After a little scare during my first trimester, I was advised to take it easy and rest as much as I could, and so I did. Everything went fine and we got to see our babies grow bigger every day, with every ultrasound we loved them more and our beautiful dream seemed to be coming true after all.
At our 16 week appointment, we found out we were having two boys. What a joy! One appointment after another everything was going perfect and we celebrated and thanked God for his great blessing every chance we got.
Yahia; that was the name I had chosen for one of my babies. I believe it was sent to me from God. Yahia (John the Baptist) was a prophet who according to the holy Qur’an was given wisdom when he was a child, and was given compassion and purity. He was not arrogant. He was pure and devout. He was dutiful and merciful towards his parents. I wanted my son to be like him.
We were searching for a name for our second baby and thinking about creative solutions for a bed that would fit for twins. I spent endless hours going through their clothes, looking at them, arranging them, imagining what they would look like wearing them, and my heart was overjoyed with every thought.
Then disaster hit. I was 22 weeks along, and it was the day of my cousin’s wedding. I just couldn’t stop peeing, and then I lost my mucous plug. At the hospital, after being seen by an ObGyn, I was advised to go home and stay in bed; they discharged me without even doing an ultrasound.
One week later my original ObGyn diagnosed me with an incompetent cervix and scheduled me for an emergency cerclage early in the morning. I had the cerclage at 23 weeks and went on strict bed rest until my cervix couldn’t sustain the weight of my growing twins anymore. I was scheduled for a C-section on the 19th of March, 2013, at only 29 weeks of gestation.
Yassin came out at 8:55 am, followed by Yahia one minute later, I got to see, kiss, and hold them after a few minutes as they both breathed on their own without the need for intervention. I’ll be grateful for those amazing and magical first moments with my babies forever.
As I heard their soft crying and watched them being wheeled to the NICU, I sobbed. I felt a great deal of guilt and pain for having failed them in my first mission as a mother, for failing to carry them to term safely. My world was shattered.
I had given birth to them very prematurely in a country that has the highest rate of premature babies’ deaths around the world. Sudan, my beloved home country where I had given birth to my babies, lacks proper facilities, specialties and technology to rescue the increasing number of babies being born too soon every day. It was a real struggle to get the right medicines starting with the life-saving surfactant and ending with milk fortifiers. Neonatology is a rare specialty, and a staff that specializes in the care of premature babies is very difficult to find.
Yassin was developing wonderfully, and he only had a few issues and setbacks during his six week stay in the NICU. He was never on a ventilator and was breathing on room oxygen only a few days after his birth. Unfortunately, Yahia didn’t do as well. He developed a severe case of respiratory distress syndrome. After what seemed like an eternity of ups and downs, we lost Yahia on the 26th of March, a week after his birth.
The day before Yahia passed marked the worst day of my life. My husband and I watched our son go through one bradychardia after another. We watched him stop breathing. His oxygen kept dropping until it was down to zero, and he turned blue from head to toe. It was the worst scene I had ever witnessed.
Doctors said he couldn’t survive without the life support machines. His fragile lungs had simply burst and collapsed. It was too late; there was nothing they could do. What a harsh reality. Our son was dying and even though we were prepared to do the impossible to save him, he couldn’t be saved.
At noon the following day, Yahia came home, but it wasn’t exactly the joyous homecoming I had anticipated and dreamed of for months during my pregnancy. He was dead, wrapped in a cloth. That was the very first time I got to hold and hug him with my hands free.
We said good bye to Yahia, and our hearts will forever be burdened with the pain of his loss.
Today, Yassin is two years old. Praise be to God for the miracle of his survival. He is a healthy happy little boy with no residual effects from his premature birth.
Yahia, I miss you more than words could ever say. Yassin, may God always protect and bless you. You are the light that fills my life.