Written by: Vivianne Paiement Hilton, my mother, for our 40th birthday.
The day started out as any other normal day when you’re 9 months pregnant and have a 2 year old at home. I have a routine Dr. appointment with my OB to talk about the planned C-section I was scheduled to have in less than a week. This has been a very difficult pregnancy. I have either been bedridden or hospitalized throughout most of it. I ended up dehydrated and weak 5 times for severe nausea and vomiting. One incident stands out the most. I had been up most of the night vomiting along with a cough and fever. Your dad had to leave for work that day. He said he was going to try to find someone to come and stay with me. I would not be able to call anyone because our phone was dis-connected. I called my mom too much and we couldn’t pay the enormous bill. I told him I would be alright. As the day progressed I got worse. Every time I tried to get up and fix poor Scott something to eat I would vomit. This went on all morning. I had reached a point where I could not walk or even stand up anymore. I remember getting out of bed and crawling on all fours to the window. It took every bit of my strength to pull myself up on my knees to look out the window. I was hoping that by chance the neighbors kids would be outside playing and they would see me. As I pulled myself high enough to reach the window, taking every bit of strength that I had left, I felt a sense of relief and rescue. Yay! They were there! All four of them were looking out the window. I literally prayed that they would see me as I waved to them. They waved back, thank God! Now I will get some help for Scott and I. I am waving for the children to come here and they just continue to wave back. This went on for a short time and then they left the window. I looked at the clock and it was only noon time. Despair set in when I realized that I still had 5 more hours to go before your dad would come home. When he finally arrived he found me still on the floor in front of the window. He carried me out to the car and brought me to the hospital. I fought with every bit of my being to not lose my baby. I will never forget that day. I refused to give up even though my body wouldn’t move.
My Dr. said that this would be my last pregnancy because another one could take my life. I have a rare blood disease that took my spleen at 19 years old and causes life threatening anemia. I know I shouldn’t feel sad, but I do I wanted more than 2 kids. I love being a mom. I am so anxious for this baby to be born. I really want a girl! I feel as though I have suffered enough with being so sick the whole time. God should at least give me my girl since this will be my last child.
Getting back to the doctor’s appointment now. I have to remember to tell the Dr. about the strange feeling I had the other night. The sensation I experienced was like nothing I have ever felt before. I felt like something had shifted inside of me. Like it had ‘let go and fallen’. I am assuming that the baby had dropped. It’s time to go now so I get Scott ready and go out to the car where my friend Nancy was waiting to take me. I never got my licence so I couldn’t drive. I was never good at taking tests. When we arrived at the doctor’s office I asked Nancy if she wanted to come in. She said that she would stay in the car with Scott so I could have the time to myself so I could focus on my appointment. Well, here i am sitting in the waiting room with the rest of the prego’s. Of course I’m the biggest one of them all! I have been having a lot of trouble holding myself up lately. Just last week I went to the store with your dad. Before he went in he asked me if I wanted anything and I said no. While he was in the store I decided that Scott and I had to have a popsicle. I picked Scott up and was carrying him up the steps into the store when all of a sudden my legs gave out. I fell through the screen door and into the store. As I was falling, I shifted so Scott wouldn’t get hurt. I landed on my side with Scott still on my hip. The owners, an elderly couple I had known for years, starting hollering out of fright. Of course this drew a crowd. Next thing I knew your dad was standing over me and said, “what are you doing!?” I looked up at him and said, “I want a popsicle.” I thought he was going to faint!
It’s time for me to get weighed. I am not looking forward to that at all. I was hospitalized twice in the last month to stop my labor because, the doctor said, the baby was too small to be delivered. I don’t understand. I’ve gained 45 pounds at 5 feet tall and small boned, I can’t get out of a chair and pretty soon will have to enter our house through the bulk head! Now I’m on the scale. Another 3 pounds!? What? Small baby? You mean the rest of this is just fat!? Now besides being so sick, I am now depressed. The nurse takes my blood pressure. It’s normal. Always has been. She then escorted me into an exam room that had bright lights and the stench of alcohol. The appointments are always the same. He asks me if everything is alright, I say yes and then he listens to the baby’s heartbeat. I’m in and out quickly. No more than 10 minutes tops. Today will be a little different. I plan to tell him about the sensation I felt the other night. Maybe it was just excitement. After all, I did have a baby shower with all my friends and family. It was so much fun. I wasn’t feeling very well so my mom had to do my hair for me. Thank God she was there early. I’m not saying that it looked good cause it didn’t, but at least she tried.
Finally, in walks Dr. Winklebauer. He is a big strapping German man with steel grey hair and striking blue eyes. I bet he wasn’t half bad in his day, but his day had long since passed. He shakes my hand and asks me how I’ve been feeling. I explained what had happened to me the other night. He told me it sounded like the baby had dropped. He got the stethoscope out and started listening for the baby’s heartbeat just like all the other times. But wait, this time it’s taking longer than usual. What is wrong? He is not saying anything! This is too long! The stethoscope is moving all over my abdomen. This has never happened before! What’s happening? Is there something wrong with my baby? Oh God please don’t let anything happen to my baby! I feel the tears start welling up and cascading down my cheeks. He has a strange look on his face. I can’t stand the overwhelming worry any longer. “Is there something wrong with my baby?” I asked through tears. He removed the stethoscope, stood up, looked me straight in the eyes through a crooked grin and said, “I think you’re having twins!” “Oh my God!” I cried out as I slapped my forehead with my hand. “Are you sure?” I asked. In that split second I thought to myself that a lot of doctors and suspect twins, but most of the time they are wrong. He answered, “not 100%, but I’m 99% sure. He explained that the sensation I experienced the other night most likely was the babies changing position. He said you could have carried one in front of the other all this time, therefore, making only one heartbeat detectable. He went on to explain, “You probably carried one up high enough to be pushing on your stomach. That’s why all the nausea and vomiting. Now I hear two distinct strong heartbeats.” I am sitting there listening to him not knowing whether to believe it or not. I was afraid to believe it was possible. I did not want to get my hopes up only to be disappointed. If there is even a remote possibility that there are two babies instead of one, I would be grateful. Next I heard him say, “I’m sending you over to the hospital to have X-rays to be absolutely sure.” Immediately the questions started. “When can I go? Can I go right now? Will you call me?” I asked with excitement. I knew the anticipation was so great that it could conceivably start my labor again. I had to know now! He was looking at me and laughing out loud. I knew he was thoroughly enjoying me act like a fool. He said, “I am sending you over now and I will tell the technician to show you the X-rays.” I cried, “thankyou, thankyou, thankyou!” He was still laughing as he escorted me out of the exam room.
As I was walking out of the office it felt like I was in a trance. When I got to the car I looked at Nancy, who must have seen something in my expression. She asked right away, “Is everything alright?” I kept looking at her and said, “That son of a bitch just told me that I’m going to have twins!” She said, “Oh my God, is he sure?” I replied, “Not 100%, but 99%.” I told her he wanted me to go to the hospital for X-rays and asked her if that was okay. I felt bad about her waiting so long. She said, “No! You go now!” I asked if she wanted to go with me. She said, “Are you kidding me? I wouldn’t miss this for all the tea in China!” So off we go to the hospital with Scott in tow.
I’m so excited I can’t stand it. Thank God I did not have to wait long. They took me right in and I had my X-rays done. I am back sitting in the waiting room next to Nancy with Scott on my lap. The technician that did my scans walked in carrying a set of X-rays. She proclaimed with a wide grin on her face, “Congratulations Mrs. Hilton, you are soon going to be the mother of twins!” I didn’t believe her until I saw the X-rays myself. There you were, my two little babies! Two little heads with two little bodies intertwined around each other in the sanctity and safety of my womb. I did not know whether to laugh or cry so I did both! A miracle! A rainbow of fireworks, bombs going off and balloons popping in my head! I walked out of the hospital, NO, I floated out of the hospital and could not wait to go home and call your father.
I wasn’t really sure how he was going to handle the news. I remember the day I found out I was pregnant for the second time. My friend Denise came over to the house one day and was complaining about cramps. We always had our period at the same time so she asked, “Aren’t you having yours?” I said, “No.” Then she said, “Come to think of it, I have had two periods and I can’t remember you having one.” She then looked at me very mischievously and said, “Oh oh!” I snapped back at her, “You bitch, don’t even think about it!” She said, “Come on, get your coat and grab Scott.” I asked, “Where are we going?” She said, “To the doctor’s office. We are getting you a pregnancy test.” I suddenly realized at that moment that she could be right. I can’t remember the last time I had my period and I did pass out last week.
We weren’t back two hours when the phone rang. It was the doctor’s office. “Congratulations Mrs. Hilton, You’re pregnant!” The nurse said enthusiastically. I had very mixed feelings because I had no idea how your father was going to take it. I wanted more children, I just wasn’t sure if this was the right time financially. I had everything all planned in my head on how I was going to tell him. I told Denise that I was going to have a nice candlelight dinner for two after I put Scott to bed and break it to him gently. As she gathered up her things and headed out the door, she exclaimed in the same mischievous way, “Good luck!”
So now I was getting busy cleaning the house and starting a nice romantic dinner. A couple of hours later your father walked through the door while reading the mail, which was mostly bills. I immediately burst into tears and shouted out, “We’re going to have another baby!” So much for breaking it to him gently. He looked up and said, “Shit! Jesus Christ!” I cried even harder. After he got done reading the mail and mulling it over he came over to me and put his arms around me and said, “It’s alright.” I said, as I was still blubbering, “Are you sure?” He said, “yes, we will be fine.” After he got used to the idea he was thrilled. Although, he was not too happy with how sick I was throughout the whole pregnancy and how many times I ended up in the hospital. We somehow got by through it all.
Now, getting back to the day of the special news. When I got home, with great trepidation, I called your father to tell him that I was carrying two babies instead of one. He was working in Portland for the State Highway Department. When I called his office, the secretary answered the phone and told me that he was out to lunch. I was dying to tell someone so I told the secretary my wonderful news. I asked her to have him call me as soon as he got back. She said she would and was pretty excited about it. It was told to me by your father later that when he arrived back to the office everybody was in his office telling him to call his wife. Apparently, the secretary had told everyone in the entire office and they were all excited to see his reaction. He finally called me and asked, “What’s wrong?” I told him that I just got back from the doctor’s office. He asked, “What did the doctor say?” I replied with, “Gee Walt, I didn’t know you had a double barrel!!” Dead silence…then finally he asked, “Twins??” I said, “Yes!!” I told him the whole story about going to the hospital, having X-rays and seeing two babies. Again, dead silence. I asked him if he was okay with all of this and that I knew that it would be hard financially. He replied with, “Yes, I’m okay! Just think of it, two tax exemptions this year!” We all laughed and then the call was over. I felt more relieved knowing that he appeared to be alright with the fact that we were going to have two more mouths to feed. I never thought of that at the time. I was ecstatic! I was hoping that he would be as happy as I was once he got used to the idea. I did not have to wait long. Within half an hour of our phone conversation I see our car pull into the driveway. Out comes your dad, running into the house, jumps about three feet into the air and yells, “Whooooopie!!!!!” I was never again concerned with how he felt from then on. Now it was time to tell the rest of our family and friends. I think we spent the rest of the day and evening on the phone. And now we needed two of everything!
The most memorable conversation I had that day was with my mom. I called her and told her about my doctor appointment. I said to her, “Mom, my doctor wanted me to ask you how you would feel about being the grandmother of twins?” Again, dead silence….Finally, i said, “Mom, are you still there?” She replied, “Yes, what do you mean? Are you trying to tell me something?” I said, “Yes mom, I’m trying to tell you that you are going to be the grandmother of twins.” She asked, “How do you know?” I said, “The doctor told me.” She replied, “How does he know?” I said, “He sent me for X-rays and I saw two babies!” Silence again. I said, “Mom, are you happy?” She exclaimed, “Happy!? Happy!? I have never been so happy in my life!! I have to go now. I have to call everybody I know!” Then she hung up.
I felt like I had won the lottery! I was so happy. Our family and friends came through with an extra cradle, clothes, diapers, blankets etc.. They were all wonderful! What an exciting memorable week. I can remember feeling so special and getting a lot of extra attention. All I could think about was that this was going to be my last pregnancy and I am going to have two babies instead of one. My family is complete. I am the ‘mother of twins’. I even looked into becoming a member of the Mother of Twins Club. Their motto is “Where God chooses the member.” How special is that!
Now we are at the night before you were born. I had to go into the hospital to be prepped for my scheduled c-section in the morning. It was all arranged for my family to be there for the 11:45 surgery. My parents and my cousins wouldn’t miss it and I needed them there. I was a little concerned about my divorced parents being in the same room together. That usually never went well. I’m sure that they will be adult enough to behave themselves for one day. Well, I guess I was wrong. That’s okay because I was out of it by the time shit went down with them. I heard all about it later though.
Now getting back to the story. Your dad was with me at the hospital while they were getting ready to prep me. We were so excited knowing that at this time tomorrow our family was never going to be the same. We would go from 2 to 3 to a family of 5! That’s why throughout the years your dad would use 2-3-5 whenever he bought any lottery tickets. I was also very happy that I did not have to go through the pain of labor and delivery. We were talking about how we hoped we would have at least one girl. I put my order in with God the day I found out I was having twins. I wanted identical twin girls and I wanted them to be healthy. I always loved playing with dolls and dressing up. I wanted some girls to play dolls with. On the day we found out there were two of you we talked about names. I told him that from the time I was young and started dreaming of getting married and having children, I had always wanted a little girl and was going to name her ‘Heidi’. I was not sure what to name my second daughter if we had another girl. A friend of mine was pregnant at the same time and I had asked her what girl name she had picked out. She told me the name Heather. I loved it instantly. I asked her if my twins were girls would she mind if I named one of my girls Heather. She said, “No, I will probably have a boy anyway.” Well, she had a girl and we both had Heathers! We also had boys names picked out. We both agreed on Michael and Matthew. We had not come up with middle names, but I had casually mentioned before that I wanted Lyn, after my sister, and I thought Lee went well with Lyn. I said, “Heidi Lee and Heather Lyn.” We didn’t discuss it again, but it ended up on the birth certificate.
At the hospital the night before your birth we also talked about painting the bedroom. We would not know if it was going to be pink or blue until the next day. Your dad had a paint crew of friends on stand by to start painting as soon as the babies were born. Of course neither one of us knew enough to realize that you do not paint an infant’s bedroom the week before they come home from the hospital. That smell lingered in our bedroom for a month! We were renting a two bedroom house at the time. Our plan was, as soon as the babies were old enough to stay in a room by themselves, dad and I would sleep in the living room on the pull out couch. (And we did.) We were talking and laughing and making plans when my doctor walked into the room. He didn’t look happy. I became worried. There was a nurse in there and he asked her to leave the room. Now I was really worried. He proceeded to tell us that after looking at the X-rays he was concerned. He was telling the soon to be parents of twins who were ecstatic and on cloud nine a minute ago something that completely crushed them. He said, “When I looked at the X-rays more closely I realized that the babies would only weigh around 3 pounds.” He went on to say, “I’m afraid that they may not survive, but if they do, they would most likely have brain damage. I do not think that you will have normal babies. I am telling you this, not to hurt you, but to prepare you.” He went on, “Also, I know we were going to cut and tie your tubes, but we need to rethink this.” He wanted your father outside of the operating room ready to make the decision after the babies were born to tie the tubes or not. I am listening, but not hearing every word. I want to throw up! I want to run! I want to scream! I cannot believe what I’m hearing. My babies may not make it!? No way! That is not going to happen! If they live they may be brain-damaged? Stop talking! I don’t want to hear anymore! The doctor finally left and I was hysterical. Completely inconsolable. Your dad kept trying to calm me down. He kept saying, “The doctor could be wrong. He could be wrong.” I could see the concern on his face. He was trying to be brave for me. I was such a mess. Then came the contractions. I was going into labor! I was not physically or emotionally prepared for labor. The doctor was called and he told them that because the babies were so small that he wanted to try natural childbirth. This is not what I wanted to hear. I cannot remember too much about my labor accept dad could not stay with me for very long while I was in labor. He was a complete wreck. I remember seeing my mom walk into the room. I don’t think I’ve ever been more happy to see her in my entire life. I needed my mom so badly at that time. She came over and held me while I cried. I told her what the doctor had said and she downright refused to except it. She kept telling me, “He is wrong. I just know he is. You are going to have beautiful healthy babies. I know you are.” she said this over and over and over again. I don’t know what I would have done without her. She was not happy that they were putting me through labor and she let them know it. She was very upset and kept saying, “This is not right. You were not supposed to go into labor. You are so exhausted.” All I could do was cry all night and all morning as my mom held my hand.” Finally, it was time. After over 12 hours of hard labor, I only dilated 1-2cm. I think they finally gave up on me delivering on my own. Thank God! I was so ready for them to take me for my c-section. I was completely exhausted. I could no longer labor and there was no way I would have any strength to push.
The rest of the day was a blur to me. I guess there was a lot of excitement at the hospital. I missed it all! I was told that when the rest of my family arrived they were told what had transpired the night before. Everyone was so anxious! Some I’m told were crying. Your dad was waiting outside fo the operating room door for the doctor to let him know the condition of the babies. He was left with the responsibility to make a decision about the tubes being tied if the babies were not going to make it. What a decision for a 22 year old man to make who was still a child himself. Fortunately, he never had to make that decision.
There were two pediatricians in the operating room ready to whisk you both away to the nursery for a complete examination of your status. I was told that every one that was there that day, and there were a lot, were pressed clean up to the glass waiting for the results of the exams.The pediatricians turned around to the crowd and both gave the okay sign! Everyone went nuts!! They came out and said you girls were 5 lb 2 and 1/2 ounces and 5 pounds 1/2 an ounce. There were tears and loud cheers. I missed all the commotion.
When I woke up I remember seeing your dad and my mom standing over my bed. I was very groggy, but I do remember dad holding my hand and kissing it over and over again and saying, “Guess what we got! Guess what we got!” I looked at him and said, “Don’t tell me that they haven’t even started yet.” He said, “Guess what we got!” I was so out of it that I didn’t even think I had the c-section yet. I said, “Is it over?” He said, “Yes, guess what we got!” Poor guy wanted to tell me so bad, but I could not comprehend what was happening. I then asked, “What time is it?” He said, “4pm, guess what we have!!” I finally said, “What?” He proudly exclaimed, “We have our girls!!” I said, “You mean we have two girls?” He said, “Yes!” I asked, “How are they? How much did they weigh?” He told me they were perfect and how much they weighed. I said, “Thank you God!” My mom came over to me with tears running down her face and said, “They are the most beautiful baby girls I have ever seen. Then they had to put me out because the pain was severe. I remember waking up from time to time and asking for my babies. No one would let me see my babies. I was too sick to get up and the nurses were not allowed to bring them to me. I never understood why. I cried most of the evening. There was a nurse just coming on shift and she asked me why I was crying. I responded with, “I have not seen my babies that were born this morning. I have not had a chance to hold them or touch them. This is the most important bonding time between mother and child and it was taken away from all three of us.” I was crying even harder by then. I just wanted my babies. I had to see them. I had to make sure they were all right. The next thing I knew, the same nurse comes back in the room, but this time she’s rolling some sort of cart. I look down and there you are.
My babies! My beautiful little girls! The feeling, the joy and the love was so overwhelming! I reached into the crib where you both were laying side by side and I placed my hand on both of your little hands and caressed your little faces. In that moment it was just the three of us. Precious tiny hands reached out simultaneously and grasped my hand. I gently held them both.
Forty years later I am still gently holding those ‘precious tiny hands’.