Posted by letterstopriests | Filed under Uncategorized
Finding out we were expecting twins was the greatest joy imaginable, going into labor at just 23 weeks gestation was beyond devastating. Without warning and any expectation, I felt something wrong. My doctor thought I was reading too much into things and told me to relax. His nurse suggested just going in to the hospital to be sure. I did. When I arrived at the hospital, it was a whirlwind for the next few hours. I was immediately given drugs to stop the contractions and slow the labor. This was only able to hold me over for 15 hours. I called my church first thing in the morning.
Our Lady of Grace in Edina, Minnesota was proactive and sent their Priest right over. His name is Father Beaudet. He showed up and looked at me with peace and a kind heart. He didn’t know the panic I felt inside of me. I was fearful that I couldn’t hold the babies in. I was sick to my stomach and my vision was completely blurred from the drugs. I was loopy and groggy and honestly felt that something bad was looming. Father Beaudet calmly came into the room, looked at me and smiled. I held in the tears of relief to see him for only a short time. It was odd to see him out of context. I had only seen him behind the pulpit, or in the vestibule or occasionally in the lounge during coffee and doughnut day. He was there that day just for me. He wasn’t looking at the rest of the church. He was looking at me; in that sickened condition. He wasn’t wary or disturbed by what he saw. He was loving and serene. I can’t, to this day, tell you exactly what all was said during that short time. I was incoherent most of the time. Words poured out of me. I know I expressed my fear for the babies, I told him I thought I needed my last rights, or at least the babies did. I was confused and disoriented. His words were quiet and reassuring. He smiled when I asked for my last rights. He said he knew I would be fine and he would administer a prayer for the sick. He explained that when the babies came, and however the babies came, they would be baptized immediately. I just didn’t understand what I was supposed to do.
While Father was there I felt my heart rate slow, I felt more relaxed and at ease with the scary, intense situation. I knew I was in God’s hands. The fear slowly turned to peace; I accepted the situation and started to think positively (the best I could in my delirium). After Father Beaudet left, my husband walked in. He knew I was in bad shape and distracted me by asking how my visit was. After a short while, my water broke and within 7 minutes I was wheeled into the operating room and the first incision was made.
Our two baby boys weighed exactly the same 1 pound 6 ounces. That was big for twins born before 6 months. Father was right. The hospital priest was there and baptized the boys immediately while the NICU doctors worked feverishly on each baby. The doctors wheeled the incubators by my bedside so I could see the babies, but I was still too out of it to recognize what I was looking at.
When I was able to see them for the first time, I cried uncontrollably. They were so tiny. They didn’t have skin yet so they looked translucent. You could see their organs through their bodies. Their eyes were still fused shut. They had tubes down their throats, wires and needles in their arms, on their legs and machines hooked up everywhere. They were curled up in the fetal position and still looked like they should be in utero. Monitors and IV’s were everywhere. Nurses were attending to every detail.
On their 6th day of life, the boys both had complete stomach surgery while weighing only 15 ½ ounces. This left them with an illeostomy bag for 10 full months. They also had heart surgery on day 12 when they still weighed only 15 ½ ounces.
For the next four months our lives revolved around the NICU and our 18 month old daughter at home. My husband and I were exhausted. We went to church and heard the boys’ names announced when praying for the sick. Our church prayed every week for these two real life miracles. We were told by the NICU staff that Father Beaudet stopped in from time to time to see them. We missed him every time. He would stop by to see the boys after he visited other sick parishioners.
We made it through the 4 long months in the NICU and finally brought the boys home. It was October in Minnesota; the heart of cold and flu season. We called it “lockdown” in our home. We didn’t have people in, and we didn’t go out unless it was necessary. We didn’t sleep. The boys needed to be fed every 3 hours because of their illeostomy’s. We had to wake them up through the night. We administered their medications, tended to their cares while keeping a constant eye on their monitors at home. We were also tending to our daughter. We tried to make her life as normal as possible. This left little time for prayer. We couldn’t go to church because of the germs. When summer came we would only go to Saturday evening mass when it was less crowded.
Slowly, the boys grew. Slowly, our lives steadied. That first year was the hardest on our marriage, and our family. The church truly got us through. Without their prayers and thoughts, we would have been lost. We were so preoccupied with day to day survival and chaos we didn’t take time to say anything but quick prayers. We believe that while we were too busy keeping our boys healthy and our family together, our parishioners and priests and church were doing our praying for us.
Here we are 7 years later. Our daughter is in 3rd grade and the twins are healthy, strong, happy, 1st graders. They are rambunctious, creative, curious and athletic. They are in studies to help other 23 week babies. The odds were against them from the start and they blew them away!
Father Beaudet your strength and kindness has not been forgotten. You may not remember our conversation or the fear in my eyes the day you visited me in the hospital, however, I remember your kindness, love and positive mental attitude. These are all special gifts that you have been given. They gave me hope that we would all three survive that day. My boys were baptized like you promised and next year will make their First Holy Communion. Thank you, Father, for being the man that you are. Nothing is more important than having someone you respect on your side. Thank you for praying for me, my boys and my family. You have helped us all heal as a family.
Elizabeth Burnham Tsironis