Larry, myself, my Mom and our son reside in Lincoln, Nebraska. Our middle daughter, Alison, her husband, Shaun, and his family live in Kent, Washington. The distance from our front door to theirs is 1,679 miles. Our other daughter lives in San Diego, California, and the distance door-to-door to that address is 1,678 miles. Traveling to either location is no small endeavor in both time and expense. However, when Alison and Shaun announced they were expecting, that distance felt even greater. Our thoughts went to how are we there for them if they need help? How will these grandkids ever know us? I think there are some universal concerns when there is physical separation like this. Alison and Shaun soon learned that not only were they expecting, but they were going to be the parents of identical twins. We were so glad we were sitting down when we got that news! No twins exist on either side of the family. This was totally ground-breaking news, and very exciting. They had opted to not be informed of their gender.
Alison kept the family up to date on the babies via all the wonderful electronic means. Seeing those initial ultrasounds was amazing and wonderful. We watched Baby A and Baby B with rapt attention over time.
As things progressed, they were informed the babies were experiencing Twin-to-Twin Transfer Syndrom (TTTS). They learned the very real danger was that the smaller baby might give all the nutrition to the bigger baby, and could starve. With that, the bigger baby could die from heart issues due to too much nutrition. The tenor of those check-ups took on a new urgency, and the distance to her bedside as she was placed on bed rest became immense.
She was in the hospital the day of her baby shower, and we had to get special permission from the hospital to hold the shower there and to get her out of bed long enough to be part of the shower. Her sister and I both made it a point to attend the shower, we were both chomping at the bits to lay eyes on her. Alison was having 3-D ultrasounds done at this stage. The first time I saw the babies faces was when I was there for the shower. And, it was clear that Baby B was having a hard time of things. One image of our Little B brought tears to my eyes and fear to my heart. I know I was not alone in that response, but I think we all felt like we didn’t want to verbalize that, like speaking of it might bring the bad outcome we feared.
Three weeks after the shower, the doctors informed Alison and Shaun they would need to deliver the babies. An emergency C-Section was done on February 22, 2016. We all thought what a wonderful day to bring two babies into the world! The time crawled by for us waiting to get word, and the later into the day it got, the more we were sure there was some kind of a problem.
Our wonderful son, Shaun, made the first of several hard phone calls to us at about 9 PM Central Time. He let us know that the babies had been delivered, but that our Baby B — officially now named Daphne Christine — had not survived long after delivery. Her sister — Georgia Clementine — was in the NICU, but she too had some potential issues due to being 2 months premature. Alison and Shaun had a chance to hold Daphne and were with her as she left this life behind.
Suzanne Luttig has been a good and dear friend for more years than I can even remember. She had always been an avid photographer but had made the step to make it more than just a fun hobby.
Because her heart is huge, she started taking photos for Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.
She knew our grandkids were being delivered, and she called to see what was going on. We had really just learned the news, and as soon as she heard she asked if we wanted her to fly to Washington to take photos of Daphne, she could be there the following morning. The instant offer floored me, but I asked if she thought the organization would have someone local that could get to the hospital, and she took it from there. She was instrumental in getting the local photographer, Chris Barnett, there to take the wonderful pictures of Daphne with her parents and her sister. There is really no good way to repay the kindness of Suzanne or the local photographer in kind.
The service the photographers perform on their own time and with no monetary compensation is immense. They too feel the emotions of the situation but are consummate and kind professionals.
The pictures were initially so hard to see, and at times still are because you never get over the loss of a child or grandchild. However, the importance of those photos is significant. Alison’s entire family would never have had a chance to see Daphne otherwise. I know at some point, Georgia will be given a set of pictures of Daphne. I think that will be such an important thing for her.
These pictures serve to document that Daphne was here, and this is what she looked like. It validates she was and is loved. Those photos helped ease the distance in miles for us, and they will help ease the questions Georgia will have about her sister. As their family grows, having these pictures will help the other children know about their sister, Daphne.
~ Chris, Grandmother to Daphne Christine and Georgia Clementine