What follows is a story I’ve told many times through my life and through this site but it will be a new telling. There will be stops and starts but that’s fine. It only becomes refined with retelling and I need to start rehearsing it now.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin…
Once upon a time I had exciting news, news that left me dizzy with its life altering potential. I was to be a father. I’d not been one before but I had a rough idea of what would be involved. Some of it would be not so good with the screaming and the bodily fluids and angst but that would be outweighed by the better stuff. All the cool stuff with an instant family, a ready made band with its own cool back story and psychic sibling dynamics and mischievous potential for deceptions small and large.
It was exciting. More so as it was a secret to be protected until we had a confirmation scan to make sure everything was ok as there were some worrying signs.
It was at that scan that we found out that babies could be like buses and after spending ages waiting for one two were coming. Not one baby but two. Not just two babies but two identical boys.
This was a bewildering but wonderful time. We were going to be part of a club! A club where people would coo at our twin boys, marvelling at them. Our minds raced with their futures and ours, what it would be like at school, how different or similar they would be, whether we would be the parents that dressed them alike or made a point of trying to encourage their individuality.
We joined a charity dedicated to helping parents of twins and multiples and read about the challenges and joy being a parent of twins would bring. My mind raced ahead and my heart ached for the imaginary joys and pains they would face together united forever.
We ran through the possibilities of names while seeing and feeling them shark around and kick us, occasionally seeing the outline of their tiny forms. We watched them move around on an ultrasound screen. One time we would watch them for over an hour as they swam around trying to avoid the sonographer’s attempts to track them.
I read stories to them to get them used to the sound of my voice and to practice for their bedtimes, playing with soothing rhythms and tone to learn the better to lull them to sleep. To instil them with an early love of music and sow the seeds for their own world dominating platinum selling band I played guitar to them, an indulgence permitted by their mother as we checked for kicks to see what they best responded to. Would it be aching melancholic hypnotic ballads or Raining Blood or Design for Life that got the strongest reaction?
Sometime we just wanted to play and we would jiggle them to get them to kick with a cheery “wake up babies!”. We researched the perfect buggy for the two of them and chatted excitedly with the shop owner about what it would be like when they got to ride around in it. As the due date approached we gathered all the things expectant parents think they may need and pored through the donations of friends and families and the little notes they left with them.
Things didn’t work out as planned but we had the chance to cuddle them and have our families meet them and in turn hold them too. We saw them together surrounded by teddy bears and holding hands in little red and blue striped baby outfits. They had little soft polar bears with them to keep them company when we couldn’t stay with them any longer.
We found our lives changed and what was once familiar was different now but we found new friends, deepening existing relationships and learning more about ourselves and that grief is an expression of love. We found others who had lost their babies and were offered comfort and in time we could offer that comfort to others by remembering their children too and sharing the stories of their brief lives and that of our sons and uniting our efforts to help prevent it happening to others and helping those were that couldn’t happen.
Their siblings have grown up without them but know that they have brothers and tell us stories of how they kissed them on the head when they were in mummy’s tummy or how they were responsible for breaking into their rooms and ripping the books or that we will meet them at the zoo when we go to celebrate their birthdays.
Their brothers and sisters are telling their stories of the lives in a way that we often couldn’t and it makes us a bittersweet blend of sad and happy all at the same time.
Our sons died before they were born but they lived too and they are loved forever after.