Hand to Hold's Official Blog: Written by Parents for Parents

Elizabeth W’s Story

Trajan and little brother Chiron

by Elizabeth Wiley

The prompt was tell your whole story.

How can I write a whole story? Because a story of a person, or a family, doesn’t have a beginning and it doesn’t have an end. If you think about it, we existed in our parents who existed in their parents. We have no beginning. And while we are alive, we definitely don’t have an end. And I think even when we’re dead, we don’t really have an end, because we still impact people. So, how do I write “our whole story”?

Do I begin at meeting my spouse, or do I begin at marrying him? Do I begin with the birth of our first son? In this case, I think “our whole story” is confined to one pregnancy and its aftermath.

In the spring of 2009, we decided we were ready to have another child. Went to the OB, started trying and luckily were very quickly pregnant. Five weeks into that pregnancy, had an ultrasound and it looked like it was probably twins. Seven weeks, definitely twins. And I guess that’s the beginning of our story.

For the sake of brevity, I’ll skip ahead to an anatomy scan at 24 weeks at the perinatologist. Both babies, who we now knew to be a boy and a girl and had named Aurelia and Chiron, were deemed perfect and viable. For the first time, we relaxed a little.

Two days later, at a standard OB appointment it was found that our baby A, Aurelia, no longer had a heartbeat. I guess this is where the meat of our story happened.

In response to the inter-utero fetal demise, I went into preterm labor the next day. I spent the next almost six weeks on hospital bedrest until labor could no longer be stopped one day before 30 weeks. As the on-call OB said, “happy birthday” came on December 23, 2010.

Chiron in the NICU - 2 days oldI was lucky enough to have my actual OB come in slightly early to deliver them. As Aurelia was the presenting twin, labor was too risky and so they would be delivered by c-section. At 08:15 on December 23, 2010, Aurelia was “born”. Chiron followed one minute later at 08:16.

Chiron was screaming, Aurelia was forever silent. We briefly got to see Chiron in the transport unit and then they whisked him upstairs to the NICU. Paul was able to go with him. I was left with a diaper in Chiron’s size.

Through the intervention of a fantastic OB and great hospital staff, we were both able to spend time with both babies that day. It was the last time we would hold and see Aurelia before she was returned to us in an urn.

Chiron spent the next 53 days in the NICU. We were lucky that this was generally a positive experience and didn’t produce too much stress. All of the staff was incredibly supportive and helpful of our entire family including older brother Trajan who was a little under three and a half at the time.

We were able to connect with other families to not feel alone. We were connected to resources which helped us do the best for our family for all three children. Not everyone is that lucky, and this is part of the reason we feel supporting Hand to Hold is so important.

This is obviously not the entirety of our story, but hopefully it is enough to communicate both the significance of having support and the life altering nature of both premature birth and infant death and stillbirth.

Our story goes on, and it’s good. And we are overwhelming blessed in the quality of our friends and family in supporting us. Hopefully the telling of a part of this story to all of you has served as part of our giving back for all you have meant to us over the last year. I can’t believe that it is already less than a month from a year, but I am even more astounded by how amazing you all have been.

(It might be scary, but there’s a substantially longer version of our story.)

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