Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Sunday, April 22, 2018

cram_halfFor John Thomas

The little stick turned pink. She was pregnant.

The news was met with joyful fear, or perhaps fearful joy. After all, they were barely scraping by as a family of three; how would they manage another baby? Still, Oliver and Johanna wanted this new child. They were just frightened. Johanna worked full-time. Oliver worked part-time and was also a full-time graduate student. Together they cared for their young toddler with help from grandparents. The couple had very little money but they shared a deep faith in God’s saving love.

From the outset of the pregnancy, Johanna was terribly nauseated. Whoever termed it "morning sickness" was surely not a mother. It was morning-noon-and-night sickness, and this woman had it all. It was especially hard to care for an active toddler while she felt so poorly.

Not far into the pregnancy, an ultrasound yielded startling news: Johanna was carrying twins. Again, the news was met with joy and fear. How could they feed two more mouths while Oliver was still in grad school? How could Johanna leave behind two nursing babies when she returned to work? And yet, they were awed by the wonder of these tiny gifts from God, who surely would provide for them. Family and friends pitched in with meals and child care so the expectant mom could get extra sleep. Everyone prayed a lot.

As this drama unfolded, I had a front row seat. You see, Peter and I are the grandparents, and you can be sure that the news of twin grandbabies was met with tremendous joy. Our three college kids were equally excited, playfully bickering about who would be the favorite auntie. I mean, twins in the family!

My only concern was whether the other grandmother and I would have the energy to care for two babies plus a toddler. After all, there’s a reason that 50-year-old women don’t have babies. (One wag said it’s because we’d put them down and forget where we put them.) Nevertheless, it was a delightful problem. Our friends envied us.

The excitement was short-lived. One sun-filled afternoon when Johanna came by the house to pick up her chatty toddler, her eyes brimmed with tears. "We lost one of the babies," she sobbed. The doctor had offered no explanation; the young life simply stopped.

We were told that it happens a lot. In fact, many doctors believe that the majority of twin pregnancies ultimately yields only one baby.

This knowledge did not soothe the grief. Neither was I comforted by the fact that I, too, had lost a twin during one of my pregnancies, later delivering a healthy singleton. We clung to the hope that Oliver and Johanna’s remaining baby would continue without harm.

Gradually, the couple grew accustomed to their painful loss as they prepared for the baby she carried. As summer dawned, Johanna gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy. His arrival was met with a tremendous outpouring of joy.

But I’d be lying if I said it was joy alone. It was joy laced with sadness as we mourned the child whom we never met. A previous grandbaby had also died during pregnancy, adding to the people I look forward to meeting in heaven.

When friends ask how many grandchildren we have, I answer, "Two." Silently I add, "and two in heaven."

Sleep tight, little one. I’m saving up kisses until we meet in glory.

Regina Cram lives in Glastonbury and is a freelance writer.