web analytics
September 20, 2014 / 25 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Apartment 758x530 Africa-Israel at the Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York

Africa Israel Residences, part of the Africa Israel Investments Group led by international businessman Lev Leviev, will present 7 leading projects on the The Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York on Sep 14-15, 2014.



Home » Sections » Family »

From The Greatest Heights (Part IX)

I had to believe that things were going to be ok.  They just had to be ok.  We had gone through so much, had sacrificed so much and were doing everything the doctors told us to do.  I remember speaking to a hesitant professor in my Ph.D. program about getting an incomplete in her class.  The conversation stands out in my mind because, looking back, I can see how odd it must have seemed as I matter-of-factly told her I was too busy for coursework because my twins’ amniotic sack was bulging through my wife’s cervix.

She granted the incomplete immediately, but I still can’t understand how I naively believed that things were still going to be ok.  My wife was on complete, 100 percent bed rest for the duration of the pregnancy, and her bed was set at a 45-degree incline.

Days and nights began to mesh together, and I can’t even recall when the doctor told us that my wife was dilated and there was nothing more to do but go to labor and delivery.  I guess one of my first clues should have been the fact that they put her bed back down flat as they moved us to labor and delivery.  We were just over twenty-weeks gestation.  The earliest that babies are viable is at 24 weeks.

It is not that I didn’t realize things looked bad.  I knew they did, but we had been in labor and delivery once before and the babies survived.  After all, miracles do happen!  It was probably classic denial, but the babies were still completely healthy, and we could still hope and pray.

That hope was shattered when before the delivery an obnoxious nurse came in and bluntly asked us what we wanted to do with the bodies.  I have never been more shocked.  These were my babies, my flesh and blood.  I hadn’t even considered the possibility of losing them, let alone making decisions about burial. The very word “bodies” seemed so dehumanizing. These were children I loved more than anything. I couldn’t see them as lifeless bodies. Seeing the impact that comment had on my wife (and myself), I ordered the nurse to leave the room.

There were no more illusions for either if us – any semblance of hope was gone.  It was just a matter of time.  I had been putting on as strong a performance as I could for my wife through the most trying and devastating of times, but that nurse’s comment was more than I could bear.

I had always believed that men don’t cry, but my babies were going to die, and I, their father, was powerless to save them.

Still I did not want my wife to see me cry.  I remembered the advice I had gotten from everyone about being strong, and I wasn’t going to fail now.  I stood vigil by my wife’s bedside for as long as I could, smiling and giving her encouragement, and then excused myself and broke down in the bathroom.

I was cognizant of the time, and did not want to be away from her for too long.  Several times I left the room, gave myself a chance to calm down and then put the smile back on my face and went back in to help my wife.

I did speak to a Rav who told me that given the stage of development we were under no obligation to ask the doctors to make Herculean efforts to save the babies, they had no chance of survival.  That is one of the decisions I have replayed in my mind thousands of times.  I don’t think there really is a “right” decision in those circumstances, but I have often wondered about having a little more time with them.  In retrospect, I believe that would have been a selfish decision, done for mine and not their best interest.

Thankfully, we were able to replace that cold-hearted nurse with my wife’s favorite nurse from the antepartum unit  – she selflessly volunteered to work a double shift for my wife’s sake.  I don’t think either of us could have stood dealing having the original nurse with us.

There was so much we didn’t know.  We had no idea what the babies would look like, how big they would be, how self aware they may be, etc. The nurse was honest but compassionate.  The babies would be very small, albeit likely fully formed. Their skin would be translucent because of the lack of any fat.  They would be reddish in complexion and they were likely too young to have hair.

My wife was starting to have painful contractions. She told the anesthesiologist that she really didn’t want to feel the pain of childbirth, especially given the outcome. The doctor flatly refused to give her an epidural.  He said he didn’t believe it was necessary because the babies were so small.  He was completely deaf to her pleas that she really didn’t want to have to feel this pain while losing her babies.  He gave her pain killers and abjectly refused to do anything more.

I don’t remember how much time we spent in this limbo, but as day turned to night, my wife and I thought it best to try and get a little sleep so we would have strength for the day ahead.  The couch in labor and delivery was not meant for long term use, and I remember trying to figure out if there was any way to get comfortable for a few restless hours of sleep.

There was one more thing weighing heavily on my mind: Every night since we found out about the pregnancy, I would make sure to say “goodnight sweetie” to each of them.  They were still very much alive, and I couldn’t imagine not expressing my love that one last time, but I was worried that it would upset my wife and lead to a complete breakdown on my part.  Perhaps this is when I first realized the incredible strength people can muster when they have to do so, but somehow I was able to wish each baby good night for what I knew would be the very last time with both intense feeling and emotion, and without losing my sanity.

Fortunately, at midnight a new anesthesiologist came on call, and he had no problem administering an epidural.  Sadly, the medication the first doctor had given could not be used in conjunction with an epidural, and she had no choice but to suffer eight hours of unnecessary pain until the epidural could be inserted.

About halfway through the night, my wife told me that her water broke.  It was only a matter of time now.  That also meant that for the rest of our ordeal, my wife was a niddah, and I could not halachically provide any more physical comfort during the most trying ordeal humans can endure.

After exactly eight hours the doctor came in and gave her the epidural, which helped minimize the physical pain for the rest of the process.  Now all we could do was sit and wait.  I stayed by my wife’s side, only interrupting my vigil to break down crying every few hours.

There are really no words to describe the birthing process.  As long as our babies were inside the womb, they were perfectly healthy.  Delivery was a death sentence.  All we could do was wait to deliver our babies to their deaths.

About the Author: Chaim Shapiro, M.Ed is a freelance writer, public speaker and social media consultant. He is currently working on a book about his collegiate experience. He welcomes comments and feedback at chaimshapiro@aol.com or on his website: http://chaimshapiro.com/


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “From The Greatest Heights (Part IX)”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Protest rally against Metropolitan Opera staging Death of Klinghoffer on 9/22 at 4:30 pm at the Met.
For Grass Roots Klinghoffer Protest 9/22, Jewish Establishment MIA
Latest Sections Stories

Three sets of three-day Yomim Tovim can seem overwhelming – especially when we are trying to stay healthy.

Plotkin-092614

Is a missed opportunity to do a mitzvah considered a sin?

Teens-Twenties-logo

The sounds and scents of the kitchen are cozy, familiar, but loud in the silence.

Baim-092614-Plate

Everyone has a weakness. For some people it is the inability to walk past a sales rack without dropping a few hundred dollars. For others, it’s the inability to keep their house organized.

His entire life was dedicated to Torah and he became a pivotal figure in the transmittal of the Oral Torah to the next generation.

When you don’t have anyone else to turn to… that’s when you’re tied to Hashem the closest.

While we all go to restaurants for a good meal, it is dessert, that final taste that lingers in your mouth, that is the crown jewel of any dining experience and Six Thirteen’s offerings did not disappoint.

Today, fifty years and six million (!) people later, Israel is truly a different world.

There will always be items that don’t freeze well – salads and some rice- or potato-based dishes – so you need to leave time to prepare or cook them closer to Yom Tov and ensure there is enough room in the refrigerator to store them.

In Uzbekistan, in the early twentieth century, it was the women who wore the pants.

This is an important one in raising a mentsch (and maybe even in marrying off a mentsch! listening skills are on the top of the list when I do shidduch coaching).

While multitasking is not ideal, it is often necessary and unavoidable.

More Articles from Chaim Shapiro
Careers-logo

Just a few months ago, I was having a difficult time getting a refund for a missing product processed via the customer service call center at a major retailer. After spending hours on hold and having my request denied, I sent a Tweet to the company’s Twitter account.

I have a background in counseling, and I can say that the biggest mistake that I ever made was refusing psychological help after we lost the twins. I was trying to keep my tough-guy facade going, and convinced myself that I could deal with the pain.

We had suffered through an experience I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. My wife had to go through labor and deliver our children to their deaths, and I was unable to save them or even give them a little warmth while they died.

Special Note: It is an unusual phenomenon that many bereaved parents share. We can almost see our age-adjusted children in our sukkah or running up to us during a family simcha. As quickly as they come, those visions seem to disappear as we go through the life cycle. They are hard moments made harder by the thoughts of not only what could have been, but what should have been.

I had to believe that things were going to be ok. They just had to be ok. We had gone through so much, had sacrificed so much and were doing everything the doctors told us to do. I remember speaking to a hesitant professor in my Ph.D. program about getting an incomplete in her class. The conversation stands out in my mind because, looking back, I can see how odd it must have seemed as I matter-of-factly told her I was too busy for coursework because my twins’ amniotic sack was bulging through my wife’s cervix.

On our first day in the antepartum unit, one of the nurses mentioned how critical every moment of pregnancy really was. “One minute in is worth two minutes out (in an incubator).” We weren’t really expecting a premature birth, but her comment put a fine point on the importance of the care my wife was receiving.

The best way to describe our emotions the morning of our major ultrasound was nervous excitement. We had survived a serious scare with a threatened miscarriage a few weeks prior. My wife was on bed rest at home, but we had no real reason to assume there would be any new problems.

It was only after we celebrated the great news that we were expecting twins that we saw the first sign of problems. First of all, my wife was losing, not gaining weight, even as the babies continued to grow normally. Soon after, routine blood work revealed that my wife was suffering from gestational diabetes.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/from-the-greatest-heights-part-ix/2013/09/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: