Happy 5th birthday Max and Kate

photo (14)

Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,

I sat alone in a cold empty hallway. A nurse left me sitting in a solitary chair outside a set of double doors. 

“I’ll come back for you,” she said.

I watched her walk through another set of doors at the far end of the hallway.

Alone, there in that hallway, I could hear my heart beating. A solitary echo against tile and brick. I was short of breath as I thought of everything I had to lose in those moments. Everything.

On October 21st I wrote this on Mommy’s blog:

Chad again: Karen had another tough day. She feels like she has the flu, but thus far all of her tests have come back negative. Her amnio results are all negative as well. One thing is certain, she has been miserable and no one is exactly sure whats going on. There appears to be an infection somewhere in her body, but doctors from several departments haven’t been able to find it. Karen and I made the decision early this evening to request that the Magnesium drip be removed. She has been on the Mag for the entire 8 weeks. It’s purpose is to curtail or control contractions. Mag can cause lots of nasty side effects which to this point Karen has seemed immune to. Her dosage was upped to the maximum about a week ago when her cervix dropped down to a 5. Since then she hasn’t felt well at all. She’s off the Mag, off the Procardia (controls blood pressure), and off a couple of antibiotics. We’re taking a chance here, but everyone feels that Max and Kate will be fine even if they come in the next few days. Everyone also agrees that Karen has done all she can do and has been very strong. Now, we’re just waiting to see what happens. Karen is feeling a little better already. Contractions could start in the next couple of days…or be several weeks away. We just don’t know, because she hasn’t been without the mag in 8 solid weeks. Say a prayer for all of us tonight. Karen is confident that it was time to let God decide when Max and Kate will arrive.

More later.

Mommy’s illness was far more complicated than the doctors knew even that day. It was eventually only identified  by the German Center for Disease Control – after the US CDC failed to believe the results. A soil based infection, never before found in a human. Until mommy.

Now she’s in medical text books. Not the sort of fame you dream of.

Doctors performed a spinal tap on Mommy while I waited. The nurse came and retrieved me from the hall and lead me into the cold operating room. 16 people were in there for your delivery, Max and Kate. You kids were kind of a big deal at the hospital after the effort that had gone into saving you over the 10 weeks mommy spent there.

On October 22nd I wrote this:

Chad: We learned this morning that they will take the babies this afternoon at 3:00pm. They look great. Karen is feeling a little better as well, but the infectious disease doctors are concerned about Karen’s “levels”. She has an infection somewhere and they can’t find it. Please say prayers for us this afternoon.

The babies are 31 weeks now. They weighed 3lbs each two weeks ago, so we’re hoping they are closer to 4lbs now. We’ll meet them in a few hours.

Max, you were born at 3:27pm. I don’t think my heart beat until I heard you grunt the first time.

“He’s big,” I said in mommy’s ear.

Kate, you were born at 3:28. They brought each of you to mommy and allowed her to kiss you once. It would be many hours before she saw you again. And many long days before we held you. They rushed you away to the NICU, where you spent most of the next two months off and on.

the first picture of you two together.

the first picture of you two together.

I had a few of the worst days and nights of my life as you clung to life at various stages. I seldom left your side. But you two only really got better when they put you together. 

You need each other in a way that even Mommy and I don’t understand. 

Since then, through it all, I’ve changed. I learned when you were born Izzy what my life meant in the grand scheme of things. And with your birth Max and Kate I learned just how fragile and precious life can be. How strong we can all be. How you can thrive after adversity.

photo (13)photo (15)

You’ve both been more than a blessing in our lives.

You’re 5 today.

I still cry sometimes when I look at pictures of you as preemies. But I think I cry more often now seeing the kids you’re growing up to be.

photo (19)photo (17)

 We’re so lucky to have you. And you’re so lucky to have a big sister like Izzy. She’s never been anything but grateful for you and gracious in all of the attention that you two little ones receive for being twins.

Max, I was never sure I could adore a little boy the way I adore your sister Izzy. But i was wrong. You’re my shadow. You follow my every step. And all of the things I doubt about myself you validate in me because you think I can do anything. You think I’m strong. You think I’m smart. You think I can fix things. I buy things now that I can pass down to you one day. You’re rough. Tough. Dirty. Wild. Everything a boy should be. I love being your daddy, because you make me feel like I’m good enough.

photo (12)

photo (18)

Kate, we came closest of all to losing you. Not a day goes by that Mommy and I don’t pause for a moment and just watch you. You are so full of life and spunk and we know that’s how you survived. You’re a fighter. You are unique in every way. You’ve always had a fondness for tie-dye and psychadelic music and raggae. I pick you up and squeeze you, feel your strong arms around my neck, and thank God for you. I love being your daddy, because you remind me what strength is and that being authentic is what’s most important.

photo (11)

photo (16)

Happy birthday, Max and Kate.

I love you so much more than my hugs and kisses and ice cream cones and monster trucks and cake making youtube videos can express.

– Daddy