Hello Third Trimester.
I am 30 weeks with our twin pregnancy. Y’all keep asking how we are doing.
The answer of course is……uhhhhhhhhhh.
We are not okay, we are not fine. Conversations in our house are centered around how to get through each day. Our hearts are wide open. I think that is a better explanation than we are heartbroken because despite how hard this is, we are not broken. Our hearts are wide open as we navigate each right decision for our babies. We still have great anticipation of God’s best for our situation. It is still incredibly hard.
The twins diagnosis is the same, we are just four weeks away from a scheduled cesarean. I can’t believe we are so close. It felt impossible to get here and then Saturday I had my first set of contractions, they were just the ‘sit down and drink a big glass of water kind’ but I realized, this is almost over.
This is almost over. Our sweet babies are almost born, how we love them, how honored I am to carry them; as hard as this is.
As pregnancies go, mine has been text book except for the babies not developing correctly. As you do at 30 weeks pregnant, I am learning to say yes to only what is essential. Going to work every day is essential because I need my job (Lord help me), steam cleaning all the carpets in our house is essential because it brings me joy. Cleaning our bathroom mirror not so much. Mowing grass would be essential but no one will let me on a zero turn. (what’s up with that?) Drawing close to God is essential, even when it is hard.
My prayer time is just me sobbing mostly but I do it anyway because God knows what I am trying to say and He always leaves me better off than when I start.
Many have asked what they can do to help us and we don’t really know yet. We will never turn away food, we will never turn away prayers. The most helpful thing anyone has said is: I can see how much you love your babies. And that is for certain.
Thanks so much for the continued prayers.
When you have a high risk pregnancy like ours- carrying two babies with a fatal diagnosis, the idea of false hope is something other people think you should avoid. Just don’t have false hope they say.
But our hope is not false.
The first time I heard it, the person I was talking to sighed and said:
“I just hope you and Tom don’t have false hope” I just said “oh, no- we don’t…” and stumbled through the rest of my explanation.
I hung up and stared at the phone.
We do have hope. We have tremendous, peace-giving hope.
Until recently, I have only been talking about the hope I have for my babies with other christians.It’s way easier to talk about hope with people who know the hope you are talking about. Like friends from church or the group of moms I meet with for Mops. And of course with Tom. Definitely not our doctors. How sad to be seen as the parents with false hope.
But in real life, I am asked why I would carry babies with a fatal diagnosis- if that is a wise decision. In real life people don’t know the hope we have and they feel so sorry for us.
In the space in conversation that sometimes feels enormous, I don’t say anything about hope because I don’t want our hope to be perceived as false.
But our hope is not false.
Hope saved my soul when I was seventeen and Tom’s when he was five. Life transforming, soul saving, never-be-the-same hope.
The only thing crazier then worrying about being perceived as having false hope is the idea that our hope could ever be false. People who don’t know the hope we have, don’t know the hope we have.
They don’t know. Tom pointed out the other day as I was going on about people and this false hope thing. Oh man, he is right.
The hope we have for our babies is not because we are religious and follow a code that says don’t abort your babies no matter what. The hope we have is not because someone told us about Jesus or because we believe in acts of healing and soul saving that happened thousands of years ago. We believe in those for today. Right now. We have witnessed them. Actual healing and actual miracles. Our babies are not beyond that. God can. When Jesus saves your soul you are never without hope.
And even if God doesn’t, heaven is our hope.
Our hope is not false.
Thank you for continuing to pray for us. Along with the great peace God has afforded us we believe a covering of prayer is helping us see things we may otherwise not see about our babies and this pregnancy. Things we may otherwise become bitter to- like this idea of false hope. But we aren’t! We are so grateful to each of you who are praying with us and for us for our babies.
All that hope,
You guys are praying for us, like really praying for us and we can feel it.
We are so humbled by your prayers.
Thursday was our anatomy scan for our twins and even though we get ultrasounds every week, this was the big one where the doctors look at all their fingers and all of their toes- which they have!
Our doctors are still giving us the diagnosis of limb body wall complex (or something similar), which no baby has survived but we go to each appointment with an open mind that anything can happen.
I intentionally shared about the babies on facebook the day before thinking maybe some friends from church would pray with us.
Woah, you guys. Woah. I never thought so many people would respond. And you all are still praying! To be honest I was nervous about telling our story on facebook because so many people have questioned why we would keep this pregnancy if the babies have a fatal diagnosis.
The answer is, God is in control and He is good all of the time. Tom came home from work Wednesday night and I said, “Tom, people are praying, like really praying.” His response was what did you expect? I guess I don’t know.
Tom was able to go with me to the anatomy scan and I will always be thankful to his boss for that.
Truthfully, most of the time we have no idea what we are looking at on ultrasound. But it is precious time with the babies. Funny thing: at one point our ultrasound said, “well no hands then”, because one baby’s hands were in a little fist and she couldn’t quite see them. I didn’t even flinch, just thought- add it to the list, we will pray for hands. Limb body wall complex means abnormal findings like no hands, no legs. But then she said, “today”. Meaning baby A has hands but she just couldn’t see them ‘today’. I guess it’s not funny at all but it was to me. Our babies have both arms, both hands, both legs and both feet- that is amazing.
Another funny thing that is maybe not funny at all- we never got to talk to the doctors about the results of our anatomy scan.
The scan took two and a half hours. But I had another appointment to go to. I am pretty sure they still think both babies have limb body wall complex or the equivalent as our maternal fetal medicine told us- no change, one baby has fluid in the abdomen but it’s not concerning and one baby may have a cleft palate.
Still not sure if they will live. Still not sure if they will die.
And that was it. The appointment took all day. But we got to see our babies, we had lunch together (shout out to flamers chicken, our go to at Johns Hopkins’ cafeteria) and best of all we felt God’s grace all around us. All around us.
As I was jogging down the hall trying to find a bathroom, I saw a precious girl standing on her IV being pushed by her mom down the hall. She looked so sick. I stopped right there and felt the weight of it. All of this. What parents will do for their children, what doctors will do to for their patients. And I started praying for her, I said God, give her all of the prayers we are getting, give her all of the healing we are asking for. Give them to her and her mom. We even haven’t met our babies yet but that mom has a little girl alive and she is suffering- it was hard but as God stopped me, He reminded me, there is enough for her and me and the babies and all of us. Oh Jesus, there is enough for all of us.
God is so good you guys. We are thankful for our doctors, for being able to go to Johns Hopkins and for getting to see our sweet babies so often. And the power prayer is real. We are feeling it and witnessing to the truth that God hears our prayers.
Our hearts are forever changed,
Tom and Emily
There is something I’ve been meaning to tell you.
In January, Tom and I found out we are expecting another baby.
In February we found out we are expecting twins.
In March we found out our babies had several abnormalities and were deemed incompatible with life. Specifically, both of our twins have limb body wall complex.
Now it’s May and I am 21 weeks pregnant with these sweet babies.
At 12 weeks our ultrasound technician left the room quietly to get our doctor. I told Tom she looked upset. We already knew we were having twins, we already knew there was a chance they could be conjoined.
My OB sent us to a maternal fetal medicine doctor the same day. The doctor came in and the quietest voice, told us that our babies were incompatible with life. She listed off several abnormalities and showed us each one.
She explained that none of it added up to be any one defect or any one cause. She said they could also be conjoined at the liver, we just don’t know.
She asked if I had any questions. I looked at the screen, where I just saw two hearts beating and asked: “but they are still alive…so why are they still alive”?
She quietly said, “I don’t know”.
She got up to leave and told us to take as much time as we needed which sounded ridiculous.
Then, I looked at Tom and sobbed like I have never sobbed before. Good thing Tom was there to hold me because it was 20 minutes before I could walk again. As we cried, we both cried out to Jesus. The presence of the Holy Spirit became so thick in the room we could tangibly feel God all around us. We both walked out with a peace we still can’t explain. Except we can.
God goes before us, He is always with us, He never forsakes us. God was already there.
And the same God who I walked into that exam room with, is the same God I left with.
His promises are real. And even in this I have joy.
God is bigger than all of my fear.
Our faith tells us God can heal these babies completely. And we know they are already whole and complete in Jesus. No matter how long we have them, we are their parents- stewards of their souls. If we lose them, we know that Jesus conquered death. So we have no fear. We only have joy.
I plan to post about our journey. Even the hard parts. Already, I have gained so much from reading from other parents who faced a similar diagnosis. Already God has shown up for us in ways we can’t explain but will try to witness too.
Will you pray our sweet babies and for us- believe with us for a miracle and trust God to do a work in us either way? We so covet your prayers. Thank you sweet friends.
Cherishing all of your prayers and forever thankful for these babies,
“Agricultural Inspector I- Maryland Department of Agriculture.
Assists with Maryland’s Contagious Equine Metritis Quarantine (CEM) Station
Equine emphasis, needs knowledge of contagious and infectious diseases of livestock.”
It was in a newspaper job listing, folded over and circled by my second boyfriend’s sweet mother.
She put it on the kitchen table and everyday for at least two weeks she asked if I had applied to that neat job in Maryland.
I did apply, at 11:52 PM the day of the application deadline. Applications were due at midnight. It took me so long because in the back of my mind I thought there is no way- they need someone way smarter than me.
A few weeks: a letter came with “Congratulations, you’ve been selected”.
I printed every USDA Factsheet I could find on CEM to figure out what the heck it was. Then, like a professional, I read them 15 minutes before my interview.
The truth is at that exact moment, I was a mess. My boyfriend had just broken up with me I was living in his Grandmother’s house working at a pet store and was miserable. I considered it rock bottom for my 23 year old self. I started questioning why the heck I majored in Dairy Science in college and what the heck I was going to do with my life. All of my dreams seemed a million miles away.
But because of that two important things happened:
I prayed a lot.
I decided to give my life to God instead of trying to figure it out on my own.
And because I gave my life over to God, I got over myself.
By getting over myself, I mean I stopped worrying, and I stopped putting my identity in my boyfriend or how poorly I did in college or wether or not I had a job and decided to just be happy and genuine, no matter what because really, one thing I was still sure of was God’s grace.
So the day of the interview I walked into the office with my USDA factsheets, some thoughts on why I’d be so perfect for the job even if I hardly passed college and I was so happy to be there. So happy. And for once I was completely myself.
For once in an interview I didn’t try to impress anyone, didn’t try to memorize things I couldn’t pronounce and I didn’t try to act like I knew everything.
Instead I said “Hi I’m Emily, I don’t know much about horses or contagious livestock diseases, but I REALLY want this job and my boyfriend just broke up with me so yeah, I have a ton of free time [Big smile].”
That was it really. That is how I landed the best job ever. I was honest and I smiled a bunch. When I asked my boss months later, she said “yeah, you seemed easy to get along with, that’s all we really cared about you know- you can teach someone the rest.”
Agricultural Inspector I, Maryland Department of Agriculture
Even five years later I can hardly believe I got the job.
So there you go. I landed the best job ever by the grace of God. Literally.
Easter love is Jesus dying on the cross and rising from the dead three days later.
Jesus Christ coming back to life- oh man it is good news, the very best news because Jesus rising from the dead means we get to have eternal life. Say what. So Easter is the best kind of celebration.
We celebrated at home and Tom’s family came over to celebrate with us. They brought ham and all the food. We brought the baby. Tom’s mom brought the bunny ears.
I insisted we start a family Easter photo tradition because traditions are important. I think for once Tom agreed when he saw how cute his baby looked in bunny ears. I think he is going to look just as cute every year until he is eighteen. Traditions are important.
We love Easter so much. We thank God for the new life he gave us in Jesus Christ and for the new life of our baby boy. Happy Easter!