Well, it’s that time of year again (December 17, 2006, 3:34 PM). It seems like it was about this time, last year, when I was combing out the last of the sand from my hair (we got back from a Caribbean cruise on the 19th of November in 2005). So much has happened since then. Where do I start? Unfortunately, this has been, largely, an uneventful year, except that we had twins, bought a house, Wendy started a salon, and I took on an additional job. Also, my truck logged over 60,000 miles. “Woah, woah”, I hear you saying. “Let’s hear more about these commuter miles”. Slow down, reader. We need to start at the beginning.
On the 18th, we found out that Wendy was pregnant. Immediately, those who had spent years trying to convince us that life doesn’t begin until parenthood, began telling us that life was over as we knew it, so to enjoy the time we had left together.
Patrick (my brother) and I went snowboarding.
On the 15th, we were told by a doctor (licensed) that we were having twins. This is about the time that those who told us that life was over as we knew it, began citing statistics on average lifespans for parents of twins (mid 50’s). Up to this point, we had been renting our abode for about five years. Renting had been a harrowing experience, to some degree. In our first apartment, I had resorted to holding the cat in the shower to get him to be quiet (we weren’t allowed to have pets) in order to avoid eviction. In our next rental, Wendy pointed out (rightfully so), that no one should have to change an outlet’s plug when turning on an oven (our oven and dryer shared an outlet). These two things, plus a desire to really see how fast money can disappear, propelled us into the quest for home-ownership.
Patrick and I went snowboarding.
Did some house hunting.
Patrick and I went snowboarding, even though snow was waning.
On the eighth of April, we finally found a home and started packing. Wendy boxed boxes and I moved them around. We had a lot of help from Wendy’s family (Freemans) and without them, it would have taken considerably longer to move. Please don’t discount the Nelsons in this effort. There were a few of my family to help out with this, also. Over the months, we would have lots of help from family in painting, cleaning, and organizing.
Also, I was invited to do a musical fireside for a church ward in Salt Lake, so that gave me a reason to dust off my guitar and relearn a few things.
Patrick and I went snowboarding for the last time in the season.
We took our last trip to California for the year. We knew we wouldn’t be out again, for a while, since Wendy was pregnant and travelling was very uncomfortable. By this point, any time we drove anywhere, it was a very vocal event. For us to drive from our home, over to the hospital, it would take us only about five minutes. But those five minutes were pretty agonizing, since Wendy’s stomach was huge (we have photos) and, as a result, traveled only when necessary. We moved into our home on Memorial Weekend.
David (Wendy thinks that I should mention he’s my brother) came out in June and stayed with us for a few days, which was cool, fun, etc. It was a poorly timed visit, since the snow came before and after he was here. If he were smart, he’d come out again, right before he goes on his mission, so we can snowboard a little. But really, that kind of filler commentary has no business being in a Christmas letter. Dad and Bishop Passentino came out to drag home a car that the bishop’s daughter immobilized (I’m sure it wasn’t her fault). But before they got out here, I tried dragging the car from Nevada to Utah, backwards, with a transmission that had no idea what it was in for. It was ruined by the time it got within 30 mile markers of Utah. (I’m sure it wasn’t my fault).
Wendy had her 28th week ultrasound, which discovered a condition, called Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS), which has an 80-100 percent mortality rate for twins, when untreated. This is probably where much of our stress began (although news of having twins did it’s job, as well). We started looking up statistics for TTTS and read a lot of horror stories from other parents who had gone through the process of having twins in this condition.
It should be noted that this was Wendy’s most uncomfortable month (although July would be a strong competitor), physically-speaking. It was hot, hard to move, and just altogether miserable for her. There were several times when Wendy would grab her side and tell me that one of the girls (usually Roxie) was pushing up into her ribs. Wendy says that Roxie was basically shrink-wrapped to her side. This is one of the side-effects of TTTS. One twin, called the donor, will pass nutrients, blood and oxygen along to the other twin, which causes two things: First off, and probably most important, the donor will pass up some much needed life sustenance. Secondly, the other twin (called the recipient) will gain way too much, in terms of blood and nutrients. This accounts for the white-as-a-ghost Roxie, and the cherry-red-sort-of-purple Reagan at birth.
Patrick started planning the next snowboarding season with me, in between hospital visits.
Wendy was thrown a baby shower (in the nick of time, as you will soon see) by family, friends, and…that’s it- just family and friends. Mom and dad (Nelson) came out for a little while in the beginning of July, which was great. Little did they know, they’d be back out, almost as soon as the next paragraph began.
Wendy called me on July 18th, at about 11:30 AM, while I was at work. She had spent the night at the hospital, because doctors wanted to monitor Wendy’s and the twins’ health a little more closely. So that day, before Wendy came home, one of the doctors decided that he should do another ultrasound, even though she wasn’t scheduled to have one for another week. In this ultrasound, it was discovered that Roxie hadn’t grown for two weeks and had no amniotic fluid at this point. The doctor said that if we had waited until next week, one or both of the twins would have died. This was a time-critical call that the doctor had made, and it was the right one.
So I rushed from work, 50 miles south to Provo to join Wendy at the hospital. That afternoon, at 3:54 PM (or there-abouts) Roxie and Reagan were unceremoniously born. Wendy never had a chance to see them, I never had a chance to hold them. I don’t have recollection of signing the forms that would give doctors permission to do whatever was necessary to save the girls lives, and Wendy really doesn’t have any memory of this event, until the next day.
But I can tell you that in the moments that Roxie and Reagan were taken from Wendy and placed on separate tables to begin resuscitation and CPR, I was horrified. I didn’t know where to be. Wendy had just given birth and I felt that I should be with her. But at the same time, my girls who I had never met, were fighting for their lives. It was confusing, heart-breaking, but more than anything, it was surreal. Roxie was born at two pounds, five ounces, and Reagan was born at three pounds, 8 ounces.
I don’t think that this is really the forum to go into every detail of July-September, but suffice it to say, it was quite difficult for Wendy and myself. Also, I should mention at this point, that there were a LOT of prayers, well-wishes from family and friends. I’ve never really seen so much positive energy and effort expended on our behalf, but it was humbling and most appreciated. We have had some very important and unforgettable conversations on cell phones in the hospital hall with parents, siblings, and friends, and countless visits at the girls bedside at all hours of the night. Quite amazing, actually.
Wendy and I celebrated our Five-year anniversary…in the hospital. We won’t forget it.
Wendy and I started putting together a salon for her to do hair out of (someone has to pay the hospital bills). We had a lot of help from Lee (Wendy’s dad) and Mark Willison (my sister’s husband), in terms of salon stuff. Big thanks to them.
At the end of September, Reagan came home on oxygen and with heart and breathing monitors. It was wonderful to get her out of the NICU, but very hard to see the girls separated. At this point, Wendy and I would take turns going to the hospital to be with Roxie.
On the fourth of October, Roxie came home. It was a relief. It was also the first time for me that I really felt like a dad of two girls. Up to this point, there had been dozens of people playing the role of parent. I’m not at all resentful. It was necessary and life-saving. Mom came out for about a month to help us as we tried to learn how to juggle work, parenthood, and…that’s pretty much it- Parenthood. Many thanks to her for all of her help. We owe her and the check is in the mail.
Patrick and I started looking for any signs of snow. Sometimes, I’d pull out the bottle of snow out of the freezer that I’d saved from the previous season, and contemplate dumping it in the yard, so that I could point and say “Hey! Snow!” Pretty lame, I know, but we were getting desperate.
The girls came off of oxygen and what a blessing that was. No more tripping in the middle of the night, over a mesh of cords; no more yanking tape off of the girls cheeks.
Wendy had a few clients for the salon and now that’s looking pretty promising, getting-us-rich-wise.
Patrick and I went snowboarding for the first time at Snowbird. (Patrick might argue this point, since we technically did go down a hill earlier in the month, after hiking for two hours- but the ride took about two minutes.) I ruined my board and we both got pretty beat up, since there were almost as many rocks as there were flakes on the ground.
We got the go-ahead to take the girls off of their monitors. Now we peer into their room and see nothing but blackness. No reassuring blinks from monitors. The other night, I caught myself with my ear to Reagan’s lips, trying to hear anything. I couldn’t feel or hear anything and I sort of panicked. I moved her arm and she woke up- I was relieved.
Wendy is feeling more like herself. The pregnancy, nursing, etc., really took a toll on her, physically and mentally. But now we are extolling the virtues of formula. The girls have gone from eating in an hour and a half, to eating in 5-15 minutes. They almost sleep through the night. Wendy looks like her old self (that’s good.) I am still commuting, but with a much better schedule that misses most of the bad traffic.
Indigo is still a part of the family, and that drives Wendy nuts. She doesn’t think that cats have any business around Christmas trees, couches, or babies.
We can’t express enough thanks to the nurses at IHC, family that has supported us this year in so many ways, and friends that have done the same. If any of you think that I’m not talking about you, you’re probably wrong. We and the girls are in debt for the measure of kindness and support that has been given to us this year, so thank you.
Wendy and I myself are pleased (that is an understatement) with how the year has ended. The girls are alive, smiling and eating. God has blessed us, more than we ever expected. We thank Him for all that we have- especially for the lives of our girls. We are really looking forward to the new year.
Patrick and I went snowboarding a couple of days after he announced that was moving back to California. I’ll miss that part of the winter season, around here. But he taught me how to board. Now it’s time for him to teach some one else. The student has become the master.