By Elizabeth Mannegren
I was eight weeks pregnant when the ultrasound technician turned a grainy screen towards me and pointed out not one but two little miracles. And in that moment, with two hearts blinking on the screen and cold jelly oozing down my belly, all fears dissipated. My husband and I could only marvel at the God who delights in giving such sweet surprises.
Amazed, we stumbled out of the appointment with a fistful of fuzzy ultrasound photos and the reassurance that One greater than ourselves was holding this pregnancy in the palm of His hand.
Like any multiples pregnancy, the hospital quickly slapped a “high risk” label on us but we barely felt it. Words like “a perfect pregnancy” were tossed around at every doctor’s appointment and I naively went through each day as if untouchable. After all, it was abundantly clear that God had orchestrated this entire experience—how could anything go wrong?
The change happened almost overnight.
Rambunctious flips and robust kicks faded into subtle flutters and I knew in my heart that something was wrong. As if putting words to our fears would somehow make it all the more real, we drove to the hospital without telling anyone where we were headed.
Almost overnight, our two boys had begun experiencing an acute form of Twin to Twin Transfusion—a syndrome which occurs only with identical twins. Blood was being shuttled from one baby to the other. Our sweet, little Alistair had passed most of his blood and amniotic fluid to his brother, Landon, whose heart was struggling to handle the additional pressure.
By the time we arrived at the hospital, it was too late.
As they wheeled me into surgery, my ribs were bruised by one final kick: a farewell message of love from my firstborn, a gentle whisper to remain strong, and a promise that we would one day meet again.
But when Landon’s heart failed, a piece of mine went with it.
As parents, we struggled to cope with the contrasting emotions: the pain of holding a lifeless firstborn in our arms and the utter joy surrounding the precious gift we were allowed to keep, our sweet son, Alistair. Nothing prepares you for when the happiest and the darkest day of your life blends into one.
After a six week NICU stay, we were blessed to bring one miracle baby home from the hospital but it didn’t make our grief any less.
My arms weren’t empty but they weren’t full either.
I felt frustrated by a “perfect” pregnancy that had shattered so unexpectedly. I mourned the loss of all the “normal” motherhood firsts and wished for memories with my boys that didn’t include funeral planning and prolonged hospital stays.
I hated that a little one was missing but no one could see it.
I hated that while other new mothers adjusted to life with one, I had to adjust to life without one.
And yet, through the confusion, anxiety, and pain, there remained an offer of unwavering hope.
Wrapped in the loving embrace of a faithful Father, we found His presence amidst our loss. He had divinely orchestrated this pregnancy from conception until birth and it was clear that His hand was at work through the joy and the pain. In this tear-flooded valley, He remained by our side to teach, strengthen and carry us through.
Motherhood doesn’t look like I’d imagined it would. I never dreamed of saying good-bye before getting to meet my firstborn. I never imagined having to slog through such a daily rollercoaster of emotions. I never planned on trading in my double stroller for a single one, or having to pick out a gravestone while learning to breastfeed.
But it’s here in this messy, tear-stained journey called motherhood that I have found beauty and strength amongst the ashes. It’s here that I have discovered the ability to sing amid sorrow and dance despite pain. It’s in this place that I have been brought to my knees before the Father and been shown a deeper understanding of the great love He holds for His children.
I am so thankful for the thirty-one beautiful weeks that I was given with both my sons. I am so honoured that the Father asked me to carry, love, protect and pray for such beautiful boys. This is the story that I’ve been given and I will treasure each moment of it.
And as I gently rock one son to sleep, I hear the whispered promise of an incredible Heavenly reunion that awaits our family.
I long for that day.
But until then, I will rest in the shadow of the Almighty and find joy in this place.
As a stay-at-home mom from Vancouver, BC, Liz spends most of her time chasing around an adorable little man. When the little one’s napping, you can most often find her curled up on a sofa, sipping a frozen sugary drink and blogging about her family’s life stories at mommymannegren.com