|I still remember the day as if it were today, it was our routine visit to the Ultrasound lab on December 10th 1998. We were finally getting used to the idea that we were going to have TWINS – and we had already found out that they both would be boys. I had been very sick with flu like symptoms the past two days, in fact on the evening of December 7th1998, (Pearl Harbor Day) I had become severely ill, and had gone into full labor. I reasoned in my mind that I must have ‘had a bad lunch’, but my twins Brandon and Connor were extremely extra active that day, in fact for the first time I had felt a tiny hand coming up to hold mine -–or so I thought at that time anyway…one of the twins was really moving a lot and he seemed to be really trying to push his little hand out of my abdomen, cause it was clearly visible when he did so, and there was no mistake it was in fact his little, tiny fist. As labor progressed into the early evening, I got out of bed and lay on the couch, I prayed over and over for hours, ‘dear Lord, please don’t let anything happen to these babies. If something is wrong Lord, tell me and I’ll go to the emergency room – please just let me know what to do. It’s too soon Father, they won’t survive, please take care of them for me, please stop this labor’…the contractions slowed by about two minutes per set and I prayed over and over as God slowed down my labor, my twins became less active, and I was nodding off to sleep. It wasn’t long before I had realized that my labor had stopped, and I thanked God, and went back to bed – it had taken three hours for the labor to totally stop.The following day – December 8th I had looked like someone had sucked all the color out of me – literally – I was very pale, feverish, and guessed I had the flu. As I got into the shower, I kept thinking ‘something is wrong, I shouldn’t feel like this’, and a voice in the back of my mind said, ‘They’re dead’ I kept shunning it off, screaming inside “NO!!!”, and begging God to please take care of my babies – HIS babies. Yet that voice kept creeping up all day long – off and on saying ‘they’re dead’, and each time I prayed… I proceeded to go to work and headed for my client’s site, but as it turned out I was too ill to work and ended up leaving my client site early. When I got home I had gone straight to bed. I slept well, and without labor pains, but it seemed my twins were very active again…
On December 10th, as Mark and I entered the Ultrasound Unit, we were greeted with our usual smiles, we had become a bit ‘popular’ since we were having twins…and not only were we having twins, but it was practically the ‘perfect set-up’ in the womb for them (so the doctors thought)…they were growing symmetrically (same size/weight), they each had their own sacs, and umbilical cords, and they were side by side, not one on top of the other, like most twin pregnancies. We really never feared that anything could possibly go wrong…
On the ultrasound screen, both twins showed up as usual, and as usual, they seemed to be ‘boxing’ – actually they continually played with each other’s hands – they were always opening and closing their fingers, and touching – it was beautiful to watch these two little people get acquainted with each other and it was very clear that they knew each other well, and they were used to being together.
Our ultrasound nurse did his usual sighing as he would get frustrated regularly with the very active little guys…this time he left the room in a hurry…a Radiologist came back with him – she usually came back each time near the end and told us that ‘everything is going great – these guys are doing really well – see you next time’. This time she spoke in a very low voice, clearly and precise, “I’m sorry but I have some bad news, I’m really sorry to tell you that one of your twins is no longer living”…the words hung in the air, as I looked at Mark in disbelief…”but they were just moving”, I responded in total shock, as I tried to choke back the tears…I looked again at the ultrasound screen in disbelief hoping that there had been some terrible mistake, as an overwhelming fear enveloped me – they were too active to have only one left I just knew they both had to be ok, but the nurse pointed out the enlarged umbilical cord that showed there was no more life flowing through it…the rest of her words were a blur…”more ultrasounds to monitor the living twin…University of Washington…more tests…you have to go see the OB doctor ‘so and so’ right away – down this hall”…blah blah blah…I could hold it in no longer – I began sobbing and I just couldn’t stop – all I could think of was ‘what happened’, ‘what did I do’, ‘I prayed – why didn’t it work’…my mind was a whirlwind of thoughts trying to trace my every step for the past three days – how could we keep the other one alive – why did this happen??? I knew in that moment that without a doubt – my twins had been trying to tell me something was wrong – one of them had said good-bye with the touch of his tiny hand – and oh how I wanted him back.
It had been months since we learned of our multiple pregnancy – at first all I wanted to do was ask God why He had chosen me for such a task – when He knew I couldn’t handle twins – how the heck was I gonna handle twins??? And why just before my big wedding celebration? I was a bit angry with Him that I was pregnant then and not just a few months later?? (ha – like I had nothing to do with it eh?!) It had taken me a while to get used to the idea, and finally after some time had gone by – I figured that God knew best, and it would be a joy to bring them into the world – even if it did mean another C-section, of which I had sworn off FOREVER! The first one was so bad – I never intended to do another and the thought scared me quite a bit…but I was coming to grips with it all, and I was even starting to feel a little special that God had chosen me…Mark and I had decided to name them after my two brothers, Shawn Lee Robbins, and Curtis Scott Robbins (Curtis passed away suddenly in 1995), so we went through the books of names and picked Brandon Shawn Lee Whitten, and Connor Curtis Scott Whitten.
I spent many many mornings in praise and worship, thanking God for these two beautiful lives that were going to bless our home (even when I was still ‘unhappy’ at the idea of carrying two at once). I talked to Brandon and Connor a lot, and I swayed (couldn’t dance much as I was getting pretty big – and HEAVY!), to the music – praising God, loving Jesus, and rubbing and patting my two precious little babies. They always responded to me right away – I’d rub – they’d move – it was fun – they seemed already to have different personalities – one being a bit quieter than the other – the other one always responding first, and being a bit more active. At that time we didn’t know which one was which, and we didn’t want to pick, because they could always move – and then we could get confused – so they were always Brandon & Connor.
So we swayed, played, and listened to Shout To The Lord and Shout To The Lord 2000, and we brought the Holy Spirit in and we just had a great time together. About the beginning of November, I was finally happy about the whole idea – the wedding behind me, Christmas ahead – this was going to be fun – and they were supposed to be born in March – spring babies!!!
But on December 10th – I couldn’t get out of that Hospital fast enough…I had to go talk to my Father in Heaven – NOW. Instead, Mark and I sat and listened to the OB Doctor assigned to us that day, Dr. Greene – he seemed like a very nice man. He was sympathetic, kind, soft spoken, but he couldn’t tell me what had happened to my twin…they simply wouldn’t know for sure until birth. He had his staff schedule us right away for the University of Washington Medical Center, where they have much more high-tech equipment. We were to go there to have the living twin checked out to make sure he was doing ok…I could already tell that he wasn’t. For four days he would not calm down – he wouldn’t sleep. Again and again I prayed for him, rubbed him, and patted him trying to reassure him all would be well – not knowing for sure any outcome, but knowing that he belonged to God regardless of what happened to him.
As we were led out of the Hospital building on December 10th, Mark wanted to drive me home, but I insisted I go by myself. I had to return to my client site to shut down my workstation, and let some people know that I would not make a few meetings that I was scheduled for. It was all I could do to keep from crying as I walked into the office, and headed for my desk…I quickly sat down, asked my Heavenly Father for strength to say the proper things, and wrote this email:
This is definitely one of the toughest emails I’ve had to write….
Regretfully – today we found out that one of our twin boys is in the loving arms of Jesus and has passed away before birth. He has been gone about 1 week. Evidently there was only one placenta and one twin ‘outdid’ the other and was getting all the blood supply….thus the other did not make it. We are 26 weeks into the pregnancy today – and the living twin will be monitored closely on a weekly basis. We ask for your continued prayers for our surviving twin please.
Robin Renee’ Robbins-Whitten
The Lighthouse For The Blind
Then I shut down my computer and left in a flood of tears. I wanted to get home. I wanted to SCREAM at my Father in Heaven – no I wanted to HIT Him! How could He give me this wonderful gift and then just decide to take it away…all the way home on I-5 I asked Him over and over, “I don’t understand – why – just tell me why. I’m mad at you dammit (yes I said that to God – He didn’t seem to mind at the time), why? It’s not fair, it’s just not fair” with an ocean of tears streaming down my face. My pager was going off, people wanted to contact me right away, they wanted to come and be with me, yet I declined. I had only one person I wanted to talk to – only one person I wanted to run to…Jesus.
I don’t remember the road home, I don’t remember getting out of my car, but I do remember coming in the front door of our home. And as I did, it seemed I was enveloped in Angels, as I literally fell to the floor and on my knees in tears, and cried out in a very hurt and loud voice, “Jesus you get down here right now, cause I need you and I don’t understand Lord, you come here and you tell me why – RIGHT NOW JESUS! I NEED A HUG! FROM YOU – I only want to talk to you – I only want to listen to you – I praised you every day – I prayed every day – I was happy every day – SO WHY DID THIS HAPPEN!!!! YOU TELL ME WHY! You hold me accountable – I’m holding YOU ACCOUNTABLE – GET DOWN HERE!!!”
There was not one moment of silence following; suddenly the hymn ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’ was instantly in my mind – but I was MAD! How the heck could a hymn come NOW?? Not two minutes (yes really!) after I fallen to my knees on the floor and cried out to God, my telephone rang – but I didn’t want to answer it (suspecting it was Mark) – I didn’t want to talk to anybody but God and oh crap – it was our Pastor (caller ID) – oh great – I just wasn’t in the mood…’hello’, I somehow managed to get the word out. All I can remember was that he asked me, ‘how are you doing?’ I responded, “I’ve been better”. He proceeded to tell me that Mark had called the church and told Allison our Church Office Assistant about the twins and had asked for prayer for the living twin – he also said that when she came in to tell him about it, that he had been in the middle of writing an encouragement card to us – that God had put us in his mind to do so…then a knock at my door – I looked through the peep hole – oh geez – NOT my neighbor – God I told you I only wanted to talk to YOU! I reluctantly let her in, and said good-bye to my Pastor on the telephone. Being the strong person of God that she is, and with true Grace, she hugged me and asked how I was doing? Rod (our Pastor) had called her and told her about our twin dying – I was exhausted – she sat with me and we talked, and we prayed (but at least I wasn’t crying!), I was beginning to feel a very slight Peace – but I didn’t want to yet – I wanted to talk to GOD – now great – as we were praying – the phone was ringing again – oh terrific – this time it’s Mark – we let it go to the answer machine…then my pager again…
I don’t remember how long my neighbor Rebecca was there, or when she left…I just remember I wanted to sleep and wake up and have it all be a bad dream – yes – it was a bad dream alright – so I went to rest. As I was about to sleep, I suddenly realized that we didn’t know WHICH twin had died – how could I pick – I just couldn’t – it’s not fair – I just couldn’t pick which one would live with which of my brother’s names – I had already lost Curtis – I just didn’t want to face this choice at all…then as clear as ever – I decided I would like Austin (our almost 4 year old son) to pick – they were his brothers, and he had been very involved since the beginning. In fact, he was very excited that he was getting two brothers in one shot – he thought that was a terrific deal – two babies at once! He had even had me print the pictures of their first ultrasounds together, and post them above his bed (they are still there).
So when Mark and Austin got home, I quietly suggested the idea to Mark. He agreed – Austin should pick, and we agreed it should be right away and he should be told right away. That night, as Austin was putting on his jammies, with Mark by my side, I sat on the edge of his bed, and I asked him, “Austin which baby is where?” – I pointed to each side one at a time, and asked, “which baby is Connor and which baby is Brandon”. Austin very matter of factly pointed to the living twin and stated, ‘this one is Brandon, and this one is Connor” (pointing to the dead twin). “Are you sure?”, I asked and I repeated the way he had told it “yes”, he said impatiently – “this one is Brandon and this one is Connor”. At that moment my eyes went to the picture of the two twins together in their ultrasound above his bed – I fought back tears and asked God to please help me do this…”well”, I said, “baby Connor went to live with Jesus in Heaven. He’s not going to be coming home to live with us”. Austin was immediately upset, “no!” he cried out “I want my two babies, that’s not fair, I want my two babies”. Oh Lord, I thought with a huge ache in my heart – THAT’S WHAT I SAID TO HIM TOO AUSTIN! We proceeded to comfort him, and tell him that it was ok, and to please pray for baby Brandon when he said his prayers that night. Austin had gotten accustomed to patting my abdomen each night on each side and telling the twins, “nite nite Brandon nite nite Connor. My (he still doesn’t say ‘me’ or ‘I’) love you”, and he insisted on doing it again on this night, but this time he said, ‘nite nite baby Connor in Heaven’. I had to leave the room, as I was about to burst into tears again.
I decided that night that I truly wanted to go to work the following Monday, yes – I had to. I figured there was someone there (little did I know just how many), that needed to know that I would be ok – that Jesus would sustain me and that all would be well. Many knew matter of factly that I am a professed Christian – a believer in Christ, and that I had no problem stating as such openly. So Monday morning, I got up, and I showered and got ready…hmmm – I had that same hour to kill where I usually played praise and worship music…but – did I ‘feel’ like it today??? No – not really – I didn’t feel like singing, or swaying. But I had learned a very valuable lesson just a few years earlier when my youngest brother had died – back then I had slunk myself into my own ‘pity-party’ – oh I still believed in God, and I knew He was there, and I knew He loved me – but I didn’t like living anymore – and I wasn’t happy anymore… and at that time, several Christians had tried to tell me very nicely – as I sulked through my days feeling sorry for myself and my family…but I hadn’t listened – (till my world had fallen apart – Mark and I broke up, I had lost my job, finances weren’t too great, etc. etc. etc. – what would it take???). So I had learned the hard way that God works through us when we praise Him…(NOT when we have pity parties, though He allows us to grieve, and loves us through it).
This Monday morning, as I sat stubbornly in my rocking chair, I pondered these things, ok – well Brandon needs it anyway – he’s used to it – I’ve got to help this little baby get over loosing his brother – so ok – I’ll try…I put on my usual, and though I couldn’t stand and raise my hands, nor sing a note, nor sway an inch – I sat in my rocking chair – and I let God talk to me – yes – I just listened and then I sorta began to hum – but you weren’t gonna get me singing…
As I walked into my client’s office – there were several who came and hugged me, and told me how sorry they were (people I had hardly even known) – my inbox in my email was totally overflowing with heartfelt condolences, and offers to help in any way – and mostly PRAYERS! So again the tears began to flow, but I was really starting to feel MY FATHER’S LOVE – EVERYWHERE – the doctors office, the hospital, in my home, in my car, at the client’s office, at church, outside – EVERYWHERE! That day is a blur, accept for many who had questions, and I was actually able to calmly answer them without tears…
On my way home that day, I again as usual, put in my praise and worship music to listen to in my car – still I couldn’t sing – but I didn’t feel bad. It was then I realized – I had been given ‘THE PEACE THAT PASSES UNDERSTANDING’…a peace that you cannot understand in the midst of misery – it comes it seems, from nowhere (but I know from where!), your heart is at rest, and you think “I should feel sad, or cry when I think of this – but I don’t”…it happened so fast – you cannot place exactly when – what hour – what day – it’s just THERE.
God had heard me when I said I only wanted to talk to HIM – and He, in that moment, sent His people to LOVE me through my pain and sorrow (a whole lot different than years before in my pity party – there was no one around to help me or love me – so it seemed). Those Angels that I felt near me – they were THERE – the hymn I had heard – THEY WERE SINGING it – the PEACE I had felt – Jesus was standing RIGHT THERE WITH ME – it was a picture in my head that I will never forget. When God said He inhabits our Praise – He MEANT IT. Though my heart was aching, and I hurt all over, and my spirit was weak and did not want to stand up and praise Him, a little piece of me did it anyway – and the rest of me and my life were immediately blessed. And my Father had said, ‘I love you’, in so many ways…though I was angry and I had cried out to Him in my anger, and confusion, and pain…though I SWORE at Him (sure glad He is forgiving!), He had understood – it was all very clear to me as it unfolded in my mind on my way home.
Do I understand it today? Yes, and no. I understand that Connor’s short life here, was a blessing, not just for me – but for many others who witnessed it. I understand that I have a child in Heaven that the enemy did not get to touch – my baby knew no pain, no sorrow, no regret, no anger, no hell. He went straight from a life of content and love in my womb, to a life of Grace in eternity. He knew no tears of sorrow, nor any temptation. Connor came here for a very short time, to show people about God, and His love – his little mission was simple, perhaps to keep Brandon company for awhile…perhaps to teach some of us a lesson or two… I understand that today he lives and enjoys a life full of love and joy like we cannot imagine in a Holy city full of Glory. I understand that God has a plan, and it is not finished yet. I do not know that I will understand exactly why – until the day that I meet my Lord face to face and ask Him. And yes, sometimes it still hurts, when I see identical twins together playing, and I wonder “how come I didn’t get to do that too”…but the Peace That Passes Understanding never leaves me – it is still here – I can live in joy knowing that God showed many people through a tiny baby’s short life, just how much He loves them.
When I got home that day, I sang loudly again, and I thanked Him with tears running down my face for leaving me one – Brandon. And I thanked Him for my marriage, my son Austin, and all the many blessings He had bestowed upon us all through His love.
The doctors wanted to conduct all kinds of testing – some of which we allowed, but much of which I refused. I flatly stated to each of them, that these twins were “God’s babies, and God would do what He saw fit. There was nothing you could do to save Connor, and there is nothing you can do to save Brandon. God will take care of it.” Needless to say, I was not a very popular person with the medical facility…and I didn’t care. There would be NO amniocentesis, as they confirmed what I already had stated, there really wouldn’t be much they could do even if they did find something wrong with Brandon…
Since Connor had passed away – my body was attempting to ‘reject’/deliver the twins early, and we fought premature labor frequently. My prayer to my Father was that HE decide what to do and when, and that HIS will be done. When it was time for them to be born, I asked God to please have my body do whatever it needed to do at the proper time – His time. He again answered my prayer loudly, as I told the many doctors and nurses what I had prayed for…as they stared at me in disbelief. So while they pumped over 20 shots of their ‘magic medicine’ that they so strongly believed in, into my body – it continued to labor for 6 days straight, rejecting all types of medication. And as they attempted frantically to stop my labor to buy Brandon more time, I dilated to 7.5 centimeters rapidly – forcing an immediate c-section (they were uncertain if Brandon would be strong enough to push Connor out of the way, and if he got ‘caught up’ we both would be in serious danger). Again the doctors and nurses looked at me in disbelief when they asked me how I was doing and I told them I was scared – yet as they walked away they heard me ask Jesus not to leave my side…
Brandon Shawn Lee Whitten was born 1.5 months prematurely on January 29th 1999 and was taken from my womb first. I said hello to him, and we talked to him before he was taken to the special care nursery. Then they brought Connor to me and Mark held his limp little body, wrapped in a blanket near my head. I formally said “good-bye”, to my precious little baby boy, and could see for myself that they were identical twins. Connor looked as if he should be fine, he should cry, wake up, something – he had all his fingers and toes – everything – but no breath. I told him I loved him and that I would meet him in Heaven one day…with a team of doctors, nurses and an anesthesiologist looking on – again in disbelief. The anesthesiologist just stared at me and smiled.
After surgery, I was taken to my room, and they brought Connor to me again. This time I held him, touched him, and had pictures taken with him. Yet again, that peace never left me. I did not cry, nor feel sad (could’ve been the drugs – but I know better!). I knew that he wasn’t in there anyway, and I kept hearing ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’…he was beautiful, though not living…here anyway.
Brandon’s lungs were not fully formed and he was not breathing well on his own. Early the following morning, Mark brought me pictures, and with tears in his eyes and a heavy heart, he simply said, “he’s not doing very well”. My immediate reaction was to grab his hands and pray for Brandon. There were more ‘bells and whistles’ hooked up to the little guy in those pictures, than I could count, and I knew he was in trouble. Several nurses entered the room to care for me and heard our prayers, but quietly left the room until we were finished. Then I asked Mark to call our Church and ask that Brandon be put on a prayer chain and to please have people start praying for him right away – and to call our babysitter’s family also and ask their church to pray for him…
Connor Curtis Scott Whitten’s tiny body was cremated in early February 1999. When he was taken from my womb on January 29th, it was obvious what had happened to him. He had been so active, that he had twisted the first 3 inches of his umbilical cord (near his stomach) tightly, cutting off his lifeline (not the placenta ‘theory’ that the doctors had first suspected). They were very active little guys – Brandon still is, and though I cannot see Connor – I’m betting my life that he keeps them busy in Heaven as well!!!
Though you might find it odd, I’ve summed it up as this – God definitely knows best. His plan is perfect – and I’m not one to second guess it today. I’ve got a baby (now two of them as I had a miscarriage on December 19th, 1999 in my 3rd month) in Heaven and I know what he looks like – he is an identical twin to Brandon. I figure – God’s doing the hard stuff (raising my babies in Heaven), so that I get to enjoy them one day. Yet, He has left two here for me to raise – Austin and Brandon.
I know Connor’s got more love than I could possibly ever have given him. I know he’s happy and content. I know he’s safe and will never face harm of any kind. I know he gave me more than I could ever have given him, even in his short stay here. I know that he showed me and many others, the power of God’s love, and how God is true and just in His word at all times – especially in those times when we hurt most. I know that he was the key role in God allowing me to experience and understand “The Peace That Passes Understanding” – it has not left, and was sustained again on December 19th, 1999 as another of our babies unborn, left for Heaven. I know God has blessed me and my family beyond anything we could ever have imagined, and continues to today – and no matter what – I WILL PRAISE THE LORD. I know Connor lives FOREVER, in another place, far beyond. I know one day, I will get to meet him and live there too!
When I think of all these things – the only thing that comes to my mind in regards to God is “Thank You”…”I truly thank you”.
Robin Renee’ Robbins-Whitten