by Marla Courtney Wood
Our story begins exactly one year ago today, February 6, 1998. It seems so long ago yet, it feels like yesterday. I took a pregnancy test and it came out positive. We were shocked! It took us two and a half years to get pregnant with our son Logan. This time we weren't even trying! We had planned on trying in the fall when Logan turned 2. At first I was nervous. Logan had some problems when he was a baby and I wanted to make sure everything was okay. We were shocked but very excited. A new baby sister or baby brother for Logan! Our family was going to be complete.
The pregnancy was going very well. We went in for a standard ultrasound when I was 5 months along. The ultrasound was scheduled for Friday afternoon May 22, 1998. We wanted to know what we were having. I'm like that, I HATE surprises. We waited while the technician moved the probe around my belly. She was awfully quiet for a few minutes. We started to get worried and then she told us she saw 2 babies on the screen! TWINS! You could have knocked us over with a feather. There they were our two babies. Baby A was a girl and baby B was being shy so we couldn't tell. Having twins was definitely a miracle. We were told we couldn't have children. I got pregnant with Logan a month after they told us that. Twins don't run anywhere in either one of our families and the fact that we conceived twins naturally was like winning the lottery. Everyone was so surprised when we told them. We worried at first, how were we going to raise 2 babies at once? How was Logan going to handle this? How were we going to afford to have 3 children in diapers? It didn't matter. We weren't supposed to have any children and now we were going to have 3! We found out later we were having a boy and a girl. How perfect!
During my pregnancy I had a few problems. I developed gestational diabetes and had to inject myself with insulin. The babies were fine though. They were growing very well inside my belly. Our son was growing faster than our daughter. They were both good size babies.
As the summer went on, my belly grew and grew. The last time I went to the doctor I measured 50 inches! I was huge. It wouldn't be much longer. The babies were both head down which meant I was going to try to deliver them naturally. Giving birth to two babies scared me but, I was getting so uncomfortable I just wanted them out! We were so eager to meet our beautiful babies.
I started to feel labor pains around 1:30 A.M. on Tuesday September 22. The moment we had waited so many months for had finally arrived. The labor wasn't bad at all. Oh sure it hurt but the contractions were coming every 2 minutes and they were bearable. Besides, I was about to become a mother twice! Around 9:00 a.m. I was fully dilated and the doctor broke my water. They had prepped me for a c-section just in case there were any complications. They wheeled me into the surgery room where a team of doctors and nurses awaited our precious twins. At 9:39 a.m., our daughter Chloe Taylor came into this world so full of life! She weighed 6#1oz and was 18 and a half inches long. She was so perfect! Forty minutes later, at 10:21a.m. our son Cameron James was born. At first he wasn't breathing very well due to shock from shoulder distorsia. They gave him oxygen and he screamed out so loud when he took his first breath. That was the most beautiful sound I have ever heard! Cameron was bigger than his sister weighing 7#14oz. And he was 20 inches long! They were perfect and I had delivered them naturally.
The twins were taken to N.I.C.U. to regulate their sugar levels. They were having a hard time because I was insulin dependent. Chloe got to come to my room after one day. It was wonderful to have her with me. Cameron was having a harder time because he was bigger. We got to take Chloe home on Thursday September 24, our sixth anniversary. I cried because we had to leave Cameron at the hospital for another day. The next day we went to take Cameron home. He was doing very well! Before we left the hospital we watched a video on CPR. I paid attention even though I thought we would never need it.
We finally had our babies home. Logan stayed with his grandparents for a few days until we got adjusted to the twins. He was jealous at first but he learned to love his new brother and sister. Chloe and Cameron were so different! Chloe was small with a ton of dark hair and big eyes. She was also very feisty. Cameron was just the opposite. He was stocky and bald except for the small amount of white-blonde hair on the back of his head. He was pretty laid back most of the time. He was so strong. He rolled over the day after we brought him home.
The first month was rough. We had no sleep but we were doing okay. We had lots of help. My mother practically moved in. My parents would come down in the middle of the night to help. I remember one night in paricular. It was 3a.m. and I was exhausted. Both of the twins were up and it seemed like they were never going to go back to sleep. I looked out the window and my father was standing there waiting to come to my rescue. He was there even though he had to go to work in a few hours. I can't even count how many times my parents did that. Thank you mom and dad. Jeff's mom came out during the week to help out. Without everyone's support and having such a wonderful husband I think I would have gone crazy. Jeff was fantastic. One night I went to lay down for a nap and when I woke up all three of the kids were bathed, fed and in their pajamas. I don't know many dad's that can do that. He would get up in the middle of the night with them when I could barely stand up anymore. I am so lucky that he is the father of my children. Chloe had developed reflux. She was affectionately nicknamed the "vomit comet". It seemed like she never held anything down. She was growing though so we didn't worry. Cameron got bigger every day. He was hard to hold onto because he was so solid. Holding him was like holding a basketball. He was so strong too, he moved all the time. Chloe was just content being held. Both of the twins were gassy from time to time. That was the only problems we ever had besides lack of sleep.
Things started to get easier the second month. The twins were starting to be on schedule and Logan was getting used to having them around. Things were perfect. Or so we thought.
We had unusually beautiful weather for November in Northern Michigan. I took the twins outside while Logan played with some friends in the back yard. Chloe slept most of the time but Cameron looked around taking everything in. He loved it. Cameron was such a curious baby from the beginning. The next day Mom and I took the twins to the doctor for their 2 month checkup. Everything looked great! My mom and I had a wonderful day with the twins. The next day was Thanksgiving. We were looking forward to a good meal since most of the time we didn't have time to eat! Wednesday night, Jeff went to bed sometime around 11 and I stayed up with the twins. Chloe went to bed around 12 but, Cameron wasn't tired. Jeff got up with Cameron so I could go to sleep. Jeff fed Cameron a bottle and he fell asleep with him on his chest. The next thing I remember is Jeff running into the bedroom with Cameron in his arms screaming. We called 911 and I started CPR while we waited. I knew the minute they didn't let me into the ambulance Cameron was gone. A police officer drove me to the hospital while Jeff stayed home with Chloe and Logan.
When I arrived at the hospital the doctor confirmed what I already knew. My beautiful baby boy was dead. I almost passed out. They put me in a wheelchair and wheeled me into the room where my son was. The nurses placed him in my arms and I held him and rocked him just as if he were sleeping. Jeff arrived at the hospital shortly after I did. He was in so much shock. Our parents came and we all said goodbye to our darling boy. We spent 3 hours at the hospital but it felt like 5 minutes. I was heartsick leaving him there all alone.
At first I had a very difficult time seeing Chloe without her brother. The first day or two I distanced myself from Logan and Chloe, afraid if I got close to them I would be heartbroken again. Taking care of them would become my saving grace.
Because Cameron had died on a holiday, everything was closed for the weekend. We made arrangements at the funeral home on Friday but, we had to wait until Monday to have the funeral. We didn't find out when we could bury Cameron until the morning of the funeral. We went to the cemetery to pick out the plots and arranged to have him buried that afternoon after the funeral.
I remember thinking to myself, what good does it do to be nice to people? All my life I have tried so hard to be a good person. This was the thanks I got? I would get my answers when I walked into the funeral home and saw all of the flowers sent by people. Friends and family packed the funeral home, we were amazed at the amount of people that came to give their condolences. Those people were there for us because we are good people. We did nothing wrong, we just suffered an unimaginable tragedy. Losing a child is the worst pain anyone can ever endure. The only thing worse would be losing another child.
We took Chloe into the emergency room a few days after Cameron died. She had thrown up a lot and we panicked. Her pediatrician was at the hospital and told us to bring her in so he could look at her. Actually he just wanted to calm our fears. We talked about putting her on a monitor. We weighed the pros and the cons and decided against it. We thought the chances of her dying were non-existent.
The month of December was a busy month. As we put our Christmas decorations up, all I could think about was how much Cameron would have loved all the lights. It was difficult but we had to make Christmas as nice as possible for Logan and Chloe. Buying Christmas presents was hard. I kept looking for things to get Cameron. Chloe finally started to smile again. She missed Cameron so much. She had such a sad look on her face all the time. I devoted all my time to caring for the kids. I learned the hard way that each day is precious and to not take one day for granted.
Christmas was very hectic. It was lonely without Cameron. Opening Chloe and Logan's gifts was fun, but there were no gifts for Cameron. Our dreams of having all of kids for Christmas were gone.
Christmas night after all the gifts were put away and the kids were in bed, we watched the video of the twins. It was the first time since Cameron died. I made a mental note reminding me to tape Chloe more. She woke up at 1 a.m. for a bottle. I was just going to bed. I had to be up early the next morning. She looked so cute, I had to hold her and kiss her goodnight. I told her I loved her and I would see her in the morning. I gave her to Jeff and went to bed.
I overslept the next day. My mother called me because I was supposed to pick her up. I hurriedly got dressed and was ready to go when I realized I had made a lot of noise and Chloe hadn't woken up. Her crib was right next to our bed and I looked over to check on her. She was dead. I couldn't believe it. I started screaming and Jeff woke up and looked at me in disbelief. He started screaming "NO IT CAN'T HAPPEN AGAIN!" Our worst fear had happened. We called my parents and 911.
My parents live very close and they were here in minutes. Logan had woken up when we were screaming. My dad came in and took Logan to a neighbors house. My mother picked up Chloe and held her. I couldn't handle looking at Chloe. She looked awful.
People came streaming into our house. Paramedics and police officers. To be honest I can't remember who was there. They made my mother lay Chloe down exactly where she was. Then we weren't allowed in the bedroom. It seemed like forever. I kept waiting for someone to take me to the hospital so I could hold Chloe like I did Cameron. I never got that chance. Everyone was nice to us but just the thought of an investigation made me sick to my stomach. I know they were only doing their job but I've never felt so sick in my life. They thought it would be best if Jeff and I left when they came to pick up Chloe. There would be no precious three hours holding and rocking her. There was nothing. Our worst nightmare just got worse. We had lost both of our beautiful babies.
Do I regret not putting Chloe on a monitor? Yes. I know it couldn't have saved her, but I could have been with her when she died. I could have held her. She died less than two feet from me and I didn't know. Do I blame her doctor for not advising it? No. Our pediatrician is an excellent doctor who made this decision based on facts. A lot of people asked us why she wasn't on a monitor. We did not think our daughter was going to die! Several people assume that monitors can save a baby's life. I was told by many doctors that you can't stop SIDS. It's such a silent deadly killer.
Chloe's funeral was the most horrible "dejavu" you could ever imagine. We were still mourning Cameron. How could this happen twice? It had.
Chloe was buried in the same grave as her brother. They had to be together. They were always so inseparable. I did so much research on SIDS. I found out as much information as I could about twins and SIDS. Most cases of twins dying of SIDS are simultaneous. Although our babies didn't die at the same time I feel like it was simultaneous. They both died on the 26th, they were the same weight at death, same length and I believe they died the same time of night. The bond between twins is so tight. I just have to believe that Chloe couldn't live without Cameron. I have to believe this because there are no answers to SIDS. That is the worst part of all of this. Not knowing why our children died. Why????
My biggest hope is that my children did not die in vain. I'm going to do everything I can to raise SIDS awareness in our community. I'm amazed at how little people know. I myself didn't know until it happened to us. I'm going to change that.
Since my children died I have found more information on twins and SIDS. It was very difficult to find. All of the reports said surviving twins should be monitored and that twins are at twice as much risk of succumbing to SIDS. Why wasn't I told this? Because the information wasn't out there. That's why I am writing our story. Someday I hope they will find the cause of this awful syndrome and cure it. I want Logan's children to be safe. I don't ever want our son to suffer the way we have.
Writing this has been very difficult and very helpful at the same time. Writing has become my therapy. Next week the twins would have been 5 months old. So many things we looked forward to were suddenly gone. It has been 3 months since Cameron died and 2 months since Chloe died. I relive the 26th every day. The only peace I have is knowing they are together. As long as they are together they are happy. That is all I have ever wanted my children to be. I just wish happiness hadn't come at such a high price. That I NEVER wanted.
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