Rainbow After Storm
"There’s no heartbeat," the baby sonographer said with a shaky voice.
"What?" my wife and I said simultaneously, hesitating to let go of each other’s hands. What does that even mean? Is the ultrasound machine broken, I thought to myself, having a hard time uttering the right words to say out loud. My wife remained motionless on the bed. She didn’t blink at all. Her glazed green eyes just stared at the ceiling. For a moment, it looked like she literally felt dead inside. The room was obviously dark, but it got even darker. As the sonographer continued to scan through my wife’s belly, searching for any form of life, I avoided looking at the monitor. I squeezed my wife’s hands tightly as if to absorb her pain. Then, I remembered, there are two babies. Maybe there is hope. Maybe there is hope for our other baby.
My heart raced. "So, no heartbeats at all?," I asked furiously.
She replied, shaking her head and avoiding eye contact, "I’m so sorry. "What happened?" my wife choked up, "My doctor said I was perfectly healthy." Tears streamed down the side of her face. I used my free hands to catch it before it drifted to her ears. "At 10 weeks pregnant, it is hard to determine the cause. I don’t think it has anything to do with the two of you," she replied, choosing her words carefully. "I wish there was more that I can say. I’m really sorry for your loss."
It was the early months of April 2016 in Calgary, Alberta Canada. We walked out of the building in disbelief. I had a difficult time embracing my wife as I supported her like a walking stick. A quick glance at her and I could only imagine the same sense of confusion written on my forehead.
I jotted down memory lane to figure out what went wrong. How can this happen? But I could have only remembered all the happy moments of when we first took the pregnancy test and then later finding out that we were having identical twins. It was only four weeks ago when we were at our first ultrasound appointment.
"Baby, we are having identical twins!" I said to my wife with excitement. "Oh my God. I can cry right now," I continued in celebration. It was in that same dark room; a place that was better known for hope, peace and resounding heartbeats. It was a place where we used to envision a prosperous future for our family. But all that was taken away from us as if someone had just ripped out a piece of our hearts. That same morning, my wife and I arrived at home. It was 10:00 a.m. We were alone. The grandparents were babysitting our son who was 17 months old at that time. My wife and I dragged our bodies to the nearby couch in our living room area. As soon as I wrapped my arms around my wife’s back, she started crying uncontrollably. "I don’t understand," she repeated, stuttering her words while gasping for air. I tried to remain strong, but I didn’t have the answers. Instead, I held on to her like I never wanted to let go. In the past, I’ve shed tears in front of my wife, during sad movies and the day when I proposed to her. But this time, I cried so much, her shirt was soaking wet. It was so hard to swallow my own saliva. Meanwhile, I kept on thinking how I will never get an opportunity to meet, say hi or even goodbye to our babies. We didn’t even get a chance to know their genders. It just kills me inside knowing there was nothing I could have done to bring both of my babies to the outside. Was this God’s plan? Was my faith being questioned? Was I part of a hidden agenda? I was lost in my own thoughts, searching for the missing pieces. When our doctor told us that identical twins was a high risk pregnancy, I never thought that my family would have been part of that statistics. For the next few days, my wife and I avoided the conversation, especially after the surgical procedure to remove the placenta. Though, it was difficult to do so because our young son would occasionally point at my wife’s belly and say, baby, until it faded out of his memory. That made us sad all of the time, knowing we made a promise to him, which we unintentionally broke.
During mid-April 2016, I decided to spill my raw emotions on a piece of paper. I wrote a tribute in the form of poem, titled, ‘My Identical Twin Angels.’ As a full time author, writing has always been therapeutic for me. It was a way for my thoughts to run wild and free; my personal way of dealing with heartbreak and grief. However, I found myself writing about a taboo topic that I wanted to share with the world, in hopes that our society would open up with their own experiences with miscarriage. I wanted to create open discussions and change the perception of others. Also, by doing so, I was seeking emotional support, mainly for my wife.
I recorded myself reciting the poem. Then, I posted it to my Facebook profile. In no time, my friends were commenting and expressing their sympathies for our losses. Little by little, other friends, and even strangers reached out by sharing their words of encouragement and prayers. I was so overwhelmed by their inspiring and uplifting responses; on the other hand, it was refreshing to know we weren’t alone in this world. It was a blessing to feel normal again. I remembered one commenter really helped us to find some healing. Their message stated that they were sufferers of a total of 7 miscarriages, which included a loss of identical twins, but then went on to having two healthy babies. We held on to that for courage. Everyone’s stories gave us the hope that we needed to move forward with our future.
Months and months passed. Our son was putting pressure on us. "Mommy, Daddy, will I ever become a big brother?" He was at that age where he could talk like a full grown human. We both understood why he felt this way. My wife grew up here in Canada in a household of 3 children. I was born and raised on the small Caribbean island of St. Lucia, also in a household of 3 children. We knew the importance of having the love of other siblings in our childhood. We wanted the same experiences for our son. What was really crushing our souls was finding our son playing by himself in his bedroom when my wife and I are too busy with other priorities. "Mommy, Daddy, I wish I had a brother or a sister to play with me," he would say with the most adorable face as he plays pretend with his toys. I would say to him, "One day, you will be the best big brother ever."
Little did our son know, his mommy and daddy had been trying to make a baby ever since we got the approval from our family doctor and, of course, when my wife was emotionally ready. "Babe, what if it happens again?," she asked me. "I don’t know if I would be able to handle it."
"I think we have to be ready for anything," I responded. "I will always be here to support you."
Throughout this entire process, I made it my duty to always love and support my wife’s decisions because I was aware that she was putting her body and emotions on the line for our family. I communicated with her as effectively as I could. I was ready when she was ready. But then, we quickly learned that pregnancy didn’t come as easy as our first and second. We were worried that destiny wasn’t in our favor.
"Maybe, Amarion is supposed to be our only child. Maybe God just wants us to have one child," I said to my wife when our love making sessions weren’t going according as planned.
"Would you ever consider adopting?," she asked.
"Yes, of course," I replied. "If we were financially stable, I would definitely consider it."
We were willing to try anything to conceive. The thoughts of assisted conception treatments had crossed our minds on numerous occasions. Our doctors reconfirmed that we were both healthy. We even downloaded an app that determined my wife’s most fertile days. Every month, she would buy a First Response Pregnancy Test for the slightest signs of being pregnant, such as excessive urination, nausea in the morning and changes in her breast. I thought it was a waste of money. All the signs and tests resulted in false alarms. She became so obsessed with wanting to know right away.
Although we tried our best to maintain a low stress level, trying to conceive wasn’t always fun. There were many nights where I caught my wife shedding tears while she blamed herself. "What is wrong with me?" she would ask. "I just want to give our son a brother or sister." I would console my heartbroken wife, reminding her that we are on the same team.
"Babe, you cannot blame yourself. If it doesn’t happen, at least we have each other and our son to love forever." It was so painful to see her sadness. The craziest part about the whole situation was that I was blaming myself too. Without any evidence, I assumed our infertility was all my fault due to low sperm count. I didn’t know any better.
On January 10, 2019, ten days after my wife and I had written down our New Year’s resolutions, I was seated inside my home office. I heard movements. "Babe, babe," my wife whispered. I looked in her direction. She was standing there, holding what I thought was another pregnancy test to be added to the stack of disappointments. Is this a prank? I thought. But this time, her gestures hinted something different. She placed her palm across her mouth as if to mask her emotional state. She nodded as my jaw dropped.
"Babe, are you [explicit] serious?" I shouted numerous times, disregarding the presence of our now 4-year-old son. My wife’s body was shaking immensely. She nodded with tears running down her face.
"Yes, I’m really—," Before she could finish her sentence, I picked her up, spun her in circles while showering her with kisses.
"Oh my Gosh," I repeated, at least ten times. "You’re pregnant?"
"Yes! Look!" The pregnancy test reassured any doubts. It was real. The display showed two solid lines. "Babe, I love you! I love you so [explicit] much." I picked up my son who was probably confused about his Mommy and Daddy’s emotional celebration. "Look Amarion, you’re finally going to be a big brother." At that moment, I just prayed I wasn’t lying to him again.
After 3 years of trying and now pregnant, one would think that my wife and I were finally relieved of all the trauma. But that wasn’t the case. There’s still a dark cloud that hovers. Paranoia episodes of complications still haunts us from day to day. The same questions are being asked. What if it happens again? Thoughts of miscarriage is instilled in the back of my mind and I can’t escape it.
The pregnancy has entered into the third trimester. Despite our struggles to fully enjoy the conception of our rainbow baby, we remained hopeful that we will meet our baby boy in the early month of October, 2019. I can’t wait for my wife and I to cross this finish line, hand in hand. This story was first submitted to Love What Matters. Follow my family’s journey on Instagram.