Charlee’s Story

12142675_1000918519968270_1005627697_nAs told by her mother, Rachel.

I’ve been hesitant for a while to share our story, but there are things I want to say and things that I feel need to be said. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel that sharing our story will help other parents not feel so alone in this unwanted membership to club no mother or farther wants to belong to.

It’s an emotional place. A hurtful place. An angry place. A constantly wondering “what if” place. A place where there is a constant guilt that weighs you down. But it is a place that with time we have learned to survive and more forward in.

I’m going to start at the very beginning…we found out we were pregnant in late July 2014 right around Josh’s birthday & soon after we were married. We’d been trying for baby #2 for MAYBE a month, it happened pretty quickly. Bloodwork was drawn a few days later. My HCG levels came back pretty high so the first ultrasound was set for the following week. It was at my first appointment that we found out there were TWO babies in there. In shock was an understatement. “Holy Shit!” I think was the first things out of my mouth.   The doctor sent me to have another ultrasound on a better machine, it was so early (7ish weeks) that he wasn’t able to tell if there was a membrane separating them or not. This was to determine Mono-Mono or Mono-Di twins. I prayed for Mono-Di , as this way they would each have their own sac but still share a placenta. Basically, both are considered high risk, but Mono-Di is a little less. Gina immediately saw a membrane separating them! YAY! We made it past the first obstacle.

Fast forward and my whole pregnancy was going smoothly no issues whatsoever, perfect cord placements, no signs of TTTS (Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome), Mama was doing well, babies growing nicely, everyone was perfectly healthy! The doctors all said that this pregnancy could not be going any better, and that my body was made to carry these twins (way to make a mama feel good)!!

October 2nd, we found out that we were having GIRLS! Identical twin girls, we were all so excited. Throughout this whole pregnancy I told Russell that Mama had TWO babies in her belly, I hoped to prepare him, as much as possible for two new baby sisters.

I can’t remember exactly how far along I was, but maybe around 25 weeks we noticed that Saylor had a little less fluid in her sac and 2 small pin holes in her heart. It was nothing to be too alarmed about. Gina and Jamie both reassured me that the fluid for Saylor was still in the average range and that the little holes in her heart are very common and usually will close once the baby matures. We never had a worry about Charlee. Ever.

I was monitored very closely, 2 appointments a week. It was so routine that I usually went to the appointments alone, no need for me and my husband to both miss work!!

The holidays came and went. Everything that was purchased for them was matching. With Saylor & Charlee being identical I planned on them wearing matching outfits (I was going to be THAT twin mom).

Jump ahead to February 6th, at this point I was 34 weeks 4 days. I had my second appointment for the week, girls all checked out perfectly, passed with flying colors. That weekend Russell’s little buddy from daycare was having a birthday party at the bowling alley. We attended I remember the ride home the girl’s had hiccups, and Josh felt Charlee kick!

Monday the 9th I stayed home from work because Russell wasn’t feeling good he had a slight fever, I remember packing my bag for the girls and myself and making sure we had everything ready for them knowing it was getting close.

February 10th, 2015 I had my first appointment for the week. I headed to work, told Kristen my co-worker I’d be right back “Just another appointment!” I said. Around 8:00AM I had my ultrasound with Jamie. She started like she always did checked on the girls she went to Charlee first, “she’s still sleeping she said, did you have breakfast this morning?” “No, I haven’t had anything yet” I replied. She moved on to Saylor. Saylor checked out perfect. Jamie continued with some small talk, asking about my weekend etc; looking back now, I know she was just buying herself some time, trying to find her words I believe she already knew. She paused I’m just going to get the doctor I want him to look at something with me. In my mind I thought oh, maybe they found out that Saylor’s fluid is less, maybe she has a bigger hole in her heart (I was scheduled for a fetal echo on Saylor’s heart later that same day). My mind was racing. She scanned Charlee and stopped on her little heart. I had, had enough ultrasounds at this point to know EXACTLY what I was looking at. “Is that Charlee? Is that Charlee’s heart?” I said. “I’m so sorry, Rachel” is all Jamie could get out. She was in tears. We hugged. We cried. I screamed. I punched something probably the table I was on, I don’t remember. I rubbed my belly. I screamed some more. I remember Jamie telling me that the doctor was going to make a call to another doctor to figure out what the best plan of action would be. Finally we get a call out to Josh. I told them to just have him get here; I don’t want him to find out over the phone. Josh was and has always been my rock. I just hugged him, he knew something was wrong, but all I could get out was “Charlee.” Calls were made to our family. My mom was off work that day driving to Portland with my sister to go wedding dress shopping. They met us at the hospital along with Josh’s parents, brother and sister.

A C-section was scheduled for 12 noon. I was hooked up to an IV and honestly I feel like everything from this moment forward was such a blur. Sometimes I still feel like this is just a really bad dream. What I do remember is calling my doctor and telling him to get to the hospital, because I needed to get Saylor out, I needed to have her in my arms. I was so scared. The girls shared a placenta so everything was shared between them. Meaning my body was now transferring bad stuff to Saylor, putting her life on the line. Everyone was trying to keep me calm while they acted quickly.

At 1:05pm Saylor Grace entered the world screaming she weighed in at 5lbs 1oz & 19.5 inches long. Charlee Jane was born at 1:06pm weighing 5lbs 4oz & 18.5 inches long. Josh described her to me has being so peaceful.  His first words helped ease the pain a little, he’s amazing like that. I got a quick glimpse of Saylor before they rushed her to the NICU to do some scans of her head and heart. I was then handed Charlee I remember just holding her and crying and smiling and kissing her. I will forever be honored to be that sweet girl’s mama. She is gorgeous.

I was then wheeled into a room where our family was waiting for us. My sister made a phone call to her good friend Danielle Brady of Danielle Brady Photography and asked her if she was available to take pictures. I am forever thankful that my sister was thinking enough to make that phone call. I cherish these pictures that she captured. It shows how loved Charlee was in her short little life. I’m thankful that I will now be able to share these with Russell and Saylor when they are older.

Over the next 24 hours we were asked questions that no parent will ever be prepared to answer. We had to plan funeral arrangements for Charlee, at the hospital, while Saylor was in the NICU we tried to balance grieving and celebrating all at the same time, but really I don’t think we could really do either.

We lost out sweet angel at 35 weeks. We love and miss her tremendously! Writing and sharing Charlee’s life, although brief, is in its own way healing to me. A lot of women choose to keep quiet, but I think it’s important to express how this loss has changed us. I think it’s my way of telling everyone that Charlee was HERE. She was alive. She existed and she had purpose. She was wanted and loved and we had big plans for her as a part of our family. Thank you all, for reading her story, she has touched SO many lives and will forever be remembered and honored.