Saturday, March 30, 2013

March Madness and the Deaths of My Parents' First Twins

March Madness, which is the time when college basketball comes to a climax -- when conferences conclude their own tournaments and when the NCAA draws up and begins its tournament which will culmnate in the final game and national championship -- is now upon us. It's something my dad, uncles, and brother look forward to with eager anticipation each year.  Bets and pools are made, and much fanfare sorounds each televised game, and even some that maybe are not. (Maybe all are televised. I admit to some ignorance.)

I think they start out with sixty-four teams, though again I plead ignorance and admit that I may be incorrect. When it's down to eight remaining games, the teams are referred to as the "sweet sixteen." When those games haveconcluded and only four games remain, the teams still in contention are the "elite eight." Then it's on to the "final four," followed by the national championship. Thought it's termed "March Madness,"  since that's when the bulk of the action takes place, it usually concludes early in April.

For my mom, March Madness is an association that dredges up very unhappy memories. My twin brothers (they were twins but not my twins; I hope I'm explaining it clearly enough) were born and died during the height of March Madness. I believe my mom and dad left for the hospital during the University of North Carolina   vs. Ohio Stae game. It may have been the round of 16, but I'm guessing.  My father was a loyal Cal fan, but tended to root for North Carolina in basketball when Cal wasn't in it  or had been eliminated.  My father might have cared about the outcome of the game, but had the sensitivity not to indicate to my mom that he was concerned about a basketball game when their babies' lives were on the line. My mother was hemorrhaging.

My parents reached the hospital, it was determined that her placenta had separated from the wall of the uterus, which was the cause of the bleeding. There was no time to attempt to get the babies out the conventionl way, so an emergency Caesarean section was performed. The babies were born weighing, and I may be off by a few ounces though I'm sure I'm close, one pound eight ounces and one pound one ounce. The smaller baby was suctioned and took a few breaths but then stopped, and the doctors were unable to revivie him. The larger of the two clung to life h=for two days and a couple of hours, but then the decision was made that they were only prolonging the inevitable - that his major organs were not ready to function -- and the difficult decision to turn off life support was agreed upon by my parents. If my dad wasgiving the slightest thought to what was happening in the world of college basketball, he had the decency not to mention it. Since it's now past midnight and technically March 30 here, yesterday, March 29, was the anniversary of his death.

The period between March 27 (the day of the earlier twins' birth and the day of the smaller baby's death)  and March 29 (the anniversary of the larger babys death) is always difficut for my mother. It's probably hard for my father, but he deals with it differently. All the basketbll that's going on seems to bring up the unpleasant memories all the more. For several years my dad used to not watch the NCAA tournament for my mom's benefit, or at least only if he was atsomeone else's house,but he knew my mom needed him around, so going elsewhere to watch the games wasn't a viable option.  Eventually my momtold him that life had to go on -- that basketball didnt cause her to loise the babies -- and that he should watch the NCAA tournament.

She says she tries to look at it on the bright side, if there is a bright side to losing premature twins. Had the babies lived, they likely would have been severely disabled. that might have made having more children an impracticality for them, as dealing with two severely disabled children is both  time- and emotion-draining. Had the babies lived and been healthy, they probably would have stopped having children under those circumstances as well, as they had planned to have two children.   So matthew and I might not have ever been conceived had the first two babies survivied, healthy or not.  Sad as it was under the best of circumstances, it was a good deal for Matthew and me.  I don't say that to my mother, but it doesn't hurt if I silently look on the bright side. Still, I'll always be sad for my parents and for all their sorrow.

So college basketball now dominates our home from mid-to-late March until early April. If it bothers my mom,  she never lets on, although I'm not sure how she can totally fail to make the association.

Christopher and Nicholas, I miss you though I never met you, and I wish you a belated happy birthday.


  1. Your poor mom... God bless her. What an awful thing for both of your parents to go through. They've really had their fair share of challenges, haven't they?

    But they did at least have you and your brother and it sounds like they have a lot to be proud of concerning you two.

  2. This was very very awesome for you to write. I hope I can integrate our lost babies into G's life in a way that is healthy and does them, and my sadness at losing them, justice.
    Love to your family, most especially your mom.

  3. I'm sorry for your family's loss. I'm sure it's a pain that has never fully healed, even if the years have passed by.

    Your mom must be very strong, having gone through so much in her life. It's admirable.