August is a special month for us. We recently celebrated Madeline’s 1st birthday and our 8th wedding anniversary, as well as reached the year point since we said goodbye to Lydia.
Madeline is doing a wonderful job growing and learning. She started to crawl and is especially tenacious about using that ability to reach power cords and Oliver’s glasses. If you’ve seen her lately, you might have heard one of her stories; they’re abstract of course, made up of tiny baby babbles. Madeline also enjoys tasting blueberries, pumpkin, and turkey. Later today she will pose for her one year pictures. We still have Birth to 3 therapy twice a month and longer term follow up appointments, but other than that, she is mostly done with her medical appointments. Madeline is a very happy baby.
This month, Oliver and I both wanted to do something to honor Lydia’s memory. Oliver emceed a fundraising event hosted by SOAR (details: it was a decade themed event and Oliver wore a coral dress shirt with ruffles) and I participated on a committee at St. Elizabeth working to purchase a new transport isolette for their NICU (details: we got it!). With our families, we are also putting together care packages for other families currently staying in the NICU.
We’re thrilled Madeline is doing so well and that we can do some good in Lydia’s name, but things aren’t that simple. Things are hard. We’ve spent countless appointments with Madeline to get her where she is now and have spent a year mourning Lydia.
A lot of people refer to Madeline as a miracle and she is. She has come out winning out of a long struggle. No one has told me that Lydia is a miracle, but of course she is. During our c-section, Oliver was able to cut Lydia’s umbilical cord and Lydia came back in to the operating room to wave at me, victories because she was strong enough to sustain the event of her birth. Lydia fought hard for 5 days, but her loss of life was not because she didn’t try hard enough. Her lungs simply didn’t have the capacity they needed.
On the day that Lydia died, Oliver and I stood by her isolette, talking with one of her nurses about the situation. Lydia’s heart rate started to plummet. I started crying and told them to take her out of the isolette, she should be with me for her final moments. I had only been allowed to hold her one other time. We wrapped her up on my chest as the monitor began to flat line. I could feel her slight warmth and soft skin, but also her weakness. Then, slowly, Lydia brought her heart rate from 0 back to the normal range. Oliver and I took turns holding Lydia, giving her what she needed, showing her she was part of our family. Hours later, held again by me, Lydia said goodbye.
Every day I celebrate her life, but it’s been hard to accept what happened. It’s not fair nor right. It’s akin to a car accident: Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome occurs randomly and it was impossible to stop. I wonder why she was given to our family for such a short time and it’s impossible to answer. Our idea of a miracle is tied closely to our desire to be invincible. We always want things to go back to normal, to get another day; we try to ignore the obvious fact that for each of our stories, that will not be the case, on some day. What Oliver and I do know is that no matter what, we would have always chosen to bear this pain to be able to meet her. Lydia only had 5 days with her family but I think there’s a miracle in that.
When I was pregnant with Madeline and Lydia, Oliver and I followed the old rule of waiting until first trimester was over to share the news. Even though we waited to brag about our twins, a coworker scolded me a little bit about telling people so early, he thought I should have waited until things were more secure. That type of thinking punishes mothers, their partners, and the baby. If something does happen to the baby, there are very few shared happy memories and, worse, no support network to reach out to. However, the taboos surrounding pregnancy and death are ones the we can change. A better culture surrounding these life events would make all the difference for new parents and grieving parents. I also wish I had pipped up earlier so everyone had more time to celebrate Lydia’s life than 10 weeks.
So, we are happy to announce we’re pregnant with our third child, due on March 29, 2017. The baby is healthy and about the size a thumb print. He(?) is working hard on getting all of his systems in place but already has tiny toes and fingers. And, of course, brown hair and brown eyes are a given in this Zornow family.
I hope this is exciting for you too. I know many of the things we’ve written on this blog have not been easy to deal with, but thank you for allowing us to be open about what our family has faced.
-Rebecca & Oliver #wahoo #March2017