Losing a Parent While Pregnant with Twins

losing a parent

Being pregnant with twins can be tough enough but add the stress of losing a parent and it becomes a whole new scenario.   This is my story of losing my father while I was pregnant with my twins in 2011.

Early in my pregnancy I was deemed high risk and I had already encountered a weekend of bed rest for spotting, so my husband and I were planning on taking things a little slower and easier. Things would change the last Saturday in September when I received a call from my dad. He seemed upset and started the conversation with, “I have already called your sister and brother,” so I was preparing myself for a discussion that mom and him were planning to move again. How I wish that was the case, instead he told me he was sick … really sick. This call came after his second opinion and it was confirmed he had Stage 4 liver cancer. Not a tumor, but a cancer that was in the cells of the liver.

losing a parentI had so many questions and concerns. I had no idea what to do, and I was a lot closer to my dad than my mom, so this was devastating. How long do you have? Is it OK to cry while pregnant? What if I go into labor? How can I help when I am on travel restrictions? Should I call my doctor? The list of questions seemed endless… and hopeless. First thing is first, I knew I had to stay calm if not for me then for my babies. On Monday, I called my perinatologist, who recommended I have a little cry, calm down, and schedule an appointment to come in.

Once I came in, the doctor recommended me to be seen every two weeks to be monitored for signs of labor.  He lifted my restrictions temporarily, suggested I increase my fluid intake, and try not to exhaust myself. I cannot stress how much you need a good set of doctors who you trust with your life and your babies’ lives. My doctor explained that the stress of not being able to go see my parents under a travel restriction would have placed more stress on the babies inside of me than the travel itself. However, he did warn us that there were no NICU Level 3 Units within an hour of my parents. Should I go into labor early the newborns would most likely be transported to a hospital two hours away from our home. He did not want to stress us but he wanted me to understand I needed to stay as calm as possible, rested, and hydrated.

losing a parentSo the following weekend we traveled to see my parents which is a two hour round trip. We had no idea whether Dad would make it a few weeks, months, or years but he made the decision to not do anything to fight the cancer at this stage. His body was already getting weak and he was concerned chemotherapy or radiation would make him even more tired and sick. Just seeing my dad brought tears to my eyes and a heaviness in my heart.

We gave him his Christmas present early since I knew he would not be here at Christmas, which was the twins due date as well. Dad explained he needed some help to get the house in order so mom would have less worries after he was gone. He also got some paperwork in order, and true to form Dad wanted to be a part — too weak to help, but he had a chair brought out to “supervise”. Before we left, Dad asked for someone to take him to buy a lottery ticket — one of his hobbies — yet it really stood out this time, since no amount of money would change his fate. Once the chores were finished the following weekend, Dad took a turn for the worse.

losing a parentThe next visit, my mom was becoming worn out since dad was asleep more but still in pain. He chose to have his final days with hospice at home, not in the hospital, and it was stressful for my mom. My doctors were monitoring me weekly now and that gave some relief to my mom’s stress, as she was concerned for me as well. I made calls to help her when I could, but I felt so helpless since I couldn’t help with lifting Dad or administering his meds. Thankfully, Dad’s life insurance policy had a terminal illness clause so we could go ahead and collect funds to make funeral arrangements, so one more stress was put to ease.

Dad woke up the third week while I was there. He was tired and ready to give in. He wanted to know if I would be mad at him if he didn’t make it to see the twins. With tears in my eyes, I thought to myself, how do you tell someone you love you are furious inside that it is just not fair — but you can’t because it’s not their fault? I just told him to go home to heaven, that his job here was done. In my heart I knew he would know the twins. This would be our last conversation.

losing a parentI went back to the doctor for more monitoring. I was getting dehydrated and my son’s fluid was low, and my blood pressure was a little elevated. This can’t be happening!!! Luckily, they felt I was not showing signs of labor. I was ordered to put my feet up more and drink more water and if my son’s fluid didn’t come up in the next three days they would need to consider delivering sooner. Three days passed and the fluid was back to normal. My dearest friend had been helping my parents in my absence. I was so appreciative.

carolyn2Four weeks from his first phone call, I received a call from Dad’s nurse. He had passed away in his sleep. I was not devastated anymore — I was relieved. The pain for him was over and the stress of waiting and traveling was over for me. Now I just needed to survive the memorial service. We had monitoring scheduled that morning; of course, I was having contractions but not feeling them. They still released me to go to the memorial. While it was a heart wrenching service, I did have a little fun mentioning to my brother I was having contractions in the middle of the service, and the joking helped. Amazingly, I made it to my scheduled C-section date at 38+ weeks.

While this was the most stressful situation I have been in, listening to my doctor, not missing any appointments, and having a caring, loving family to lean on, cry and laugh with, and to just in general talk to, I managed to have a very healthy pregnancy with two 5 lb babies. Now I was ready to cry and mourn.

carolyn christensenCarolyn Christensen is a working mom of toddler twins and dedicated wife of 12 years.  After serving eight years in the Army Reserve she became the office manager to a small construction firm where she is blessed to work with her husband and bring her twins each day.  She loves writing, cooking, organizing, building things, supporting other MoMs through social media and most of all being frugal.  She hopes to continue to write and one day publish a book. Find more recipes at:  http://ourbunch2011.wordpress.com/category/recipes