413 days ago i was trying to finish packing to move out of the ghetto. i find an unused pregnancy test underneath the sink in our bedroom and wonder if it has an expiration date. i do my business and watch as the pink line for “positive” appears in 16 seconds flat. we name him Mateo.
365 days ago i go in for a routine ultrasound. my conversation with the tech is as follows:
her – (staring at the screen) when was ur last ultrasound?
me – umm. 2 weeks ago?
her – they didnt tell u that u were having two?
me – two what?
her – two babies.
me – SHUT THE FUCK UP.
i call mike. frantic. crying. im too scared and excited to talk. i start thinking in doubles. i buy a bigger car.
270 days ago some lady hits my car from behind. im startled. its too early and too cold to get upset. i’m still tired from opening christmas gifts the night before and i’m already late for my ultrasound. my conversation with the tech is as follows:
her – ok great there’s twin B. have you named him?
me – yes. Adonis. we dont have a second name for him yet.
her – (after a long pause) i’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you this Rachel, but i cant find a heartbeat for twin A.
i call mike. frantic. crying. i’m too scared to talk. i hear the sound of my own heart breaking as i try and get the words out to tell him.
263 days ago i wake up bleeding. i see my ob and he sends me straight to the hospital. i’m 3 cm dilated and the drs at cpmc need me to stay for an undetermined amount of time. they give me medication to stop contractions, and stop the labor. i get steroid shots to help Adonis’ lungs. i’m prepared to spend the next 3 months in bed at the hospital. i ask for someone to bring me beard papa.
262 days ago the nurse tells me i’m fully dilated and starts prepping me for labor and delivery. i look at mike. frantic. crying. i’m too scared to talk. its too early for delivery. i’m barely 28 weeks pregnant. i pray as they wheel me out. i pray as they find out i cant give birth vaginally because Mateo is breech. i pray as they give me an epidural. i pray as they prep me for a cecesarian. i pray as they say nothing and deliver Mateo. i pray as they say “cute baby” and deliver Adonis. i hold my breath and wait for his cry. i count. 28,29,30,31. 32 seconds later i hear a small cry and i pray that he will be ok.
after they sew me up they wheel me to the NICU and i meet Adonis for the first time. he’s beautiful. even though he is only 2 lbs, his skin is almost transparent and he’s on a ventilator..he is the most beautiful thing i’ve ever laid my eyes on. i cry.
the social worker comes to see me. she askes what we want to do with Mateo’s body. she asks me if i want to see him. i cant bring myself to say yes. i cry.
260 days ago i meet Mateo. i say hello and goodbye in the same moment. i cry louder than ive ever cried.
258 days ago i eulogize a son i never got to know. i watch my husband cry in public. i realize that this is all real. this really happened. this is life. i watch as they bury his blue coffin no bigger than a shoe box 6 feet into the ground. i sob in front of family and friends but it doesnt matter. it doesnt matter.
i make the trip to cpmc daily to visit Adonis. i change his incredibly small diapers. i breast-feed. sometimes i just watch through the incubator as he sleeps. i wonder what it would have been like if there were two. i always wonder.
183 days ago i bring Adonis home in the car that i bought for 2 babies. i sit in the room i prepared for 2 boys. i look at the double sets of clothing hanging in the closet. i hold him and i wish so badly there were still 2. i always wish. i dont cry. i cant cry..i wont let myself cry in front of my son. i ask myself how its possible to celebrate my son’s homecoming, and mourn his brother at the same time. i ask myself this question even now.. this is my daily struggle.
today i wake up and stare at Adonis sleeping next to me. i imagine another baby boy, with Adonis’ face.. Adonis’ little hands.. Adonis’ chubby feet…. except his name is Mateo.
i remember pregnancy. i remember being able to determine which one of them was kicking me. i remember knowing exactly where they were.
i imagine them 2 years from now playing with each other in preschool. i imagine them 10 years from now running around the neighboorhood. i imagine them 20 years from now, telling me how lucky they were to have grown up with each other.
and then i remember again. i remember 263 days ago. i remember 260 days ago. i remember 258 days ago. i remember… and i never want to forget.
i see this chubby, healthy drooling baby and i cant even believe he was ever so small. i cant believe he ever needed a blood tranfusion.. ever needed a ventilator. i watch as Adonis laughs as he’s staring into space. i watch as he talks to the corner of the room and i wonder if maybe..just maybe Mateo is still there to talk to him. i wonder if he will always be there.
103 days from now my boys turn 1. Mateo’s 1st death anniversary. Adonis’ 1st birthday. i will remember the events of the last year… i will mourn the death of one son, and celebrate the life of the other. the day will be bittersweet. a true contradiction. the story of my life.
i may never understand why things happen, but i know this: i’ve been blessed with a child and a guardian angel. how many people get to say that? Mateo was never in my arms, but will always be in my heart. and i am so lucky that i get to see him in Adonis.
Adonis Mateo Quinn. the ink is forever etched on my skin. the memories forever etched in my head. the love forever etched on my heart.
everyday, i remember. i remember, everyday.