We found out we were having twins in April 2017. We were so excited. I could tell by other people’s reactions when I told them that I was pregnant with twins that a lot of people would have different feelings about that news if it were happening to them. We didn’t feel scared or overwhelmed or disappointed. I was more anxious about the twin pregnancy than actually having two babies. A few months later we found out that there was a boy and a girl. It was perfection. The pregnancy was not much different from my previous two pregnancies until the very end. I was bigger and more uncomfortable but there were no major complications. Every ultrasound and check-up went well and the babies were healthy. I had a c-section scheduled for December 18, which would have been 38 weeks and 1 day. One of the major risks of twin pregnancies is pre-term labor, but since I had never gone into labor on my own during my other two pregnancies I wasn’t overly concerned about it. On the last day of November we were putting together our huge, four seat stroller. Our two older children were testing it out and I remember having to sit down because I had a little bit of pain. It didn’t even cross my mind that it was a contraction. It was not that painful and I was almost 36 weeks pregnant, so little aches and pains were not abnormal. That night I woke up around 2am with more pain, it wasn’t consistent or regular so I thought it was just round ligament pain or braxton hicks contractions. Once my OBGYN opened the next morning, December 1, I called to make an appointment just to get checked and make sure everything was okay.
We took our oldest son to pre-school and my mom came to get my daughter so Taylor could take me to the doctor’s appointment. I was in enough pain that I didn’t think I could drive but I still didn’t think it was labor - smart, huh? So I didn’t think at all that we would be having our babies that day, I thought the most extreme thing that might happen is I would have to go on bed rest - another common occurrence during twin pregnancies. We got to the OBGYN and after a few questions from the doctor he said, “You are in labor, I’m going to get a nurse to take you over to the hospital so we can try to stop it.” I was 35 weeks and 5 days pregnant, so while the babies were not extremely premature, it would still be beneficial for them to grow inside me a few more weeks. As I got wheeled over to labor and delivery the pain started to increase and I realized that I really was having contractions. I got signed in and hooked up to everything and then we waited to see if the medications I was given would stop the labor. I remember being fearful of what would happen if we had the babies that day. They would be considered “late-term preemies,” but I didn’t really know what that meant. How underdeveloped would they really be? Would they have trouble breathing? How small would they be? I kept asking people, the doctor and nurses, and they said that no one would really know until they were delivered but that I was far enough along that they would most likely be okay.
So here’s the thing about labor - it’s really painful. Obviously, right? It’s called “labor” for a reason, but like I said before, I didn’t go through labor with my other two pregnancies so I didn’t know. My first was breech, so I had a scheduled c-section. I tried to have a VBAC with my second, but at 41 weeks with no signs of labor and an almost 9lb. baby inside me the doctor thought that another c-section was the safest way to deliver. So while labor was really painful, usually you have the hope of delivering a baby at the end of it and then it’s all worth it. I had no hope of delivering any babies, I knew if they didn’t stop the labor I would be having surgery. So every hour that went by the contractions got stronger and closer together until finally it felt like one long painful contraction. Needless to say, nothing they did stopped my labor. So finally around 4pm (about 7 hours after we arrived at the hospital) the doctor thought there was no way we were going to get the contractions to stop and he was ready to move forward with a c-section. I was worried about my babies, but after going through hours of what felt like frivolous labor I was ready to meet them. We got moved into a delivery room and prepped for surgery. It was my third time having a c-section in a five year period, so I was very familiar with the procedure. The worst part is getting the spinal, it’s painful but I was exhausted and ready for some relief. The medication always makes me nauseous, so I remember feeling very out of it, sick, worried about my babies and tired. At 5:05pm, “Baby A,” was born. Will was 6lbs., 3oz. and came out crying and healthy. Caroline, “Baby B,” was born one minute later at 5:06pm, 5lbs., 13oz. and just as healthy as her brother. I got a quick look at each of them before they headed to get cleaned up and checked out with the nurse and Taylor. I was relieved and so happy. We had a perfect baby boy and perfect baby girl.
I was exhausted and medicated, so I don’t really remember much between the babies being born and getting to the recovery room. I remember holding both babies, putting their little heads next to each other and just being in awe that they were both living inside me just hours before. That night was like any with a newborn, trying to help them learn to eat every few hours, waking them up, doing all the tricks to help them latch and being so happy when they did. The next day we introduced Caroline and Will to their siblings. Their older brother was so sweet and excited to meet them. He held Caroline first and Will second. Will looked just like him. That day the babies were declared healthy by every doctor and nurse that saw them. I loved holding both of my babies together. I loved holding one while my husband held the other at the same time. I loved laying them next to each other and just taking in how beautiful and perfect they were.
It’s hard to think back on those days in the hospital and know that at some point someone brought a virus into our room that ended up taking Will’s life and almost taking Caroline’s. It's most painful to think that it could have been one of us, one of my kids or even me who was carrying the virus. It really doesn’t matter how they got exposed or who gave them the virus, it is totally out of our control, but it still makes me feel sick to think about something invisible but deadly passing into their little bodies that day. Those first few days with them were some of the best days of my life when they were happening, but looking back they are clouded with guilt and regret and anger. What if they were born just one day earlier or one week later. What if they had waited until my scheduled c-section. I could, and believe me I have, wrestled with “what ifs” but the fact is that God knew exactly what was going to happen. He knew before the beginning of time what day our babies would be born, who would be there and what would happen. He gave us a beautiful, perfect and healthy baby boy and instead of thinking back on everything that went wrong, that was right. So today when I think back to my babies’ birth day, I try to think about what was right and good. I try to remember the feeling I had holding my babies together and how tiny and perfect their little hands and feet were. I try to remember the joy on Joshua’s face when he held them for the first time and how he talked to them and laughed and smiled. I try to remember all that was whole about that day, all that was perfect and good and right and pure. I try to remember Will.
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My name is Courtney Hughes and I am Will's mommy. I am happy that you are here to read Will's story and make a difference with us!