A Story of Hope and Love
My husband, Jeff, and I found out we were having twins in the Dominican Republic. I never thought I would spend my first pregnancy in a foreign country, however, we were missionaries on an incredible adventure serving the people we loved and a country we had grown to call home. About six months into my uneventful pregnancy, my doctor suggested that I return to the states because of the advanced medical care there. I had read that twins were typically a couple of weeks premature and thought my doctor was being overly cautious because it was my first pregnancy.
We returned to the states to discover that our daughters were monoamniotic twins which only occurs one in every 10,000 twin births. They did not have a protective membrane that separated them and only had a 50 percent survival rate. The doctors said they had a higher chance of survival outside of my womb than inside. I spent two short weeks on bed rest as they monitored the babies before they were delivered two and a half months early.
Theologian Stanley Hauerwas wrote, “Necessities force us out of our paths of least resistance, and, as a result, they make us more likely to form communities that know how to care for one another.”
On July 14, 2005, Sophia and Raena entered the world at just over two pounds each. We were unable to hold the girls for several days as they fought for every breath. On the fourth day of life, we entered the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to find the chaplain and the social worker with our doctor and nurses. We were told the girls would probably not survive.
Our sweet angels endured ventilators, five blood transfusions, a staph infection, a brain bleed, numerous apnea episodes, holes in their hearts, and a variety of other trials. However, after 60 days, I was able to finally bring them home on oxygen and an apnea monitor. We had so many scares in the hospital that we did not pay a lot of attention to the hearing tests they had failed.
Two months later we celebrated Sophia’s first breaths without her oxygen tank! Our celebration quickly came to a halt when we also discovered that they were both profoundly deaf. It was a very difficult discovery as we were never fortunate enough to meet anyone who was deaf and knew very little about the rich culture of the Deaf community.
My mind immediately raced back to the weeks the girls were in their incubators and were not healthy enough to be held. I would sing melodies of reassurance to them and cadences of “I love you”. While all of my songs went unheard, God reassured me that they experienced my smells, knew my presence, and explored every detail of my finger that they clung to through the small hole in their plastic case.
So many questions raced through my mind…how would we teach them to communicate their needs, how would they learn to read, how would we keep them safe? We began researching on line, through books, and through many phone calls regarding the best avenues for our girls. I found Hands & Voices online and was encouraged by the amount of information and resources available to parents. While the information was great, we found it overwhelming at times. We were connected with other families and professionals of the d/hh community and an entire world opened to us. We began becoming more educated and confident as parents how to be advocates for our girls and ways we could actively be a part of improving the educational outcomes and quality of life for them.
Theologian Stanley Hauerwas wrote, “Necessities force us out of our paths of least resistance, and, as a result, they make us more likely to form communities that know how to care for one another.” I am so fortunate to be a part of the Hands & Voices family. Other parents and professionals have held our hands through every step of our journey.
I’ve also learned so much from these beautiful angels. My daughters hear me through my hands, they experience my love through my expressions, and they speak to me through their eyes. They received cochlear implants in September of 2006 and are now able to communicate both with their hands and their voices. It certainly is a sight to see, nothing short of a true miracle! ~