Faith Rosemarie & Hope Lillian
September 6, 2011 - September 29, 2011
"A life not measured in time but in love"
"A life not measured in time but in love"
I know that everything that has recently happened in my life is not a coincidence. I think it happened for a reason. The day prior to finding out I was carrying conjoined twins who share one heart, the discussion topic at my church group was abortion. Then, the next day, my doctor told us there is no chance that they will live and that I should get an abortion. Right then I was faced with the big question should I keep them? This proved to be a huge test of my faith to either go through with a heartless abortion or to choose life for my children. I willingly and knowing chose life for my daughters Faith and Hope.
On September 28th Uncle Jimmy spent the day with girls and me. Daddy came soon after work from his long, two hour drive. We spent all day and night playing and laughing with our daughters. That night we invented the "tent." We made it to block the light in the room, so they would open their eyes without the light shining bright. They loved it! They were able to stare at us for hours and we would smile and think how beautiful they are. I loved when they would open their eyes. Faith and Hope were two beautiful girls. We took a lot of pictures that day more than any other. We said our nightly prayers and goodnights and when we left to go to sleep their favorite nurse Francine was there taking good care of them. She always called Faith "Sweet Pea" and Hope "Sugar Plum." I know she misses them dearly, and they have truly touched her heart.
In the morning I heard knocking on my bedroom door. I looked at the clock and it was about 5:45 AM. I thought Petey was at the door, thinking he forgot something, but to my surprise it was Amy, a friend who also has a baby in the NICU. She said Petey called her because the hospital and Petey were unable to reach me, and that the hospital keeps trying to call the both of you. We had to get there right away, the girls aren't doing well. Luckily, the night before Petey (my fiancé) dropped off my car; otherwise we would have had to wait for a bus to pick us up. So we jumped in my car and sped over there. Of course when you’re in a hurry there's no where to park and everyone is trying to slow you down. The person at the front desk was giving us a hard time getting upstairs to the NICU. I called my sister Kristin in a panic, telling her to please pray with me and pray for Faith and Hope.
After I hung up the phone, we went in the elevator to the 2nd floor NICU. We got buzzed in and then we reached the NICU front desk and said "BED 47" She said "GO." At that time my heart was racing and my legs felt like jello as I was racing to my pod. When I reached their bed, there were about 20 staff members all around my daughters, I looked up at the monitor and their heart rate was dropping to the 50's/40's.
I flashed back to the day the doctor told me I was having conjoined twins sharing one heart, who weren’t going to live. I remember having the same exact feeling. I remember crying, feeling so sick, and helpless. I started to pray by signing the cross over my girl’s bodies and prayed that they will be safe on their journey to heaven. Soon everyone in the room joined in and we all wept together. They told me, “We tried everything Amanda.” I gazed around the room and everyone’s facial expressions told me this was it. So, I sat down right next to the crib, where they laid for 23 days together, and for the first time I held them without any tubes or wires. Their faces looked like pure angels they were so peaceful in my arms. I let both of them know how much I love them. I remember Faith’s eyes locked with mine and I kept telling her that “you are going to be with Jesus and mommy loves you so much.” The nurses comforted me while they were on their way to heaven. I felt their last heart beat as I held them in my arms. I was so thankful I had my friend Amy right there by my side. I smiled when I saw her, without her I might not have been able to be there for their last minutes on earth.
About 10 minutes after they passed, my dad showed up at the bedside. We comforted each other with many hugs, kisses and tears. We brought the girls upstairs to the 4th floor to a large room. One by one the room was filled with family and friends. Everyone was able to hold and embrace Faith and Hope for their first time. Everyone was crying because we missed them, but we all knew where they were, in heaven. That is the place everyone in this world is trying to get to. Faith and Hope are there waiting for us with arms wide open, joined in heaven with many other loved ones. What comforts me the most, is knowing that they have each other, always and forever.
Petey and I are now glad that before giving them a bath we made 3D images of the girl’s feet and hands. After that we put on their beautiful white gown that Sandy, my neighbor, sewed together for us. I couldn’t get over how beautiful they looked. Our photographer Ana came and took a lot of pictures for us. She is so wonderful, she volunteers at the company “Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.” We spent about 8 hours together and then we had to say our goodbyes.
We went to the Ronald McDonald House, which took great care of us during our stay. It took two cars to fit all of my things and gifts. When I got home I felt so out of place, I haven’t been there since August when it was nice outside. Later that evening we went to visit my co-workers at Hair Cuttery; we stopped by on our way to the funeral home. My parents, Petey and I met at Countryside Funeral Home. They took such great care of us and we made all the arrangements for Sunday and Monday.
On September 30, I spent my day with my nephew Tristan. Tristan turned 3 years old we celebrated life, while yesterday we honored death. Later on we went to the cemetery. On the drive I thought why at 21 years old do I have to find a spot to bury my children? I did nothing but love them with all of my heart. I thought about all the mothers and fathers who neglect and abuse their children. Then I thought how lucky my girls were to never hear yelling or fighting. Every day all they ever saw and heard was love.
As I walked around the cemetery trying to find the perfect spot to lay them to rest, I asked the women to show us open lots for sale. I walked to the top of the hill right at the “T” in the road, one row back. I asked her if this spot was available. The background is a beautiful open field where the sunsets, and looking to the right is where our church will sit. I felt comfort being there. The peaceful environment, made me feel visiting them will be a beautiful place to meditate, pray and share stories.
October 1st the day before the wake my family came over to help make food and fill the photo albums. I developed over 1,000 pictures of the girls and we filled 4 books full of pictures to share with my close friends and family. My sister Kristin and I were busy putting them in chronological order, good thing every day I put a different headband on them to make it easier to know what day it was. The girls had over 30 headbands because I loved to dress them up. The girls only wore 3 outfits their whole life so the headbands were a blessing! Sharing the photos and telling the stories about the pictures was a great way to remember Faith and Hope.
The day was going well until, my computer wanted to not corporate with me. I was busy making a slideshow filled with videos, music, and pictures of the girls. The songs I picked were: Arms of an Angel: Sarah McLachlan, I will Carry You: Selah, Borrowed Angels: Kristin Chenoweth, You’ll Be In My Heart: Phil Collins, Somewhere Over The Rainbow: Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, and Ave Maria: Beyonce. At about 2 AM I finally fell asleep with no slideshow fully made and woke up at 5AM to try again to get the slideshow to work and burn to a DVD. Finally, with the help of Petey (my fiancé) we were able to finish the DVD in time, before we left for the funeral home.
October 2nd was a very busy morning trying to put the slideshow together and blowing up 46 balloons. Petey and I were the first to visit Faith and Hope as they rested in peace. When we opened the doors in the funeral home, we saw a little white casket in the front of the room. The room had a sharp fragrance of roses and lily’s. The room was filled with huge arrangements of flowers (Rose’s and Lilly’s for their names Faith Rosemarie and Hope Lillian). I remember holding Petey’s hand tight and knowing that we have each other to lean on. We knelt before them and began to pray. I remember in that moment praying for strength to get through this day. The girls looked beautiful but different from the days before, no tubes or wires.
Right then I flashed back to September 29th. I missed their air leaks, squeaking with every breath they took because I knew that they were breathing. I missed their pretty eyes when I would read Dr. Seuss and sing them sweet lullabies. I missed Hope’s mouth filled with bubbles and Faith’s sweet smile. I missed them sucking their purple pacifiers and gazing into my eyes. I missed holding them and rocking them to sleep in my arms. I missed the nights I sat by their bed just to watch their chest move up and down or watching them hiccup. I missed them holding onto my fingers when I reached for them. What I missed the most, was when I would talk to them they would know mommy was right there.
As the day went on more family and friends came to express their condolences. A friend of mine told me September 29th the day Faith and Hope were called to heaven was Saints Day of Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. Each of these archangels performs a different mission in Scripture: Michael protects; Gabriel announces; Raphael guides.
Anyone who has children knows that in that moment after you deliver you want to share your child’s picture with everyone. You love them so much you want to tell everyone. This was the first time for many to see the girls, as I never got the chance to share pictures because of the media. As each person passed by the girls, I shared stories and sweet memories of Faith and Hope. I wanted to make sure each person knew that we love them more than anything else in this world! I think many people would agree.
October 3rd 9:30AM we met at the funeral home to say our last goodbyes to Faith and Hope. I read them a poem I wrote. It was hard to read through the blurred eyes of tears but I was glad I was able to read it to them. The day was harder than yesterday. I didn’t want to leave their side but I knew they weren’t here spiritually. I knew that Jesus had them wrapped in his arms, taking great care of them.
We arrived at our home parish St. Charles Borrmeo. Our opening song was “Amzing Grace” the song really broke me down and touched my heart. The mass was beautiful and peaceful. After receiving the Eucharist; during meditation, they played and sung a beautiful version of Ava Maria. I had the goose bumps the whole time. I kept thinking I know they are in heaven singing in the highest. Our angels Faith and Hope are in the happiest place, most joyful, most heavenly place they could possibly be. The closing song was “How Great Thou Art” one of my personal favorite hymns.
When we arrived at the cemetery, we spoke many prayers. Beautiful words were spoken by Deacon John. It was so comforting looking around and seeing a lot of people there supporting us. Petey and I laid a bed of rose petals. As the casket was lowered, we covered the top with more red rose petals and tears. We hugged each other for some moments and I remember thinking this is real. They are really gone to heaven. Many balloons, were released in memory of Faith and Hope. 23 pink Faith balloons and 23 purple Hope balloons, symbolizing the 23 precious days they were here with us. The beautiful blue sky was filled with 46 pink and purple balloons it was a moment I will forever remember. I will always cherish the time God gave us and I’m so very thankful I am your mommy!
Looking back in time I would have never thought I would be where I am now. I can’t really explain it but I feel like God blessed me with Faith and Hope to draw me closer to Him. I’m not the same person I was before I got pregnant. My life is forever changed but not in a bad way at all.
Faith and Hope will never be forgotten. They will forever live in our hearts. The story is not over, Faith and Hope will touch many more lives as the story is retold. Faith and Hope didn’t live to be the longest living conjoined twins, but they worked miracles and showed us love. Without love from their father and I the story wouldn’t have been told. I love you so much, until we meet again at the heavenly gates to the kingdom of eternal life. A place where there will be no more pain or suffering. We may not ever fully know why this happened. But in life know that we all must die and there is a heaven for all the good souls.
I love you.
I love you.