It’s amazing how fast the time has gone by since my wife and I sat in the ultrasound room last summer, having just been told that her third pregnancy was going to give us our third and fourth children. After the initial shock quickly wore off, we were so excited to be having twins. Nobody in either of our immediate families had ever had twins, so this was something new and unexpected.
We went to each of her monthly appointments, eager to see our growing girls on the monitor. We looked forward to sharing the sonogram pictures with friends and family after each ultrasound. The doctors told us that judging from what they saw, the girls were most likely going to be identical. This was even more thrilling.
But then at the beginning of February of this year, my wife started to have a lot of pain and we started going to the doctor more frequently. The babies were doing just great, and my wife was just told to take it easy. Our girls were due to arrive at the beginning of March.
On February 23, we went in for a scheduled appointment. The ultrasound tech measured Baby A and then moved on to Baby B. After a few minutes, she excused herself and left the room. She returned with our doctor and went back to the monitor. They were speaking in hushed tones, and then the doctor said, “I’m so sorry, but Baby B doesn’t have a heartbeat anymore.” My wife and I just sat there and then both of us began to weep. The doctor apologized again and said that we needed to go to the hospital for an emergency cesarean. We needed to get Baby A delivered. Everything seemed hazy, as we walked out of the office and to the hospital.
Before we knew it, my wife was in surgery. I sat there trying to hold her hand, but I was shaking so hard that I couldn’t. I heard them say that Baby A was out, but then things got crazy. Baby A wasn’t breathing. Her cord was around her neck three times over. I sat there helpless as they tried to get her to breathe. That was the longest three minutes of my life.
She was rushed to the NICU and I went with her, but not before I made sure I knew where her sister was. The nurses assured me that she was being treated respectfully, and that right now the priority was getting Evelynne to the NICU.
It took a few days before it occurred to me that if we had not had that appointment that day, we would have lost both of our girls. Finding out about Elizabeth’s death meant that Evelynne would live.
There’s heartbreak in knowing I will never see Elizabeth grow up, never come home to her hugs, never hear her call me daddy. And there’s heartbreak in knowing Evelynne won’t have Elizabeth as her built-in best friend and constant companion. I had been eager to witness this relationship, and also to see the girls’ respective personalities develop — despite their being identical.
But I find comfort seeing Evelynne grow stronger each day. I know that in seeing her grow up, I will give me a glimpse of her sister, too.
Jeremy Cotter is an aspiring writer who lives and works in Sioux City, Iowa. When he isn’t working as a restaurant manager, he devotes his time to his wife, Lisa, and their three children.