Although it seems like a distant dream now, getting the news we were pregnant with twins was very exciting! After perfect ultrasounds at week 20, we announced we were ready to get our little buckaroos on the ground – twin boys! My belly was growing daily and at 23 weeks and 1 day of this perfect pregnancy, I put my head down on the pillow, said my prayers, and went to sleep.
The next day, out of the blue, I started feeling odd pains and thought it may be what Braxton Hicks contractions feel like. I proceeded into the bathroom and when I saw a small bloody spot, I screamed for my husband Andy and we left the house without even grabbing my purse. We drove as fast as we could to the ER despite the snow and icy conditions on that late February afternoon. It was less than 1.5 hours from the first sign of pain to being dilated to a three in the Labor and Delivery room. I was having preterm labor and the boys were coming. Thankfully, the doctors successfully stopped the labor. Our OB doctor came into the room that Saturday night and prayed with us bedside, a gesture that will forever fill my heart. The NICU doctors also came in and handed us a pamphlet explaining that 23 weeks was considered non-viable life, while 24 weeks was viable life. This scenario had never entered my mind before this day unfolded. We all held hands and said let’s just make it to Thursday.
Monday morning around 5 am, I lay in bed and listened in silence to what sounded like the first signs of my husband sleeping since we had arrived at the hospital. I did not want to wake him in any way, but just had a bad feeling and sadness come over me so I lay there alone and let myself cry quietly for the course of an hour or so. Around 7 am I felt a small gush of liquid. The nurses confirmed my water had broken. We were devastated. Andy got into the hospital bed with me and for the first time, I let myself go, and cried uncontrollably. Despite his sadness, Andy assured me this was God’s plan and that we would be okay regardless of what happened.
After consults and conversations with the specialists and NICU doctors later that morning, we decided to stay with our original plan, and again had to confirm we would not continually monitor the babies and we would not take any “heroic measures” before Thursday. Once Thursday arrived, we would regroup and make a new plan to save our babies. And so we all held hands again, and said let’s just get to Thursday.
We tearfully toured the NICU on our way up to the antepartum floor to wait… to wait on bed rest for the next few weeks or months for my beautiful, healthy babies to be born… or to wait for the weekend to roll around and give birth to babies who would be looking at a minimum of a four-month NICU stay and possibly a lifetime of severe disabilities… or to wait for my contractions to come back and give birth to them and hold them until they passed on to be with the Lord… no one knew. It was excruciating. I remember telling my mom on the phone that there appeared to be no good way out of this.
On Wednesday morning I was feeling great and was excited to see my momma who was coming to town to be with us. Up to this point I had asked for no visitors and no calls as I was trying to keep myself calm and keep these boys in place. My mom arrived around 11:15 am with a Panera bagel I had requested, but never got to eat. Around 11:30 am I felt the first contractions starting in my lower back, and back down to the L&D floor we went. It was not Thursday yet. We were 23 weeks 6 days.
Howard Kade Hawkins was born at 5:08 pm on Wednesday March 4th, 2015 and weighed 1.4 lbs. His heart beat for about one hour. His bag had been ruptured and he was weaker than his younger brother. Kiptyn Kruz Hawkins was born exactly one hour later at 6:08 pm and weighed 1.8 lbs. His heart beat for about three hours before he went on to be with the Lord.
This time with our boys was the first peace and joy we had experienced since we walked into the ER five days earlier. Their little noses and lips were perfect. They had long arms and legs and flat feet just like their dad. We kissed them and held them and passed them back and forth. They did not die alone, rather in the loving arms of their parents. We are forever grateful the Lord blessed us with two amazing, beautiful boys that we will love for the rest of our lives. We believe and anxiously await the day we are reunited in Heaven!
Andy was my rock throughout these difficult days and remained calm and so strong in spite of it all. He had to stand in there and make impossibly difficult decisions in the midst of chaos, and I praise God for giving me such a strong, wise and amazing husband.
We buried our boys in the Belknap cemetery, near Andy’s family farm in southeast Kansas. We invited a few close family members, dug their grave by hand and placed their small white casket in the ground with two roses on top. They were buried in the most wonderfully made cradles, Bridget’s Cradles, and looked absolutely precious.
When I saw the picture of them in their cradles, I said “my babies” and wept. It was a weeping so raw and so deep and hurt more intensely than I could ever describe. I wanted to go after them, I wanted to pick them up and hold them, I wanted to rescue them, I wanted them back, my sweet boys. For the first time I deeply felt the aching love of a mother. I will never forget that moment.
Through all of this, I have learned we have two choices… we can either trust, or we can fear. I choose to trust the Lord and His good plan for my life. The Lord has showed me it is best to give up control to Him, to prepare your heart and mind for whatever He has in His plan, not mine. And in whatever way the Lord builds our family, I am 100% on board and ready for Him to reveal the plans He has made! Never before could I have said that and truly meant it.
A common thread I see run through mothers who have lost babies is fear to try again. There is no way to describe how terrifying it is to think about the possibility of losing another child. Fortunately through prayer, and the Lord being so good, I am not afraid any more. I believe every day the Lord would grant us to have with another child is totally worth it, and so, I am willing to put my faith and trust in Him, regardless of the outcome, because I don’t want to pass up any wonder or miracle He may have in store for us. Six months later I have peace, I have no regrets, and I am so grateful for the support and love of my amazing husband and of course, my Jesus!
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27