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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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From The Greatest Heights (Part V)

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People seem to instinctively understand a mother’s attachment to a child growing within her, but a father’s connection is not that obvious. Over the years since our tragic experience, I have often been asked about my attachment to my twins. People wonder how a father can become so attached to unborn children he never met. A large part of the answer to that question began that first night as my wife and I were going to bed. It was a spontaneous moment, and completely unplanned, but after saying goodnight to my wife, I said “goodnight sweetie” to my unborn child as well.

I slept well that night (and likely a lot over that Shabbos as well). While I had spontaneously said goodnight to my unborn child that first night, it made sense to continue to make the same wish on every subsequent night.

Internet resources are great, and we quickly filled out an online pregnancy calendar so we could determine the due date (at first when my wife broached the idea, I had no idea what a pregnancy calendar was). We saw the results, October 21, as even more evidence that this pregnancy was bashert because October 21 was the anniversary of the day my wife and I first met.

Our follow-up appointments through the first trimester were all held at the fertility clinic. As I mentioned before, I was fortunate enough to have the flexibility in my work schedule to accompany my wife to her appointments. Thankfully, things were going well. The numbers from her blood test continued to progress in the right way. Aside from a prescription for progesterone pills, there was nothing to indicate that this was anything but a healthy pregnancy. It looked like things were all falling into place.

We eagerly anticipated our first major ultrasound at around 10 weeks gestation. We knew that would be the first real opportunity to see our baby and chart its growth and progress. We were nervous as we waited for the fertility nurse to begin.

For people without ultrasound training, there is no way to understand what we were seeing on that screen. We watched, completely clueless, as the nurse moved the ultrasound around. Our hearts sank as she said, “I don’t know how to tell you this….” only to be replaced with absolute joy when she continued, “you are expecting twins.”

My wife and I were ecstatic. I hugged her as we celebrated with the same kind of joy we expressed to the initial news that we were expecting. This was always in the back of our minds, but it was simply too good to be true. Twins represented an instant family, and much less of a need to go through the fertility process again any time in the near future.

The nurse’s reaction shocked me. After our brief celebration, she told us that most parents in the clinic reacted quite negatively to the news of multiples and that she was a bit shocked by the joy and excitement we expressed. The nurse was worried that her words, which represented the biggest bracha imaginable to us, would be seen as a negative. I didn’t understand how the news of multiples in a fertility clinic could ever be seen as anything except great news, but none of that made a difference to us.

We left the office with the strong feeling that Hashem was finally smiling down on us and that all of our wishes were starting to come true. That night, and on each subsequent night, I added a second “good night sweetie,” one for each of our two babies.

My wife and I discussed whether we would like to know the gender of the babies, as that could already be determined at the next scheduled ultrasound at around 13 or 14 weeks. All indications were that we were finally moving to our destiny and to a renewed and expanded celebration on October 21, but soon those hopes would be replaced by fears as things started to go terribly wrong.

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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/


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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.

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