His Twin

I have spent most of my time and energy making sure that Matthew gets everything he needs to get well. I spend countless hours a week to make sure he gets healthy, feels better, does well, learns and gets treated like a “normal” kid…. a “normal” sibling.

Matthew’s twin sister, Callia, was a hero before she was born. When Callia was in my womb right next to her brother, she was constantly kicking her brother and dancing next to him. We have ultrasound videos of her dancing around in there. With everything going on with her brother, she was always upbeat and healthy. During the procedures her brother was going through, she was calm and still when she needed to be. And in the ‘after’ ultrasound videos and pictures, she moved her little body around to face her brother. We have several pictures of them face to face, forehead to forehead and cheek to cheek. Once Matthew lost most of his fluid, it was really hard to see his face. But he and her were always head to head. It was always so beautiful to see.

When I was 30 weeks along, Matthew was out of fluid. His head was down with his chin to his chest. He had that small pocket of fluid under his neck. And he did not move from there. It was as if he knew this was the only place he can be and he needed to stay there to breathe. And then doctors conducted the procedure where Callia would save his life. Cutting slits in both their amniotic sacs to share Callia’s fluid. Doctors also did an amnio-infusion at that time to. For a week both babies danced around in my belly, finally able to play together. They were able to touch each other for the first time. They were together for 7 days in my belly. They wouldn’t see other or know of each other for 7 weeks.

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Seven weeks after they were born, Callia was ready to go home. She was an itty-bitty 3lbs when she was born. She was on CPAP to help with her lungs and breathing. She needed to learn how to suck from a bottle and she needed to grow. She was very quiet in the NICU. She slept a lot, she was nosey and looked around a lot when she was awake. She did not make many sounds and she rarely cried. She was what the nurses called, “the perfect baby”.

The night before Callia was discharged from the NICU, the nurses did a beautiful thing. They placed Callia in Matthew’s bed with him. He had just had surgery the day before and they wanted to take some photos of them together before they were going to be separated once again. It was the sweetest most beautiful and kind gesture anyone could do. They gifted us these beautiful photos the next evening as she was being discharged. I didn’t really get to cry happy tears during the time we were in the NICU up til then… but that night, I cried happy tears. Seeing those photos was just… magical.

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Since Matthew has been home from the NICU, he and Callia have been so tight with each other. Matthew was definitely delayed mentally and physically when he came home. He had spent so much time in the NICU during the most important time in an infant’s life. We were always putting them together. Every chance we got. Tummy time, play time,nap time, bed time….everything. We wanted him to try and be active and alert and just as smart as she is. She was developing so great and was the amazingly smart and quick witted preemie that she was born to be. She was such an amazing and protective sister.

Fast forward to 21 months after they were born…. here we are. Matthew has been in therapy for over a year now. He is doing great. He is learning to stand and is gaining strength in his legs. He is surpassing all expectations. The signs of cerebral palsy are diminishing and we don’t believe he will become autistic. As of right now there are no true signs. He is so smart and doing so great, he is truly a miracle.

Callia has been by her big brother through everything. She is very protective of him and is very particular with where he goes and who he is with. She often stands in front of him when “strangers” come to the house to visit. She, herself, does not like unfamiliar people She is not very social and is usually in a world of her own. Her focus is a little off and her personality is a little “funny”. I call her quirky.

About a month ago Matthew was having his one year evaluation. The supervisor was evaluating Matthew, but her attention kept going towards Callia who was playing in the background. After the eval, she asked if Callia had ever been evaluated. I said no. And she proceeded to tell me the signs that she had seen in Caliia. She believes Callia may benefit from therapy as well.

When the supervisor left, I asked Matthew’s therapist, who has worked with him this entire year, what she thought about Callia. She went over a very detailed “checklist” of things that they “look out for”, signs that they think are “concerning” or things that they believe need to be addressed. Callia, apparently, checked a lot of boxes.

The though of Callia being a little special has always been in the back of my mind. She really is quirky. She is actually really funny too. But there are things that I have seen that i just didn’t want to acknowledge. Matthew has always been our concern. We never wanted him to be delayed. He has fought through and worked so hard.

And now since visiting the neurologist back in December with Callia, the reality of Callia having some delays has finally been put at the forefront of our concerns. (I don’t say worries because there is no need to worry… I am just concerned.)

Callia had her first therapy session yesterday. It was interesting. While Matthew had his sessions, Callia would often play in the background or help out with whatever activity he was working on. But now that Callia was in the “big chair”… it was weird to me, to see her actually work. She is strong in some activities and not so strong in others. Watching her in this one on one time was so surreal for me.

I thought for a second, how did we get here?? I only ever worried about Matthew… why is Callia here too? Deep down I always worried about Callia. Being the “Extra” baby in there always made me wonder what God has planned for HER. I know her main  purpose was to save Matthew. I know Matthew’s purpose was to inspire others and bring people to Christ, which he has already done in his little life. And Callia helped saved him to fulfill his purpose… but what exactly is Callia’s purpose? I believe it is to keep Matthew going…. through everything. She will forever be by his side. She will forever be protective over him and watching over him and giving him the push that he needs to do what God has assigned him to.

For a moment I was confused all over again. But as I am typing this now I see their future with such clarity. The Lord has given me visions of the twins for many years from now. That is how I know they will both be so amazing. They will fulfill their purpose. God’s plan… God’s Promise. Being special will not change her path.

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