HOLTS SUMMIT — During the early hours of Dec. 13, Carmen Beck started bleeding heavily in her Columbia hospital room. She was 25 weeks into her pregnancy, and she knew something was wrong.
She frantically called for her husband, Michael, and told him, "You need to get here now because I’m seeing blood."
Two maternity-wing doctors rushed into her room, where she had been on bed rest, and just hours later, Carmen delivered twins, a girl and a boy.
Born more than three months premature, both infants weighed less than 2 pounds at birth. The fragile babies were rushed to the neonatal intensive-care unit and placed in oversize plastic incubators.
Carmen Beck had been afraid that she might never become a mother, and when she did, her twins were born fighting for their lives. Her first Mother's Day will be different than she had expected. But despite the hardships, she said, she still feels blessed.
The pregnancy they didn't expect
Carmen and Michael Beck always saw themselves as parents but spent years trying to conceive.
After Carmen Beck miscarried in 2007, the couple tried fertility treatments and in vitro fertilization and looked into adoption, all without success.
"It’s one of those things that you put it off, and then you think, 'Oh, when I’m ready we’ll just have kids.' It doesn't work that way," Michael Beck said.
After eight years, Carmen Beck reached the point where she felt that if they didn't have children, it wouldn't be the end of the world, she said.
But just months after coming to this realization, Carmen Beck found out that she was pregnant with twins.
Silence and waiting
After the twins' premature birth, hours passed in the Women's and Children's Hospital before Carmen was able to see her children.
Those hours were filled with the hustle of family, friends, doctors and nurses, complicated medical terminology, adrenaline and uncertainty. Slowly it began to fade away into silence, she said.
She prayed and then sent a friend a text that she had delivered the twins. Her friend sent her back a verse from the book of Isaiah.
“He, the Sovereign Lord, tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”
She cried when she read those words. It felt, she said, that God had answered her prayers.
The Becks named the boy Michael after his father, but they call him Micah.
They named their daughter Eliana. Her name means "God has answered."
A Mother's Day long in the making
The twins spent more than 100 days in the NICU while they developed enough to be able to survive on their own outside the incubator. The couple spent every day at the hospital as they waited for their children to be healthy enough to go home for the first time.
Eliana was released April 7. Micah followed 10 days later.
The twins are getting stronger every day, Michael and Carmen Beck said. But it's too soon to know whether they'll have any developmental disorders that are associated with premature birth. And the babies have to stay away from public places for at least a year to prevent any unnecessary exposure to germs. That's prevented the Becks from taking the children to church or having a baby shower.
Through all the trials, Carmen Beck said, she's maintained her focus on faith and trying to find God's message in it all.
"It’s just one of those things that you wouldn't wish it on anybody and you don’t wish it on yourself, but you wouldn't take away all the benefits that resulted from it," she said.
She always thought she'd be able to take her children to church with her on Mother's Day. Instead, she and her husband will have a quiet Sunday at their Holts Summit home with the twins.
It's not how she imagined she would spend her first Mother's Day. But she said she's blessed just to have her children.
Supervising editor is Brian Kratzer.