After 9 years of trying to get pregnant, we conceived our beautiful twins on October 27, 2008. After blood tests confirmed both pregnancy and rising hormone levels, we had our first ultrasound on November 30th and, joy of all joys, twins! We both just "knew" we were having boy/girl twins, from before their very conception! Neither of us were surprised, just overjoyed. Our beautiful babies...

Daily morning sickness (and afternoon sickness... and evening sickness...) and continued rises in blood levels made us comfortable in our pregnancy. Under the advice of our midwife, we selected our OB, whom we both liked instantly at our December meeting. In addition to doing ultrasounds at each visit to chart Nicholas & Sophia's growth, he referred to them as "the kids" and made us feel well taken care of. On our second prenatal visit, he checked my cervix via ultrasound (January 16th) and all was well.

February 1st, Michele had the day off, and spent it lounging around, lunching with Peter, and shopping for a body pillow with "Abuelita". Michele started on dinner around 7pm, but at 7:30 began to have terrible pains in the abdomen. Doubled over on the couch, while Peter rushed to stop dinner from burning, Michele went to the bathroom, where her water broke and literally seconds later, at 7:45pm, our son, Nicholas, our 16 week old baby, came into this world. He was beautiful and, as we held him, we could feel his heart beating against our hands. Nicholas wrapped as much of his tiny hand as he could around one of his father's fingers. We cried together, as Peter called 9-1-1 and we kept our son as safe as we could.

The EMTs arrived within moments of our call and were wonderful. The fire chaplain arrived on the scene and, in addition to baptizing Nick, gave him the anointing of the sick and the last rights. We were air lifted to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, then transferred to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, next door, where Michele and Nicholas's twin sister, Sophia, were stabilized. Peter Nicholas Haytko, IV, was with us for approximately one hour before he passed on, at approximately 8:45pm. He weighed 2.6 ounces and was long and lean, with long toes and ears that stuck out from his head, like his father. On Friday evening, they gave us a less than 1% chance of our second baby surviving. On Saturday morning, after carrying her through the night, the ultrasound showed the baby moving in fluid. The primary concerns were a high (50%-100%) risk of infection (Nick's placenta did not release, leaving his cord inside, accompanied by a cervix opened to 4cm) which could lead to a hysterectomy and, at worst, could be fatal, or that the baby's sac has been breached and was leaking, which would lead to the baby's death. We were at HUP until Monday, when a second ultrasound showed that little Sophia was still doing well. Our chances were stable at 10% and, in order for the baby to have a fighting chance, we needed to get to 24 weeks. We were released on bed rest and sent home.

Thanks to wonderful friends, our home was clean from the disarray we left it in on Feb. 1st, and we were quickly set up for bedrest, turning our living room into our bedroom and everything room. 2 weeks passed both slowly and quickly, as Peter cared for his wife and baby girl, as we all mourned the loss of our baby son.

On Saturday, February 16, 2008, almost 15 days to the moment, our daughter Gaea Sophia Haytko entered the world at 6:08pm, 18 weeks into pregnancy. Though her stay in this life was very short at only 5 minutes, she has and continues to touch our lives. Sophie was 4oz and slightly shorter than her brother, but more "meaty" with her mother's booty (even at so young an age!). Where Nicholas greatly favored his father, our little Sophia was closer in resemblance to her mother. Looking in the mirror will never be the same again; as we see our son in his father’s face, we can see our daughter’s in her mother's. We went into labor on Friday evening, although we didn't actually know it, and, by mid afternoon on Saturday, my water broke and, once again, the outstanding EMS team of Harleysville responded within moments and we were airlifted to HUP. Peter flew with us and, after three and a half hours of active labor at the hospital, Sophie made her entrance to choruses of "I love you", just as her brother did. Immediately following her birth, her father baptized her, as the priest was not going to make it in time. She was held by her father for each second she lived on earth, her moments fluttering against his hand. Like Nicholas, her entire life was filled with love.
HUP gave us one of the greatest gifts of all: time with our children. We were in the hospital 4 days with Nicholas and 1 day with Sophia. The entire time, we were allowed to keep our babies with us, holding them, sleeping with them, just looking at them and memorizing each detail. They took photographs of them, which we cherish, and made a beautiful memory box for us, that included hats and their blankets. Their staff, especially their Labor & Delivery nurses, were phenomenal and took such care of us.

Sophie and Nicholas were both cremated at Huff and Lakjer in Lansdale. Mr. Lakjer was so very kind to our family and went above and beyond the call of his profession. We placed them together in the same marble box, with a plaque that reads:
Peter Nicholas Haytko IV Gaea Sophia Haytko
Forever in Our Hearts.
The box sits next to the bed, where we can often be found, hands on the box.

No memory of our son or daughter is laced with anything other than beauty and joy. We are full of grief at the idea of our lives without Nick and Sophie in the way we had hoped. But we are full of thanks for those moments that they touched our lives. With Nicholas, we were able to hold him in our hands and feel his small heart beat. With Sophia, we would lay in bed and feel her move beneath in her home, in her mother's belly. We were able to tell them that we loved them. They never knew a moment of feeling unloved. These precious children chose us to be their parents, even if their little lives were cut short. We take comfort in knowing that they never felt or will feel pain, that they always knew love from the moment of their conception, through this day and every day forward, that they watch down on us and hold us when the day becomes too hard to face. It’s their little hands that hold our broken hearts together. It’s their sunlight that beckons through our windows and gives us the strength to face the day. Who could ask for anything more than these gifts? The weight of their loss in this world buries us, but the uplifting quality of their love gives us the power to move on. Each day is hard. Each step feels like a million. But our babies are with usand that makes all the difference.

Our priest issued baptismal certificates for them, which we keep in their special box. We also had a beautiful Memorial Service for them at our church, St. Maria Goretti, on March 29th. Our priest did a wonderful job. It was the Saturday in the Octave of Easter, and he did a beautiful job tying together the beauty of the season and Resurrection and life after death; it was breathtaking. Almost 100 people came: friends, family, church family and friends, coworkers, even people we didn't know, who had heard about Nicholas and Sophia second hand. As a surprise, Michele's family from TN came: her mother and step-father flew up, along with her dear friend; her grandmother, two aunts, and two cousins drove through the night. In addition, many of Peter's family who live closer drove up for the weekend or, for some, just the Mass. It was such an outpouring of love and compassion and support. Both of us were blown away by the entire thing. One of our friends brought her 4 year old daughter. In the center isle, we had a table with a picture of Nick and a picture of Sophie, along with the marble box that holds their ashes. The little girl touched each picture and smiled, as she waited behind her mom in the communion line. It was one of the most touching parts of the entire day and we treasure that memory. The innocence of a child... The entire service was just beautiful and, afterwards, as we met person after person, our hearts were just overwhelmed by the turnout- something we didn't expect. We were both very grateful that we moved into a larger house because the luncheon afterwards had at least 60-70 people! But, we had enough food and drink, and it truly was a celebration, not only of Nicholas and Sophia and the impact on our lives, but of the impact of them and on all of us on each other. Many people stopped at a table we had set up, with pictures, their ashes, the Remembrance Mass cards (of which there are many!), and their baby book. There was a line to view their baby book.

Peter made a beautiful speech afterwards, expressing our thanks, but also how blessed we are to have shared their lives for the moments they lived with us. He spoke of our fatherhood had changed him for the better and of how our Nicholas and Sophia live on. There wasn't a dry eye in the church. He's a man of few words at times, but those few words touch your heart completely.

At the hospital, Peter brought each baby to Michele and said "Our Son", "Our Daughter"... What beautiful words... for pictures for information about Nicholas and Sophia, as well as their little brother, Alexander.

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Mar. 12, 2009 at 9:15 PM

i was touched to hear your story i know words can not describe the pain you where in god bless you and your family

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Apr. 18, 2009 at 9:19 AM

Your story has really touched me. Even through all of your pain, you have such a postive attitude. God bless you and your family.

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Apr. 29, 2009 at 7:14 AM

hugs to you and yours. such love ... your story has truly changed apart of me

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