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Saturday, July 20, 2013

a mommy's story - Bethany Turner - twins, heartache and hope

We've been featuring many strong, dedicated, determined mothers on the blog the past month, in the Confessions of Mama Guilt series. When I realized many moms were mentioning guilt about having an unexpected C-section, I formed a smaller group via email to discuss where this guilt comes from. Bethany Turner was one of those moms who joined the group. Her story made me cry instantly, and twice more as I edited and posted to this blog. 

I share it with you, because I think it's humbling to hear other mom's perspectives and experiences, to know we aren't alone and things are not always as bad as it can seem, there is reason for everything that happens in our mothering journeys. 

Bethany ... such an incredible mother. In the counseling world, we use the word "resilient" to mean to bounce back from difficult situations, stronger, on top, striving toward something bigger and better. Basically, resilient means rock star. Bethany is definitely resilient. I admire her. Her words and photos of her absolutely sweet and teeny tiny babies will make you want to reach out and hug her! Thank you for reading. 

26 Weeks Pregnant 

(All photos from Bethany Turner)

I delivered twins 3 months early via C-section.  I had no choice.  

I had been in the pre-natal ward at the hospital for a week, in and out of labor.  I finally dilated to 7.5 cm's and they rushed me into surgery.
The experience was like nothing I could have imagined.  I had sent my family home for the day because I felt fine, and the Dr's seemed confident that I was stable...and my family needed rest.  I was alone when I dilated out of nowhere, so I called everyone I could and had them come back as I was being wheeled down for surgery prep.  They finally told me my mother was in the hallway waiting to come in.  When I started asking for her, the anesthesiologist tech told me that if I didn't calm down, they would have to put me under.  (it's my understanding that you NEVER put a woman down for a C-section...if you can help it.)  Finally my sons' father made it back to the hospital and was there with me through the procedure.  

I let them know at the beginning of the procedure that I could feel it.  The tech assured me that I couldn't.  I let her know that I COULD feel it.  I described what I could feel and where.  She told me it was impossible and I would be fine.  Thank goodness there was someone overseeing her, because he told her that if I was exhibiting pain, they needed to treat it, and so she gave me more medicine.  

My C-section itself was like being run through the gauntlet. There was so much pushing and pulling, yanking and tugging...and with each motion I would ask "was that a baby?"  The answer was no each time.  Eventually both babies were taken from me and whisked to the NICU.  

The anesthesiologist tech left half-way through my procedure.  I was SHOCKED.  Here I am, splayed open on a table, my uterus LITERALLY on my chest, and the person in charge of making sure I am comfortable leaves because it's happy hour somewhere???  Even a waitress doesn't leave until her job is finished.  Needless to say, my pain medication began to wear off before they were finished.  I could feel them stuffing me back in place.  It felt like someone was taking a steel shovel, heaving my insides back in, then patting them down with the shovel as though you would if you were filling in a hole.  

Wesley, 1 day old 

My two boys, Elliot and Wesley, Fraternal Twins, were delivered at 6:46 and 6:47 at night.  They were each 15" long.  Elliot weighed 2lbs11oz, Wes weighed 2lbs12oz.

They were the tiniest things you ever saw.  All four of their fingers fit around my finger tip when they held my hand...well, finger.  Their heads were the size of an orange.  But they were here, and they were brave, and they were mine.  

Elliot, 3 days old 

Wesley passed away when he was 13 days old.  His intestines failed.  They operated but there was nothing they could do.

I think about him every day.  I wonder what he would look like.  Elliot looks just like his father.  I think Wes would have looked more like me.  

He was so tiny, it was hard to tell, but I think he would have :)  Elliot remained in the NICU for about 2 months.  He weighed about 5.5lbs when he came home, and was still a month from his due date.  He did everything slowly.  He rolled over later...sat up later...ate, walked and talked later than all the books say, and later than all my friends' kids.  

Elliot turned 3 June 1st.  His birthday will always be bittersweet for me.  So will every Christmas, Mother's day, his first day of kindergarten, his high school graduation...because I will always feel that my other boy should be there too.  

I saw a counselor after losing my son, and was cleared.  I was never on any medication, nor did I take an extended maternity leave.  I had Elliot to keep me going...and I'm thankful for it everyday.  He is my boy. There is no question about it.  He may look like his dad, but his personality is all me.  The good AND the bad.  But there are days when I don't feel like I am his mom.  I look at him and almost forget that he is my son.  There is a definite disconnect at times...whether it be at the sweetest time, or the toughest time.  I believe that part of this is because I did not have the choice to deliver naturally.  I believe that part of this is because I was not able to breast feed.  (my boys were too early and hadn't developed the reflex yet, and my milk never came in even after meeting with lactation consultants and taking a prescription)  I believe that part of this is because Elliot spent the first 2 months of his life in the NICU.  It was 2 weeks AFTER his brother passed away before he was even stable enough to be held.  

So my answer is yes.  A BIG YES.  I have guilt about my C-section.  

I have guilt about my pregnancy.  (I was a healthy eater and was active.  There was nothing to feel guilty about besides the fact that my body couldn't handle being as big as it was.)  I have guilt about not being able to breast feed.  I have guilt that maybe I didn't work hard enough to save my relationship with Elliot's dad.  It began to dissolve after we lost Wesley.  I left him before Elliot turned 1.  

Elliot, age 3 

I know that no amount of guilt will change anything or bring my boy back.  Elliot is happy and healthy and has two parents, and an extended family and a boat-load off friends who adore him.

Most people in town know our story, but even though it's been three years now, people will still occasionally ask "how are the boys?"  i just say "good" and smile.

I'm a single mom with a full time job and a part time job, and Elliot is with me 50% of the time.  I don't really have time to be sad.  ;)  I have my moments now, and I deal with my struggles as they come...but just like any other Mom, I want the days that I have to spend with my kiddo to be the best they can be.  And I want them to be happy.

We talk about Wesley, and look at pictures.  Elliot knows that Wesley is his brother.  As he gets older, I plan to continue to share with him his brother's story and be completely open about it.

I want Elliot to know that he is a survivor.  I want him to gain strength from his own story, as well as his brother's story.  I wish for it to be a source of inspiration to him.  

Super Elliot, 18 months


Bethany, thank you for your courage, your stamina and perseverance. 
I admire you beyond words. 
I hope that every smile, new development, new word, each time he holds your hand, and every single big from the stomach screeching laugh makes you smile and know that Elliot is here for a reason and that reason is to keep you whole and fill your heart with what you deserve
 ... true happiness. 
He's here to remind you that Wes is not forgotten, ever. 
Even if for a short time, Wesley was a part of you and always will be. 

In memory of Wesley ... a tiny angel

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