Two years ago today I woke up in a hospital bed determined to keep my twin boys safe inside of my belly until they were at least 32 weeks along. I was ready and willing to do anything…or not do a single thing, really, besides eat a nutrient dense diet. I was on strict, hospitalized bed rest, which literally meant I should not move. In my normal life, I run about four miles a day, go on long walks, and never sit still. With a smile on my face, I gave it all up to keep Micah and Zachary safe. But, it didn’t work.
Despite my positive attitude and best efforts, Micah and Zachary were born three months prematurely on January 23, 2012, each weighing about 2 ½ pounds. I struggled with profound guilt and shame for not being able to protect my twins. I hated myself for giving my boys a traumatic start to life. Eventually, I pulled myself together and figured out how to be a NICU mama.
But then, Micah developed Necrotizing Enterocolitis and became critically ill. Micah fought like hell. He gave us a lifetime worth of love, cherished memories and courage. Despite his amazing strength and spirit, we had to say goodbye to our precious Micah just before their first birthday.
Their first birthday was heartbreaking. Zachary was this vibrant, chubby, healthy baby who melted my heart. But, my heart was shattered because he had just lost his twin. As my family sang “Happy Birthday” to Zachary, I cried and abruptly interrupted them when they left Micah’s name out of the song. “It is still Micah’s birthday!!” They looked at me like I was crazy.
I’m not crazy. I know what I need to do to keep Micah’s smile and spirit alive in my heart. I know what I need to do so that Zachary knows his twin, Micah. This year, on their second birthday, I will say it confidently and calmly:
TODAY IS MICAH’S BIRTHDAY, TOO.
For the rest of my life, I will celebrate Micah AND Zachary’s birthday. If you plan to wish Zachary a happy birthday, include Micah in that wish, too. It hurts when Micah is left out. Micah lived, and now Micah lives on in our hearts. Micah touched more souls in his short life than most of us can ever hope to touch in all of our years.
Zachary is now a vibrant, bright, healthy toddler who continues to melt my heart. Somehow he managed to glue my shattered heart back together so I could live without Micah. Zachary carries Micah’s spirit and always will. Their connection as twins is endless, even though they were separated before they could even understand the loss.
So please, say Micah’s name. Let us know you haven’t forgotten about our son. Let Zachary know you’ll never forget about his twin. Let everyone know that today is Micah and Zachary’s birthday.