Stumbling, crawling and slipping along this path of mine

Wow, many things have happened since I last wrote. Break throughs, break downs, joyful days, and days where I felt like I was slogging through the deepest mud imaginable. I have lived life times in these last 4 and half months since my boys were delivered to our open and loving arms.   My fiery, “push through”, and “just get stronger” attitude has been turned upside down on itself.  Spirt B – that “Angel of Mercy”, he’s a funny fella. He has been teaching me many lessons.  Every morning I take a moment, sometimes 5, sometimes 10 and I sit outside to say hello. He usually comes through in a gentle gust of wind, in a shift in the light, but mostly he comes in the form of a bird – flying by.  “It’s not your fault Mama”,”take all the time you need” “forgive yourself, forgive me” are the kinds of messages he sends me in my meditations. I also, always ask him to come and wrap his arms around his brother every night and help him fall asleep. “You are loved, You are loved, You are loved” I tell Max.  And then, like magic, Max smiles up at me and then falls asleep.

Being able to have the time and space to sit with my grief and pain has been beautiful. Being able to find the courage to share my thoughts no matter how bad or scary they sound has given me the strength to let pieces of those thoughts go. Holding anything negative these days feels toxic. Sitting with it, breathing through it and talking about it all has been the only path for me. Who and what has shown up for me has been amazing, and so right on.

I received a spiritual reading, a book called “Option B” (which I thought was very fitting), nourishing food, words of inspiration and hope, texts and messages that just say “I am with you” or “I saw Spirit B today”.  So to all of you who surround us with your love and hold us with your strength and beauty – I say deeply “thank you”.

Tomorrow, Jason and I begin leading our Jedi teacher training that is all about finding your perceived limits and then pushing past them step by step. A few months ago I looked at this training and thought that there was no way I could guide, let alone stand in front of a group of people and teach. “I am in the deepest, darkest hole”  “How in the hell am I supposed to teach people how to push past their  walls when I am cowering behind one myself?”  These were the questions I asked myself over and over again.

Over the past few weeks bit by bit, I have crawled closer to my limits. There has been days where I have slid all the way back down. But what I have learned is that I can get hit by the strongest wave and still get back up. It may not be pretty, but after getting knocked down so many times, I have learned to not fight it, but rather to open myself up to it – to feel all of it. To let the water rush inside me, to swirl around, to get it into all of the stuck places, the ugly places and then WOOOSH…  let it go.

So, I may still not be ready to stand in front of a group of people as I very well may cry, stumble on my words or have to take breaks. But, that is ok because now I know that I DO have a thing or two to offer them about leaning into their discomforts and limits. 18765833_10155321898151171_5877468573643138411_n.jpg

Acceptance

I have been trying to write this entry for weeks now. But every time I sit down to write, something comes up. Max gets hungry or needs my attention, or something “more important” comes up.  The number one thing that I have learned through all of this is that acceptance is key.  “It’s OK” has been my main mantra for these last few weeks. “It’s OK that I am still in my pj’s at 1 PM”,  “It’s OK to smile and then cry in the next second”, “It’s OK to have fear, to be grateful, to have hope, to be sad, to not be able to function.” IT IS OK!

So I start this entry with this: IT’s OK that the following may not use the best grammar, It’s ok that there may be misspelled words and that it may not be super polished.  What is more than OK is that I get it out there, because this is healing, this is medicine for me.

Lately the waves of grief have been strong and unexpected.  As soon as I feel like I am finally able to keep my head above water, I get hit hard. The waves come from somewhere deep inside me. They start at my toes and well all the way up to my eye balls until before I know it,  I can no longer keep the pressure in. I spring a leak and tears that I cannot stop start spewing out of me.

The triggers are everywhere.  they compartmentalize themselves into “before the birth” and “after the birth”, “when we were all together” and “when we had to say goodbye”,  “before the pregnancy” and “after the pregnancy.”  Skinning on the mountain, skate skiing, running the river trail, eating at certain places, walking the canal trail, coming across something that I got double of.. These places, things and random thoughts are catalyses that I have to face and breathe through every day, and I never know which one will send me in a tail spin of what if’s, guilt and grief.

And I CANNOT run from them. No matter how many times I try.  It used to work just fine. In fact, that was my main tactic. When something “tragic” or uncomfortable would happen to me (like a break up), I would literally move to a different state.  I have MANY drivers licenses because of this. When shit got hard, I would just pack up my little Honda civic with all of my belongings and hit the open road. Ready for the next river, the next group of friends, the next opportunity.

But this, this is something deeper. There is no running from this because I made him. I have a connection to him that is so deep that nothing can disrupt that.. not even death. I admit that for the past couple of weeks I have been trying to forget, to move on, to get past it because, it is EXHAUSTING to love someone this much. To wake up every morning and lie there – dissecting every piece of that day, to imagine what it would be like if I just got a c- section at the 38 week mark (even though they were healthy!), to take the “head down” as a sign that he wanted to come out right then and there instead of as a sign that he wanted to wait! I have tried running it out, sweating it out, screaming WHY!! and FUCK!!! at the top of my lungs, being angry, going on a road trip, and even going to a dermatologist to see if they could “remove all marks, all scars, all signs of this.” But none of it worked. In the end, all I could do was do the thing that I was most scared of doing: Sitting with the darkness, the lightness, the trauma, the beauty, the wonder… with anything that came AND being OK with what ever presents itself. And that is where I sit today.

I am still getting out and training everyday for that brings me it’s own joy and release, but I am no longer using it as a tactic to deal with my many emotions. Taking time every day to just sit and breathe through what ever comes up for me has been a life line like no other. I never believed in the power of meditating until now.  After a few weeks of committing to take at least 10 minutes a day to bring in the many emotions, thoughts and feelings – and letting them corse through me has been both scary and healing at the same time. It takes all my strength to make myself go to these unknown depths, but somewhere inside of me, I know that this is the only way through.

I am aware that reading this is hard for some, especially my family. For I know that it is very painful to see your daughter, your sister, your friend, etc go through something like this, but know that I have many happy moments- that Max and Jason bring me so much joy, love and depth. But for me, writing, talking, and sharing my grief is how I am coping, how I am healing and how I am processing.

Thank you to all of you who have reached out, sent poems, sent letters, and gifts. They are beautiful and we keep ALL them.

Below is the latest poem and a link to a comment about loss and tragedy that have been helping me in the darkest of times.

Allow

By Danna Faulds

There is no controlling life.

Try corralling a lightning bolt,

containing a tornado.  Dam a

stream and it will create a new

channel.  Resist, and the tide

will sweep you off your feet.

Allow, and grace will carry

you to higher ground.  The only

safety lies in letting it all in –

the wild and the weak; fear,

fantasies, failures and success.

When loss rips off the doors of

the heart, or sadness veils your

vision with despair, practice

becomes simply bearing the truth.

In the choice to let go of your

known way of being, the whole

world is revealed to your new eyes.

The Hawk and Spirit B

32577-MMS-1490664213000-attachment1-20170327_151516.jpg

10 weeks ago, Jan 14th, the day after we decided not to get induced (you can read the specifics here) ,  I held a dying hawk to my belly, he was not expected to live another 24 hours. I remember holding him close and feeling his amazing energy and sheer will, it was so palpable and strong. I stared at his eyes in wonder, and prayed that he would live to feel the wind through his wings again. The next day, Jan 15th we got a text from Jennifer (his caretaker and our dear friend)  saying that when she woke up that morning he was standing in his cage, looking more alert and able to eat a bit easier. She was both surprised and amazed at the drastic change.

16105639_10154905908751171_4320620195586646188_n.jpg

I remember thinking “I hope he gives some of that tenacious, fighting energy to my boys on their way out to meet us.”  On Monday, January 16th, Jason and I went in for a check up to see how the boys were doing. They found A’s heart beat right away, but couldn’t find B’s heart beat. I remember saying to the nurse that he had turned head down and that he usually was a bit harder to find as he was always tucked behind his brother.  They brought in another tech and then the doctor.  My stomach dropped, my eyes rolled into the back of my head and I knew my worst nightmare had come true.  Looking into Jason’s eyes and hearing him say with so much intensity and focus – “Stay with me, stay with us, we are all together,” is the last thing I clearly remember. The next 40 plus hours is a blur of pain and forced focus.

These last few weeks have been some of the hardest of my life. Waking up in cold sweats saying “no, no, no” over and over again, collapsing to my knees gasping for air in the middle of a workout and having to answer to people when they ask “Where is the other one?”   At my last therapy session I got diagnosed with post acute trauma syndrome. At first I was a bit taken back, but then it made sense and I was both grateful and relieved to have the help. “I will do anything” I told my therapist. “Give me the necessary tools, and I will do them.”

“Tell me your story, not from the medical side but from your heart – how you see it or how you would even like to see it”

I told her about my strong feeling to wait after B had turned head down and passed all of the tests, about my anxiety about my doctor, and about how I meditated by the river and held the hawk close to my belly the next day. I told her everything that I was feeling deep down but was to scared to bring up to the surface because it wasn’t based in facts.

“I feel like I am denying myself this story.”  I told her.

“What you believe deep down is REAL. The more you tell it and own it, the more it becomes yours.  It is not hoo-haa, it is real. It is true.”

The next day my dear friend who understands me on many levels came to town. We went on a walk and I told her my story.

“Don’t you see it Chelsey? It is so obvious. YOU gave Spirit B the best passing ever. YOU guys took him cross country skiing, you meditated by the river, you gave him the time to say good bye to his brother” she said. “Would you rather that Spirit B pass in the Dr.’s arms that you didn’t feel close to or inside you, with you?” ” The latter is far harder for you, as you are always going to have the bit of blame on yourself, but it was the best for Spirit B.”

“Yes…yes this is true” I said. And for the first time, I really meant it.

That night I received a message from Jennifer, the care taker of the hawk. “Your hawk is strong and ready to be released!”

I too was ready to release Spirit B – to have him fly free, high up in the trees, on the mountain tops, to feel the wind in his wings, and to be with us always and for ever.

Yesterday, Jason, Max and I released the hawk, and with him a part of Spirit B. We were able to gaze at his beautiful intense eyes, hold his strong body and remark at his tenacity as he flew away with the wind.

“We love you Spirit B. Fly free, be strong and visit us as often as possible – we’ll be on the lookout for you in rainbows, hawks, mountaintops, and rivers…and anywhere else that a magic moment shows up.  Thank you for your bravery, strength and for connecting us all to a world we never fully appreciated.”

“I love you, I love you, I love you-” I whispered to him as he flew away.

32576-MMS-1490664212000-attachment1-20170327_151524.jpg

Head down

 

16559147_10154991024216171_2136110110_n.jpg

Time is a funny thing right now. Never have I felt like time is both standing still and speeding by like a freight train at the same time.

I have been wanting to sit down and write for some time now, but every time I do my words get stuck inside. So here I sit with a few minutes to myself before Jason and Max come back from their morning coffee time over at Dan and Deven’s and even though my words are still not wanting to come out… I am going to try.

It seems as though there is not one moment that goes by where I do not miss my Spirit B. Everything reminds me of him, of them together.

I keep imagining and dreaming of two. Two in the stroller on our walks, two waiting for me when I get home from my ride, two to dance with, two to feed, two looking up at me. Every once in a while I get a break and start to accept Spirit as he is now – wrapping  his ethereal arms around Max, around Jason, around me…around us as a whole. He is in the wind on my face, in the twinkling early morning sunshine, in the hawk and the raven that visit me on my daily walks.  He is in the animal mobile Max talks to every morning and night. But yet, I still feel empty inside.

And like I failed him. What if him going head down on Friday was a message to me to get induced instead of wait? Why was I so scared? Why didn’t I feel ready?  Would he be here if I went ahead and did it?? Why isn’t he in my arms?

I cry every day for him, sometimes once. Sometimes for most of the day. I get angry at myself, at the world, at something more than us.  It feels good to be able to do more than just walk. But at the same time it brings up a huge well of emotions. What once brought me nothing but release and joy, now brings me a melting pot of sadness, excitement, anger, gratefulness and grief.

17354886_10155085155451171_1189203101_n.jpg

And then there is little Magnus Maxwell, our boy who lifts our spirits day in and day out. His vibrant presence demands cooing, laughs, smiles, wonder and strength from both Jason and I. We love him so much and tell him stories about all of the places his brother has been and where we will take him someday.  When I am at my best, I tell myself my favorite story – that Spirit B went head down that day to say good bye to his brother. He said:  “Hey buddy, I hear them talking about all of the adventures they want to take us on and I think you all need a guardian angel looking after you.” “So you go on ahead and be with them in the physical world, and I will be here in the spiritual world watching over you guys.” I will be in the brightest stars, in the howling wind, in the rainbow after a hard rain, in the rushing rivers, and in the twinkling lights you see every morning through your bedroom window.  I am here with you always.”

I hope to really, truly believe this story someday and to respect what he is now.   Day by day, breath by breath is where I am at these days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breadcrumb of light

Warning: What follows is not shiny and happy. It is where I am at. It is real. It is raw. Proceed at your own risk.

light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel.jpg

Thoughts, unseen triggers and visions of two come in unexpectedly and fully flood my heart. It paralyzes me and kicks me to the ground leaving me gasping for air.  I start to pound on my chest, kick my feet like I see Magnus do when he is hungry.  I am in a dark tunnel and all I can see is the color black.  By my side is my beautiful, sweet and curious boy who is cooing to himself.  I try to drag myself out by looking up “Moms who have lost a their twin baby” on the internet. I am searching for a magic pill that will take away my pain, my blanket of sadness, my nightmares and leave me with the outcome that I envisioned for the past 7 months.  But all I find is scary stories about twins who have lost their twins in the womb who grow up depressed, lonely and like apart of them is missing.  This is not the pill I was looking for. And then I lose it.  “Two boys, I want my boys” I scream out,  “I want you back B!” “WHY!!??”

Magnus does not stir, but my husband who I sent to bed comes running out with bags under his eyes.  And these bags are from me, not from our one month old son like you would think, as for the past week this has been happening every night.

“Baby, baby. Stop.” “Take my hand, look for the light. You have to move forward.” “Let the pain wash over you, let your body go loose, let the tears roll. Do not fight it.”  he says.

“I can’t, It hurts. It hurts so bad.” I desperately try to let it go.  I am clinging on to the what if’s, to the Chelsey before learning the news that our son’s heart had stopped.  The Dr’s words, my doulas words, my husbands words from our decision day and the days that followed are all swirling around in my head like a broken record.  I am back at the cross roads of our decision day.

“It happened Chelsey, we can’t change it.  We will never know where that other path leads. And, I DO NOT want to change the outcome. We made it out of love, not fear and that is what I want to teach my sons.” Then he takes both of my hands and looks into my eyes and says:

“You are the mother of two beautiful boys. One in the physical and one in the spiritual world. He was never meant for our world, we just didn’t know it yet.”

I try to let his words sink in. In the past month he has said them over and over again in many different ways, trying to get through the wall of denial and shame that I have built up.

This wall that I have been laying brick by brick has served as my hide out, a place where I can sit in my own sorrows and self pity and wish for a different outcome.

It is a dark place, but in a strange way, it has also been a comforting place. Because it is much easier to sink in the sadness than do the work to move through it. I feel like I could stay here forever, dreaming about our life as I envisioned it rather living in the now.

Then I hear his voice. “Break down the wall and look for a bread crumb of light. “Get up,  follow that light out and change your surroundings”

It’s not pretty, but I do. I get up, I take a shower and as I stand there underneath the hot running water for much longer than I ever have, I see a vision.

Jason and I are at a Y in our path.  The way to the left is mixture of colors, but it’s very bright and almost blinding. And the path to the right is a soft glowing blue.  Jason steps ahead of me and turns to the right. He then reaches back for my hand like he does all the time. I take a breath and step towards him, and in that moment I have two boys in my arms- Magnus and Spirit. Then I take another step and Spirit who is wrapped in blue light starts to leave my arms and fully engulfs all of us in his blue light.  With my free hand, I take Jason’s hand and together we all take another step.

This is my first real vision of Spirit B in this form.  In all my other visions, I have been clinging to his body. The body that I birthed, that I held for 24 hours. It was a beautiful body, but he was not in it. He was already gone.  Even though I know this is true, it is hard to hold. I still find myself back in that dark tunnel, grasping for the simpler times when I could imagine them together.  I don’t know where this path is leading, but I do know that writing helps, talking helps and that while they are sometimes way to far apart, I do see glimpses of the Chelsey that I want to become.

“Where do I go now?” I asked. “Through babe, hold on tight and lets go through”

16699801_10154980181866171_1679700049_n.jpg

Two weeks ago I did not think that I would have the strength or the ability to ever write, look at a computer screen or do anything other than feed Magnus and make myself eat and drink water.

I kept trying to write, as that has always brought me a bit of release in the past, but whenever I would try I would go numb. Instead of words, I had tears.

And I still have tears. There hasn’t been a day where I have not cried. But I wanted to start the process of getting words to paper. Jason and I have a journal between us that I have been writing in everyday – to him, to Spirit B and to Magnus.  Some days its barely readable, and sometimes all I can get out is a drawing of something that I saw that day that brought me peace or even sadness. What ever comes, is what I let out.  And I believe it is helping me.

I have never been one for letting things fester inside me. There were a few days where I did try. When my brother, sister and mom came for a visit I tried hard to seem strong, to not let my tears well, and to be as “normal” as possible. But that did not last. Eventually I broke, and let the tears roll.  And it felt good.

IMG_5467 2.JPG

Now, I just let them come when ever they need to. There is no benefit in holding them back. So when I start going out in public more,  when we start teaching again and when I start frequenting all the places I used to I am prepared to let the tears come.

My therapist says this is normal, and healthy.  She says to let the waves come in and wash over me. To sit inside the storm and let myself feel the many emotions.

I have been slowly starting  to embrace it all – the sadness, the joy, the emptiness, the gratefulness, the numbness, the happy bits and even the sudden waves of anger where I want to punch the sky, beat my chest and scream WHY!!!! at the top of my lungs.

And when I can’t take it anymore, and when the spaces between the heavy waves of memories,  fear, heartache and blame are so small that I can’t come up for air – I reach out for Jason’s hand and ask  “Where do I go now?”

“Through babe…hold on tight and lets go through. Through the pain, through the fear, through every feeling that comes up.”

“OK”

Then I look into Magnus’s eyes and see how much love, strength and lightness he holds in his tiny beautiful soul and how we are blessed to have a little Spirit looking out for us, and sending us so much love everyday.

And so I take a breath, close my eyes, and let it all roll over me.

IMG_5465 2.JPG

 

 

A Story of Beginnings

img_5311

Jason here:  I have sort of hijacked this blog for the moment, as Chelsey is quite busy celebrating and grieving.  And even as I sit to write, thoughts spiral into so many places – painful, dark and hidden places that I never imagined exploring; but also into possibilities of the future.  Too much to make sense of just yet, and too overwhelming to sit with for too long, lest I get lost and cannot find my way back.  And getting lost in our grief is clearly not an option right now.  Magness Maxwell is only 5 days old, and quietly (most of the time) demanding our attention.  And his sweet brother Spirit B as been so patient and comforting when we need it most.  Appearing everywhere for us when we need it most.

img_5320
Magnus entering the world

We needed to take just a moment to reflect on the incredible support we have seen.  Although we’ve consciously stayed away from actually reading complete messages for the most part (neither of us can usually make it through a single one before the tears start), we do feel the immensity of love and sadness that people around the world are sharing with us.   There are also so many people to personally thank, people who literally saved us in moments where we doubted our ability to take the next breath.

Kindra – our amazing doula – was one of these people, and woven into the tapestry of Magnus’s and Spirit’s journey more deeply than they will likely ever know.  She has blessed us by writing the story of their beginnings from her perspective.  It is a task that I have started too many times in these last five days, and gotten nowhere.  She reminded me that Chelsey and I are still living that story every second with both the boys.

I know that she wrote it as much for her own healing process and to give us something to reflect on when the time is right.  I made it about halfway through this morning before I just needed to cry with Spirit and watch Magnus sleep.

So we leave it here.  Thank you Kindra.  Thank you to everyone that has grieved with us, and is holding space for us and our two boys in their heart.

img_1371
Meeting Mom
From Kindra

Magnus and Spirit B,

I want to tell you the story of your parents journey into parenthood. Like all stories, there are several different versions, perspectives, and viewpoints. I want you both to be able to see what I saw in the months, days, hours, and moments before you were born. I hope someday your parents can know in their bones what I witnessed.

When I first sat with your parents in their home, they had just learned they were pregnant and I witnessed the typical excitement, nervousness, and curiosity about how our medical system works for pregnant couples in America. I saw a devoted and caring husband who I knew would learn everything he could about this process. I saw a nervous and excited newly pregnant mother who was carefully considering all of her options. We chatted about resources, different providers, and insurance. Chelsey and Jason were both a little wide-eyed as they contemplated the reality of birthing a baby and taking on the responsibility of parenthood.

Not too long after our first meeting, Chelsey messaged me that the ultrasound exams revealed two babies! I called expecting to start the task of helping to equip these parents with contacts, resources, and support as they grappled with the reality of not just one baby to care for but two. I discovered that Jason and Chelsey were already pretty good at doing this for themselves. They knew several couples who had twins and Jason himself is a twin so they were already leaning into the support they had built in to their community. I would come to learn later that this quick processing and facing challenges head on was typical for this couple, these skills they had already developed in their lives would serve them well when they needed it most. 

For months after the discovery that you two were coming together, I witnessed your pregnancy from pictures and blogs on the internet. My facebook scrolling would capture your mom’s growing belly on the side of a snowy slope, standing on top of your dad’s shoulders during a class, walking on bridge railings, and skiing next to rushing rivers. The four of you enjoyed so many adventures together!!!

In the third trimester, after your parents returned from Europe I got the honor of sitting with them through childbirth classes. During the first few classes I realized that your parents had already done a lot of work and were transforming into the parents they would need to be for you two. Jason asked a lot of questions and made sure he understood all the concepts we were covering, challenging the ones that didn’t quite make sense to him and helping to educate the other couples in class with everything he had already researched. Chelsey worked diligently during that time to help both of you turn from breech to head down. Her adoration of you was so apparent as she would pat the places on her belly where each of you were living. Her wide smile radiated excitement and joy moving through pregnancy. They both grappled with the decisions that would lay ahead during your birth.

As things got closer, I visited your home again to discuss what your parents desires and decisions were about the birth process. Again, the transformation they had already made since the first time I visited in their home was glaringly obvious. This visit, I found not only a loving, devoted, and caring husband, but a well-researched, knowledgeable, and determined father. I found a grounded and calm mother – Chelsey carried very little fear about the birth process despite the complicated nature of the decisions she knew she faced. She admitted to some concern that maybe she wouldn’t have the maternal instinct she witnessed in others. I giggled a little on the inside knowing that the process of birth would build this instinct in ways that I couldn’t express to her at this moment. I was confident she would find it. What I knew about both of your parents after this meeting was that they would be strong advocates for themselves, they would find a way to make their own decisions, and they would be fun for me to witness in the hospital. I was so excited to work for them and witness their journey!

We were all sure you boys would come on the early side, but December turned into January, single digit days turned into double digits and your parents continued to wait. They were faced with decisions about inducing labor or waiting for their babies to initiate labor naturally. These weeks and days were challenging for them. What I saw in these moments were strong, confident parents who were willing to learn everything they could to make the best decisions for their babies. Jason was reading research papers and learning statistics about every procedure and test that was offered. Chelsey was taking the time to quietly reflect, sit with both of you boys and listen to what your spirits might be trying to tell her. The were both bearing witness and sitting in contemplation about how American maternity care functions. The days marched on and still you both were cozy inside of your mama.

In your 38th week, I got a call from Chelsey – we chatted about the decision your parents were faced with, to induce labor or continue waiting. I told her she had a hard decision to make and only her and your Dad could make it. Thursday night I got the call –  “I hope you can get some sleep tonight, we have decided to get these boys out tomorrow“. I knew that both of your parents had struggled with this decision and I was proud that they took the time to make it on their own. They were ready. The universe, or maybe you boys had different plans.

Your parents showed up Friday ready to meet you, instead the hospital told them that they were understaffed and unable to do the induction that morning. The emotion of that moment was palpable. The excitement and preparedness in their faces fell, their shoulders dropped, and then their curiosity rose. What did this mean? What were you trying to tell them? We stayed in the hospital for monitoring and began the work of trying to understand the bigger picture. In my perspective, this day is the first day of labor – the labor of deciding. Jason diligently learned more about maternity testing and researched the new tests you boys were subjected to that day. Chelsey discussed the higher messages, saying her boys were showing us all who was really in charge. She tuned in to both of you and interpreted the signs she was given, the hospital cancelling the induction, Baby B turning head down at 39 weeks. In the face of fear, both of your parents took as much time as they needed to learn, contemplate, feel, listen, ground, and do one of the hardest things that parents ever do – decide. They didn’t do it lightly, they didn’t do it carelessly, the didn’t do it without as much information as they could gather. They did it with clarity, with strength, with their boys health and safety at the center of their minds and hearts. They owned their decision and left the hospital to spend a few more days with the two of you in charge of when you would be born.

Monday morning your Dad called from the hospital where they’d gone for a routine screening. They had rescheduled the induction for Wednesday.  

“We have lost Baby B”.

I told him I was on my way. I sobbed all the way to the hospital. After composing myself and preparing to do the impossible task of helping your parents through the worst news anyone ever receives, I walked into the hospital room where your parents were. I expected to find hollow, broken, shocked parents. I didn’t find that. I found sadness, you could have painted the walls with it, like it had a color of it’s own for the walls of that room. I found grief, and sorrow, and pain. I found parents struggling to handle their own sense of guilt. Your mom repeatedly said “I keep going back to Friday“. Over shadowing the pain and sadness though was strength. I was astounded by the strength in your mom and dad’s eyes, by the love there.

This day, Monday, I see as the second day of labor – the labor of grief. The labor of losing Baby B. Inside of that room that day your parents danced through the emotional task of accepting the loss of Baby B and preparing to birth Baby A. It was beautiful to witness. The waves of sadness, loss, guilt, despair would wash over your mother and your father would hold her, council her, love her through every second. He talked about plans bigger than all of us, he told her stories of how Baby B would impact people across space and time as a Spirit. Your parents spent hours staring in each others eyes trying to make sense of this. The love, power, connection in that space between their eyes was tangible. Your dad whispered encouragement to your mother throughout the whole day. He stood in such strength for her and allowed her to move through all of the emotion without ever expecting her to coddle him. Your grandmothers diligently waited in the hallways of the hospital for every time your dad needed them for support. He would leave the room and return with red, glassy eyes – using his support team to feel the deepness of this loss on his own so Chelsey didn’t have to feel his pain too. Such a graceful and powerful gift. I sat in awe as this parenting team gracefully moved through this impossible task.

Towards the afternoon, Jason gently started guiding Chelsey’s focus back towards Baby A. He started talking to her about gratitude, love, joy, hope, family, and consciously creating memories of a happy labor and birth for Baby A. In these moments I witnessed the creation of two sets of parents – Parents A and Parents B. As contractions started to come, Parents A started to allow excitement into their space. Parents B would continue to get waves of grief in between the waves of contractions. I knew this task would challenging, to do both a grief labor and a physical labor at the same time seemed nearly impossible. I swelled with pride and awe as these parents chose to labor for Baby A.

Induction of labor took more time than was expected and your parents continued to labor through the grief and prepare for the physical labor to come. They rested as best they could but sleep was understandably illusive. It wasn’t until Tuesday evening that a good pattern of contractions was established. Chelsey took a deep breath and got ready for the night.

We would now enter into the third labor – the physical labor. We all hoped for fast progress. As contractions got stronger, Parents A became more focused, more grounded, and more excited. Parents B were still present, still mourning, but quietly watching from the background as Parents A worked. Chelsey needed constant eye contact during the contractions and the strength behind those eyes was deep, and powerful. Your dad continued to stand by her side and provide her with everything he could. Your grandmothers sat patiently waiting and ready to help in the hallway.

In the early morning hours, the work of the grief coupled with the intensity of the physical contractions and the slow progress weighed heavily on your mom. She made the difficult decision to accept an epidural. As all decisions your parents made throughout this process, this one wasn’t made without deep thought, consideration, and intention. We were all hopeful that the epidural would aide in progress and allow your parents some much needed rest. I went home too, expecting to get a call in a couple of hours that you both were ready to be born. Jason called me at 6:15 to say they had more difficult decisions to make. Baby A was no longer tolerating labor and had made it clear he needed surgical intervention.

Baby A was born via Cesarean at 7:02, Baby B followed at 7:06. The hard work your parents had done through all three of their labors would now pay off as they had transformed into grounded, wise, intelligent, informed, loving, and dedicated parents. They had accomplished the goal of creating loving and joyful memories of labor and welcoming Baby A with smiling faces. Parents A and Parents B were coexisting and clearly defined for each baby. They held Baby A with smiling, hopeful faces. Magnus – you saw joy, love, and excitement. They held Baby B with sadness, loss, grief, but also with gratitude for his life. Spirit – they held you with honor, respect, mourning, and a great love. 

Parents A and Parents B shifted quickly between babies, loving and honoring each of them separately and together. Chelsey started the task of breastfeeding with gentle and instinctual grace. She held her sweet Spirit baby and told him how grateful she was to have shared his life and how much she loved him. Jason dreamed of the adventures Spirit would go on now that he was free to travel without the confines of a human body. They both apologized to Spirit, and promised Magnuss to protect him in the years to come.

Magnus – as you grow and learn this story of your birth my hope for you is that you know how deeply you are loved. How your parents still kept their focus on you and what would be best for your short and long term health. How they set aside their own pain and grief with the desire that you be welcomed into happiness, joy, and love. How they felt the deep loss of your brother and how that would change who you grew to be. They love you so sweet boy and after witnessing their journey I know they will be strong enough to hold you through all of your adventures. They will be kind and generous with their love. They will continue to create intentional memories and make decisions for you with wisdom and intuition.

Spirit – I feel humbled to be telling you anything at all as I believe you are now the wisest among us. I thank you for your presence in the physical world, for watching over what was best even if the adults struggled to accept it. I know that you already know how much your parents love you, how they will always carry you with them, and they are learning already to trust your journey in this world. Thank you for the strength and wisdom you offered your parents, as it served them well and will continue to do so. Your physical body will be sorely missed but I second your mother’s voice as she distributed your ashes to your loved ones – “Thank you for making me believe”.

img_5353
The four of us spent 24 beautiful hours together before Spirit B started his journey.

We are working on ways to keep Spirit in our lives as we move forward and look forward to sharing those with you when we are ready.

Paradox

Fear and love seldom
stand, shoulder to shoulder;
It’s rare to laugh and lie in the same breath.
But strength and weakness, failure and success,
faith and desolation – they are different ends of a
single stick.
To pick one up is to receive both poles – stark contrasts
contribute to a knowledge of the whole.
What is life but growing wide and deep, so
open from weeping that opposites, ambiguity, and a thousand
shades of gray can co-exist with out despair.

This post is written by Jason Magness.

I am listening to the beautiful sounds of a crying newborn, less than 12 hours old.  I am watching him climb to his mother’s breast and fumble for her milk in spectacular fashion, failing again and again until he is either too worn out, or succeeds long enough for a single drop or two.

I am also listening to the deafening silence from another newborn swaddled an lying in my lap.  A child that was carried inside of my wife for over 39 weeks, but had no heartbeat when we showed up at the hospital to start the induction process.

It is not necessary to go into details, and it is still so raw and painful beyond words.  Today we had twins, and lost one of them.  Baby A lost his brother.

Blaming ourselves is easy.  And real.  It has led to an impossible place, with no going forward, and no going back – stuck in a limbo of self hate and despair.  But our twins will not accept that choice and force us to reconsider.

I re-read the poem above and it may be the only thread keeping me sane.  That belief in the co-existence of vibrant love and absolute loss.  I am not sure how three of the four of us survived the last 72 hours – laboring to deliver twin brothers that would never play together in this world.

We have so many stories that we want to share.  Possibilities that we are working to turn into our truths so that we can celebrate the future, and the path that led us to this impossible place.  And we have so many doubts and failures.  We’ve held them together and wept for the future we will never have.

Through it all, I discovered such love for Chelsey that I never imagined possible.  Love that only travels hand in hand with pain so deep it drowns all breath.  I’ve cried more tears in these last three days than in my first 41 years of life.  Chelsey even more.

But here we are, with a 12 hour old boy and the resolve to take things one tiny step at a time.  I have been staring at the slowly degrading face of our passed son, and find it even more beautiful and his brothers rich pink cheeks and big curious eyes.

We do not know what death brings.  But we know that for baby B, it simply freed his spirit. So that it could do some amazing and powerful things.  I’ll tell his brother and mother (and maybe this blog) these stories in the years to come – all of the ways in which our spirit baby is still around us helping us through this life.

Rest in Peace – Spirit B. Magness.

We miss you and know you are watching.

img_5327

Finding my power through fear

Jason (the Husband):  The last week has been rough. Emotional.  Raw.  And pretty scary.  We were asked to make some difficult decisions, made them, and then circumstances conspired to force us to weigh the same choices a second time.  The people in this story all have a similar goal – to have Chelsey deliver two healthy twins, but there are so many differences when it comes to the subtler additional desires that accompany the process.  And it gets messy there.   In my opinion the system itself sets first time mothers up to be in a very vulnerable position, feeling powerless.  They become passive (and scared) participants in the age old life altering (and life creating) drama that is increasingly forced to fit into a hospitals scheduling timetable.  I am very proud of Chelsey for stumbling through this process with our two twin boys, and fighting to make an uneasy truce between hospital protocol and motherly intuition.  I have encouraged her to take time to write this account out, mostly for her own process.  I also know that the many people who have been reading this blog and commenting are a source of strength for her.  Thank you all for that.  

39 weeks 3 days

On Friday morning Jason and I went to the hospital with the intention of getting induced. However, once we got there, they had canceled it. To me it was a sign that it was not time yet. To the doctors, they just needed more nurses on staff (the full moon was a busy night to have babies !) Below is an account of what happened with a little background. So please take a few minutes, grab a cup a tea if you need and settle in.

Jason and I consider ourselves very, very fortunate that Oregon Heath Plan put me on FULL coverage as soon as they found out we were having twins. There was only one catch.  In order for insurance to work, I had to forgo my wishes of a home birth with my midwife and instead have a hospital birth, because I was now considered a “high risk” pregnancy.

My midwife become my doula, which made me feel a bit more at ease as I knew she would help us navigate our way through the hospital scene. In a way, I was actually excited to get to see both sides.  Part of me was sad to see my home birth dream go down the drain, but once I met two of the potential delivering docs, I felt more at ease.  Every Dr. that I met seemed to listen to me and even if they didn’t agree with my birth plan, they told me that I was ultimately the one in charge and they couldn’t make me do anything. Through out my entire pregnancy they were extremely chill with everything that I was doing. Acrobatics? XC Skiing?  Biking?  Snowboarding? (ok, they didn’t like the snowboarding at 35 weeks much)   “Just don’t fall” “but if you do, come right in.”   No surprise, we do live in Bend, OR. where there are is a high population of active mamas.

As my “due date” became closer and closer, their tune started to change  little by little.  At 37 weeks, they recommended induction for the first time. But, they were not very pushy about it.  I was healthy, my placentas were looking great, and my fluid levels still passed the test. But my babies were measuring small. They had dropped from the 25th percentile to the 15th and 10th percentile in a two week period and this made doctors nervous.  I agreed to come in twice a week and get their heart rates monitored. If they passed the 20 min test where they had to show signs of a spiked heart rate three times, I was free to go. If they didn’t, I had to go pass an ultrasound test where they looked at their movements, breathing and motor skills. Luckily we never had to go into get the ultrasound test, because they passed the heart rate test every time.  Once I hit 38.5 weeks they brought me in for more testing and a chat.  My main dr. sat us down and told us some more reasons why he really recommended induction at 39 weeks. He started pulling out all of these statistics and that the national recommendation was to induce me at 38 weeks.  All of a sudden, rather than feeling like an individual to him, I just felt like another number.  I know that it is his job and a requirement of his to give me these facts and try and get these babies out, after all, he has been trained and educated to believe this.  In the western medical world babies are safer on the outside at 39 weeks where in the midwifery world they are seen as safer on the inside until baby wants to come out- as long as baby and mama are showing signs of being healthy.

So there we were, faced with this choice at 38.5 weeks.  I had 3 days to decide what I wanted to do, and the beautiful thing was that I had a choice. He was not forcing me to do anything, in fact the very last thing he said to me was that everything was negotiable. He was just highly recommending it. He had taken the liberty to put me on his schedule for my 39 week date, but that I could cancel it and instead come in for testing. We went home, and for the rest of the day I sat with it. I tried to connect with the babies and ask them what they wanted, I tried to sit with myself and really feel what was going on inside me. Were the babies ok? Could they make it through labor even if they were small? Could I really prevent a c-section by getting induced?

The day passed with lots of intermittent crying. Instead of being stoked and proud that I had made it so far, I felt like a freak of nature and scared. Why weren’t they coming out? What had I done wrong? Why couldn’t I come to a definitive answer?

Wednesday came and went. Still no sign of an answer. On Thursday, I was able to phone my Dr. again and talk to him. He was very nice and assured me that if I wanted a vaginal delivery for both babies, even if one was breech- he was my guy. He told me how he had just delivered twins the night before. The woman really wanted a vaginal delivery as well and even with complications he was able to get everyone what they wanted and make it safe.  After hearing her success story, I decided to go for it. We were going to have babies sometime in the next day.

That night I couldn’t sleep at all.  I tried to meditate and visualize the birth, but nothing was working. At 615 am our alarm went off and Jason and I laid in bed cuddling and talking. He asked me how I was feeling and I said I really didn’t know.  “We can’t play the what if game”  he said, “once we make this decision we have to go in there like it is ours and not theirs. We need to fully own our choice.”  He was right. I decided to not ignore my feelings of being still being on the fence, but to go in and see how I felt once I got there.  This feeling and pattern within myself is not foreign. Before every big race, I am always the one that is least excited about the start. In fact I despise it. I just want the gun to go off and for our team to be on our way.  But once we are started, I loved it. If this was just “pre-race” jitters, I knew that once we got going, I would be fine.

When we arrived, Kindra, our doula had beaten us there and came out saying that our induction had been canceled. “Ok then! I guess that answers it for me, obviously this is not the day.” I say.  They still wanted me to do the anti stress heart rate test so the nurse hooked me up to the monitors and we all talked.  My nerves started to calm down, and I started to settle in.  Baby Blt, who we call our chill baby or now our “boss baby” was not passing the test though, so I got up to move and started pulsing my belly as they both usually respond to that. Sure enough he started moving and spiking his heart rate but it was still not in the allotted 20 minutes of testing time. So we went onto the next test, the bio physical ultrasound test. The tech was also very nice and talked us through everything she was seeing.  The first thing she said was that baby B was now head down!!! Apparently it is super rare for a twin to flip at 39 weeks, so we were super ecstatic and took that as another good sign that they were getting ready to come on out!  The placenta, fluid, movement, and cords all looked good. Baby B was still not moving as much as his brother, so she gave him one less point but said we still passed the test. Whoo hoo! By this point, it had been 5 hours of waiting and testing so I was very “hangry”. I needed food and more specifically, I needed some bacon. So we went back to the birthing center expecting to have a quick chat with the Dr and then go get some food. The nurse said no dice, he would be there in an hour and he requested that I go back on the monitor to keep testing Baby B AND that the Dr still wanted to induce because of what he saw on the tests.  There was no way I would last another hour,  “I need to eat”  I said (probably in not the nicest tone)  and the nurse said that if I left I would have to sign a release form going against the medical recommendation.  I asked for for the piece of paper, signed it with my reason for leaving being “I need bacon” and then we left.

At lunch Kindra asked me how I was feeling about everything and what my thoughts were around the Dr still wanting to induce.  “I am not in the right mind set anymore, my babies are fine, I am fine. I want to wait.”  An hour later, we headed back to the center and they admitted me again, but this time into a birthing room. “I am not having an induction, I don’t think this is necessary.” I say. The nurse says, “Ok, well, the Dr still wants to just put you on the monitor while we wait for him just to see how they are doing.”

I comply, as  I love hearing my babies heart rate.  Baby B seemed to be doing well, he was just tucked behind his brother, so his heart rate was hard to catch when he moved.  I felt like he was playing with all of us.

After a bit of a wait, the Dr. came in and started talking to us about a new test, the doppler test. It is about their umbilical cord. He said the reason why they may be so small is because there may not be enough pressure coming through the cord to get them the nutrients they need. The nurse goes on to give me a visual of a hose that is getting kinked and squeezed. And that is it. My breath started to go, and all I could think of were my babies squeezed cords.  And that is where I stayed. I didn’t hear anything else. I knew him and Jason were talking statistics and numbers but I was not there. At one point they looked over at me and the Dr. asked what I wanted to do.  And I all I could get out was “I don’t feel like you are treating me like an individual” and then I started to cry. The Dr then said “yes I am, I have been looking at all of your tests for the past few weeks.”  This didn’t make me feel any better.  He then gave me an option of giving me a little bit of pitocin to see how the babies would react to some stronger contractions. If they reacted well, he said he would feel better about letting me go. But if they went into distress, he would make me stay and I would very likely have to go get an immediate c-section.  At that point, Jason asked if the two of us could have some time alone as he felt we had all the information we needed.

When we were all alone, Jason asked me how I was feeling.  “I am afraid and I don’t feel like this is right. I want to go home.”  

Kindra walked back in next and sat down with us. She asked me where the fear was coming from.  I told her about my vision about the cord and how I couldn’t get that out of my head and how scared that made me. I told her how I was afraid that I was being selfish because I really didn’t want to go through with the induction today, but what if that was really the best thing for the babies?  She then asked me to visualize staying there and going through with the contraction test and how that made me feel. “It makes me feel anxious, and that I would just be going further down their path. I am feeling way too unsettled and unprepared to go through with it today.” Ok, and how does it make you feel when you think about going home and being in your own space? “I really want to go home, but I still can’t get that cord image out of my head. If I know my babies will be ok for a few more days, then I will be ok. I feel like my babies are good and healthy.”  As I said that, on the monitor baby B started spiking his heart rate and moving with his brother.  “Thank you” I thought. That is just what I needed to feel at peace.  It was obvious what my decision was.

Jason called in the nurse and asked to speak with the doctor. A few minutes later the Dr. called us and Jason said that I had decided to go home and reset.  He didn’t try to convince us other wise or write us off. He was very kind and gave us a list of things to watch out for. If any of them happened or if I just didn’t feel right, he said to come right back in and we would go from there.  A few minutes later the nurse came in with a list of things to do at home, in addition to the drink water, lay on left side, and go on light walks she said “have as much sex as you can” “soften up that cervix” and lets get those babies out. We all just want what is best for you and your babies. “

“I know” I said “We just need a little more time.” Then I signed my second medical release form ever in my entire life and we left.

Now with a little more time under our belts and space away from the hospital we are happy about our decision and hope these boys come on their own soon.  I keep meditating and talking to them, assuring them that we are ready and that they are ready and strong enough to make the journey.

This morning we go in for our routine tests, hopefully Blt cooperates and we don’t have to go in for further tests. But if we do, I feel even more prepared to deal with what ever else comes our way.  To move through fear and go against a doctor with years of experience and knowledge is not an easy thing to do. But to go against my intuition seemed even harder and was not emotionally or physically possible for me to do.  I am so grateful for this experience, for Jason, for Kindra, for the doctors and the amazing nurses for this opportunity to come into my power. Thank you.

As I was getting ready for bed on Friday night after our long day, I opened up a book of poems I am reading by Danna Faulds and the first one I came to was this one entitled Paradox.  It was a perfect ending piece to our day as it solidified my belief that decisions are not all black and white.

“Paradox”

Fear and love seldom

stand, shoulder to shoulder;

It’s rare to laugh and lie in the same breath.

But strength and weakness, failure and success,

faith and desolation – they are different ends of a

single stick.

To pick one up is to receive both poles – stark contrasts

contribute to a knowledge of the whole.

What is life but growing wide and deep, so

open from weeping that opposites, ambiguity, and a thousand

shades of gray can co- exist with out despair.

You can take the girl out of the drive.. but you can’t take the drive out of the girl

15713306_10211482932178462_1790367468_n.jpg

Over the past few months I have had a question come my way several times that I have wanted to address, but I never knew how to answer.  I was confused, since the question itself seemed to assume a reality that I was mostly at odds with.

The question being: “How is it possible that you are not not even slowing down and still charging it!?”  While it may seem like that from the outside (ahh don’t you just love social media??) in MY reality, I have been letting go of something on a weekly basis.  I have not felt like I’ve been “charging it” for a very very long time.

And it has been difficult.  Passing up on winter missions.  Doing my increasingly limited air squats in the gym while watching Jason drip sweat during his third paddle interval on the ergometer.  Sometimes it feels like torture.

unspecified-2.jpg

But it is what it is.

Five months ago, I was certain I was never going to need to stop running or biking. But eventually they were both out of the question. It just didn’t feel good, and I couldn’t convince myself to overcome that supremely uncomfortable sensation inside anymore. Instead of stopping completely, I just switched to hiking and swimming.  Once winter hit I was able to skin up the local little backcountry hill and snowboard down. But that stopped too when falling became “not allowed”.  Now it is XC skiing which has been feeling amazing.  Acrobatics and inversions stayed around for a lot longer (thankfully long enough for the European teaching tour!) but they too became to uncomfortable and cumbersome. So now it is gentle yoga and light weights.

15731183_10211484425295789_1671194532_n.jpg

Even my sleeping routine changed. I used to thrive on my early mornings to myself. I’d rarely miss starting the day with meditation. Now, that has been replaced with sleeping in and cuddling until at least 9 am every day.  I NEVER thought I’d regularly sleep past 7:30!

Do I miss all of the things I have had to “let go of?” Of course! But I know that this is all part of the process and that everything is always changing.  

However, what I haven’t let go of is my drive. It is in my DNA to move my body. It is what makes me tick and my heart purr. Luckily I figured that out at a very young age and have always made that a big part of my daily life. Being outside, breaking a sweat, breathing hard and just being in the routine of working out has always made me content deep down.

Do I have physical goals for after I have these babies? YES. I believe working towards goals is crucial no matter if you “succeed” or “fail” because no matter what, you learn something in your journey.  Both Jason and I have made it known to each other and ourselves what is important to the core of us, and we will work hard to make these a priority as we navigate this new world that is unraveling before us.  This is the juicy part that we are most excited about!! It is like one big life long adventure race full of unknowns and lessons in adaptation and patience.

So, to circle back and finish answering the question “How are you still crushing it? ” –  I am not….  I am just listening to my body and doing things that feel good.  These days what feels the best is savoring this quiet time with my husband and this body that I have grown to love.

15697134_10211484450416417_32781057_o.jpg