for granted, as it can be snuffed out in an instant.
My dream of having twins was stolen, but I built new dreams. I dream of autism acceptance for my twin that survived, a happy, healthy life for my daughter, who was born 5 year later, and I dream of a successful outcome of the infertility treatments we're going through for baby number three.
And one never knows — we may still end up with twins.
Regardless, any baby born is a miracle, and I will treasure him or her. I wait and pray for this next child. I pray they come — twins or singleton, healthy, autistic or not autistic. This child will have a home filled with love.