Tuesday, June 9, 2009

From the Clark-ives: Evan and Rees

Warning: this is a very long,  sad story. It's okay if you skip it. I wanted to put it all in one post and be done.

Pregnant with twins:
I had delivered R2 at 24 weeks, so we were understandably nervous about going into a second pregnancy. Everyone assured us that R2’s early birth was a fluke. I didn’t have an incompetent cervix, and there was no physical, explainable reason for my premature labor. So we set off to have a normal pregnancy.

We had an ultrasound pretty early- about 7 weeks and found out we were having twins. It shouldn’t have been a huge surprise, since my mom and my sister both had fraternal twins, but it was. (some of you are shrieking- and your husband’s a twin! He’s a twin too! And yeah, he is – but he’s an identical twin, which is random and not genetic)

We were blown away, and so excited. I went on the road with the band, and we talked about it at every stop. I had set up my own precautions- not totally taking the doctor’s word for it. I had a bed in the back of the van, and laid down most of the time, except for the concerts. I quit touring at about 14 weeks.

At 20 weeks, the band went to Europe for 2 weeks and I went to my sister’s house. I had had some warning signs, but my doctor was adamant that there was nothing wrong. We had calls in to perinatologists in Houston, but they weren’t getting back to us- so we waited.  I started having lots of contractions, and went to bed. I was with my mom, and she watched R2 and cooked and every day, Richy would call from Switzerland to make sure I was lying down and see how everything was going. It was terrifying. I was doing everything I knew to do and still could not control my body.

The MOG returned to the US and we had an appointment with the high risk doctors finally scheduled for the day after he got back. I knew the amount of contractions I had been having- and I knew they could not be good for my body at such an early stage of pregnancy. I was right. They examined me and I was dilated to 2. They admitted me immediately. I had walked into the clinic, but I was not allowed to walk out. They sent a wheelchair, and I cried across the catwalk to the main hospital. It was the same hospital I had delivered R2 at, and the same gestation, in the SAME WEEK, 5 years later.

Once we were settled in, we decided to make it a long stay. My water was not broken, we figured, and we were in better shape than we had been with R2. So I put myself on strict bedrest, even arguing with nurses who wanted me to get up and walk- by this point I wished I had been following my gut all along and I was not budging.

We made a giant calendar counting to two goals- our “small faith” goal of 32 weeks and our “big faith” goal of all the way. We made the room as cheerful as possible and things improved. I had ultrasounds frequently, and I was kept in wide elastic straps that measured contractions and the babies’ heartbeats, around the clock. I was on heavy doses of magnesium sulfate, which was supposed to work for 48 hours and then they’d have to switch drugs. I also got steroid shots to help the babies’ lungs develop.

I made it 6 days before they were unable to stop labor. It was 2 days after R2’s 5th birthday, and I was 24 weeks and 0 days. We weighed options, and decided to go with a  c-section, to try to avoid the damage to the blood vessels in the brain R2 had suffered during a natural birth. I knew it was too early- I just hoped and prayed they would be miracles like R2.
I did not get to see them when they were born. They were too sick- they had to get them to the NICU right away. They let R1 hold Evan (the oldest) for a split second and then they were gone. We went to the NICU and met them as soon as they were hooked up, which seems like hours but I don’t know how long it actually was.

Evan Roberts Clark was first, He had a slightly stockier build and a less pointed chin than R2.  They were each 1 lb 8 oz, and again, tiny like little Barbie dolls. Rees Howells Clark was built just like R2 and his daddy, with R2’s chin. They had very distinct personalities, even under the circumstances. We feel like we know them.

Evan was pretty sick, and the doctors were working desperately to try to stabilize him, but babies are not meant to be born 4 months early- and their little bodies can’t keep up. Rees was much stronger. They had him on the most delicate ventilator, and were hopeful that they could wean him to a better one within a day or two. They were born around 8:45 pm on the 7th, and all day on the 8th we would wheel over and see them, then go back to the room and process and cry and pray.

We were back in our room, trying to sleep when they called us around midnight. When I heard the ringing, I knew. I rode down in the wheelchair, and R1 sang over Evan while we said goodbye. I was on a lot of morphine, and my mind was so cloudy. They gave him to me, but he was already gone and I was panicking. I just held him and cried for a minute and then I gave him back. I will regret for the rest of my life letting go so soon.

We went and saw Rees as soon as we left Evan, and he had taken a slight downturn. Someone told us that happens with twins sometimes. We loved on Rees for a while, (from a distance- he was in an incubator) and there was some hope that he would rally and pull through- so we went to sleep. They called me in the middle of the night with an update- he was really heading downhill. That was the darkest moment of my life- when I realized I would be going home with empty arms.
He made it through a lot of the day, but he was fighting so, so hard and we knew something had to give. They called us around 4 in the afternoon to come and say goodbye.  His neonatologist was the same doctor who had helped R2 during his NICU stay, and she was working way past when they would normally give up. We gave them permission to stop, and then we held him and said goodbye. I opened his little blanket and looked at his feet, and recognized them as his daddy’s.

Of course that's not the end of the story, but I don't want to blog the first weeks without them. 
They were born on June 7th and their last day on earth was June 9th, 2004. Heaven will be such a sweet reunion. 

There. I told you it was a sad story, but feel free to ask questions.


  1. i don't know words...

    but LOVE. you pal.

  2. I love you Jessica and I will read this. It is very important......... I just can not read it TODAY!

    I love you very much and God is good. He is loving and kind and He cannot be anything else.

    I do not understand...... but God knows.

    Love love love and hugs hugs hugs..

  3. June 9th - such a bittersweet day. Can't believe they'd be five today here on earth. I'm excited to meet them one day cuz I know how special you're other 3 kids are.

    Of course I read it, life is life - happy, sad & in between. God holds us through it all and redeems it for HIS purposes.

    I love you all!!!

  4. Jessica my friend,
    Thank you so much for sharing this with those of us that are NEW friends. I love you.

  5. i'm glad you shared. i've never heard your version. your point of view is very personal and intimate and always worth reading.

    thanks for letting us in your life that way.

  6. thank you for sharing.
    it helps us know them.
    their faces, their feet, their personalities.
    i love you friend.

  7. Same as everyone else... thanks for sharing!

    We were living in Illinois at the time. On June 7th, we had to take a trip to a city a couple hours away. On our way back, we stopped at a McDonald's for Shannon to use the restroom. I saw I missed a call on my cell. It was Julie D. letting me know you were going into labor. Shannon returned to the car to find me weeping and praying.

    That Heavenly day of reunion will be so very sweet for you all!

  8. we will know them as soon as we meet in heaven. We are blessed to have them in our huge growing family and heaven is blessed to have them now. They are having a blast and free and happy. I love my Jess....

  9. heaven WILL be such a sweet reunion. What precious little boys they are to Jesus...

  10. I am so sorry Jessica! I am crying right now for your loss and pain! My 3rd child is named Rees Lake after Rees Howells and John G Lake. Thank you for sharing!

  11. Hi Jess,

    I just sat here and read ALL the Clarkive history....speechless....

    You guys have suffered much. God will use ALL of it to His Glory!

    P.S. I know Nic is in good hands!

    P.S.S. You are a GREAT writer - love your style!!!

  12. Wow Momma, that's one intimate story, thank you for sharing. I don't even know what to say except that He is faithful. xoxo

  13. I appreciate you sharing your Life Jessica, This part is truly heartbreaking . I love you and Im sorry...

  14. Okay here I am eating through your posts. Some friends told me to read your blog. I was looking for inspiration to be open for mine. I found it.

  15. Thank you for sharing. I said hello and goodbye to our baby girl after six minutes (29 weeks). Yes, heaven will be the sweetest reunion. Can't wait to kiss those cheeks again. I'm sorry that we share this pain but I'm grateful for your faith and hope.

  16. Hi Jess. I just found your blog for the first time today, and I am reading through your Clarkives. I had to stop here, and just say that I read this. I don't know what else to say, but I read this... it's not a lost story that no one reads anymore. I cried for you and your loss. I have nothing to offer you but to say, "My heart just exploded in my chest." Across the miles, and without even knowing you, you have my love:)


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