We did it.
On August 6th, 2018 at 8:35 PM I gave birth to our twins: Eliza Joy and Ensley Grace Taylor. They are so perfect and beautiful and now with Jesus.
Our twins were born without unforeseen complications via a c-section at 32 weeks. Their birth was absolutely beautiful which is a true testimony of God’s love and provision for us. Eliza and Ensley died from complications from limb body wall complex the minute they were born. While we would give anything to have them with us, we celebrate knowing they are in Heaven.
Ever since our babies’ diagnosis I looked towards their birth with both agony and anticipation. I wanted to see them, I wanted to hold them, I wanted them to be safe. I wanted it to be over.
I desperately wanted to see what God would do.
I can’t explain what a complicated walk it was to be fully believing in a miracle and also fully aware of your babies’ complications. Often, I believed no one understood. To be fair, we said things like “might lose them, and “if they make it” not because we were unaware of the outcome but because we are fully aware of who God is. Still, we knew what their birth meant. We had twenty weeks to prepare to go to the hospital, have two babies and go home without them.
Their birth story: I went to labor and delivery for an evaluation after leaking fluid and blood at 32 weeks. The evaluation took all day with no answer except a guess that I might have an uterine infection (I did). The doctors did the most unfair thing, they told me I could go home or deliver– it was up to me. You can imagine how impossible that was. I absolutely wanted to deliver, I also absolutely wanted to keep them in as long as possible. No one would tell me what to do. Eventually doctors said delivery was a good idea. We prayed for an easy delivery. We prayed for God to guide the doctors and be merciful to our babies. I’d like to say we weren’t scared but we were terrified.
The doctors had told me in no uncertain terms how complicated delivery could be. Their umbilical cords were extremely short and they weren’t sure how they were going to get them out. Tom shook as he prayed over me, asking God to keep me safe. I wish I had pulled myself together, put on make-up and fixed my hair, which might sound ridiculous but I wanted to feel completely confident going to meet my babies. I knew I might only have minutes with them.
My doctors worked hard to make sure the c-section went well, I ended up only needing a transverse cut, I will always be thankful for that. I had the sweetest nurse who made me feel so much better because I was terrified. Tom came in and 30 minutes after both babies came out. When the doctor announced the babies were out, the room fell silent, neither Eliza nor Ensley were crying. I lost it because I knew what that meant.
I could see Eliza being put into the bassinet but she wasn’t moving. Tom told me to look away but within minutes Tom was holding them both.
Tom did so good, I have no idea how scared he was but he just held them as I stroked their faces. The chaplain was the first to come over and say both Eliza and Ensley lost their heartbeats as soon as they were born.
Our sweet babies. They were beautiful. They were safe. They were born. I was so proud of them.
In case you feel bad for us that God didn’t deliver what we prayed for know that Ensley and Eliza are still the miracles we were praying for. What happened in our hearts the moment we met them and lost them is a miracle. Heaven is the biggest miracle of all.
I won’t tell you it’s not painful, I won’t tell you that it is easy, but I will tell you– peace came over me the minute I saw them. Peace filled my heart, and flooded the room. I’m sure everyone could feel it because I could.
And then joy. Indescribable, unexplainable joy.
We picked the names Eliza Joy and Ensley Grace before they were born because Eliza means God’s promised and Ensley sounds like endless. Together, to us, their names mean: God promised joy and endless grace. Because that is what God promised us through all of this. Joy and endless grace. I also totally have a thing for E names. I was concerned the names might not fit them or be good enough but they are perfect for our sweet babies.
Sweet Ensley Grace Taylor (left) and Eliza Joy Taylor (right)
The hardest part of carrying babies with a fatal diagnosis is not the believing in a miracle part. That’s easy, we know that God can. Surrender, is the hardest part. Trust. Trusting that God knows them, loves them and made every cell in their body. God set them apart, gave them to me and then, took them to Heaven the day they were born. I want my babies with me. Everything in me needs them with me. But as I held them the greatest truth set in, as much as I love them, God loves them more.
He loves them even more.
It’s one thing to believe in God for yourself, but if you do, you have to believe in God for your children too.
So there is this: our pain is great, God is greater.
I know some people thought I was crazy for the carrying the babies as long as I did given all of the complications. At one point I was at risk for heart failure because the babies were at risk for heart failure– it’s called mother mirror syndrome, something that mothers and babies with hard diagnosis go through. A c-section is also major surgery, our doctors tried to talk me out of it. At one point they told me of the risk of losing my uterus, over babies that didn’t have a chance at life (as they put it). I just nodded but what I wanted to say was “bring it on, take my uterus out then because that’s the only way they are coming out, I’m not killing my babies.” Because everything is what you do for your children. It’s just what you do.
There is one thing though, the thing I had to surrender over and over again. I was terrified that my choice to carry them to term would cause them pain. Every time I prayed about their suffering (often), God assured me they would be okay. God would whisper those very words to me “they will be okay”, and “watch and see”. At the time it was confusing because their diagnosis was so bad. But when they were born it made sense. We asked God to not let our babies suffer and He honored that.
I hope you can see there was great mercy in their birth. There is great freedom in carrying a baby as long as you can. And seeing them born. Really there is nothing like it. I would not have chosen this, I never would have chosen this but by carrying twins, fully committed to God’s will for their lives, I can see the beauty that comes from a surrendered life.
People have called us brave. They have called us strong. We are neither. It is not by our strength that we are doing this, it is Christ in us. I remember being broken to pieces in the ultrasound room at twelve weeks. How could I carry babies that I would loose? How do you even do that? The first scripture anyone gave us for this pregnancy was James 1:2-4: Count it all joy. When I read it I said you have got to be kidding me. Count it all joy? This?
But yes. Even in this we have joy. And it’s not leaving us.
Forever will we testify of God’s great mercy for our babies and the great blessing they are in our lives. Because of Eliza Joy and Ensley Grace: our love is stronger, our faith is bolder, our hope is bigger, our fear–our fear is gone. Our lives are better. May our sweet babies forever know how much we love them and how we did everything we could to keep them safe. We can’t wait to see them again in Heaven.
Our friends and family: thank you all so much for your genuine love and support for us. You have shown up for us in such unexpected ways. It is still hard, some days impossible. We are still navigating what this feels like day by day (and always will). But we want to thank all of you for walking along with us. It is okay to not now what to say or what to do– we don’t know either. But we do know that God is good, Heaven is for real, and we can count it all joy. We have such joy– such joy and endless grace. Just as God promised.
Always grateful, always thankful,
**To remember Eliza and Ensley we have set-up a memorial fund in their honor. We find it best to honor them by donating money to other families God has or will put on our hearts who are facing hard or fatal diagnoses for their children. Eliza and Ensley’s lives may have been short but we know there is great purpose in their lives. A purpose greater than we may ever know. We are so honored to be their parents.