At our 8 week appointment, we were bombarded with the news that we did indeed have twins but lost one and that potentially something was wrong with the other baby. Rob and I wept in the doctor's office, not for the baby we lost, but for Mark Allen. We shed tears of worry and fear for our baby who had a heartbeat. I remember telling family and friends the story but concentrating only my worry on Mark Allen. "Twin B" was a footnote. That life was a mere descriptive adjective. I remember Brittany, my good friend who was in the delivery, asking me "Aren't you sad about 'Twin B'?" I shrugged my shoulders and callously responded "I guess". I felt that we walked into the doctor's office with the knowledge that we had A baby and we left with A baby.
Seven weeks passed with no more than a fleeting thought given to "Twin B." It was then when we received news that it was an acardiac twin. Acardia is a condition in a twin pregnancy where one of the babies passes away, while the other baby continues to provide nutrients to the one that has passed. This causes the lifeless baby to continue to grow despite not being alive. Typically this growth occurs from the waist down which was true in our case....the life of "Twin B" was once again being talked about. I remember feeling mad and angry at "Twin B". "How dare this thing attack my baby!". It was a leech. He was taking my sweet boy's nutrients and putting Mark Allen's precious life in jeopardy. It was attacking our family and the few moments we might have with Mark Allen on this earth. I was ANGRY. I called it an "alien" and "chicken" when I described that body. The physical body meant NOTHING to me. It was tissue that just happened to keep growing because he was getting our son's nutrients.
The day we found out Mark Allen's sex, I was praying, hard, that we would also find that "Twin B" had stopped growing, that it's threat on Mark Allen was gone....Nope, it was still growing. It was still attacking OUR BABY. We watched Mark Allen on the screen with tears of joy and beaming smiles. When the ultrasound tech showed "Twin B" on the screen, I made a look of disgust. I had not ONE maternal thought towards it. The tech showed us that HE did indeed have 10 toes with cute little scrunched up feet, and that they MOVED. I was thinking "Oh gross, it moves. It really is an alien.". Rob and I went home just thinking boys. We would have had identical twin boys. I was starting to mourn the loss of "Twin B's" life because I was dreaming of the "what if's". However, I was mourning the little 7 week old fetus, not these crazy legs that move.
My "what if" thoughts continued for days....weeks. We would have had identical twin boys. I could not stop thinking of Rob's Grandpa Jack. He is an identical twin. His brother, Uncle Dick, and him have an amazing bond. Even in their '80s they continue to communicate several times a day. They beam with pride when they go to family functions and get to wear their matching outfits. Grandpa Jack tells almost every person that he meets "I am a twin"....Our boys will never have that bond...that pride...we were so sad.
On our final appointment with the perinatologist, when they told us that "the time was coming," "Twin B's" legs were STILL growing. The legs had severe edema (swelling). The doctor compared the swelling to heart failure. "Twin B" was receiving so much blood and nutrients that his body did not know what to do with it so his legs swelled (plus with no heart, he could not push the blood back out of his body). Mark Allen was giving him TOO much of his blood. Our unborn child was determined to keep his BROTHER with him even if it was just his physical body.
As we were planning for the upcoming difficult delivery and our first meeting with Mark Allen, hospice asked what we would like to do with "Twin B". Once again I had a look of disgust, I wanted to shout at these nice hospice workers that the hospital could throw those legs in the trash for all I cared. Now I was comparing our son to garbage. Rob and I finally came to the conclusion that we did not want to SEE our other son, "Twin B", but the hospital could keep the "legs" after delivery until we could decide what we wanted to do.
We entered the hospital on January 11th with the same mindset....We did not want to see "Twin B". Now, I believe that Rob would have been fine with seeing the legs and maybe even wanted to, but he respected my wishes and we stuck to the plan. We had the delivery and Mark Allen came first. I was giving Mark Allen ALL my attention, as he rested on my chest. "Twin B" came next as the nurse shielded my eyes with a receiving blanket and then quickly wrapped up the legs and walked briskly out of the room. That was that in my opinion. We were finally done with that leech of a creature.
After the family left on the 12th, Rob and I had some blissful time alone to weep, bond, and care for Mark Allen. When we started to compose ourselves after those wonderful moments, Rob went to the cafeteria for some much needed food. It was just Mark Allen and his Mommy. I was beaming....and then out of nowhere I heard a whisper in my ear "You have another son". "What, are you talking to ME?" the one who just carried this child for 6 months with the pain of knowing that I would have to say "good-bye" on the same day I said "hello". I was thinking "Haven't I done enough, God?". After that mental conversion, the statement was quickly gone from my mind. We were holding our baby and we had the most precious night of our lives with our son, Mark Allen. It was perfect!
I woke up on the 13th and frantically did our "oh, how I love you!" posting, not with the intention to inform everyone. I wanted to remember my feelings and senses from the day; the way Mark Allen looked, felt, and smelt. However, I could never shake that sweet whisper I heard in my ear. Let me be very clear, I have NEVER heard God's audible voice. In fact when I was sharing it with Rob, I asked him if that voice was a result of my exhaustion, or maybe a side effect of the epidural, or just my subconscious. Of course, he too did not know the answer but he was receptive to my story and my conviction. Before we left the hospital we knew we needed to name our other son....
After two very frantic days of planning and coordinating the Celebration of Life Service, I knew that I needed to face the inevitable. We needed to find a name for our son. We already knew that his middle name would be after his Daddy, Robert. Naming a child that has already past was VERY difficult for us. We would find a name and like the meaning and then say "Wait, we know 4 people with that name". It was important to us that our family or friends would have no shame or guilt being around us because of their NAME. Finally at two in the morning, I opened up our laptop and went back to the biblical baby name website. I went through every letter but when I got to the J names, I found it.....Jesse: Biblical character who was the father of the Great King David and was a forefather of our Almighty, Jesus (1 Samuel 17:12). It was perfect! Also, Jessie (that is how I spell it for a girl) is one of my favorite nicknames that only my Dad and few dear friends call me...We were going to name our son after US. He was part of our family too! How appropriate that his name means GIFT (John 3:8).
Jesse Robert was a gift. He was a gift that God gave us but I rejected him. I was refusing God's gift and shoving his existence in the corner. Now, I know that Rob and I at the time made the best decision that we could and part of the reason, we or I came to those conclusions/thoughts, was to protect ourselves. But still, I feel like I betrayed my son and told him in every way that I did not love him. Mark Allen was determined to have his little brother with him in the womb. They had an unexplainable bond. They had pride of their uniqueness as twins just like their Great-Grandpa Jack.
Jesse Robert is our son and we love him SO much just like his brother. He is our treasured gift. Now, we have decided to not only name our forgotten son but also have him laid to rest with his brother. Their physical bodies entered this world together and their physical bodies will leave this world together....Jesse Robert, please forgive me. We will always love you Jesse! We will never forget you! We cannot wait to tell your brothers and sisters about their big brother Jesse!
This is OUR PRAYER for our family and our future:
The Branch of Jesse
"A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him--
The Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and of power,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD--
And he will delight in the fear of the LORD."