Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Turning the page, trying to cope with our loss

We have known now for 10 weeks that the twins had a very serious weight distribution problem.  Despite our best attempts; seeing multiple specialists, trying various vitamins, diet additives, rest, water therapy and more, our boys lost their fight last week.  When Mike and I went in for our 26 week check last week, the sonographer was unable to find heart beats in either baby.  She gently explained this to us, left us alone and came back with the doctor and she reaffirmed they were in fact gone, it appeared to have just happened, I couldn't have felt it, let alone done anything to prevent it.   We were then ushered across the hall to a private room that became my fortress for the next 3 and 1/2 days straight. 
My body was certainly not ready to give up those boys.  Presbyterian/St. Luke's hospital staff were so kind to us, helped connect us with the resources available to us and most importantly, helped my body deliver the boys in the safest, most comfortable way possible.  It took 63 hours for my uterus to let go but believe me your prayers were heard because I felt no pain.
I know it seems unimaginable but the last few days have brought Mike and I closer than ever.  At the wee hours of the morning before the babies arrived, I have never been so scared.  I woke Mike to tell him it was time and he held my hand and stared into my eyes through the whole hour and a half of active labor.  We
took ourselves back to happier times, relived our favorite hikes, highlights of our honeymoon canoeing and horseback riding.  We walked each other through mental images of glaciers and wildlife.  I reminded Mike he promised me 60 years when he proposed to me (because that's how long his grandmother wore my wedding and engagement rings from his grandfather, he promised me we'd have 60 good years too).  We swore this would be the worst moment of our lives and that we would come out of this stronger than ever.   I will never forget when I felt the boys come into this world, the feeling of peace and comfort we felt knowing that my body performed so well.  It was the first glimpse of the healing we will someday achieve. 
At some point over the weekend, I found myself alone for a couple of hours.  Restless as always, I got out of my hospital bed and curled up in the windowsill.  Looking out over Longs Peak, I couldn't help but laugh out loud.  I knew what we had to name the boys.  Mike & I agreed, naming the boys some of the names we loved before their death didn't feel right to us.  We needed to name them something special.  Those of you who were at our wedding (or any other wedding or any bar in Denver for that matter!) know Mike and I kind of like to dance and we especially love to dance to "old school" country music.  We named the boys Willie and Waylon after Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings.  It fits us to a T.  We will never listen to "Lukinback, Texas" and not smile and think of "Willie, Waylon and our boys".  We're having Willie and Waylon cremated and we'll bring them up to the mountains this summer to a special spot and release them. 
On a side note I want to mention an incredible organization called "Now I lay me down to sleep".  It consists of photographers from the Denver area who volunteer free of charge to take tasteful images of stillborn babies.  This incredible woman got dressed in the middle of the night to come down to the hospital and photograph our boys so we will have that keepsake.  Mike and I have decided to donate YOUR $300 to this organization.  This is the money my dad collected from all of our $10 bets when we were so hopeful and optimistic about the "twinsational news" (as my dad called it!).  We feel that's the best use for the money...
Now a few words from Mike:
So.......Courtney said most of what we wanted to say. I just have a few things to add.  First and foremost, my wife was/is amazing and continues to inspire me. We have a lot of grieving yet to do, but without her love and support I don't know if I would have the strength to face it honestly and openly. Secondly, thank you to all who called, and prayed, and thought about us. Your love and kindness is felt and appreciated. A special thanks to Casey. There were moments when I really needed to "check-out" and she was always there to be with Courtney. We both feel very lucky to have such great friends and family on our side.
As Courtney mentioned, it was 63 hours of hospital time before the boys came out. While it was probably the most tragic and trying moment of our lives, it was also amazing. In a strange way it was beautiful and deeply bonding for us and we will be forever affected by the experience. I chose to believe that the boys waited so long to come out so they could be with their mother, if only for a few minutes, on Mothers Day. Hopefully, someday, Courtney will be remember those boys and those moments fondly each Mother's Day.
We are under no illusions that the next several months are going to be difficult, but don't pity us. Our love is strong, our lives are good, and our outlook of the future is bright. The Colorado Kerschens come out of this stronger and better than ever.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

"Holy" Weekend! What a good time!

Mike and I finally met the newest member of the Kerschen family last weekend!  Our new nephew Johnny has been in our hearts and on our minds for well over a year now.  Cathy began this Haitian adoption process a year and a half ago, all the while knowing it was a long drawn out process, much of which was well out of her hands.  She has been "promised" to Johnny for quite some time and even took a trip to Haiti last fall to meet him.  This January when tragedy hit Haiti and the earthquake destroyed an already damaged country, the Haitian government finally agreed to speed up any and all adoptions already in the process.  Cathy endured a very painful 10-12 days watching the tragedy unfold on television and waiting to find out if she could finally bring Johnny home.   Finally, she got word that Johnny and many other orphans were being released.  Mom Kerschen and Cathy met up in Florida and spent the night (yes, the whole night!) awake, in the airport waiting for the children to be paired up with their adoptive parents. 
Johnny turned 2 in February.  He and his sister Layla have adjusted amazingly well to each other and their new life with Cathy.  Cathy is one of the busiest people I know and she seems to be handling it VERY well! We are so very glad to be Johnny's god-parents and even though he is surrounded and loved by his Michigan family, we know when he gets older he'll love visiting his Colorado family too! 

Here's Johnny with his Godfathers (Uncle Mike & Uncle John)

Uncle Mike practicing holding 2! 
Layla (who will be 1 year old next week) and Johnny

We're calling our Michigan trip a "Holy weekend" because not only did we have a baptism, but we had our niece Amanda's confirmation too.  It was great!  The pastor asked all family members and the confirmation sponsor to come up to the altar and lay thier hands on the candidate.  Most of the kids had 3-5 family members apporach the altar.  But in classic Kerschen style, we over-represented, 14 of us were there to support Amanda's rite of passage!   If that wasn't embarassing enough to a 12 year old soon to be teenager, her cousin Johnny adores her and couldn't understand why she had to go back on the altar and he couldn't go with her.  So after an hour long car ride and an hour long mass program, he finally had a typical two-year-old tantrum.  I'd say it was long overdue! 

As usual, we had a very busy but awesome visit back in Michigan (our 3rd trip in a year!).  Unfortunately, I was VERY sick while we were visiting.  I have perhaps the worst cold in my adult life right now.  I told Mike I don't even like being around mself right now!  I have been sick for two whole weeks now and I'm finally starting to feel better.  As if I didn't have enough on my plate!  I've been coughing so much I've bruised my ribs...ugghh.  Mike went to a natural grocery store last night and bought me some cough lozenges, throat sprays, lemon tea, honey and my personal favorite a lavendar plant and get well card.  The lavendar plant is supposed to help you sleep (and will look fantastic in my yard if I ever get to garden again!).   I'm not usually one to believe in herbal medicines but I did sleep better with it by my bed last night.  Could it be the lavendar's healing powers or the love of my very sweet husband?  I'm not sure but I hope it helps again tonight!