Forty days and 40 nights.
That’s how long it rained in the biblical account of Noah’s flood. Forty days and nights of darkness, destruction and despair.
When the rain finally stopped, and Noah and his family were allowed to leave the ark, they saw a beautiful band of color curving across the sky. A rainbow – a sign of God’s promise to never again destroy the earth by flood.
On Feb. 23, 2018, our family floundered in a flood of grief, when our first grandchild, Ian Lucas, was stillborn.
The loss of that perfect boy with the chubby cheeks and swirl of dark hair devastated our son and his fiancee. It broke our hearts. It darkened our world.
On Nov. 23, 2019, a rainbow shimmered across our sky. Not just any rainbow, a glorious double arc.
Alex and Brooke blessed us with identical twin grandsons. Adam Thomas Hval and Nicholas Alexander Hval born just one minute apart, weighed in at 5 pounds 8 ounces and 5 pounds 9 ounces.
They are monochorionic-diamniotic twins, meaning they shared a placenta, but had separate amniotic sacs. Twins tend to run in families. My father was a twin and so was Brooke’s grandmother.
The first thing my husband Derek said when we found out the boys were identical was, “We’d better buy Sharpies, so we can tell them apart!”
We teased the new parents about getting the babies tattoos, but for now they are dressing them differently.
Though they arrived 6 1/2 weeks early, they are robustly healthy and didn’t require supplemental oxygen.
They did have a prolonged stay in the neonatal intensive care unit, because like many preemies, they struggled with feeding issues. They had to learn how to suck, swallow and breathe all at the same time, which took some practice.
But they are home now, both almost 9 1/2 pounds. They’re keeping everyone hopping. Alex sent a video of them making a ruckus. It seems they inherited the Hval loudness gene. Let’s hope they inherited their Uncle Zach’s musical gift, so they can holler in harmony.
When I showed my mom the video she said, “Well, if anyone can handle that, it’s Alex.”
Adam and Nicholas look so much like my dad, Thomas, and their father, Alexander. In fact, I’ve already dubbed them “The World’s Most Beautiful Boys.”
If they turn out to be like their namesakes in temperament, they will be busy, sweet and fun-loving fellows. We’ve booked our trip to Ohio, and can’t wait to cuddle them.
Having raised four sons, I know full well how wild these next few years will be for Brooke and Alex. Thankfully, they have a built-in helper. The twins adore Brooke’s 6-year-old daughter, Farrah. When they fuss, she sings to them, and they quiet and listen to her.
Children born following stillbirth, miscarriage or infant death are called “rainbow babies.” When I wrote about the loss of Ian, many readers shared their own stillbirth stories with me. Not all of them were blessed with a rainbow baby. For many, the wounds of their loss remain fresh and sharp.
Loss like that marks you forever, and even the arrival of The World’s Most Beautiful Boys can’t erase the pain of Ian’s death. Children are not replaceable.
But oh, their birth has brought soaring joy and profound comfort to our family. We are incredibly grateful that after the darkness of the storm, a miraculous double rainbow arcs across our sky – a sign of promise, of hope. It ends in Columbus, Ohio, and what waits for us there is more precious than a thousand pots of gold.